Tuesday 16 January 2018

O'Briens have a ball in Debutante with spellbinding success

Jockey Donnacha O'Brien. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Jockey Donnacha O'Brien. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Aidan O'Brien was long odds-on to win the feature Debutante Stakes at the Curragh yesterday, but few would have expected the winner to be the mount of his son Donnacha.

Punters struggled to decide whether September or Happily would win the race - September eventually backed in to favourite despite Ryan Moore steering Happily - but as it turned out neither would. Donnacha dictated on Magical, an 11/1 chance which seemed better suited by the terrain, on a day of near-incessant rain, than the others.

"Donnacha was delighted with her. She's out of a Pivotal mare and handled the ground," the trainer said. "Ryan said Happily struggled to quicken and she is able to quicken better on better ground.

"Seamus (Heffernan) was a bit the same with September on her first run back. She will come on from that.

"They are all nice fillies and were all coming here with the view to coming back for the Moyglare. Clemmie will go for the Moyglare as well, but not if the ground is soft."

Jim Bolger's Theobald was a significant non-runner in the Futurity, which O'Brien had the first, second and third in. This time, the young O'Brien was grabbed on the wire by Moore, riding the 11/8 favourite Rostropovich.

O'Brien, who claimed the seven-furlong Group Two for an 11th time, said: "He stayed at it well, wasn't mad about the ground and will get further than seven. On better ground he'll travel better. He was a bit laboured and the National Stakes (September 10) is a possible."

Ger Lyons and Colin Keane enjoyed a double before a small crowd. Promising newcomer Gobi Desert took the opener at 3/1, while Treasuring toughed it out at the same price in the Curragh Stakes.

Dermot Weld's runners have turned the corner, though he is sceptical about the quality of the horses he possesses at the moment. Shamreen (11/4) left her seasonal debut a long way behind when running away with the Royal Whip under Pat Smullen.

"We'll look to a race in Canada for her, among others, and that ground is vital," Weld explained. "Ten furlongs is her trip."

Meanwhile, Unfortunately led home a memorable one-two for Middleham trainer Karl Burke in the Darley Prix Morny at Deauville.

Irish Independent

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