Monday 16 July 2018

The Gurkha shows class in Navan stroll

The Gurkha strides away from his Navan rivals
The Gurkha strides away from his Navan rivals

Aasheq was a disappointment as The Gurkha stretched right away to win the Kilberry (C & G) Maiden at Navan.

The former had been second to Investec Derby favourite US Army Ranger in what looked a hot maiden at the Curragh but while quickening into contention two and a half furlongs out, he couldn't get to Ryan Moore on The Gurkha, who was never out of cruise control.

Completing a treble for the Aidan O'Brien team, The Gurkha came forward markedly from his Leopardstown third on debut as he strode on in impressive fashion from the front, slamming Saafarr by nine lengths.

Rabbie The Bard was third, with 8-11 market leader Aasheq fading to be well beaten.

Paddy Power eased US Army Ranger by a point to 5-1 for Epsom, installing The Gurkha at 16-1.

O'Brien, who landed the feature Salsabil Stakes with Pretty Perfect, said: "He had a good draw and it worked out lovely. Seamie (Heffernan) loved him at Leopardstown, he was mad about him when he came in and Ryan was mad about him there.

"We thought he might be a French Guineas horse, he came forward lovely and you'd be delighted with him today.

"He's only a baby but probably learned a lot the first day, even though he got beaten. If we could get one (another run) in between we would, but it's not essential.

"I asked Ryan if he'd get further (than a mile) - he said a mile and a quarter but he wasn't sure after that. He's a horse with a lot of pace, I wouldn't be sure about a mile and a half.

"It's Ryan's first time here and he was very complimentary about the track."

He added of US Army Ranger: "That's the route we're going with US Army Ranger and always was - the Curragh, then a trial, then Epsom.

"He has an option between Chester and the Derrinstown and it's very possible he will go to Chester. There's a big atmosphere there, with tight bends and he has to learn a lot in a short space of time."

The earlier win for Hyzenthlay was officially for O'Brien but in effect was a first two-year-old winner for son Joseph, who supervised her preparation at the family's Piltown base in County Kilkenny.

O'Brien junior said: "She was going nicely and showing plenty of speed. It was our first two-year-old to run from the hill (in Piltown) and we were not sure what kind of marker we had on them.

"We weren't going to run her because of the ground. She might be a stakes-type filly."

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