Faith, they say, can move mountains, so it did not have much trouble tearing up the form book at the Curragh yesterday. Indian Haven, only 14th in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket three weeks previously, turned the tables on all those in front of him that day to take the 83rd running of the Irish version of the Classic by a decisive length.
The victory was fine justification of the belief in the colt shown by his Newmarket-based trainer, Paul d'Arcy, and his owners, Peter Gleeson, Julian Smith and Loz Conway, who gambled €40,000 (£29,550) to get their pride and joy into the field at the supplementary-entry stage early last week. It was a bold call by a small-scale outfit, but their view was that Indian Haven had been too badly hampered in a rough race on the Rowley Mile to display his true colours. Their reward was the £146,234 first prize and the potential stud value that comes with a Group One-winning colt.
It was easily the biggest success for both the Liverpool-born D'Arcy and Indian Haven's journeyman rider John Egan, celebrating his 35th birthday. "We had a terrible run at Newmarket," said D'Arcy, 47, who started his racing life as a stable lad with Denys Smith and only last month moved to his current base, Green Ridge Stables, after an acrimonious split with a former landlord. "He was absolutely murdered. But he's always been a horse with a terrific turn of foot, and he proved it up the hill today."
Indian Haven, a strongly built, white-blazed chestnut by Indian Ridge, was always travelling well as Egan settled him in the group behind the early pace-setters, Great Pyramid and Saturn. The only moment to disturb his supporters' equilibrium came just over a furlong out, when he was poised to go through a gap between Saturn and France that threatened for a stride or two not to be wide enough. But as blinkered France hung right-handed under pressure the gate opened, and Egan was able to unleash the power beneath him.
"He definitely would have won the English Guineas, but I got knocked over four times and virtually pulled him up," said the jockey, whose only previous Classic success had come in India. "I did not want to get there too soon, but when I asked him to quicken he picked up just as well as I knew he would."
It was a fair scalp taken by D'Arcy and Co, for without Indian Haven in the field, at 16-strong the largest for 18 years, France (14-1) would have given Aidan O'Brien's mighty Ballydoyle operation their fifth Irish Guineas in seven years. Another of the British contingent, Tout Seul, ran honestly for third place, two and a half lengths adrift, just in front of his compatriot Saturn. The pair had finished fourth and fifth in the Newmarket Guineas, giving the form a solid, if unspectacular, look, although the Rowley Mile second, Zafeen, who hated the ground, beat only two. The 100-30 favourite Tomahawk, one of five from Ballydoyle, came in 11th.
The European Guineas results say there is not a superstar among the three-year-old miling colts and, from a run-of-the-mill domestic programme yesterday, Kalaman, who would have run in Ireland but for the soggy ground, emerged as a valid contender for top honours. Kalanisi's half-brother, trained by Sir Michael Stoute for the Aga Khan, will now test that theory in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot after quickening impressively to take Kempton's Heron Stakes.
But the Classic miling fillies may be a vintage crop and, though Johnny Murtagh has never won his local 1,000 Guineas, he will surely have to fall off Six Perfections not to add the race to his CV this afternoon. The Pascal Bary-trained filly, last year's champion of her sex, was judged unlucky not to have won the Newmarket equivalent three weeks ago, and compensation surely awaits.
As a daughter of Celtic Swing, she will relish the soft ground, as will Yesterday, the main Ballydoyle representative en route for the Oaks 12 days hence. She can be expected to get closer to Six Perfections today than her eighth place in the Newmarket Guineas, but her best chance of Classic glory may come over a mile and a half. Cat Belling could reward each-way support at a big price.
This afternoon's other Group One feature at the Curragh, the Tattersalls Gold Cup, looks a low-key renewal. Black Sam Bellamy is the only previous top-level winner in the field, but in Europe's lowliest arena, Italy. He will enjoy the underfoot conditions, but may be better over further, and a chance is taken that the progressive Godolphin four-year-old Highdown can find the necessary improvement.
A more confident choice for Godolphin glory at the highest level today is Songlark, Frankie Dettori's mount in the Italian Derby in Rome, where Lundy's Lane (Clive Brittain), Private Charter (Barry Hills) and Heisse (David Loder) also challenge from Britain.Reuse content