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Dublin: 4°C Monday 1 March 2021

Success for Aidan O’Brien as Passion stamps her class at Naas

The victory proved the middle leg of a treble for Seamie Heffernan.

Aidan O'Brien and Seamus Heffernan (file pic).
Aidan O'Brien and Seamus Heffernan (file pic).
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

PASSION MADE every yard of the running to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Stanerra Stakes at Naas.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the Galileo filly was stepping up in trip to a mile and three-quarters after some decent efforts in top-class company – not least finishing third in the Irish Oaks on her penultimate start.

Last seen in the Group Three Give Thanks Stakes earlier this month, Passion was sent off a 7-2 chance under Seamie Heffernan, who was keen to assume control from the off.

He set merely a moderate gallop and having earlier made good use of the stands rail, he took the field over to that side as the race began in earnest in the straight.

Traisha and favourite Kastasa, who had been on and off the bridle at points, tried to reel Passion back in, but Heffernan had saved a little and she eventually pushed on for a length-and-three-quarters verdict.

Passion’s victory proved the middle leg of a treble for Heffernan, who took the richly-endowed Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes on O’Brien’s Chief Little Hawk as well as landing the consolation for that event on 50-1 chance Sweet Gardenia.

Heffernan said: “Billy Lee rode her in the (Irish) Oaks and she ran well and came out of the race well. She stays that trip and is probably maturing into her full strength now.

“She could run well in a Leger or the Park Hill.”

Paddy Power offer 33-1 about Passion for the St Leger.

Trainer Johnny Feane celebrated a landmark Listed success as Bounce The Blues sprang a 20-1 shock in the Owenstown Stud Stakes.

The daughter of Excelebration beat So Wonderful in a maiden over the same seven furlongs at this track on her most recent start, but she took a huge leap up the ladder as she held off Soul Search by half a length.

Feane said: “It’s great that she won. She has buckets of pace for seven furlongs and we could even drop her back to six. It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but we thought she was very good at home.

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“Her form has worked out well from the last day, so we said we’d take a pop and it has all worked out great.

“That’s my first Stakes winner. I’ve had a good few placed, but that’s the first Stakes winner.”

Half Nutz (12-1) made amends for a disappointing effort last time out with a two-and-a-half-length win in the Weatherbys GSB Handicap.

Trainer Sheila Lavery said: “I’m delighted with that. We tried him over five and Wayne got off him the last day and said this was his trip.

“He’s improving. Last year he was running a bit free and just a bit hard on himself, but now he’s as sweet as a nut.

“We could try him over seven now if something comes up as he’s much easier to ride. It’s a great syndicate that own him and it’s such a pity that they can’t be here.”

Silver Spear and Kokura dead-heated for third, but following a stewards’ inquiry into possible interference, Silver Spear was placed third and Kokura fourth

Noel Meade is looking forward to next month’s Irish Champions Weekend with Layfayette (5-1) after his victory in the Good Luck To Our 20 Lockdown Heroes Handicap.

He said: “I didn’t think he was going to win at any stage. I don’t know whether that was the ground or whether he’s gone lazy, but I suppose when he races like that it helps him to see out the trip.

“He’d been coming home every time and that’s the first time we pushed him out to that trip. I’d say he will run on Irish Champions Weekend if he gets in.”

The closing Heritage Hotel Handicap went to It’s All A Joke (22-1) for Ado McGuinness and Ronan Whelan.

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