/ Racing

Leading Light shines at Navan

Updated: Sunday, 18 May 2014 18:52 | Comments

Joseph O'Brien rode Leading Light to victory
Joseph O'Brien rode Leading Light to victory

Leading Light made the perfect start to his four-year-old campaign with a clear-cut victory in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes.

The Ladbrokes St Leger hero was running for the first time since finishing down the field in the Arc at Longchamp in October and took closer order behind the front-running Royal Diamond with a half a mile to run.

With the latter sticking to the far rail, Joseph O'Brien's mount came down the middle in company with Pale Mimosa, and the even-money favourite loomed large two furlongs out.

When asked Leading Light responded sweetly and went nicely clear in the final 200 yards to win with three lengths in hand from Royal Diamond, who kept on well to take second.

Winning trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "You'd have to be very happy with him, you couldn't be happier really.

"I was very happy with him at home, he's a lot stronger and was doing all the right things.

"He had the penalty there for his first run and it was a proper run race.

"We haven't seen the bottom of him yet, at the end of two miles at Ascot last year (Queen's Vase) he didn't seem to be stopping so we will look forward to that (Gold Cup) and he could run in the Saval Beg before that.

"When he gets there (to the front) he pulls up so that's why he wears cheekpieces.

"It was lovely that they went a gallop and he could take his time and didn't have to make his own running.

"He settled well, travelled well and quickened twice down the straight."

Trainer O'Brien followed up when John Constable - a full brother to Leading Light - ended a frustrating run of defeats in the Excelebration Maiden as the 5-4 favourite, although the Ballydoyle team were denied a three-timer when Table Rock had to settle for second behind Maskoon (9-2) in the Pour Moi EBF Maiden.

Sailors Swan made a successful seasonal debut when landing the Come Racing On June 14th Maiden at Navan in some style.

Dermot Weld's colt was fourth to Ebanoran at the Curragh on his sole juvenile outing, form well advertised when the John Oxx-trained winner passed the post first in the Derrinstown Derby Trial recently before being demoted.

The son of Henrythenavigator only needed to be pushed out by Pat Smullen to beat Body Beautiful by a ready three and a half lengths.

Weld said of the 11-8 favourite: "He did it well, Pat said the ground was beautiful.

"The rain left it really nice, it had changed to good to firm this morning and I was a little bit worried as like to get his toe in, but I was happy when I walked the track that it was safe. He was fit and knew his job.

"He'll go for a handicap now and that trip is about right for him, we ran him over seven furlongs as a two-year-old and we thought we'd come back in trip with him."

Eddie Lynam may have been out of luck with Balmont Mast in Singapore, but he gained some compensation thanks to a double kickstarted by More Questions in the navanracecourse.ie Handicap.

The race lost some of its lustre with the withdrawals of well-fancied pair Masai and Great Minds, but that should take nothing away from the victory of the 4-1 favourite, who quickened smartly past several rivals in the final furlong to prevail by two and a quarter lengths.

Lynam's brace was completed by Odisseia (7-2) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Handicap.

Christina Simpson enjoyed a moment to remember as she rode her fist ever winner on Above The Law (16-1) in the Navan Family Day Handicap.

The 20-year-old, who claims 10lb and is from Tynan in County Armagh, was in front from an early stage on the Andrew Oliver-trained gelding and did really well to keep all at bay as the challengers loomed from two out.

The in-form Weld suffered a rare reverse as Dandyleekie got up right on the line to foil Araner in the Requinto European Breeders Fund Maiden.

Smullen's mount bowled along with the help of the rail and looked like he might have done enough but he was was strongly pressed by Ger Lyons' newcomer through the final furlong.

The pair flashed past the post almost as one, but 16-1 chance Dandyleekie was quickly called the winner by a head in the hands of Gary Carroll.

Lyons said: "His work was always good, but we weren't sure if we were going run him as he was very weak.

"We hoped it would be a nice experience bringing him to Navan and we can build for the season from this.

"We always thought he had ability and he will be on the team for Royal Ascot now.

"Gary says he's still very weak, but it's a nice option to have. There should be masses of improvement to come and it bodes well for what we have at home."

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