Armory cemented his position as a leading contender for Classic honours next season with victory in the Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt – a son of Galileo – was sent off the 4-6 favourite for the seven-furlong Group Two, which has been dominated by Ballydoyle in recent seasons and was won last year by subsequent Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck.
Following a tried and tested route for smart O’Brien youngsters, Armory arrived on the back of victory in the Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown last month and raced in behind the pace set by stablemates Toronto and Iberia.
Bursting between that pair two furlongs out, Ryan Moore’s mount quickly went a length or so clear at the furlong pole, and while Rebel Tale closed to within three-quarters of a length at the line, the manner of victory was an impressive one.
O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him, he’s coming along lovely and he learned a lot today.
“The plan was to come here and come back for the National Stakes. I couldn’t be happier.
“He’s learning. He quickened well and that’s what he does, which you would like.
“We’ll go to the National Stakes now with him and see from there.”
RaceBets cut Armory to 12-1 favourite from 20-1 for the Derby.
On a high-class card, the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpine Star just prevailed from Petite Mustique in a pulsating renewal of the Debutante Stakes.
The winner’s stablemate Windracer made the early running in the Group Two contest, closely attended by O’Brien-trained favourite Love, who edged into a narrow advantage two and half furlongs out.
Plenty had chances with a furlong to travel, however, with Love’s stable companion Petite Mustique charging into it and Alpine Star (2-1) also well involved.
Continuing Harrington’s tremendous run with her two-year-olds, Alpine Star stuck determinedly to her guns and in a head-bobbing finish got the verdict by a short head from O’Brien’s filly.
The Niarchos family-owned winner was given an introductory quote of 25-1 for the Qipco 1000 Guineas by RaceBets.
Harrington said: “She’s tough, isn’t she. She’s all heart and stays really well.
“Shane (Foley) said they went hard the whole way and she got a little bit lost in the middle of the race, but when she got upsides all she wanted to do was stick her head out. She’s tough and needs a mile.”
When asked if she could be an Oaks filly, Harrington replied: “I’d say so, she could be.
“I’ve got Albigna for the Moyglare. She likes that dig in the ground and we’ll see where she goes now. She’s won a Group Two now. She’s in the Fillies’ Mile and also the Prix Marcel Boussac. They’d be options.”