Aidan O’Brien wins opener at Naas as Irish racing returns after 76-day gap


Social distancing rules were in place as Irish racing returned at Naas

Aidan O’Brien won the opening race at Naas as Irish racing made its return in county Kildare after a 76-day gap.

After Love triumphed in the 1000 Guineas for trainer O’Brien at Newmarket on Sunday, More Beautiful took a dominant win in the Naas opener.

Seamus Heffernan took More Beautiful into the lead with three furlongs left in the Fillies Maiden sprint.

The 11-4 favourite went on to finish nearly four lengths of clear of Jessica Harrington’s Roses Blue, a 11-2 shot.

Ger Lyons’ Nimbostratus, priced at 7-2, took third.

Heffernan was always to the fore on More Beautiful, who boasts an excellent pedigree as a daughter of War Front out of Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Maybe.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly clinched a dominant victory as Irish racing returned after 76 days of inactivity

Betfair immediately made More Beautiful the 7-2 favourite for the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday week.

Heffernan said: “She’s a War Front and every one of them have a lot of ability. She couldn’t have done it any easier and I liked what I felt today.”

Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega denied O’Brien and Heffernan a quickfire double as he produced a strong late run to pip 4-6 favourite Lippizaner in the second race of the day.

Lippizaner was the only runner with previous experience and it looked as though he would register his first win as he assumed command in the six-furlong race.

However, Lucky Vega proved too strong up the rail and was half a length in front at the line, with Alex D staying on for third.

Winning trainer Harrington is not permitted on track as the coronavirus protocols employed by Horse Racing Ireland preclude over 70s attending meetings.

Irish racing has been suspended since 24 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Initial plans suggested it would not restart until the end of June, but the date was brought forward following talks between the Irish government and Horse Racing Ireland.

New protocols will be in place to ensure social distancing at all the upcoming Irish meetings, which are being held behind closed doors.

It is set to be a busy first week back in Ireland, with the first two Irish Classics – the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas – due to be run on Friday and Saturday at the Curragh.

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