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John Velazquez fifth on first ever ride in Ireland

John Velazquez fifth on first ever ride in Ireland
John Velazquez fifth on first ever ride in Ireland

Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez was the star attraction at Naas on Wednesday evening, where his first ever ride on Irish soil, De Janeiro, finished fifth in the Tinnakill House Maiden.

An undoubted all-time great of the saddle, Velazquez, 52, has won the Kentucky Derby three times, the Preakness once and the Belmont twice. The 52-year-old also has four wins at Royal Ascot to his name, most recently Crimson Advocate in last year’s Queen Mary Stakes.

The Dermot Weld-trained De Janeiro was reasonably smartly away and while never looking like winning she stayed on well enough from two furlongs out to suggest there may be a race in her over further. As it was the six-furlong contest was won in good style by Pat Foley’s 2-5 favourite Over The Blues.

The feature Al Shira’aa Racing Irish EBF Naas Oaks Trial went to the Johnny Murtagh-trained Hanalia (16-1).

Fourth first time out at Gowran Park, before winning at the Curragh, the Aga Khan-owned daughter of Sea The Stars was last for much of the early exchanges in the Listed contest, with Aidan O’Brien’s Greenfinch just in front of her.

Ben Coen never panicked, however, and his mount picked up strongly when switched for her run to ultimately come out on top by three-quarters of a length from Bellezza, with Greenfinch and Ryan Moore a short head away in third.

Murtagh said: “She always showed us plenty. She was one of the ones we really liked and were looking forward to her this year.

“She’s not big, but has a good turn of foot. When she relaxes early she has a good turn of foot and it worked out very well today.

“Ben said they went quick down to the bend and he was able to sit on her. When he turned in he had to look for a gap, but when he did she quickened up well and he said he loved the way she hit the line. She was tough as well.

“She’s got a bit of class and it’s nice to get a Listed winner because it looked a very competitive race this morning.

“We were coming here confident and she did a nice piece of work during the week. I was surprised she was 25-1 (opening price), but that’s the kind of race it was.

“Ben said he wouldn’t go a mile and a half just yet, maybe later. A mile- and a quarter is good for her at the moment.”

He added: “I entered her this morning in a Group Three over a mile and one at the Curragh in three weeks’ time. I’d definitely bring her back to a mile and one rather than going a mile and a half at this stage.”

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