The American-bred Sierra Nevada emerged victorious in a noteworthy addition of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at Gowran Park.
An extended nine-furlong contest, the race had attracted plenty of column inches over previous days as it featured a clash between the Jessica Harrington-trained winner and the British-bred Sierra Nevada, who is a year older and handled by Charles O’Brien.
The fillies had to be listed in the betting with their respective USA and GB prefixes to avoid confusion, but it was all about the American Sierra Nevada, who made the running in the hands of Shane Foley to come home an impressive six-length winner in the famous Flaxman Stables silks.
She easily accounted for Any Dream Will Do, with the other Sierra Nevada never looking likely to create a commentator’s nightmare and get involved in the finish, coming home a well-beaten eighth.
Harrington said: “She’s a massive filly and imagine what she will be like when she gets a bit older. She’s a half-sister to Pathfork and finally what she’s done at home she has brought to the track.
“She’s a lovely mover but has been a bit slow to learn. I put her in the Kilboy (Estate Stakes) this week, so I’d say that will probably be her next appointment.
“I knew there were two of them (Sierra Nevada) as I’ve seen the name entered and said I haven’t entered that filly in that race!”
Connections of Zoinnocent have high hopes for their charge after she impressed in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien, the 15-8 shot stepped up on her initial sixth at the Curragh last month when proving a length and three-quarters too good for La Dolce Vita, looking good value for her winning margin.
O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said of the winner, who holds a Group Two entry later this month: “She’s a lovely filly. She was a little bit slowly away again today, not as slow as the Curragh.
“Once she got into that stride of hers he said she showed a lot of boot in the straight. She ran around a bit and is still green, but she’s a big filly and is going to make a three-year-old.
“She’s still a frame at the moment but I think she will be very good when she fills out. There should be no bother getting black type with her.
“She has a great attitude – a lovely relaxed filly.”
O’Brien served notice that his string is in great shape ahead of Royal Ascot with a treble on the card, as the Dylan Browne McMonagle-ridden Night Of Romance (6-1) took the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap and Gear Up justified evens favouritism under Jake Coen in the concluding Thomastown Race.
A Group One winner as a juvenile when trained by Mark Johnston, the four-year-old Gear Up transferred to O’Brien’s care for the current campaign after failing strike in four runs last term.
Out of the frame in two initial starts for his new handler, Gear Up was ending a losing streak that stretched back to October 2020.
Powell added: “The horse deserves it more than anything. I thought he gave him a lovely ride from the front.
“It took him a while to get to the front and once he got there, he eased it up on the bend and then kept quickening. He threw his stick away but he didn’t need it in the end.
“Hopefully that will do the horse’s confidence the world of good. He had a tough enough time as a two and a three-year-old. Hopefully he may go onto something even better over further.”