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The Curragh report

The rains fell on the Curragh plains all day yesterday, rendering underfoot conditions squelchy for humans, heavy for horses. However, the performance that Kingman put up in winning the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas shone through the gloom, the John Gosden-trained colt showing a sparkling turn of foot to come home clear of his closest pursuer in a performance that confirmed his status as a truly top class colt.

It was a redemption of sorts for Prince Khalid Abdullah’s horse. Unbeaten in two runs as a juvenile last year, he was the object of many a glowing report when he won the Greenham Stakes on his debut this season at Newbury.

Nobody dared mention the F word then, nobody dared compare him to Frankel, probably the best racehorse to ever put his head through a bridle. However, same owner, same green and pink and white silks, same Guineas trial, similar performance, it was difficult to dismiss the notion from your head. (Don’t think of a pink elephant.)

Defeat for Kingman in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks ago chased that subliminal half-notion away, but there were mitigating circumstances that day. They split into two groups at Newmarket, and Kingman showed a potent turn of foot to hit the front on the far side, setting up what looked like a race-winning advantage, before he was mugged in the final strides by Night Of Thunder. Interestingly, it was Night Of Thunder who had chased Kingman home in the Greenham.

There was no Night Of Thunder with whom to contend at The Curragh yesterday, and there was no War Command either. Aidan O’Brien withdrew the son of War Front – as he did another son of War Front, The Great War, from the Marble Hill Stakes – from the feature race after the first race because of the ever-softening ground. That made Kingman’s task a little less arduous than it might have otherwise been. That said, it is rare that you come across such a thing as a soft Classic.

Kingman travelled nicely for James Doyle through the early stages of the race behind a sedate enough pace that was set by fellow British raider, the Richard Hannon-trained Shifting Power. He moved up nicely on the far side of Mustajeeb at the two-furlong pole as Pat Smullen got into the crouch position on Dermot Weld’s horse, and the pair of them moved up to challenge Shifting Power.

The three of them had it between them from that point, but very quickly it was apparent that Kingman was travelling strongest of the triumvirate. The Invincible Spirit colt picked up nicely when James Doyle asked him to, and he quickly came clear before being eased to a really impressive victory.

“The ground was a worry,” said Gosden, “but the track was in pristine condition, and that swayed me towards running. They have done a great job with the course here, and the fact that they raced over to the near side helped. It is great that he is a Classic winner now. That was important to us. Now we can move onto the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, where we will probably meet Richard Hannon’s horse (Night Of Thunder) again. The score is 1-1 now. That’s great. It’s great for racing. That’s what racing is all about.”

Earlier in the day, the Eddie Lynam-trained Slade Power was just as impressive in landing the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes as Kingman was in winning the Guineas. The son of Dutch Art travelled really well through the race for Wayne Lordan, and he picked up impressively at the furlong pole to come clear, beating the evergreen Maarek by two lengths, with another one and three-quarter lengths back to An Saighdiur in third.

Trainer Eddie Lynam and owners David and Sabena Power made the correct decision, as it turned out, to go to The Curragh yesterday instead of making the trip to Haydock, where Sole Power (no relation) was a late withdrawal from the Group 2 Temple Stakes, again, because of the ubiquitous soft ground.

“Slade Power is a very good horse,” said Lynam. “He has a bit of temperament, but he is behaving himself better now as he is getting older. I thought that, with 10st on that ground, it might have been a bit difficult for him (on his seasonal debut), but he has won doing handsprings. He has been second and third in Group 1s, and I would love to win one with him now, especially because we bred him. He will go for the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot now.”

The Group 3 Lanwades Stud Stakes was won by the Johnny Murtagh-trained Purr Along, who travelled really well through the ground and picked up nicely to spring a 20/1 shock. The Listed Marble Hill Stakes went to the Ger Lyons-trained Capella Sansevero, while the opening juvenile fillies’ maiden was won by the Jessica Harrington-trained Jeanne Girl, who battled on well for Niall McCullough to hold off the late challenge of newcomer Sexy Legs by a nose.

© The Sunday Times, 25th May 2014