Limini set for Cesarewitch start:
Classy hurdler Limini scooped a big prize on the Flat when finishing with a flourish to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Petingo’ Premier Handicap at Leopardstown.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare was twice placed at the Galway Festival when sent off favourite and gained compensation with a battling performance to beat Law Girl, giving Mullins and owner Rich Ricci the first two home.
British raider Medalla D’Oro set the pace with Cliffs Of Doneen until the straight where the race changed complexion.
The Mouse Doctor looked a threat to all, but Oisin Murphy produced Limini (5-1) late in the day to grab victory by a head from Law Girl (20-1). St Stephens Green (20-1) was third and The Mouse Doctor (16-1) fourth.
Mullins said: “We weren’t happy with our draws, but I think the English horse set a huge gallop and it suited ours as they were late finishers.
“Limini was a shade unlucky in Galway and has made up for it there. Law Girl ran really above herself, she ran fantastic and it just shows that she wants to hear herself hitting the ground.
“We thought it was going to be too short for her, and for a minute it looked like she’d got there too soon, but she ran a cracker and both Danny (Mullins) and Oisin gave them fantastic rides.”
He went on: “It’s fantastic for Limini and for Rich. Between the horses today and yesterday he’s having a nice Flat campaign.
“Limini’s a nice filly and we thought we’d be back on the Flat with her last year, but we didn’t get around to it.
“She’s earning her keep on the Flat and we’re very very pleased. I wouldn’t be afraid to go up in trip with her either.
“We are lucky enough we have these nice stayers and they go on good ground. We try to make as much of whatever horses we have and going this route (on the Flat) suits us.
“I’d imagine these will go to the Cesarewitch, Limini definitely, and the others and Lagostovegas. The Irish and the English Cesarewitch are both there and we’ll see what way the ball hops for them.
“There is only a day between. Ground will dictate where Law Girl goes. She really surprised me today.
“We’re going to pursue this Flat game with Limini and wait till we get out to a mile and six and two miles.
“We had thought could she be a Melbourne Cup horse and she’d be getting up to that area now. The only thing is that the ratings for it are going so high.
“That’s what we had thought two years ago when she was running well and maybe she will keep improving.
“Obviously she’s not in it this year. We’ve also got to look at the Ebor and races like that next year that she will get into now.
“If she can run for a million or seven million, we’ll give up the jumping for a while anyway!”
Harrington kicks off Irish Champions Weekend in style:
Sparkle’n’joy (12-1) put up a determined display to land the Listed honours in the Ballylinch Stud Irish EBF Ingabelle Stakes.
The Jessica Harrington-trained filly would not give in to the well-backed 5-2 favourite Foxtrot Liv, who put in a persistent challenge in the final furlong.
There was little to choose between the pair at the line but Sparkle’n’joy prevailed by a head under a strong ride from Shane Foley.
“That’s brilliant and there is some noise in this place,” said Harrington.
“My other filly (Threthias, fourth) was very unlucky. She had a very wide draw and had to come round them all. She made up a lot of ground and she was also coming back a furlong.
“But don’t take it away from Sparkle’n’joy as she’s some tough filly. Shane said she really ground it out in the last furlong because she had to. She stuck her head out and really wanted to get there.
“Trethias was probably the most unlucky horse in it. The way she was drawn he could do nothing. I think she’s very nice.
“She probably won’t run again, we’ll see as she wants a bit of nice ground, and I don’t think Sparkle’n’joy will run again as she’s done enough this year.
“We’ll let them all relax for the winter and dream because that’s what it’s all about.”