Dermot Weld is eyeing a tilt at the Irish 2,000 Guineas for Shelir after he charged home to claim top honours in the Coolmore Churchill Irish EBF Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh.
A narrow winner on his racecourse debut at Navan in March, the Dark Angel colt was an 8-1 shot stepping up to Listed class under Chris Hayes.
Shelir raced in midfield for much of the seven-furlong contest and looked to have plenty on his plate racing inside the final two, with Hayes rowing along in the saddle.
However, the grey really found his stride late on – getting up to beat Eclipse Storm by a length and a quarter.
Weld said: “He did it very nicely and is still a horse with plenty to learn about racing. I was always confident over the last furlong that he was going to get there.
“He’ll obviously appreciate a mile, which he won over in Navan, and the logical thing is to come back here for the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
“He was a little bit keen in the early part of the race and then settled. It’s just his second start, and most of the other horses had a lot more experience than he had. He’s a work in progress and I think there is a nice bit more to come from this horse.
“I purposely ran him over seven today, just to see would he have the pace for a Guineas, and you saw there that he does and is entitled to run in the Irish Guineas and represent us well.”
Ickworth (8-1) was an impressive winner of the other Listed event on the card, the First Flier Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien’s 2-5 favourite King Neptune set out to make all the running, but had no answer when the Willie McCreery-trained Ickworth kicked clear for a two-and-a-quarter-length verdict in the hands of Billy Lee.
“She’s a sharp little filly and I was delighted to see the drying ground. I’d say a bit quicker ground would suit her even better,” said McCreery.
“Sheikh Mohammed loves to have runners in Royal Ascot and she’s going to love the fast ground, so if I can just keep her sound until then would be the thing. I don’t think she’ll run before that.”
Lee was completing a quickfire double, having earlier steered 11-4 favourite Sunday Sovereign to a decisive success in the Coolmore Sioux Nation Irish EBF Maiden.
Winning trainer Paddy Twomey said: “I was happy the way he did it. I felt that he’d come on a lot for his first run and he duly did.
“I wouldn’t make any hard and fast plans at the minute.”
The winning rider went on to claim a third success on board Michael Grassick’s 10-1 shot Verhoyen in the Curragh Where Champions Are Made Handicap.
Lee said: “I had nice rides coming here today and was confident that they would be running well. You would be hoping to ride a winner or two, but to ride three is great.”
Hit The Silk was a 14-1 winner of the Curragh Training Grounds Apprentice Handicap under Ger O’Neill, while the concluding Curragh On Hallowed Ground Handicap went to 5-1 favourite Red Tea for Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien.