A'Ali powers to Sapphire Stakes success

‘He’s very straightforward and feels like a Group One horse’.

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A’Ali finished with a rare rattle to win the Holden Plant Rentals Sapphire Stakes for Simon and Ed Crisford at the Curragh.

A sharp juvenile last season, it looked like he could face a tricky second season when he was well beaten over six furlongs at Newcastle on his reappearance.

Winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot last term, though, he relished the return to five furlongs last time out at Sandown, beating a smart filly in Liberty Beach.

Back up to Group Two class this time, the Society Rock colt looked to have a mountain to climb at halfway as Make A Challenge went clear on the far side of the track.

A’Ali was racing in a group of two with just Punita Aurora for company – but that mattered not a bit in the final reckoning, as when Colin Keane asked him to pick up the response was immediate.

Full of confidence after his Oaks win aboard Even So on Saturday, Keane delivered his charge to perfection and the even-money favourite ultimately won by a length going away from Make A Challenge in second, with Rapid Reaction third.

Keane said: “He’s a very speedy horse. I thought at one stage that I was in trouble. It wasn’t by design that I was away from the main group and it would have been better to get a tow into the race, but I felt I was on a fresh strip of ground.”

Paddy Power cut the winner to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York next month, and Keane added: “He’s very straightforward and feels like a Group One horse.”

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