By Duane Fonseca
Trainer-jockey combinations of Noel Meade and Ben Coen, and Adrian McGuinness and Ronan Whelan celebrated winning the co-feature events on Sunday’s Curragh card with Caught U Looking and Go Athletico each delivering Group Three victories for either pair in the form of the Weld Park Stakes and the Westgrove Hotel Renaissance Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien’s Brilliant set the pace in the 2yo-fillies-only Weld Park Stakes, with race favourite Sakti, trained by Ger M Lyons, taking over inside the final furlong only to yield under pressure to Meade’s charge Caught U Looking, who was driven hard in the final furlong by Coen.
At the finish Caught U Looking won with a half length to spare with Sakti (Colin Keane) a further neck ahead of Brilliant (Gavin Ryan) in third.
Meade said: “She's a good filly and she is one that's going to improve. She is by Harzand and she is going to be better next year. She is probably a mile-and-a-half filly next year. Ben even said that she was a little green, she was leaning away from them towards the end.
"He said she would come on a ton. We can dream a bit now. I put her in the Irish 1,000 Guineas the other day and she'll get an entry in the Oaks as well. She's in a couple of races, like the Fillies Mile, but I would say that will be it for the year. We'll wait and let her mature a little bit more."
Meanwhile, Go Athletico returned to winning at Group Three level after a little over three years when taking the Westgrove Hotel Renaissance Stakes over 1200m after a gruelling late battle with Charles O’Brien’s Robert Whearty-ridden Big Gossey, who he denied by a half length, the pair kicking clear of the rest. Aidan O’Brien’s Aesop’s Fables was a further five and a half lengths adrift in third under Ryan Moore.
Go Athletico’s last victory at this level had been achieved in the Prix la Rochette at ParisLongchamp on 6 September, 2020. The 5yo Goken gelding, previously trained in France by Andreas Schutz, has made four starts since transferring to McGuinness’ yard in June and marked his debut for the Irish conditioner with success in a Listed event at Cork four days later.
A quick turnaround might be on the cards for Go Athletico next as he has been declared for next week’s Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.
McGuinness said: “He’s in the Abbaye next week. We ran him here because it was going to be quite a dry week. He might travel, but if it is dry, we won’t run him.
“I have to speak to Barry (Irwin, racing manager for part-owners Team Valor) first. There is a big possibility that he goes as there isn’t a whole pile left for him (this year).
“He deserved to get it today, he’s been very consistent. He’s been a great horse for me, he’s only had four runs and hit the ground running. I’m very lucky and privileged to have him.”
Also making headlines at The Curragh was the Joseph Patrick O’Brien trained extreme long-shot Magellan Strait, who battled in testing conditions to land the Irish Cesarewitch at odds of 150-1 under Hugh Horgan. Falcon Eight was second with Dawn Rising close behind in third.