LA COLLINA sprang a massive surprise as she came from an impossible position under Declan McDonogh to mug Power in the final strides of the Phoenix Stakes and give veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast a memorable win
The daughter of Strategic Prince was sent off a 33-1 chance, having just a maiden win to her name, but she franked the form of earlier Debutante Stakes winner Maybe, behind whom who she had finished second on her previous start, as she flashed home.
La Collina was breaking Aidan O’Brien’s stranglehold on this race – he has won 11 of the previous 13 runnings – but her win was all the more remarkable bearing in mind the way the race worked out.
The filly found herself at the back of the field having been outpaced in the early stages and she still had plenty to do when she got in a tangle withFrederick Engels just as the race began to wind up.
That though did not inconvenience her and she weaved her way through the field under an inspired ride from McDonogh to edge out the 7-4 favourite by a neck with Tough As Nails filling third spot.
McDonogh said of the winner, who was installed in the betting for next year’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas as a 7-1 chance with Coral, said: “The boss [Prendergast] said that he thought the fillies might be better than the colts this year and I think he might be right.”
Prendergast had had 20 winners this season before this and McDonogh continued: “This is a big lift for everyone after a slow start. Maybe we haven’tgot them this year, but she’s certainly lifted them out of the doldrums.”
Referring to her second behind Maybe last month, McDonogh added: “She was unlucky at Leopardstown – there was no pace – but I just got out today and was lucky I got a clear run. I was never stopped. I was following Johnny Murtagh [on Frederick Engels] and then switched – she’s all heart and has it all.
“She’s a very good two-year-old and that was a true test against the colts.”
La Collina looks set to switch back to taking on her own sex once again when she steps up in trip for her next start back here at the end of the month.
Prendergast said: “We were considering the DebutanteStakes, but were beaten by Maybe at Leopardstown and decided to take on the colts and hope we could run in the first three.
“She’s got a good turn of foot, a great temperament and has been working well.
“The obvious target is the Moyglare, which I won for the owners with Termagant a couple of years ago.”
DEACON BLUES confirmed himself as a sprinter on the up by strolling to an easy success in the Group 3 Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.
Trained by James Fanshawe, who also saddled Society Rock to finish second in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest on Sunday, was completing a hat-trick having won the Wokingham Stakes and a Group 3 at Newbury.
The Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock, for which he was trimmed to 6-1 (from 10) by Paddy Power, could be next for the improving four-year-old, who returned at 4-11 after seeing off Empowering by seven lengths.
The performance impressed winning jockey Johnny Murtagh, who said: “He’s on an upward curve. He did that very nicely.
“We’ll see next time whether he’s a Group 1 horse or not, but he’s progressive.”
SHE never makes it look easy but the ultra-tough Banimpire stuck her neck out once more to see off the colt Dunboyne Express and record her sixth win in nine starts this term
The filly did hand right once she hit the front and a stewards’ inquiry was called, but unsurprisingly the places remain unaltered.
The daughter of Holy Roman Emperor has proved a very tough nut to crack all season, and it seems the more you raceher the more she thrives.
“She did that well,” said her trainer Jim Bolger. “I don’t think she minded the ground, there just wasn’t a lot of pace.”
This Group 2 was by no means an easy taskfor Banimpire with three colts taking part and no weight concession from any of them. Dunboyne Express, stepping up in trip, was the biggest danger and she looked in trouble as Kevin Manning tried to galvanise her to come from last to first after what appeared steady early fractions.
However her turn of foot proved decisive as she took it up and her hardy nature ensured she was always holding on from the runner-up. The pair finished clear of the third home, Mutahadee.
That’s three Group3s and two Group 2s for Jim Bolger’s charge this season and her career strike-rate is now better than 50 per cent. She came agonisingly close to winning a Group 1 when nabbed on the line in the Irish Oaks and gaining top honours will surely be this horse’s main priority now.
“The Yorkshire Oaks is a possibility, but we might wait for France and the Prix de l’Opera,” said Bolger. “There’s a big possibility that she could stay in training next season unless we found something to get in our way.”
MAYBE was cut to 4-1 (from 7) by William Hill for next year’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas after stretching her unbeaten record to four with a smart performance in the Debutante Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday
Paddy Power went 5-1 (from 7) after the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly comfortably held Yellow Rosebud and Lightening Pearl in a race won by subsequent Group 1 winners Lillie Langtry, Again and Rumplestiltskin in recent years.
Ridden by Joseph O’Brien, Maybe tracked her packemaking stablemate Chieftess in the early part of the race, before quickening impressively when clear in front.
Maybe, who returned at 5-4, could return to the Curragh for her next race, and first Group 1 assignment, in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on August 28.
“We’re delighted with that,” O’Brien snr said. “We’llprobably come back here for the Moyglare next.
“We’ve gone gently since her last race at Leoparsdtown and did it very well. She’s a nice, smart filly.”
A daughter of Galileo, Maybe won at Naas in May and then landed the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
She did not please everyone at Leopardstown, but confirmed her class in the Debutante and had her form boosted when La Collina – second at Leopardstown – won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes later on the card.