Star shines with impressive Marble Hill performance

Castle Star leapt to prominence in the betting for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot with a stylish display in the GAIN Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh.

A five-furlong Listed winner at the track last time out, Fozzy Stack’s charge found the extra furlong well within his compass in the hands of Chris Hayes

Sent off at 5-2, Castle Star was dropped right out by Hayes before he came swinging into contention with just over a furlong to run.

Despite the ground being testing, the son of Starspangledbanner quickened up impressively to beat Masseto by two lengths.

Betfair cut him to 6-1 from 14-1 for the Ascot race.


“It’s not often you see someone taking a pull a furlong out,” said Stack.

“The first day in Cork, Chris got there a bit soon and we are learning how to ride him now.

“He’s improving and bouncing out of his races.

“The plan in my head after the last day was to go straight to Ascot, but he was going to come out over the door, so we said we’d bring him up here and see how we got on.

“The Coventry is a possibility, but I wouldn’t rule anything in or not. There is the Railway back here which deserves consideration and we’ll just see nearer the time.

“He’s very straight forward, has a great constitution, bounces out of his races and is uncomplicated. If I didn’t run him this week, he would have killed somebody at home!”

Epona Plays ran out a hugely impressive winner of the Group Two Lanwades Stud Stakes.

Willie McCreery’s filly ran eight times last season, showing steady progression, but has taken her form to a new level this term.

Winner of a Group Three at Naas last time out, she dominated from the front on this occasion, winning by four lengths under Billy Lee

“She just got into a lovely rhythm there,” said McCreery

“There were only six runners and we could see there was probably going to be no pace in the race.

“We wanted to try to take the pace out of the Group One filly (Champers Elysees) and not to leave anything for her. That’s a tough mile today.

“I was a bit nervous yesterday morning when I saw the lads walking the track, but the Curragh is the most drying plain in the country, so I never had any worry that it wasn’t going to be run.

“It’s fantastic for owner Renzo Forni, who has been a fantastic supporter of me since Joanna Morgan retired.

“I’ve nothing at the minute target wise and we’ll see.”

Lee had earlier struck gold aboard Pinar Del Rio (2-1) in the Tally Ho Stud Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden.

Third first time out at Naas, he put that experience to good use to beat Thunder Eclipse by a length and a quarter.

“He’s an uncomplicated horse, he had a lovely first run and I was hoping coming here today that he might do something like that,” said winning trainer Paddy Twomey.

“He’s showing a lot of class and he has to step up now, whether that’s running back here or going to the UK, I don’t know.

“I don’t think that ground is what he’s looking for – I think he wants nicer ground – so for him to do that in the ground, I’m happy.”

Lee then made it a hat-trick as Verhoyen (12-1) powered home by two and three-quarter lengths in the Betway Handicap.

Winning handler Michael Grassick said: “We’ll have a crack at the Scurry and hopefully the handicapper doesn’t take that too literally.

“We could also look at the big six-furlong race here on Champions Weekend.”

Creat Belief (7-2 favourite) lifted the Betway Spring Fillies Handicap for Johnny Murtagh, while the closing Heed Your Hunch At Betway Handicap went to the Ger Lyons-trained Lust (11-2).