Weld dominates at Leopardstown
Dermot Weld completed a clean sweep of the Group 3 contests at Leopardstown on Sunday but only with the help of the stewards on the final leg of the treble, as Fascinating Rock was handed the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial after a lengthy inquiry.
The impressive Mustajeeb had given the Weld team the perfect start to the day, showing a brilliant turn of foot to land the Ardglen Amethyst Stakes at the expense of Brendan Brackan. The only 3yo in the field, runner up in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes last season, had plenty of ground to make up in the latter stages of the 1 mile contest, but once hitting top gear under Pat Smullen was able to cruise clear to score by 2 1/2 lengths.
The Irish 2000 Guineas may now be the target for Hamdan Al Maktoum, with Weld saying: “I’ll speak to Sheikh Hamdan and Angus Gold (racing manager), but I would encourage them towards the Irish 2,000 Guineas.”
Recent Limerick maiden winner Afternoon Sunlight made it two from two in the Group 3 contest, showing lots of grit and determination to take the 1000 Guineas Trial. The Sea The Stars filly had been unlucky to bump into some very decent sorts in her 2yo campaign but seems to have to matured very nicely over Winter, as seen at Limerick last month and again here where she was just able to see off Aidan O’Brien’s Palace by just a head.
The real drama of the day was left until the final leg of the Weld treble, with Evens favourite Fascinating Rock getting the decision after a lengthy inquiry, having become embroiled in a messy battle with Geoffrey Chaucer and Ebanoran in the closing stages. It was the latter, trained by John Oxx, that would actually cross the line in front, but only after first causing Geoffrey Chaucer some interference as he made his way to the front and again towards the line when leaning away from the rail and bumping Weld’s charge. With the winning distance being judged to be only a neck, the stewards were left with no choice but to reverse the decision.
“I don’t like to win a race in the stewards’ room and I feel for John Oxx,” Weld said of the inquiry. “With a better pace he would have won outright and I thought it was inevitable he’d get it.
“It was an inconclusive race, we didn’t expect it to be a three furlong sprint and it was an excellent run. This is the first time he’s had to sprint and he’ll have learned a lot.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Archive
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