Dermot Weld is eyeing a tilt at the Irish 2,000 Guineas with Imaging after he threaded the eye of a needle to get up and land the Coolmore Zoffany Irish EBF Tetrarch Stakes at Naas.
An impressive winner on his seasonal reappearance at Cork in March, the Khalid Abdullah-owned colt was last seen chasing home Gustav Klimt in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial.
Weld’s charge was the 2-1 favourite for this seven-furlong Listed contest under Declan McDonogh and quickened well once the gap came to claim victory by three-quarters of a length from Would Be King.
Weld said: “What impressed me was the way he quickened through the gap when it eventually came. For a few strides it looked like he was going to be an unlucky loser.
“I thought it was a very good performance on ground we think might be faster than ideal for him
“I had toyed with the idea of going to the French Guineas, but obviously we will wait and go to the Curragh (for the Irish Guineas), which is the logical progression for him.
“I think it was a good, competitive renewal of the Tetrarch and he’s an improving colt. When he won his maiden last year by nine and a half lengths I said that he’d make into a Group horse and he is.
“A mile or a mile and a quarter should suit him well.”
The master of Roswell House also provided an update on Abdullah’s exciting Frankel filly Contingent, who has not been seen since making a winning debut at Leopardstown in October.
He added: “Contingent is more backward than a lot of mine. She is entered (in the Blue Wind Stakes) at the Curragh on Saturday, but it is unlikely at this stage that she will run.”
The Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Fairyland and Van Beethoven are pencilled in for Royal Ascot after claiming the first two races of the afternoon in the hands of Ryan Moore.
Fairyland was a 7-2 chance for her racecourse debut in the Coolmore No Nay Never Irish EBF Fillies Maiden and there was a lot to like about the way she quickened a length and three-quarters clear of her rivals late on.
Van Beethoven was the 1-2 favourite for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race after finishing third on his introduction three weeks ago and made every yard of the running on his way to a comprehensive success.
O’Brien said: “I was delighted with the filly (Fairyland). She is a an Ascot-type filly, but just needs experience.
“He (Van Beethoven) is still very green, but I’m delighted and he won well in the end.
“He will have learnt a bit there and we’ll try and get another run into him before Royal Ascot. He’s a fast horse.”
Natalia Lupini’s Blairmayne saw off fellow 4-1 joint-favourite Rattling Jewel in the Caragh Nurseries Handicap under Shane Foley.
Lupini said: “We weren’t surprised as he was working very well at home and Shane Foley thought in his work that he was quicker than last year. We came here with a good chance and the plan worked out alright.
“Hopefully we can have a good season with him.”