The feature race in Ireland over the weekend was the Group 3 Kerry Group Noblesse Stakes at Cork on Sunday. This valuable contest for fillies was won in great style by the Dermot Weld trained Sapphire (IRE). The Moyglare Stud homebred was an easy winner of a Listed race at the Curragh last October and she showed further progression on her seasonal debut on Sunday to beat Betterbetterbetter by five lengths. Sapphire won in the manner of a potential Group 1 filly and her trainer will not shy away from any lofty targets commenting; “We’ve won this valuable Group race in three out of the last four years. Sapphire is a very progressive mare and I’ll probably bring her back to a mile-and-two now for the Group 1 Pretty Polly at the Curragh. She’ll probably have to travel as the year progresses. She’s just a class act and she does like an ease in the ground.” Sapphire is by Medicean and is out of Polished Gem, who is a half sister to Dress To Thrill, out of Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Trusted Partner. Polished Gem actually sired two winners on the card as Sapphire’s younger half brother Custom Cut landed the final race on the card.
At Leopardstown last Thursday John Oxx’s classy filly Alanza (IRE) got back in the winning grove when landing the Group 3 Ballychorus Stakes under Johnny Murtagh. The daughter of Dubai Destination was highly progressive last season and she looks every bit as good this year. John Oxx is keen to give the Aga Khan homebred another shot at top competition and commented; “I think we’ll have a crack at maybe the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket next month with Alanza. Although she’s very good at 7 furlongs we’ll give her another shot at the mile. She won nicely tonight as we hoped she would. I thought she was going to win a couple of lengths but she was just dossing in front as the ground had gone a bit for her.” Her sire was acquired by Rathbarry Stud predominantly as a national hunt stallion but he is enjoying a very fruitful spell with his runners on the flat. This year he has also been represented by Group 2 winner Top Trip and by Farraaj, narrowly beaten in the Italian 2,000 Guineas.