Aidan O’Brien’s Sir Lucan just edged out his better-fancied stablemate Wordsworth in a tough tussle for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Yeats Stakes at Navan.
Sir Lucan is on the fringes of the Derby reckoning for his powerhouse stable, but was only eighth in a trial on his return at Sandown last month.
He was sent off at 11-2 this time – with Wordsworth the 8-15 favourite – but he just got the better of the argument in a driving finish.
Wordsworth, having just his third start as opposed to Sir Lucan’s fifth, took up the running before halfway in the one-mile-five-furlong Listed contest and then tried to run the finish out of the chasing pack.
He saw off all but one – with Sir Lucan challenging alongside eventual third Party House two furlongs out and then battling on just the best to win by a neck under Wayne Lordan.
The winning jockey said: “He had a very good run to finish fourth in a Group Two as a two-year-old, and he was always going to come forward a lot when stepping up in trip.
“He stayed very well. We went a good even gallop, he travelled, quickened and dug deep. I hit the line well.”
Wordsworth’s jockey Seamie Heffernan had less to smile about.
He said: “One word – disappointing.
“I thought we might as well go a gallop and see what does and doesn’t stay.
“The winner was fourth in a Group Two on slow ground, and when there is an ease in the ground it’s going to suit him. My horse was disappointing – there is no other comment I can give.”
O’Brien earlier struck with yet another smart Caravaggio youngster as The Entertainer took the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
Heffernan had to wait for a suitable gap, but when it came the 9-4 joint-favourite really picked up to gather in Albion Square to win by a cosy length and a half.
His rider said: “It was tight at the business end, but when he got the gap his class kicked in, with his speed.
“Hopefully he’ll progress and be on the plane to Ascot. He’s got plenty of pace and hopefully he’ll stay.
“Caravaggio is a top-class stallion, I’m liking his progeny.”