The outstanding filly Katla continued the fairytale for Cashel based John Grogan when she got the better of the Aidan O’Brien trained Empowering in a hectic finish to the Listed Sweet Mimosa Stakes over six furlongs at Naas on Wednesday evening. Owned, trained and bred by Grogan the daughter of Majestic Missile was landing the second Listed success of her career after being placed at Group2 level in France as a juvenile. In what looked a hot contest she was always close to the pace as Joseph O’Brien blazed the trail aboard Empowering. Jockey Billy Lee then produced Katla at the furlong marker and in a titanic battle all the way to the line she shaded the verdict by a short head with the John Oxx runner and favourite Alanza arriving late in the day to claim third place half a length further back in third place. Make no mistake but this was a truly remarkable achievement for a stable with only one animal in training to take on the powerhouses of Irish racing that included Aidan O’Brien, John Oxx, Mick Halford and indeed Tommy Stack and then come out on top. The scenes in the winners enclosure would do justice to Cheltenham or indeed Epsom or Royal Ascot and for the writer it was a privilege to witness such a brave display by Katla which gave a lift to the whole Cashel community. Missing from the celebrations was Christy Ryan who does all the work with the filly as he was laid low with an appendix but no doubt he will be back to cheer her home again in the future. Grogan told me that he is now viewing a five furlong contest at Tipperary next week or the flying five at the Curragh later in the month as rider Billy Lee is convinced that she has the speed to take on the specialists over the minimum trip. Katla takes her racing well and goes on any ground so hopefully the rest and the best is yet to come.
There was drama at the start of the opening 2.y.o. maiden when a false start was declared and the runners had to be recalled but when the race got underway at the second attempt it was clear that the Tommy Stack runner Hestian was going to be a major player. The odds on favourite An Ghalanta from the Jim Bolger stable was bowling along in front but came under pressure with a furlong to race as Hestian threw down his challenge and once rider Wayne Lordan popped the question aboard the son of Kodiac quickened up well to land the spoils by a couple of lengths from the favourite. Assistant trainer Fozzy Stack revealed that the false start helped Hestian as he was slowly away at the first attempt, he showed plenty of ability and is one to keep an eye on for the rest of the season especially when he is upped to six furlongs.
Dermot Weld who will have his usual strong team at this weeks Galway festival showed that the yard is in good form when saddling Taameer to land the mile conditions race in a cracking finish with Duff and the Tommy Stack runner Mutahadee. Making his first appearance for the trainer Taameer which was Group3 placed across the water as a juvenile was easy to back in what on paper at least looked a very competitive contest. Dropped out in the early stages the Beat Hollow gelding began to stay on in the straight and got his head in front right on the line to defeat Duff by the minimum margin with Mutahadee catching the eye with a strong late surge a similar distance away in third place. Weld told me that he bought Taameer at the Doncaster May sales, he was worried that the trip would be on the short side for him but if he comes of it without any ill effects he will reappear this Friday evening over a mile and six at Galway.
Ballycahill rider Eddie Power gave Deputy Consort a polished ride to take the first division of the two mile and three beginners chase at Wexford on Friday evening. Cashel based Ken Whelan attempted to make all the running aboard I Am Great but was reeled in before the straight, at this point Power was just about to deliver his challenge and once Deputy Consort hit the front going to the last fence he quickly settled the issue and went on to win comfortably by eight lengths from I Am Great. Trained by Matthieu Palussiere for his wife Liz the eight year old has been a great servant to connections and gave the trainer his first success when he was based at South Lodge. A handicap chase over a similar trip is now the next item on the agenda.
Whelan had better luck later on when partnering Don’t Stop Me Now to victory for trainer Shark Hanlon. Whelan was in no hurry to take on the leaders but it was clear from three out that his mount was galloping all over his rivals and once given the office he did the business with the minimum of fuss.
Goban Saor from the Edward O’Grady establishment was all the rage for the second division of the Beginners chase but after looking a winner turning for home he seemed to lose concentration and was eventually beaten three parts of a length by Vital Plot.