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Sapphire shines in Noblesse

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Dermot Weld, trainer

Dermot Weld, trainer

Dermot Weld, trainer

Dermot Weld is looking forward to testing the water at the highest level with Sapphire after she annihilated her rivals in the Kerry Group Noblesse Stakes at Cork.

The master of Rosewell House saddled Grace O'Malley to win this Group Three prize in two of the last three years, but it would be surprising if Sapphire does not prove to be a cut above her former stable companion.

Sent off the 11-8 favourite on her first start since winning at Listed race at the Curragh in October, the four-year-old travelled kindly throughout the mile-and-a-half contest and jockey Pat Smullen cut a confident figure after rounding the home turn.

Once Smullen pushed the button, the race was over in a flash as Sapphire showed a smart turn of foot in the testing ground to score by four and three-quarter lengths.

Epsom Oaks eighth Betterbetterbetter filled the runner-up spot, with fellow Aidan O'Brien runner Soon third.

Weld said: "She's a very progressive mare and I'll probably bring her back to a mile-and-two (furlongs) now for the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.

"She'll probably have to travel as the year progresses. She's just a class act and she does like an ease in the ground."

Smullen said: "She's done it very easily and I hope and think that she might be a Group One mare this year. She's improved a lot over the winter.

"The ground is the key to her - she handles that soft ground very well.

"You'd like to think there are plenty of races between now and the end of the season for her."

PA