Havana Grey sparkles in Sapphire success at the Curragh

Karl Burke’s charge prevails in five-furlong feature for PJ McDonald

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Havana Grey returned to his best form to spring a surprise in the Group Two Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh.

The Karl Burke-trained grey led home a British clean sweep as he bounded clear in the final furlong.

A Group Three winner as a youngster, Havana Grey (10-1) had failed to trouble the judge in his two previous runs this season but got his act together in this five-furlong dash.

Last year’s winner Caspian Prince made the running in the centre of the course with Havana Grey prominent towards the far side.

Taking a definite lead under PJ McDonald, Havana Grey kept on strongly to beat the Mick Appleby-trained Caspian Prince by a length with Michael Dods’ Mabs Cross another half-length away in third.

Havana Grey was cut to 10-1 from 16-1 for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month with Paddy Power.

McDonald said: “It wasn’t really a surprise because we always knew the ability was there.

“For some reason or another, he just wasn’t firing early on in the year. We knew it was a tough task taking on older sprinters and his first couple of runs were always going to be difficult.

“Fair play to Karl, he didn’t panic and let him come good. I haven’t seen this horse since the last day I rode him and Lucy (Burke) has been riding him every day for the last two months, so fair play to her.

“They’ve got him back and, fingers crossed, now we can have a good end to the season.

“I was always happy to stay away from him (Caspian Prince) as I didn’t want to get into a duel early on. My horse can make all so I’m not afraid to race on my own with him.

“Me and Karl decided we would stay over that side and if he was on song, he’d be there with a chance and if he wasn’t, it didn’t really matter where he ended up.

“It was a great training performance to get him back today and, fingers crossed, he can keep progressing and he should be a decent sprinter by the end of the year.”

Havana Grey sparkles in Sapphire success at the Curragh
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