where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2018-05-21 23:02:39  

RHODODENDRON (IRE) led in the final strides of Saturday’s Lockinge Stakes to win the third Group 1 of her career. Fourth to Cracksman in the Prix Ganay on her seasonal return, she was sent off favourite, but was forced to battle for victory by Lightning Spear, who was denied his maiden Group 1 by the shortest of margins. The winner’s stablemate Lancaster Bomber finished a further two and three quarter lengths behind them in third.

Aidan O’Brien later commented, “I'm very grateful to the lads for keeping RHODODENDRON (IRE) in training at four. We came here thinking we would go on to Ascot with the option of the mile or mile and a quarter and we will chat with Ryan and the lads.” Bred by Orpendale, Chelston and Wynatt, the daughter of Galileo (IRE) is out of three-time Group 1 winner Halfway To Heaven (IRE), making RHODODENDRON (IRE) a full-sister to Group 2 Debutante Stakes winner Magical (IRE). Talented performers feature right down the page, the second dam being to-class sprinter Cassandra Go (IRE), herself a half-sister to Guineas runner-up Verglas (IRE).

The first race on the card saw a career-best performance from NEVER BACK DOWN (IRE), who made all in the Carnarvon Stakes to gain his first Listed victory. Having his first run since being gelded, his transformation was down to this operation, according to trainer Hugo Palmer, who added that they will now aim for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Bred by Cooneen Stud, NEVER BACK DOWN (IRE) becomes a 22nd individual Listed winner by Tally-Ho Stud stalwart Kodiac. He is the first foal out of Steer By The Stars (IRE), a winning half-sister to Listed winner and St James’s Palace third Consort (IRE).

Next to strike at Newbury was the Sir Michael Stoute-trained CRYSTAL OCEAN, who gained his second straight Group 3 success when winning the Al Rayyan Stakes by an impressive six lengths. On future plans, Stoute commented, “We have got him in the Prince of Wales's, Hardwicke and Eclipse and he will go where suits him best.”

He was part of a Stakes double on the card for Gilltown Stud sire Sea The Stars (IRE), just a day after his son Stradivarius (IRE) won the feature Group 2 Yorkshire Cup at York. Completing the double was the William Haggas-trained SEA OF CLASS (IRE), who broke her maiden at the second time of asking in the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes over a mile and two. Beaten a neck on debut last month, she was held up by James Doyle and made her move three furlongs from home, challenging Irish raider Athena (IRE) from the furlong pole, from which she ran home strongly to wun by two lengths.

Owned by Sunderland Holdings and bred by Razza Del Velino, SEA OF CLASS (IRE) may take her chance in the Epsom Oaks in two weeks time. She has the impressive accolade of being a half-sister to three Italian Oaks winners, two of whom also won the Group 1 Premio Lydia Tesio, while the other boasts an Italian 1,000 Guineas victory. Out of the Listed winner Holy Moon (IRE), they extend from the family of another Italian Oaks heroine in Bright Generation (IRE), who also finished second in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, as well as champion two-year-old colt Dabirsim.

Sea The Stars (IRE)’s record now boasts 25 individual Group winners and another 22 Listed winners. He commands a fee of €135,000 at Gilltown Stud this season. 

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