Racing: British runners suffer Luna eclipse: Jim Bolger shakes up the 1,000 Guineas betting by training two of the first three home at Leopardstown

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The Independent Online
THE Phoenix Stakes at Leopardstown yesterday was meant to be as easy a catch for the British visitors as Irish salmon are for tourists in the well- stocked pools. But, for once, there was nothing at the end of the line for the travellers.

The home side, led by Eva Luna, filled the first three places as the foreign contingent fared unexpectedly badly. There was no money for General Monash (who finished eighth of 10 as the 5-2 favourite), no money for Fallow (sixth) and no money for Mind Games (fifth). The only British return was provided by the least fancied of its representatives, Mick Channon's Silca Blanka, who came home fourth.

Eva Luna, who is now unbeaten in five races, disputed the lead from the start with Mind Games, and was pushed out at the furlong pole to win by a length and a half. John Carroll reported that Mind Games, who is trained by Jack Berry, expended much of his energy in the early rush. 'He is still big and weak and didn't help me by being far too keen early on,' he said. The colt may now seek recompense in the Gimcrack Stakes at York next week.

John Reid, General Monash's partner, believed there were no excuses for his mount's performance. 'He was the first horse beaten,' the jockey said. 'They quickened two furlongs out and he was gone in two strides.' Mitigation did arrive later, however, when Peter Chapple-Hyam's colt was found to be lame.

Kevin Manning, the winning jockey, owes Jim Bolger, the winning trainer, a great deal. He has given him his daughter, the job as stable jockey at Coolcullen and, yesterday, his first Group One winner. Bolger also saddled the third, the Walter Swinburn-ridden Desert Style, sandwiching his great rival, Dermot Weld, the runner-up with Sharp Point.

Bolger, for whom this was a 70th winner of the season, considers Eva Luna comparable with any juvenile he has ever prepared. 'She is sharper than Desert Style and more suited to this six furlongs,' he said. 'But I expect Desert Style to be also capable of winning a Group One race before the season is out.'

Eva Luna and Sharp Point should meet again next in another Group One race, the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh next month. Further ahead, Eva Luna received quotes of 10-1 from William Hill and 16-1 from Coral for the 1,000 Guineas, but even the latter does not look value as the Irish equivalent is more likely to be her target.

Desert Style's future expeditions will be over longer distances if Swinburn's testimony is anything to go by. 'He is a seven-furlong or mile horse in the making,' the jockey observed. 'He got better as the race went on and I was really taken with him.'

The colt's owner, Maktoum Al Maktoum, further topped up the pot when his Munaaji, who is trained by Andreas Wohler, captured the Grosser Preis Von Berlin at Hoppegarten. Just as at Newmarket on Saturday, when he looked likely to capture the Sweet Solera Stakes on his return to the saddle, Lester Piggott was overhauled close home on The Queen's Sharp Prod.

Also in Germany, Kevin Darley recorded the first Group One success of his career when Lady Herries's River North proved too strong for Monsun and Snurge in the Aral-Pokal at Gelsenkirchen- Horst. 'River North seems to improve 7lb every time he runs,' Darley said.

On the same card, Joe Naughton saddled his first German winner with his first runner, Hever Golf Rose winning a Listed race which must qualify as the Continent's version of Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, the Silberne Peitsche-Preis der Speilbank Hohensyburg.

Roger Charlton's Wandesta finished second to the 2-1 on favourite, the Andre Fabre-trained Bright Moon, in the Group Two Prix de Pomone at Deauville yesterday.

(Photograph omitted)