/ Racing

Eye Of The Storm lands Ballyroan Stakes

Updated: Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 22:58 | Comments

Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr entertains the crowd at Leopardstown
Former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr entertains the crowd at Leopardstown

Eye Of The Storm dug deep to strike gold for the first time this year in the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.

Winner of two of his five starts last term, the Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old had failed to make his mark in three outings so far this season but still carried plenty of market confidence as the 7-4 favourite in this 12-furlong event.

Joseph O'Brien had Eye Of The Storm handily placed behind Roheryn in the early stages before pushing to the front with more than half of the race still to run.

That pair still dominated proceedings turning into the straight and O'Brien pushed on, only for Roheryn to renew his challenge while Chance To Dance and Streetcar To Stars made late ground after sitting in behind earlier on.

However, despite the trio's best efforts, they could not reel in Eye Of The Storm as he held on by half a length.

O'Brien said: "I'm delighted. He only has one eye so he gets a bit intimidated sometimes. Coming out of stalls, he wasn't sure where he was so he went a bit right, but he settled into the race when he worked out where he was. When he goes left-handed, he can't see the rail.

"He's in the American Leger at Arlington later this month and he's a possibility for that. We also have Magician in the Million and Adelaide in the Secretariat."

The O'Brien team had earlier been on the mark as Illusive scored his first victory at the third attempt in the Foxrock Maiden.

The son of Galileo, who is a full-brother to Rip Van Winkle, disputed the lead in the early stages before taking up the pace with seven furlongs still to run.

He asserted when ridden a furlong and a half from home and he kept on well in the closing stages to score by three-quarters of a length.

The winning trainer said: "It's great that he has won and hopefully he will come forward from it. He won nicely. He quickened up well but he probably got a bit tired on the ground as he hasn't run for a while."

Vert De Grece is set for a step up in class as he justified 5-4 favouritism in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Owned and trained by Joe Murphy, Verte De Grece scored by a neck from Hail The Hero on his first outing since June.

Murphy said: "Coming here I thought he would win easier. Gary (Carroll, jockey) felt there is more improvement in him. It's so long since he has run.

"He is a nice horse and he'll head for the Futurity now on the 24th. He'll have no problem in getting a mile. I wouldn't have minded another furlong the way things went today."

Tom McCourt could also raise Local Flier's sights after she landed the Johnny Marr Handicap by a cosy four and a quarter lengths in a first-time visor.

"I've been threatening to put the blinds on her for a while. She's honest enough but does a lot of looking around," said McCourt.

"I thought a couple of times over seven at Fairyhouse she had them well stuffed, but she tied up a bit. I thought the stiff six here would suit but didn't expect her to do it like that.

"We could look at one of the better sprints towards the end of the year."

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