Admiral Nelson staked a late claim for Royal Ascot as he accounted for a better-fancied stablemate in the Tally-Ho Stud Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden at the Curragh
Aidan O’Brien fielded three newcomers in the five-furlong contest, with Merchants Quay appearing to be the yard’s first string with Seamie Heffernan aboard.
However, it was Wayne Lordan’s mount who impressed the most, travelling stylishly and moving with authority at the finish to win by a cosy length from 11-10 favourite Merchants Quay.
O’Brien said of his 5-1 scorer: “He travelled well and could be a Coventry horse. It will depend how he comes out of this and he’ll have to go straight to Ascot. He won’t be doing anything after this because it is so close.
“It’s far from ideal, but we are lucky to have got a race into them. We have run two or three in each of the races (since racing resumed in Ireland on Monday).
“It’s different times, but we are lucky to have the races.”
He added: “We think the second is a nice horse as well. Seamus said he was just a little bit in his hands and maybe travelled a little bit too strong. It’s possible he could go as well (Royal Ascot), but they may not all get in.”
Joseph O’Brien got on the scoreboard via Galileo Chrome in the 10-furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden.
The 4-1 shot was fifth on his only start last year, but stepped up on that to claim a head verdict over King Of The Throne in a thrilling finish.
O’Brien said: “He’d a lovely run last year and had wintered well. He was working nicely and we thought he was a pretty nice maiden.
“He’s entered in the Derby here and you would have to take it into consideration, but it would be a big enough ask for him to step straight in there after today.
“He’s a nice colt and a middle-distance type horse. A mile and a half would be no problem to him. He would be better going further and is still a big baby. I like him a lot.
“Latrobe won his maiden and went straight there (Irish Derby), but they are different horses. We might find a stepping stone for this horse rather than go for the Irish Derby, but we’ll see how he is.”
Bowerman (5-1) continued his progression to land the Paddy Power Irish Lincolnshire.
Last seen just missing out on a Listed prize in France in February, the Adrian McGuinness-trained 5-1 chance burst clear when getting a gap over a furlong out and quickly put the valuable handicap to bed.
McGuinness said: “He’s 6lb better lighter on the grass and we always felt there was a big pot in him. He’s a very high-class horse and I’d say his handicap days are over now.
“Our original plan was to run in the Lincoln at the start of the year and then go for the Royal Hunt Cup, but I’ll settle for this!”
He added: “He’ll go for Listed and Group races now and is in the Alleged Stakes. The guys have had a lot of fun with this horse and we’ll just keep rocking. It’s going to be hard when you step up another level, but he’s well capable of doing it.
“Current Options was just a little free early doors and he’ll go back to seven in two weeks’ time on Derby weekend, and Saltonstall will go back to Galway.”
Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley can do little wrong at the moment – a point emphasised through Leo De Fury in Coolmore Magna Grecia Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes.
Harrington’s daughter, Kate, said of the emphatic 6-1 winner: “He’s really exciting. We thought a lot of him last year and the ground was a bit soft for him at the back end in Longchamp, but he’s wintered really well and I can’t believe he’s won so easy there.
“Shane said he just dropped him in. I thought there was something wrong as they went so hard and he was so far back, but the way he got there he looks like a proper horse.
“I’d say the Tattersalls Gold Cup will be his next aim. We’ll give him a bit of time between his races.”