Epona Plays (Australia) Wins The Group 3 Park Express Stakes at Naas

Stakes Clean Sweep For Australia At Naas

Epona Plays (4f Australia - New Plays, by Oratorio) completed a Stakes double for Australia on Sunday’s card at Naas when landing the feature Group 3 Park Express Stakes over a mile.

A Group 3 winner last season, Renzo Forni’s homebred filly was ridden to chase the leader by Wayne Lordan and was asked to quicken from the two furlong pole. Leading inside the final furlong, she ran on well to win by a length and three quarters from British raider Parent’s Prayer, while the progressive Sziget (Footstepsinthesand) ran on for third.

Willie McCreery has trained three Stakes horses bred by Forni out of New Plays, the others being Group 3 winner Dolce Strega (Zoffany) and the Group-placed Bumbasina.

The previous race, the Listed Devoy Stakes, saw the Aidan O’Brien-trained Broome (5c Australia - Sweepstake, by Acclamation) relish a drop back to ten furlongs to score in good style under Seamie Heffernan.

Tracking the leader for much of the way, the bay produced a challenge with two furlongs left to race and soon went clear, striding on to win by three and a half lengths, with another six lengths back to the third horse.

O’Brien was pleased to see his charge return to winning ways and speaking after the race, said, “You’d be very happy with him. Last year we couldn’t get him right all season but everything has gone really well with him through the winter and into the spring this year.” On future plans, he added, “might come back for the Group 3 Alleged Stakes. Hopefully, we can look at races like the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Coronation Cup and Ascot with him.”

Owned by Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Mrs Magnier and M Matsushima, Broome was sold by Croom House Stud as a yearling for 150,000gns. Narrowly defeated at Group 1 level as a two-year-old, the son of Australia impressed over ten furlongs as a three-year-old in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes and the Derby Trial, and was beaten just three parts of a length by Anthony Van Dyck (Galileo) in the Espom Classic.