Truth rewards Smullen in Sligo
Pat Smullen made the trip to the north-west pay off last night when he rode Dermot Weld's Truthwillsetufree to victory in the finale at Sligo.
The Rosewell House team had to endure a couple of anxious moments following the race, however, as the stewards were called into action after Smullen's mount came into close contact with market rival Zalantoun in the closing stages of the 10-furlong maiden.
The winner drifted left inside the final furlong, just as the eventual runner-up came onto her heels and only a head separated the pair at the line.
But after deliberating on the issue, the stewards were happy enough to let the result stand. "She ran around a bit, but the other horse had plenty of time to get past me," said the winning jockey.
Smullen and Weld journey across the Irish Sea today with high hopes for Emulous in the Windsor Forest Stakes.
The progressive mare enjoyed a superb campaign in 2011, completing a hat-trick of Pattern-race wins with a brilliant performance in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown. She appeared to have lost none of her sparkle when making a winning return at the Curragh and with no concerns about the ground or track, Smullen is in confident mood ahead of her first visit to Britain.
"I'm looking forward to riding her. She's a very good mare and won very well on her comeback start this year. I'm expecting a big run from her," said Smullen. "I don't know whether she's improved through the winter, but she doesn't have to really. She won well the last day and if she can run to the form of the Matron from last year, she'd have a big chance."
Meanwhile, Aidan O'Brien's Fame And Glory will face eight rivals when he defends his crown in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot tomorrow. The multiple Group One winner successfully took up the mantle from O'Brien's star stayer Yeats when winning the two-and-a-half-mile feature 12 months ago.
The six-year-old subsequently went on to land the inaugural British Champions Long Distance Cup at the same track and made a winning return in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
The pair likely to give the hot favourite most to think about hail from the Godolphin team. Mahmood Al Zarooni's Opinion Poll was second to Fame And Glory a year ago and has made an excellent start to the new campaign, landing the Dubai Gold Cup and the Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
Frankie Dettori will ride Colour Vision, which made a most impressive debut for Saeed bin Suroor in the rearranged Sagaro Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton and is another major player.