Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Sandiva and Stubbs hit right form for Ascot

Stubbs is fancied to emulate Dawn Approach's success

Louth native Richard Fahey made a rewarding trip home as his Sandiva took the Coolmore Stud EBF Fillies' Sprint Stakes at Naas.

Fahey's filly had made a big impression when sluicing up by six lengths on her Nottingham debut and it was no surprise to see her backed into 7-4 favourite to overcome the home defence in this Listed contest.

Always travelling well in the hands of Pat Smullen, Sandiva quickened up to join Heart Focus at the head of affairs with less than two furlongs to run before pulling two lengths clear at the line.

The omens certainly look good for the daughter of Footstepsinthesand, as the winner of last year's race was no less than Richard Hannon's Sky Lantern, which has since captured Newmarket's 1,000 Guineas.

The Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot would appear the obvious target and her trainer is expecting more improvement.

"She has always worked very well at home and it's just nice to see her go and do it on the track," said Fahey.

"She was green on her debut but the better ones usually are as they do everything so easily at home.

"I'll speak to the lads (Middleham Park Racing, owners) but the Albany would look the next logical race. She's got a huge stride for a filly."

There was also a pointer towards Royal Ascot in the other Listed juvenile event, the Alfred Nobel Rochestown Stakes, as Aidan O'Brien's Stubbs took the honours. Just like Fahey, the team at Ballydoyle will be hoping that Stubbs can follow last year's winner, Dawn Approach, and again the early signs are encouraging.

As a son of an Irish Oaks winner in Moonstone, the precocious colt shouldn't be short of stamina and certainly possess plenty speed.

The 8-13 favourite looked in a different league to his rivals as he cruised to victory.

"It was a mess of a race and they only hacked for a furlong. He did well to come from last to first," said jockey Joey O'Brien

"He'll have to go to Royal Ascot now – look at what the winner of this race last year did."

This win completed a short-priced double for the O'Brien clan as they had earlier struck with Reply (2/1 favourite) in the Listed Owenstown Stud Stakes.