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Blackbeard digs deep at the Curragh to stay unbeaten

Aidan O’Brien’s Blackbeard needed every yard to come on top in a thrilling finish to the Listed GAIN First Flier Stakes at the Curragh.

Cork winner Crispy Cat attempted to make all in the hands of Leigh Roche for Michael O’Callaghan and refused to lie down when challenged by the eventual winner throughout the closing stages of the five-furlong contest.

However, it was the Ballydoyle colt, sent off the 11-10 favourite, who had his head in front when it mattered most, responding gamely to Ryan Moore’s urgings and showing a most willing attitude to make it two from two.

The son of No Nay Never won in good style at Dundalk on debut and having continued his education here, looks to have booked his ticket to Royal Ascot, for which he was given quotes of 8-1 for the Norfolk Stakes over the minimum trip by Coral, while Betfair went 7-1 from 8-1 for the six-furlong Coventry Stakes.

O’Brien said: “The ground is softer than we thought it was going to be, but he did well to battle back.

“He’ll go on to Ascot for one of the races over five or six. Ryan said he could get six.

“If you can get a couple of runs before Ascot in this country you are very lucky. There are not that many races.”

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