Midas is set to go |for gold in Derby
Midas Touch bucked the current trend of Ballydoyle horses needing a prep run to tune them up for a Classic trial when emphasising Aidan O'Brien's domination of the Derrinstown Stud Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday.
Champion jockey Johnny Murtagh allowed his three rivals plenty of leeway from the outset on the Galileo colt which drifted right out in the betting to start the 2/1 joint favourite with Address Unknown.
Stable companion At First Sight ensured there would be no loitering in yesterday's Group Two contest by setting a decent gallop and indeed Seamie Heffernan's mount looked the likely victor for a time.
Still in front off the last bend, At First Sight soon began to suffer for his exertions and Pat Smullen sent Address Unknown to the front under two furlongs out with Murtagh looming up towards the outer.
No sooner were fans of Dermot Weld's charge on good terms with themselves than Midas Touch went past in a hurry and was good value for the two-length margin of victory in a smart time.
On going that rode perfectly for Flat horses, properly watered and consequently with no jar in the ground, Murtagh's mount clocked just over a second faster than Fame And Glory managed for the yard 12 months ago.
No wonder the champion trainer, who saddled Midas Touch after Mikhail Glinka failed to recover from a stone bruise, was happy and Murtagh was also taken by the display, remarking: “He's a solid horse with a good attitude.”
O’Brien said: “It was a properly run race as we wanted an even pace. This is a straightforward horse and Johnny gave him plenty of time to find his feet.
“He did that well and he will come on a lot from this race. All the horses are running better now,” added O'Brien, who will send the unbeaten Cape Blanco to the Dante Stakes at York on Thursday. That traditional Derby trial on the Knavesmire and the next outing of Jan Vermeer, which twice defeated Midas Touch, in the Irish 2000 Guineas or the French Derby will shed plenty of light on the yard's mid-summer plans.
St Nicholas Abbey remains the solid ante-post favourite to deliver once more for Ballydoyle in the Epsom Derby and Midas Touch is on offer at 14/1 with most of the major firms after yesterday's success.
Meanwhile, Andrew McNamara rode trainer Edward O’Grady’s Slieveardagh to victory in the feature Ladbrokes.com Handicap Hurdle at Killarney yesterday.
The pair were also on the mark in the opener, Suffren winning the Killarney Towers Hurdle.
Jumpers command centre stage at Killarney again this evening, with Dungarvan trainer John Kiely set to hit the target on behalf of Limerick's former champion owner JP McManus with Sweeps Hill which should become the sixth odds-on winner in succession of the MD O'Shea & Sons Hurdle.