Mohawk took full advantage of a drop in class to run out a decisive winner of the Meld Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday evening.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt has kept smart company this season, finding only top-class stablemate Circus Maximus too good in the Dee Stakes at Chester, before taking his chance in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the French Derby.
Given a patient ride by Donnacha O’Brien in this Group Three affair, the Galileo colt produced a smart turn of foot from well over a furlong out as he swept to the front.
The lightly-raced Up Helly Aa stayed on strongly to give Willie McCreery plenty of encouragement for the future, but the 9-4 favourite had a comfortable two lengths in hand at the line.
O’Brien junior said: “It was nice and smooth, they went a nice gallop, I got a nice slot the whole way and when I asked him to quicken up he did.
“He probably got a little bit idle in front, but he’s a nice, solid horse.
“They went a nice gallop and I think the leader (Ancient Spirit) was just starting to crack and my lad had form over further. He stuck at it well up the hill.”
Elsewhere on the card, Howling Wolf made it a day to remember for the Mullins family with victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden.
Having finished a close third first time out at the Curragh, the Tony Mullins-trained 9-4 favourite made that experience count, racing prominently before ultimately proving too strong for Aidan O’Brien’s newcomer Santiago, who ran a nice race in second.
The half-length success meant Mullins joined his brothers Willie and Tom with winners on the day, as they, together with nephew Emmet, were on the mark in the afternoon at Killarney.
Mullins said of his winner: “He’s nice. His full-brother (Howling Ridge) dead-heated here last year and this lad has a much better mind.
“I’d say he could step up to Listed or maybe even Group class. I think we’ll go another step before he might be offered for sale.”
Luxuriant could be a name to remember, following her winning start in the Carnival Extravaganza Maiden for Dermot Weld and Oisin Orr.
The Khalid Abdullah-owned Kingman filly returned the 11-4 joint-favourite, and Weld said: “She did it nicely, did more or less what we expected.
“Oisin gave her a nice ride. I think there is nice improvement in her and hopefully she can develop into a stakes filly.
“That trip (nine furlongs) is about right. She came there going very easy and saw it out nicely. She could probably come back to a mile or go another furlong, but that’s about right.
“We’ll look at either a winners’ race of a Listed race with her. She’s a big, big filly and I’m in no hurry with her. She’s a filly that will even make a lovely four-year-old.”