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15 Feb 2018
Issue Number: Issue 636
Appleby hopes to do Godolphin proud by winning first Epsom Derby for royal blue silks
Forca Barza! Mickael keen to slay opponents with his Talismanic
De Sousa’s always chasing after the Silvestre lining
Group One hungry Lemartinel won’t go to work without lucky charm
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Caravaggio paints a pretty picture sprinting -ROYAL ASCOT TRIALS DAY - NAAS


Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Caravaggio, who connections had decided was showing too much speed in his work to have a crack over a mile in one of Europe’s 2000 Guineas, remains unbeaten after a facile success under Ryan Moore in the 6f Group 3 Lacken Stakes at Naas last month. Winner of all four juvenile starts last season, culminating in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, the 3yo son of Scat Daddy will now head to Royal Ascot, the scene of his Group 2 Coventry Stakes victory last year. The 6f Commonwealth Cup, restricted to 3yos, looks his most likely engagement but he is also entered in the 5f King’s Stand Stakes, as well as the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile.

O’Brien said: “He’s an unbelievably quick horse. We’ve never seen one quicker at home and that’s why we’re going to keep him sprinting. The Commonwealth Cup will be his next race all going well. “He’s a good bit heavier than he was last year, so you’d imagine he’ll come on from today’s race.” It was very much a straightforward success. Settled towards the rear, Ryan Moore steered Caravaggio to the outside of the field with just over two furlongs to run, and under a hands and heels ride, the pair were soon clear. Also bound for Royal Ascot is the equally impressive Alpha Centauri who beat the O’Brientrained Actress, winner of her previous outing, just as she had done when making a winning debut three weeks earlier in a 6f course maiden.

A massive juvenile daughter of Mastercraftsman, she followed up effortlessly in the Listed Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint Stakes over the same 6f. Trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, she hit the front at halfway and soon pulled clear in the style of a vey useful youngster. Harrington said: “The great thing today was she had a bit of an education, and she was behind for a while. She was very good, and when she went she just went. “She’s so relaxed and takes everything in her stride. She hardly breaks sweat. “If she goes to Ascot it would be for the Albany. She’s such an easy filly to train, and she has some stride on her. I don’t think going further will be any problem, as the further she went today the further she went away.”

The other Listed juvenile contest, the 5f Listed Rochestown Stakes, was wide open with less than a furlong to run with six of the seven runners challenging. It was True Blue Moon who gained the day, leading close home under Donnacha O’Brien, riding for his brother, Joseph. Winner of his one previous start, on the Polytrack at Dundalk and also over 5f, the son of Holy Roman Emperor is also on his way to Ascot. His trainer said: “He won nicely at Dundalk but had a little setback after that so we were a bit worried coming here. He’s quick and tries hard. Donnacha gave him a great ride. He should improve from that as he missed a week.

“He’d have to go to Ascot after that, but which race I’m not sure. I’d be inclined to stay at five furlongs as he’s quick and travels well.” Texas Rock was basically never headed under Billy Lee to provide trainer Michael Grassick a first Listed winner with a hard fought success in the 7f Owenstown Stud Stakes, holding off the late challenges of Drumfad Bay and Whitecliffsofdover. A gelding by Rock Of Gibraltar, the 6yo was registering his fifth and most important career success in the process. Grassick, saddling his first winner of the season, said: “I felt the ground was a bit quicker off the rail and it didn’t look like there was going to be anything to make the running, so we said we would play to our strengths.

“There were a few six furlong horses and we knew our horse stayed well. Turning in he kicked two or three lengths clear and that’s what won it. He’s tough and was pricking his ears just doing enough in front. “I’m delighted as I bred him, and it means that bit more. We still have the mare at home. I was just hoping to get a bit of black type but didn’t expect to win. We will probably look for a similar type of race again or maybe take him to England for something like a Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot.” The meeting concluded with a mile handicap and Godolphin supplied the winner with the Mick Halford-trained Allography hanging on grimly under apprentice Conor McGovern.

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