Last year's Royal Lodge Stakes winner Royal Dornoch finished with a flourish to claim top honours in the Clipper Logistics Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday.
A field of seven went to post for the Group Three feature, with Ancient Spirit the 9-4 market leader to complete a treble on the afternoon for Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley.
For much of the way, favourite backers must have been fairly content, with Ancient Spirit dominating proceedings from the front and looking likely to win decisively after kicking a couple of lengths clear early in the home straight.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Royal Dornoch had finished down the field in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and last of all in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on his last couple of starts, but did beat Guineas hero Kameko in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket last term.
The 12-1 shot had only one horse behind him rounding the home turn this time – but as Ancient Spirit began to tie up in the last half-furlong, Royal Dornoch was just finding top gear on the far side of the track and powered home under Seamie Heffernan to win by a neck.
Heffernan said: “He’s a Group Two winner. He’s been a little bit disappointing (this year), but he’s been running in top-notch races.
“I rode him to run well, and it might be just the way to ride him.”
A tilt at Group One glory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes is next on the agenda for Angel Palm following an impressive display on her second career start in the opening contest on the card.
The Ger Lyons-trained filly was a hot favourite for her course-and-distance debut in mid-June, but had to make do with minor honours in fourth behind Jessica Harrington’s Oodnadatta.
Angel Palm was the 6-5 market leader to reward those who kept the faith in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden – and it was impossible not to be impressed by the way she swept aside her rivals by three lengths in the hands of Colin Keane.
“She’s a nice filly. We were disappointed because they went no pace the first day, but the form is working out,” said Lyons.
“This is our better two-year-old filly, so we weren’t surprised to see horses come out of that race and win.
“She’ll go straight to the Moyglare now. Colin said she’d appreciate another furlong and said that ground is as quick as she wants it. It’s beautiful ground, but on the quick side of good.
“Hopefully, all going well, it’s off to the Moyglare with her now.”
Joseph O’Brien’s Pista came from last to first to claim Listed honours in the Vinnie Roe Stakes
An impressive winner of a Galway Festival maiden, the 14-1 chance faced a big step up in class, but was produced with a withering late run by Shane Crosse to get up and beat Sunchart by half a length, with odds-on favourite Dawn Patrol a close-up third.
O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “I thought for one minute that it didn’t look like she would finish anywhere, but Shane said she stayed very well and hit the line well.
“She’s improving all the time – she’s still a bit green, and I think there is more to come out of her.”
O’Brien doubled up with Lampetia in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap, with 7lb claimer Mikey Sheehy the winning rider.
Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley teamed up to land the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden with 11-8 favourite Fly Girl.
Fifth on her debut at the track, the daughter of The Gurkha found the necessary improvement to score by half a length from Messidor.
Harrington said: “She had a nice run here the first time – but I ran her over a mile, and I don’t think she really got home.
“Shane said she was pretty green in front today, but she did it well.”
The Harrington-Foley combination completed a quickfire double with 9-1 shot Pixel Power in the following Leopardstown Handicap.
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