Just perfect for Hills and Spencer
Just The Judge gained Classic compensation for her narrow defeat at Newmarket when going one better in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
The Charlie Hills-trained filly made amends after finishing second to Sky Lantern in the Qipco 1000 Guineas by landing the honours in emphatic fashion.
Sent off the 2-1 favourite, the strong-travelling Just The Judge scored in the hands of Jamie Spencer from the fast-finishing Rehn's Nest (40-1), with Just Pretending (14-1) third and Big Break just behind in fourth. Spencer had Just The Judge smartly away from stall two and was always prominent as the Elaine Burke-trained Exactement made the running with What style close up.
While the winner was in the prime position, one of her main market rivals, Big Break, had to overcome a wide draw. She tried to lay it down to the favourite and looked like playing a major role but could not quite keep up the pace and Just The Judge pulled away in the final furlong.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Just Pretending held every chance, but was worried out of second place close home by Jim Bolger's outsider Rehn's Nest, who got the runner-pup spot a length and a half behind the winner.
Spencer, who won the race as a teenager on Tarascon in 1998, told At The Races: "She's a smart filly. She had the form coming into the race. It was never going to be straightforward, but I got into a good position and at halfway I was always happy. I followed Seamus (Heffernan on Just Pretending) and it all worked out really well.
"She gives all the signals that 10 furlongs would be well within her grasp and she will be even better. She was the best filly at Newmarket bar the winner and she was well on top here today. Hopefully she has a good season ahead of her. The Ascot mile is pretty stiff so I'm sure the Coronation is there. We'll enjoy today and see what Charlie and Barry (Hills) and Sheikh Fahad and David (Redvers, racing manager) say."
Hills said: "That was fantastic and I'm so proud of the filly. She's a diamond really and so easy to train, very professional. I felt sorry for her at Newmarket. She did it the hard way and just got done on the line. It was a big decision coming here and very pleased we have.
"Jamie gave her a peach. He rode her as he said he would in the paddock. He never really had to pick the stick up to her and he gave her a beautiful ride. He was in the right position and produced her at the right time. The Coronation at Ascot will really suit her, it's a stiff finish and we can ride a bit of a race on her there.
"It's great we've got Sky Lantern to take her on and it will make a great spectacle. It's more relief at the moment, but I'm sure I'll wake up in the middle of the night thinking it's great. He (his father Barry) will be watching on television and I'm sure he'll have a tear in his eye."