Stone Age impressed when claiming a first career success in the Tote Win Never Beaten By SP Maiden at Navan.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Galileo colt acquitted himself well at Group level last season, and while he ended the campaign without a win to his name he was second in both the Group Two KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes and the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud.
Those defeats were by a neck and a length and a half respectively and saw him start as the 1-3 favourite for his three-year-old bow under Ryan Moore.
Quickest away when the stalls opened, he made all the running and was never challenged as he cruised to a nine-length victory from Ger Lyons’ Active Duty.
“He was very smooth today and it was nice for him to come out and do things nicely and comfortably,” Moore said.
“Hopefully he can gain a bit of confidence from this. I think he is a smart horse.
“The last time I rode him was in the Lagardere (in October) on soft ground and he didn’t like it. It was nice to get him on some good ground.”
Paddy Power cut Stone Age to 33-1 for the Cazoo Derby, and asked if he saw him as more of an Epsom or Curragh horse, Moore replied: “He’s a good-moving horse and he doesn’t have to go a mile and a half.”
O’Brien and Moore had started the card in winning form, with New York City having little trouble in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden on his sixth career start.
The Invincible Spirit colt was placed four times from five runs last term but failed to get his head in front before the close of the year.
The 2-9 favourite for his first run of the new campaign, he was a dominant seven-length winner.
Moore said: “He’s a beautiful, big, strong horse and he was entitled to win like that.
“It’s a nice day to win his race and hopefully he can go on from here.
“It’s good ground and he’s quite a straightforward horse – I wouldn’t say the ground is massively important.
“He was running on soft ground towards the end of the year and maybe that wasn’t ideal for him.”
O’Brien and Moore were denied a treble when Sun King was beaten by Jim Bolger’s highly promising newcomer Wexford Native in the Your New Tote Maiden.
After finishing immediately behind subsequent Vertem Futurity Trophy runner-up Sissoko on his final two-year-old start, Sun King was the 7-4 market leader but Bolger’s son of Teofilo was a comfortable two-and-a-half-length winner in the hands of Kevin Manning.
Wexford Native holds entries for a range of top-class contests including the English and Irish Guineas and the Irish Derby.
Manning said of the 5-1 scorer: “It was a good start. It was a tough call to overcome 21 draw and get across. I think he has got a big future.
“He was always travelling and getting a tow (off Sun King). When I went to the front, he was just having a look and when I joined Ryan (Moore, on Sun King) he was just running away a bit from him. He was just very, very green.”
On his Classic entries, Manning said: “He has been showing us some nice work at home, and he was last year as well but he was just a big backward horse. We will just see where he goes from here.
“Most likely I’d say (a marked step up in class) – I think a mile to a mile and a quarter, he’s pretty versatile because he showed plenty of pace to get across from 21. He’s a horse for the future.”