The Irish flat season moved up another gear yesterday at Leopardstown with the two Guineas Trials being the feature races. The Group 3 2,000 Guineas Trial was robbed of some interest when the well fancied Cocozza was withdrawn at the start when becoming unruly in the stalls. It left what appeared to be a straight forward task for Dunboyne Express (IRE) and Kevin Prendergast’s charge did not disappoint, quickening nicely under Declan McDonagh to beat the Ballydoyle runner Exodus. Prendergast was quite satisfied with the performance commenting: “The run will bring him on and he'll go straight to the Irish 2,000 Guineas - we'll learn more about him there.” A high class 2yo last year, the son of Shamardal finished fifth behind Casmento (IRE) in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy and is an exciting prospect for his owner breeder John Connaughton. Dunboyne Express is certainly bred for greatness; he is the fourth foal out of Love Excelling, herself a half sister to Oaks winner Love Divine, dam of St Ledger winner Sixties Icon.
The Group 3 1,000 Guineas Trial was a competitive event and it produced a 1-2 for Aidan O’Brien when Empowering (IRE) led home her stable-mate Wild Wind with the John Oxx pair History Note and Maniree running eye-catching races in behind. The winner was ridden to great effect by the trainers son Joesph and the trainer commented; "Empowering is in the English Guineas, and I would imagine she will take her chance at Newmarket; she is a smart filly.” It was a truly family affair as Empowering is owned by O’Brien’s wife Anne-Marie and was also bred by them under their Whisperview Trading banner. The winner is by Encosta De Lago who stands at Coolmore Stud.
Aidan O’Brien narrowly missed out on success at the Dubai World Cup night at Meydan on Saturday when Master Of Hounds was narrowly beaten by Kawlah (IRE) in the Group 2 UAE Derby. Master of Hounds, ridden by Ryan Moore, looked all over a winner but was run down close home by Khawlah. The winner, by Cape Cross, was bred in Ireland by Darley. O’Brien was also out of luck in the main event when Cape Blanco ran a cracker to be a close fourth in the Dubai World Cup behind the two Japanese trained horses, Victoire Pisa and Transcend. It was Cape Blanco’s first run in the colours of Dr Jim Hay and his wife and his performance augurs well for the season ahead.