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Raiding party takes Classic glory and Camelot's scalp

On a day of Imperial rule at the Curragh, the well-backed Jamie Spencer-ridden favourite Just The Judge recorded a straightforward victory to give Charlie Hills his first Group One success in the 1,000 Guineas.

Al Kazeem initiated a big-race double for the English raiders with a shock defeat of Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but Just The Judge's routine one-and-a-half-length verdict over Jim Bolger's 40/1 shot Rehn's Nest in the fillies' Classic was in keeping with the precedent set in the Newmarket original earlier in the month.

Having suffered a first defeat in four starts there when thwarted on the line by Sky Lantern, the Lawman filly made no mistake here under Spencer, who announced his precocious talent in the mile feature as a 17-year-old on Tommy Stack's Tarascon back in 1998.

Champion jockey in Ireland during a brief Ballydoyle tenure in 2004, this was the Tipperary native's third win in the €300,000 showpiece, 11 years after his last on Gossamer.

It was also a third for the Hills family, though Charlie's father Barry was responsible for the first two in the 1990s before handing over to his son in 2011.

"It feels pretty good," Lambourn-based Hills admitted after his landmark triumph. "She is very decent. Jamie never even had to pick up the stick on her – he gave her a beautiful ride.

"It was quite a big decision to come here and I'm so glad we did."

A second successive British-trained winner of the race following that of Samitar in 2012, Just The Judge, which returned an SP of 2/1, is owned by Qatar Racing – one of the emerging forces on the international Flat scene – in partnership with the Sangster family.

Spencer sat her on the heels of the leaders early on before taking it up a furlong out and put the race to bed before Rehn's Nest came with a flourish from the rear to pinch the runner-up prize from the pace-setting Just Pretending.

On good to firm ground that wouldn't have suited, the returning Big Break ran a fine race to be fourth.

AMBITIOUS

Earlier, Al Kazeem showed Roger Charlton's ambitious giantslaying venture to be typically shrewd. Camelot, the triple Classic-winning star of last year's maligned three-year-old crop, was sent off at 4/11 in the Gold Cup.

However, the 10-furlong experiment came undone in spectacular fashion, as James Doyle, riding his first winner in Ireland, tracked Camelot's every move on the five-year-old Al Kazeem.

When Joseph O'Brien sent Camelot on two furlongs out, Doyle followed in his slipstream on Al Kazeem, which was contesting its initial Group One on its 10th start. The 4/1 shot quickened clear inside the distance for a decisive verdict.

"He has been a slow-maturing horse," Charlton admitted. "After the Jockey Club Stakes last year, he came home with a stress fracture of his pelvis, yet he won impressively that day. He had 12 months off before winning at Sandown comfortably last month, and his work has been very, very good."

The O'Brien father-and-son partnership still departed with a double, after Sir John Hawkins, a two-year-old product of a mating between former Ballydoyle stars Henrythenavigator and Peeping Fawn, made a determined debut in the six-furlong maiden.

Returned a 2/1 favourite, the exciting colt is likely to be on O'Brien's Royal Ascot team next month, as could Leading Light, which also found plenty to justify odds-on status in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes.

A son of Montjeu that came from off the pace to stride nine lengths clear on its seasonal bow at Navan, this time the three-year-old led early on under the tactically astute champion.

John Oxx's Little White Cloud, third to Battle Of Marengo at Leopardstown last time, paid that form no great compliment here, as he simply hadn't the legs to go past Leading Light when the door opened a furlong and a half down.

The winner was subsequently given quotes of around 10/1 for the Doncaster St Leger and Aidan O'Brien did little to dispel the notion that he lacks a turn of foot by nominating the two-mile Queen's Vase at the royal meeting as one of his options.

The handicaps belonged to Mick Halford and Shane 'Dusty' Foley, who combined for a 155/1 double courtesy of Paddy The Celeb and Via Ballycroy.

On a bright, but blustery day at headquarters, attendance came in at 6,855, up a fraction on 12 months ago.

Irish Independent