PAUL Deegan's progressive Sruthan has Newbury's JLT Lockinge Stakes on his radar after making a smooth seasonal return in the Big Bad Bob Gladness Stakes at the Curragh.
The four-year-old was well supported to secure his second Group Three prize, having signed off his 2013 campaign with victory in Tipperary's Concorde Stakes, and the 9/4 favourite didn't disappoint.
Custom Cut and Cristoforo Colombo took the field along, with Sruthan always handily placed in the hands of Chris Hayes.
Wearing a hood for the first time, Deegan's charge pulled clear in the closing stages to win by a length and a half from Custom Cut, with Wannabe Better only a nose away in third.
"He did it well. I always thought he was going to be a better horse this year," said Deegan. "We'll stick to in and around a mile and he'll improve from that. He could go for a Group Two in France and there's the Lockinge as well."
Deegan and Hayes completed a double when Sruthan's half-brother Srucahan (4/1 favourite) lifted the Cunninghams Of Kildare Handicap.
Owner Barry Connell enjoyed a welcome change of luck as his Inis Meain (8/1) made all the running to go one better than 12 months ago in the Irish Field Alleged Stakes.
The Denis Hogan-trained gelding was last seen winning a handicap hurdle at Navan in February and transferred that form to the level with a gutsy performance. Danny Mullins set out to make it a true test on the seven-year-old, which kept pulling out more in the closing stages to hold Tarana by two and a half lengths.
"He was fit from hurdling although the worry was the trip was a bit sharp today. You'd expect him to be a bit better over a longer distance," said Hogan.
"It was a last-minute decision to come here and the original plan was to go for a two-mile-six-furlong handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse. He'll still get an entry, but it may come a bit quick and he could go instead for a three-mile handicap hurdle at Punchestown."
Royal Ascot could be on the horizon for Newsletter (100/30) after Ken Condon's filly made a successful debut in the opening juvenile maiden.
Shane Foley brought the daughter of Sir Percy through to score by two and a three-quarter lengths from Splashtop.
"She's just been on grass once and has only done five half speeds, but she's been a natural," said Condon.
"She's got a very good attitude and Royal Ascot is on the agenda. The plan is to go for the Listed race at Naas before that – she's smart and, hopefully, she can keep progressing."
David Wachman's Booker (9/4 joint-favourite), runner-up on her only start last season, went one better with a cosy success under Fran Berry in the fillies maiden over six furlongs.
Berry completed a quickfire double when forcing the Tony Martin-trained Thomas Edison (7/2) up in the last stride to pip Little Rocky by a nose in the War Horse Raceday Handicap. "We'll see how he comes out of this and we'll find another handicap," said Martin. "It could be over hurdles or on the Flat."
Sinkal (2/1) made a winning debut for the formidable combination of Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen in the concluding maiden.