Leading Classic contender Madhmoon had to settle for second as he was outpointed by Never No More on his seasonal bow in the Ballylinch Stud ‘Red Rocks’ 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.
Kevin Prendergast’s charge was sent off the 4-6 favourite after winning both his juvenile starts, including a Group Two, and he looked set for glory as he moved to the front under Chris Hayes inside the last of the seven furlongs.
However, Ryan Moore had stoked up 5-2 chance Never No More down the outside and with a 3lb pull in the weights, plus the benefit of a recent Naas victory, he proved too strong.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained winner triumphed by half a length and the Ballydoyle handler will now look to move up to Classic company.
He said: “We’re delighted and he came forward lovely from Naas.
“Donnacha (O’Brien) liked him in Naas and we liked him last year, Ryan was delighted with him.
“He got a nice position and when he eased him out, he found plenty for him. He was very happy with him.
“Obviously he’d be very happy with nice ground, but he handled the ease well today.
“We could look at a Guineas with him, either France or England – he could be a French Guineas horse.
“He’s tactical and he seems to get that trip well. He finishes off and he did that in Naas as well.”
Lady Kaya ran out a comfortable winner of the Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes for trainer Sheila Lavery and jockey Robbie Colgan.
Runner-up in last year’s Moyglare Stud Stakes, Colgan was eager to set the early pace on the 11-4 favourite and he looked in control all the way, still holding the filly on a tight rein coming into the final furlong.
Colgan only had to push out Lady Kaya to record a two-and-a-quarter-length victory, with the fast-finishing Happen in second while the 2018 Fillies’ Mile winner Iridessa was third under a 3lb penalty.
Betfair went 12-1 from 33s about Lady Kaya for the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket next month, but Lavery indicated the Irish version at the Curragh could be the preferred option.
She said: “I was really worried about her staying the trip on the ground. At the back of my mind, in the bits and pieces we’ve been giving her, I wasn’t sure she was going to stay.
“I said to Robbie today to just let her jump and travel and keep her together. He said it was like a piece of work and that she’d blow harder at home.
“She has Guineas entries and I was really worried she wouldn’t stay the mile, but the way she won that, you’d have to go for the Guineas.
“Well done to Joanne (Lavery, owner and the trainer’s niece) because it was such a brave move to hang on to her. I’m so lucky to have her and everybody at home has done a great job.
“They knew just not to talk to me this morning! The other horse that was to run (Breaking Story in the 2,000 Guineas Trial), I was really looking forward to running him, but he had a stone bruise so the yard was a bit quiet this morning.
“Although it looks like she’s done that really easy, she puts an awful lot more in than you think. I’ll see how she comes out of it.
“She handles Newmarket, we know that from running last year in the Cheveley Park.
“Knowing her, my gut would say the Irish Guineas as she won’t do two. I’ll discuss it with Joanne, but that’s my gut feeling at the moment – but she’ll make the decision for me.
“I was hoping that she’d bulk up a bit more over the winter, but when we put her back into work she’s back at her racing weight.
“She’s a terribly laid-back filly, she just eats and sleeps and goes in the paddock. She’s so uncomplicated to deal with. What a professional. I’m honoured and privileged to have her.”
Buckhurst marked himself as a possible Classic contender after making a winning racecourse debut in the Leopardstown ‘Summer Sizzler’ Maiden.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden his brother, Donnacha, Buckhurst was sent off a 7-2 chance and needed all of the mile trip to get his head in front of Jack Yeats on the line.
The winning trainer said: “He’s a very nice horse. I was a little bit surprised that he won at a mile first time, off a slow pace.
“Donnacha was very happy with him. I’d imagine we’ll probably step into a Derby trial now and go from there.
“I was very impressed with him, the horse in front got the run of the race and there was strong word for a couple of others in the race.
“He’s well bred, he’s related to The Gurkha and he’s by Australia.”