Castle the Star at the Curragh

Castle Star ridden by Chris Hayes (second left) on their way to winning the GAIN Marble Hill Stakes during day one of the Tattersalls Irish Guineas Festival at Curragh racecourse. Picture date: Saturday May 22, 2021.
Image: Castle Star ridden by Chris Hayes (second left) on their way to winning the GAIN Marble Hill Stakes

Castle Star leapt to prominence in the betting for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot with a stylish display in the GAIN Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh.

A five-furlong Listed winner at the track last time out, Fozzy Stack's charge found the extra furlong well within his compass in the hands of Chris Hayes.

Sent off at 5-2, Castle Star was dropped right out by Hayes before he came swinging into contention with just over a furlong to run.

Despite the ground being testing, the son of Starspangledbanner quickened up impressively to beat Masseto by two lengths.

Betfair cut him to 6-1 from 14-1 for the Ascot race.

"It's not often you see someone taking a pull a furlong out," said Stack.

"The first day in Cork, Chris got there a bit soon and we are learning how to ride him now.

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"He's improving and bouncing out of his races.

"The plan in my head after the last day was to go straight to Ascot, but he was going to come out over the door, so we said we'd bring him up here and see how we got on.

"The Coventry is a possibility, but I wouldn't rule anything in or not. There is the Railway back here which deserves consideration and we'll just see nearer the time.

"He's very straight forward, has a great constitution, bounces out of his races and is uncomplicated. If I didn't run him this week, he would have killed somebody at home!"

Pinar Del Rio (2-1) built on a promising debut to win the Tally Ho Stud Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden for Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee.

Third first time out at Naas, he put that experience to good use to beat Thunder Eclipse by a length and a quarter.

"He's an uncomplicated horse, he had a lovely first run and I was hoping coming here today that he might do something like that," said Twomey.

"He's showing a lot of class and he has to step up now, whether that's running back here or going to the UK, I don't know.

"I don't think that ground is what he's looking for - I think he wants nicer ground - so for him to do that in the ground, I'm happy."

Greenlands victory for Gustavus

Gustavus Weston bounced back from a disappointing run six days ago to dent some tall reputations in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh.

Hollie Doyle had made the trip to Ireland to partner her British Champions Sprint winner Glen Shiel and Joseph O'Brien's Speak In Colours has some top-class form to his name, while Sonaiyla changed hands for 900,000 guineas in December.

None of them had an answer to Joe Murphy's five-year-old, however, who returned as a 14-1 winner.

Doyle adopted her usual position on Glen Shiel at the head of affairs and was joined by Make A Challenge as the pair went toe to toe for the first four furlongs.

As Glen Shiel dropped away, noted mud-lover Make A Challenge was left in front, but Gary Carroll began to get Gustavus Weston on a roll.

A Group Three winner back in 2019, he had been winless since and finished only sixth behind Logo Hunter at Naas last week.

He went on to win by three-quarters of a length with Make A Challenge returning to something like his best in second, with Sonaiyla running on for third.

"That was his Derby. He won here before and we always thought he liked the Curragh," said Murphy.

"We thought he needed the race last week and that put him dead on for this one.

"He won well and I'm delighted the way Gary rode him, it was a good result.

"I'd have been happy with a place, we're not greedy! He got him switched off which helped, he's inclined to be a bit strong, but he switched off today and that was the key to him."

Plays too good in Lanwades

Epona Plays ran out a hugely impressive winner of the Group Two Lanwades Stud Stakes.

Willie McCreery's filly ran eight times last season, showing steady progression, but has taken her form to a new level this term.

Winner of a Group Three at Naas last time out, she dominated from the front on this occasion, winning by four lengths under Billy Lee.

"She just got into a lovely rhythm there," said McCreery

"There were only six runners and we could see there was probably going to be no pace in the race.

"We wanted to try to take the pace out of the Group One filly (Champers Elysees) and not to leave anything for her. That's a tough mile today.

"I was a bit nervous yesterday morning when I saw the lads walking the track, but the Curragh is the most drying plain in the country, so I never had any worry that it wasn't going to be run.

"It's fantastic for owner Renzo Forni, who has been a fantastic supporter of me since Joanna Morgan retired.

"I've nothing at the minute target wise and we'll see."

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