Tom Mullins is excited to see how far Stela Star can go next season after running out a surprise winner of the Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown.
Although successful on her third and most recent outing at Dundalk, the daughter of Epaulette looked to face a huge task in this Group Three contest, with both 6-4 favourite Iberia and 2-1 shot Geometrical rated over 20lb superior.
However, Stela Star was soon in front in the hands of Colin Keane and found plenty for pressure in the testing conditions to see off Iberia by a length and a half.
Dermot Weld’s once-raced Curragh maiden winner Katiba was just a head away in third, with Geometrical a disappointing last of five.
Mullins said: “I don’t think I’ve won a Group Three before, I’d say it’s my first one.
“She’s very well bred and she’s come on leaps and bounds since she won in Dundalk. I was just hoping to be placed.
“I was a bit worried about the ground, but I suppose everyone was, and she ran through it.”
Stela Star had been declared to run in Sunday’s Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Race Final at Naas, but Mullins unsurprisingly has bigger plans for his filly now.
“She had the option of running on Sunday, but she probably won’t now,” the trainer added.
“She could come back here for the Guineas trial in the spring, Colin said that. I don’t know whether she’ll be in Helen’s (Mullins, trainer’s wife) colours or not.
“We’ll put her away until the spring now.”
Mullins went on to complete a double as 6-1 shot Takarengo scooted clear under Billy Lee in the idealgraphix.ie Handicap.
A good day for Aidan O’Brien got even better after the impeccably-bred Mount Everest (11-4 joint-favourite) came out on top in a thrilling finish to the Listed Trigo Stakes.
The Ballydoyle handler was, of course, at Ascot for Qipco British Champions Day, where he enjoyed a big-race double courtesy of Kew Gardens in the Long Distance Cup and Magical in the Champion Stakes.
But he will undoubtedly have been pleased to see this son of Galileo out of the top-class racemare Six Perfections open his account for the campaign at the third attempt, getting the better of Ancient Spirit by a head.
Winning jockey Wayne Lordan said: “The second horse got a little bit loose up front, so he did well to chase him down. He stays well.
“He’s a horse that’s coming off a long lay-off and I think racing will improve him.
“I think he’ll be better on nicer ground as well.”
Earlier in the afternoon O’Brien’s Celtic High King had sprung a 25-1 surprise in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Maiden, with Emmet McNamara the winning rider.
Elsewhere on the card, Sheila Lavery’s Quizical justified 100-30 favouritism in the Tote Supporting Irish Racing Since 1930 Handicap.
Shane Crosse’s mount was getting his head in front for the first time since his memorable triumph under Sir Anthony McCoy in the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland at the Curragh last month.