Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Venus eclipses Moth as O'Brien nets Naas treble

Heffernan: On the mark in Naas feature
Heffernan: On the mark in Naas feature

Thomas Kelly

The Epsom Oaks form suffered a setback at Naas where Aidan O'Brien's Moth was well beaten in the night's feature by impressive stablemate Venus De Milo.

Third in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket behind Sky Lantern and fourth at Epsom, Moth was expected to make the most of the drop to Listed class under Joseph O'Brien.

The champion jockey sat mid-division on Moth, but did not get the clearest of runs from over two furlongs out and quickly dropped out after failing to pick up. Up front, Jim Bolger's Bunairgead led with a quarter of a mile to run, but was tackled a furlong out by Opera Gloves.

SWAMPED

However, Seamie Heffernan swamped them both on Venus De Milo as the once-raced 8/1 shot quickened smartly for a three-quarter-length success from Opera Gloves.

The winner, which only made her racecourse debut at Fairyhouse earlier this month, holds an entry in the Yorkshire Oaks.

"She showed a lot as a younger filly at home, but Aidan did not want to run her until she was ready," said Heffernan.

"She surprised me at Fairyhouse and the penny dropped the way she quickened. I was riding her to run a nice race today, I wanted to teach her a bit and see if she was up to running in these kind of races. I thought the Fairyhouse win was because she handled the soft ground, but the ground was totally opposite here. She has a bit of class, she's strong and versatile."

Venus De Milo was the centrepiece of a 63/1 treble for the Ballydoyle supremo, with the other two being ridden by son Joseph. First up was the success of Illustrate which was prominent all the way before getting the better of Lottie Dod in the six-furlong maiden.

The hat-trick was completed by American recruit Darwin, which travelled well for most of the one-mile conditions event before comfortably drawing over two lengths clear of Fighter Squadron. The opening EBF Median Auction Maiden was notable for Johnny Murtagh as he sent out a first two-year-old winner as a trainer.

Gold Peregrine was a 4/7 chance to build on the promise of his debut third at Navan earlier this month and did it with the minimum of fuss under Niall McCullagh.

Murtagh, fresh from playing in a pro-am with Paul Lawrie at the Irish Open, said: "That's my first two-year-old winner (fourth winner in total) – all the horses before were three, four or five so it is a bit more challenging with two-year-olds, but we have a nice bunch.

STICKING

"He's a smart horse, he's got plenty of speed, so I think we'll be sticking to five/six furlong races. He might go up to stakes company, I haven't really looked that far ahead, but I think he'll be able to hold his own in stakes races."

In the following seven-furlong handicap, promising apprentice Connor King showed his talents aboard the Thomas Cleary-trained Sophies Echo as the 12/1 outsider beat Smoke Charger by two-and-a-half lengths, with the winner's stablemate Sweet Annathea occupying the third spot.

The one-mile handicap for three-year-olds went to the Ger Lyons-trained Mordanmijobsworth in the hands of Conor Keane.

Irish Independent

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