Hemingway has last word in tough battle
Ernest Hemingway continued his progression with a hard-fought success in the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old was a surprise 12-1 winner when last seen in the Curragh Cup but was the 11-8 favourite on this occasion.
Dropping back to a mile and a half, he again had his five-length Curragh victim Royal Diamond in opposition, with Johnny Murtagh's charge enjoying a 6lb pull in the weights.
Murtagh set out to make all on last year's Irish Leger winner and was still in front over a furlong out as Ernest Hemingway loomed large under Joseph O'Brien.
With Scintillula also in striking distance, it looked like Royal Diamond would be swallowed up, but that proved not to be the case as the gallant seven-year-old rallied to make the market leader work before asserting by half a length close home.
The winning rider said: "He relaxed really well, but he idled like mad going to the line.
"He's a progressive horse and the Irish Leger fits into his programme well.
"He stayed well and quickens up well. He's tough, he tries and handles quick ground – if it was quick ground he'd have to have a good chance."
Meanwhile, Cape Of Approval is napped to continue his impressive progression up the ranks in this evening's Abergwaun Listed Stakes at Tipperary.
Decent sprinters often develop from humble origins as they mature physically, and Tommy Stack's four-year-old is a fine example of such an evolution.
Without a win in his first five starts, the Cape Cross four-year-old's speed has since come to the fore in scintillating fashion.
Successful in five of his last seven runs over five and six furlongs during the past year, his most recent performance was by far his most polished.
Tasked with taking Maarek's scalp in the sort of muddy conditions that both horses relish at Cork, Cape Of Approval cruised through from the rear under an exquisite Billy Lee steer to burst clear inside the distance.
It was a superlative show that confirmed his potential as a contender for major sprinting honours, so tonight's €40,000 five-furlong dash is expected to be within his range on the prevailing slow ground.
Granted, he has more on his plate under Lee this time as he must concede weight all round, but none of his 11 rivals appeal as having nearly as much scope.
Stack might initiate a double on the card with the Wayne Lordan-ridden Treadstone in the McGrath Oil Maiden.
While Lee's David Wachman-trained mount Amygdala is feared on the back of her debut third at Naas, Treadstone has shown a solid level of ability in his three outings, including when second here over this five-furlong trip to the useful Stubbs in May.
In the programme's second Listed race, the Coolmore Canford Cliffs Stakes, the sponsor's Indian Maharaja gets the nod after a comprehensive winning bow for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien at Gowran Park last month.
The smooth manner in which Indian Maharaja went about his job suggested he has a big future.