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Maputo takes step up ladder

Mark Johnston's Maputo continued his highly progressive form with a smooth success in the Bet Online At thetote.com Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh.

Moving up to Group Three level for the first time after Listed success at Hamilton, Joe Fanning produced the Cape Cross colt to lead a quarter of a mile from home after Scintillula had set the early pace.

Caponata challenged inside the final furlong, but the well-backed 5-4 favourite was always doing enough, scoring by a length.

The victory means Maputo has won seven of his last eight starts, with his only blip coming when down the field in the Britannia at Royal Ascot when dropped down to a mile.

Johnston said: "It didn't look as impressive as some of his wins, but they were in handicap company.

"I was a little unsure of his performance at Hamilton whether that was his best, and Joe said he felt a much better horse today. Dermot (Weld) thinks an awful lot of the second and he thought that was a good performance.

"I was hopeful more than confident, particularly coming over here as you don't know what you are up against. He is progressive but had only won a five-runner Listed race.

"We'll go home and have a think about where he goes. Joe said it was very fast ground and and he seemed to handle it OK - I think he'll handle any ground."

Fanning added: "His Royal Ascot run was just a bit puzzling, maybe dropping to a mile there didn't help.

"I thought i'd take a lead here and he quickened up well from the two pole. Hopefully he will keep improving and he's a nice horse for the future."

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