St Nicholas misfires on return
BALLYDOYLE'S former champion two-year-old St Nicholas Abbey was a well-beaten third on his return to action at The Curragh yesterday.
Touted as a wonder horse after his brilliant success in the 2009 Racing Post Trophy, Aidan O'Brien's colt had not been seen since losing his unbeaten record in last year's English 2,000 Guineas.
Sent off the 4/11 favourite to make a winning comeback in the 10-furlong Alleged Stakes, the writing was on the wall some way out.
Seamie Heffernan's mount did not pick up in the final quarter-mile as Dermot Weld's Triumph Hurdle runner-up Unaccompanied (4/1) ran out a two-and-a-half-length winner from Cilium. St Nicholas Abbey was another four lengths back in third.
However, O'Brien was far from despondent with St Nicholas Abbey's performance. "They didn't go very fast and he was just a little bit fresh. They quickened up at halfway and he got a little bit tired. The ground was very heavy," he said. "It's very early in the season and it's very hard to have a horse peak fit on that kind of ground if you are thinking about going on for the rest of the season."
Weld was thrilled with Unaccompanied and said Punchestown would be her next stop.
O'Brien's Sing Softly had earlier booked a Classic tilt with a taking success in the Anne Brewster Memorial Loughbrown Stakes.
Colm O'Donoghue had the filly in second place behind the leader Tell the Wind in the early stages. Hitting the front a furlong out, she easily held Defining Year by a length. Glor Na Mara, third to Frankel in the Dewhurst Stakes, was a major disappointment, trailing in last.
Lolly For Dolly, under Wayne Lordan, collared The Cheka in a tight finish to the Big Bad Bob Gladness Stakes to collect her second Group Three win over seven furlongs this spring.
The Willie Mullins-trained Samain racked up a hat-trick of bumper wins when claiming the Rockview Bumper by six lengths from Shadow Eile under the trainer's son Patrick.
Weld was also among the winners at Limerick, where his unbeaten Waaheb produced another excellent performance when blowing away his opposition in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Champion Bumper.
Michael Hourigan's front-running Mr Cracker -- in the colours of Michael O'Leary -- led his rivals a merry dance under Adrian Heskin in the Grade Two Hugh McMahon Memorial Novice Chase.
O'Leary's colours were on also on the mark in the novice hurdle as Philip Fenton's Last Instalment just held the late charge of 25/1 shot Farrells Fancy.
The 7/4 favourite was prominent for Brian O'Connell and stayed on well to see off the hurdling debutant.