Diego Velazquez maintained his unbeaten record in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown, although he was made to work reasonably hard by stablemate Capulet as Irish Champions Festival weekend got under way.
Bought for 2,400,000 guineas from the Tattersalls Book One sale in October, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Frankel colt had impressed on his debut at the Curragh, winning by almost five lengths.
Sent off the 8-15 favourite under Ryan Moore to enhance his reputation, he looked to be in the perfect position to strike three furlongs from home in the Group Two affair.
However, Moore soon had to get more serious, with Seamie Heffernan appearing to have more up his sleeve in front on Capulet.
But showing a good attitude when asked, Diego Velazquez began to hit top gear and by the line had half a length in hand over Capulet, in a race won last year by Auguste Rodin.
Coral go 8-1 about Diego Velazquez emulating Auguste Rodin in next year’s Derby, and 16-1 for the Guineas.
“We’re very happy. We liked the second horse a lot and we knew we needed something to take him and stretch him a little bit,” said O’Brien.
“They didn’t go very fast for the first half and turned it on from halfway so he learned a lot.
“Ryan was delighted, he said he had to catch hold of him and make him learn. He’s still a baby.
“We were surprised the first day that he ran in the Curragh how babyish he was, he never took a hold of the bridle.
“Today he was green as well, but a lot better. We think the race will leave him in a very good place.
“I’d imagine he’ll go for the Futurity Trophy (Doncaster), that’s what we thought he would do.
“We think he’s going to step up loads from it, but we were very happy with what he did today.
“The plan was to come here and then go to Doncaster.
“We did it with Auguste Rodin last year, but we knew this horse had to learn a lot more than Auguste did last year.
“He was extra green at the Curragh and we knew unless he was going to learn a lot this time it was going to be very hard to pitch him into a good race after that. We think he will.”
On the runner-up he added: “He’s a good horse. He won first time at Dundalk and we liked him. He’s out of a good Galileo mare and we thought he was a fair horse.
“Seamus liked him a lot today. He’s a typical Justify, the minute you go beyond seven furlongs they seem to grow another leg. They are really classic-bred middle-distance horses and you’d have to be really happy with him also.”