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Statuette: new favorite for the Albany
Aidan O’Brien has won a dozen juvenile races already this season but the way Statuette sprinted away with the opening fillies’ maiden suggested she could be the best of the bunch – and she was instantly installed Albany Stakes favourite.
Statuette’s sire is the unbeaten Triple Crown winner Justify, while her dam Immortal Verse beat the mighty Goldikova in the Prix Jacques le Marois in 2011. She is bred to be good and she might just be very good.
Paddy Power introduced her as their 3-1 market leader for the Albany over 6f at Royal Ascot after her three-length defeat of main market rival Olivia Maralda.
Jockey Ryan Moore was very impressed, saying: “It was nice to start her off on some nice ground. She’s a lovely, big filly. She was a standout physically and she did that really nicely.
“She’s by Justify out of Immortal Verse, so she’s got an incredible pedigree. I’d like to think, looking at the size of her, that she’ll continue to progress throughout the season. She’s a filly Aidan liked and I’m very happy with what she’s done.”
What Statuette did in the race was easy on the eye, but even more striking was the daylight she put between herself and the pack after the line.
She must have been half a dozen lengths clear of the runner-up 50 yards after the line and Moore had a job pulling her up. She looks very smart indeed.
Ballydoyle’s Chris Armstrong, representing O’Brien, confirmed the Albany was likely to be on the agenda.
He said: “She’s always shown loads at home. She could be a filly for the Albany. We’ll take her home and see. She’s a very big filly and we’ll see how she comes out of it.
“She’s by Justify, an incredibly exciting sire. This is his first winner in Europe and he had a very good winner in America last weekend. We have some nice Justifys.”
Moore made his trip to Navan worthwhile as he swooped late on Newfoundland to take the 1m5f maiden as well.
Windsor Castle for Wodao
Another juvenile heading to Royal Ascot is Wodao, who is on course for a crack at the Windsor Castle after making all in the 5f maiden in a quick time under Gavin Ryan.
Winning trainer Donnacha O’Brien said: “He has run into a few good horses in his last few runs, but I’d say that was a step up again. He’s a nice horse, so we will look at something like the Windsor Castle at Ascot if he comes out of that well.”
Keeping it in the family
The O’Brien family won five of the eight races between them as Donnacha’s brother Joseph had a double courtesy of Voice Of Angels in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race before Grecian Slipper made no mistake at the second time of asking in the 1m2f maiden.
Yashin improving fast
The most valuable race on the card was the Royal County Premier Handicap, which went to the Jessica Harrington-trained Yashin, who might have booked a trip to Royal Ascot.
Harrington said: “I’d be thinking Ascot if he could get into any of the three-year-old handicaps, or even the Queen’s Vase over 1m6f. I don’t know what he will go up to for that.”
Another crown for Princess
Tom Egan, owner of the famous Horse & Jockey Hotel in County Tipperary, watched Curraheen Princess carry his silks to victory in the 5f handicap for trainer Nicky Stokes.
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