Darwin back to winning ways
Last Updated: 13/07/14 5:55pm
Aidan O'Brien's American import Darwin got his career back on track with victory in the feature Belgrave Stakes at Fairyhouse.
When he beat Gordon Lord Byron this time last year the future looked bright for the former Todd Pletcher inmate, but in three runs since then he had failed to trouble the judge.
He had been well-beaten twice behind Slade Power this season, most recently at Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee, and was dropped markedly in class for the Listed contest against seasoned campaigners.
Joseph O'Brien was positive and kicked well clear entering the final furlong but the 2-1 favourite was clinging on at the finish, with Russian Soul gaining with every stride, before getting home by a short head. Jamesie was not far away in third.
The rider said: "The last day at Ascot was a bit of a shock to his system.
"He was better today and I probably got to the front too soon, but around here I needed to ride him a bit more positive as he gets the trip well.
"When he gets fast ground and a straight track I don't know how high he can go.
"He is entitled to go back into Group company now and he'd handle hard ground.
"It was grand safe ground today, but anything worse than good to firm he wouldn't really like it."
It was the second leg of a double for the O'Briens but there was nearly an almighty shock in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden with long odds-on favourite Cape Clear Island clinging on by a nose from Windsor Beach.
Cape Clear Island had been a beaten market leader twice already but that did not stop punters piling in, forcing his price into 1-5 at the off.
All looked to be going smoothly as he kicked clear well over a furlong out, but his mount proved awkward, first veering to his left and hampering Baldonnel, and then as Windsor Beach came with a rattling run from the rear Cape Clear Island edged towards him.
Favourite-backers initially had to endure a wait to hear if he was first past the post, which he was by a nose, and then a lengthy discussion by the stewards but the placings remained unaltered.
The John Oxx newcomer Looper made a highly encouraging debut in third.
Cape Clear Island is entered in the Phoenix and the National Stakes later in the season.
"I think he's better than he's showed so far. I'd get there later if I could do it again," said Joseph O'Brien
"He just got beaten at the Curragh but the winner (Accepted) went on to win a Listed race at Tipperary yesterday and he is entitled to go up in class now."
The good run of form from the Ger Lyons stable continued as Greek Canyon (11-2) battled back gamely to land the Lyrath Estate Hotel & Spa Summer Ladies Day Handicap.
Always up with the pace, he looked like being swallowed up a furlong out as Invincible Ridge and Kiss The Stars headed him.
Colin Keane refused to accept defeat on the five-year-old and to his credit he fought back to lead on the line to beat Kiss The Stars by a short head.
"He's fair genuine. He won four last year when we needed winners and that's our 30th this season," said Lyons.
"He was sold as a two-year-old to go to Hong Kong but he failed the vet."
Dermot Weld's Emerita (2-1) looks a name to remember after cruising to victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.
Only fifth on her debut last month, she looked a different proposition on this occasion and it was obvious from a long way out that she was travelling better than the favourite Tap Dancing, who yet again had to settle for second.
Emerita was a well-backed 2-1 chance and was heavily eased down by Pat Smullen on crossing the line.
Weld said: "She's crying out for a mile and a half. You won't see her a lot this year as she's a lovely big filly for next year."
Jim Bolger's is another stable in red-hot form and he was on the mark with Teoirim (5-2) in the Fingal Ravens Apprentice Rated Race.
Ger Flynn, Bolger's travelling head lad, said: "She has been on the way back, she was second in Down Royal and then fourth to Panama Hat.
"Ronan (Whelan) said she relished the ground and the trip. He sent her for home early and she got the job done."