Dunboyne Express will go direct to Guineas
Kevin Prendergast is likely to send Dunboyne Express straight for the Irish 2,000 Guineas after the three-year-old bounced back to form on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown yesterday.
The classy colt, who was found to be ill after losing his unbeaten record in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October, enjoyed a facile success in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
His task was made easier when his main market rival, the John Oxx-trained Cocozza, was withdrawn after sitting down in the stalls, delaying the start by 10 minutes.
Whipless made the running from Exodus before Declan McDonogh pounced aboard Prendergast's charge to score by a length and three-quarters from Exodus.
Prendergast said: “That was a satisfactory performance. He did it well, but it would have been nice if the other horse had run. That wasn't to be though.
“The run should bring him on a good bit and the run of Master Of Hounds on Saturday (had form with Dunboyne Express as a two-year-old and second at Meydan) was no harm. He wasn't right before Doncaster and he had colic after it.”
Prendergast completed a double when Celtic Dane (14-1) got up on the line to deny the favourite Gimli's Rock by a short head in the Follow Leopardstown on Facebook Handicap, giving Samantha Bell her first ever winner from just three rides.
Empowering (11-2) landed a gamble to secure an O'Brien family triumph in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial.
The filly was ridden by Joseph O'Brien, trained by his father Aidan and owned by his mother Anne-Marie.
The 1lb overweight put up by last year's joint champion apprentice made no difference as he dictated matters from the start with an enterprising ride to gain a win which will see his claim reduced to 3lb.
Making the Group Three contest over seven furlongs a truly-run race, O'Brien held a handy two-length lead turning for home and that proved decisive.
Stablemate Wild Wind stayed on well to claim the runner-up spot one and three-quarter lengths behind, with Oxx's History Note an eyecatching short-head back in third.
“I'm delighted for the filly. Joseph has always liked her. She won at Dundalk in December last year and she's been working very well. Joseph gave her a lovely ride and she's a filly to look forward to,” O'Brien said.
“She's in the English Guineas and that's very possible. She was only rated 84 coming here but she's always worked like a very good filly. She got a mile really well in Dundalk.”
Despite the disappointment of Cocozza, Johnny Murtagh celebrated his return as number one jockey to the Aga Khan and Oxx with a near 38/1 double on Mesariya and Haziyna.
Mesariya (6-1) earned a 25-1 quote for the Investec Oaks when making a successful debut in the opening fillies maiden.
Showing no signs of jet-lag after riding in the Dubai World Cup on Saturday night, Murtagh enjoyed a comfortable victory on the promising daughter of Sinndar.
Oxx said: “That looked a good maiden — a nice race. She is by Sinndar which gives her the stamina but she is out of a Cadeaux Genereux mare who was a seven-furlong filly.
“The Salsabil Stakes at Navan in three weeks' time is an option, or something like the Cheshire Oaks. We got a rush of blood and entered her for the Guineas and Oaks lately and that doesn't look too stupid now.”
Caledon trainer Andrew Oliver won the Leopardstown Music Nights Handicap with 7-1 shot West Coast Dream.
Haziyna (9-2) ran out an easy winner of the Leopardstown Family Fun Racedays Handicap from Flavia Tatiana.