Many believe that Fastnet Rock is set for an outstanding season in Europe and he looks to have a live Classic contender in Fascinating Rock (3c Fastnet Rock-Miss Polaris, by Polar Falcon) following the colt’s G3 Ballysax Stakes win at Navan on Saturday.
Pat Smullen bided his time aboard Newtown Anner Stud’s home-bred, an easy Leopardstown maiden winner on his previous start, before going clear in the final furlong to score by two and a half lengths.
Trainer Dermot Weld added Fascinating Rock to the G1 Derby at last week’s second entry stage and he is now a 16/1 chance for racing’s Blue Riband after this success on what Smullen regarded as unsuitable ground.
“I fancied him today, although stepping up in class you don’t know quite what opposition you are taking on,” said Smullen. “I thought it rode like a very good race. He did everything I hoped, travelled very well and I just didn’t want to get there too soon on this gluey, holding ground.
“I gave him a squeeze when we got to the furlong marker and he quickened up very well. He’s developing a lot of speed, he’s got plenty of pace and has sharpened up since his last run Leopardstown. He’s coped with this ground through his class but I’ve always thought he’d be better on decent going. Hopefully he’d improve a bit more on a sounder surface.
“He’s got everything you’d like in a horse. He’s got a great temperament and is very laid-back. We’ve got a lot of nice horses this year and I also can’t wait for Free Eagle (3c High Chaparral-Polished Gem, by Danehill) to come out.”
A great day for Fastnet Rock continued when the Aidan O’Brien-trained Palace (3f Fastnet Rock-Lady Icarus, by Rainbow Quest) showed off her Classic credentials when winning a maiden at Navan by four and a half lengths.
Palace will now be aimed at the G1 Irish 1,000 Guineas and O’Brien said: “She was our best filly last year but she met with a setback and didn’t get to run and I’m delighted with her. We’ll have to see whether she runs again now before the Irish Guineas. She’s very smart and we always thought she was. These Fastnet Rocks have big engines.”