Rewarding raid for Fahey as Sandiva states Ascot claims
LOUTH native Richard Fahey made a rewarding trip back 'home' as his Sandiva took the Coolmore Stud EBF Fillies' Sprint Stakes at Naas.
Fahey's filly had made a big impression when sluicing up by six lengths on her Nottingham debut and it was no surprise to see her backed into 7/4 favourite to overcome the home defence in this Listed contest.
Always travelling well in the hands of Pat Smullen, Sandiva quickened up to join Heart Focus at the head of affairs with less than two furlongs to run before pulling two lengths clear at the line.
The omens certainly look good for the daughter of Footstepsinthesand, as the winner of last year's race was no less than Richard Hannon's Sky Lantern, which has since captured Newmarket's 1,000 Guineas.
The Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot would appear the obvious target and her trainer is expecting more improvement.
"She has always worked very well at home and it's just nice to see her go and do it on the track," said Fahey.
"She was green on her debut but the better ones usually are as they do everything so easily at home. I'll speak to the lads (Middleham Park Racing, owners) but the Albany would look the next logical race. She's got a huge stride for a filly."
There was also a pointer towards Royal Ascot in the other Listed juvenile event, the Alfred Nobel Rochestown Stakes, as Aidan O'Brien's Stubbs took the honours. Just like Fahey, the team at Ballydoyle will be hoping that Stubbs can follow in the hoofprints of last year's winner, Dawn Approach, and again the early signs are encouraging.
As a son of an Irish Oaks winner in Moonstone, the precocious colt shouldn't be short of stamina and has already shown he possesses plenty of speed. The 8/13 favourite looked in a different league to his rivals as he cruised to victory without Joseph O'Brien needing to get too serious.
"It was a mess of a race and they only hacked for a furlong. He did well to come from last to first," explained the jockey afterwards. "He'll have to go to Royal Ascot now – look at what the winner of this race last year did."
This win completed a short-priced double for the O'Brien clan as they had earlier struck with Reply (2/1 favourite) in the Listed Owenstown Stud Stakes.
Second to Hitchens at the Curragh last time out, last year's Irish 2,000 Guineas third travelled well before sprinting clear approaching the one-furlong mark.
Smullen also completed a double when driving Willie McCreery's Connacht Council (5/1) to victory over Zalty in the Follow Us On Facebook Handicap.
There was also a tight finish to the opening fillies' maiden which went to Ramsa, trained and ridden by John Egan, who needed all his strength to hold off the O'Briens' One True Love.
Mick Halford's great run of form continued as Shane Foley partnered Slipper Orchid to her third success this season in the seven-furlong handicap.
Halford said: "The ground was plenty fast enough for her and she got a bit fussy in stalls. She could go for a big fillies' handicap on Derby weekend."
David Wachman and Wayne Lordan combined to land the closing fillies' handicap over 10 furlongs with Love And Cherish.