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O'Brien edges nearer title

Sun, 21 October 2012

Joseph O'Brien moved seven clear of Pat Smullen in the race for the Flat jockeys' championship in Ireland with a double at Naas through Francis Of Assisi and Snow Queen.

The former ran out a clear-cut winner of the Tifrums EBF Maiden. Asserting over a furlong out, the Aidan O'Brien-trained Danehill Dancer colt, who was sporting first-time cheekpieces, ran on to beat long-time leader General Direction with plenty in hand as the even-money favourite.

O'Brien junior said: "He's not ungenuine but is leary and was looking at everything. He was green and won in spite of that. Hopefully he'll be better stepped up in trip."

The jockey went 87-80 ahead when Snow Queen (3-1), also trained by his father, landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Birdcatcher Premier Nursery, just getting on top in the closing stages but only having a neck to spare from the fast-finishing Ballyorban.

The rider said: "She won very well. She jumped and travelled and they went a good gallop, which helped. I was probably in front too soon. She's a filly we've always liked and she's starting to show on the track the ability she shows at home."

O'Brien missed the chance to go eight in front of Smullen when Offer (10-1) won the Naas October Handicap for Ballydoyle, but with Seamie Heffernan in the plate. O'Brien was only eighth on stablemate Harrison's Cave.

Manieree made all under Niall McCullagh to claim Listed glory in the feature Irish Stallion Farms EBF Garnet Stakes over a mile for trainer John Oxx.

The daughter of Medicean was last seen finishing seventh in the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on Arc day and took full advantage of the major drop in class to score by seven lengths from Shifting at odds of 4-7.

Oxx said: "She's a very good filly. She had a serious accident in January. She loves soft ground and missed the whole year, when it would have been right up her street. She could have got some black type in races like the Pretty Polly.

"It took her two races to get fit. We went to Paris when my horses were a little bit out of form and she went a little too fast as well. Niall said he'd take his time today. She came back to form and won well. It's some compensation for a disastrous year. Her next outing will be the December sales at Newmarket."