Southern France is ridden out by Donnacha O'Brien
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
Southern France rounded off a largely disappointing day for connections on a high, as he ran out a good winner of the last at Leopardstown, the Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Maiden.
A fast-finishing second on his debut at Navan last month, the son of Galileo was expected to go one place better today, going off the 8/15 favourite.
Settled in third, the Aidan O'Brien trained colt was pushed along before the entrance to the straight, and was ridden to challenge front-running stable mate Cypress Creek from the two furlong pole.
He got to the front with a furlong left to race, and kept on well from there to score by two and a half lengths.
The aforementioned Cypress Creek finished second under Seamie Heffernan at 7/1, while National Security (10/1) was another four and three parts of a length back in third under Kevin Manning for Jim Bolger.
Donnacha O'Brien said afterwards: "He's a grand big horse, genuine and stays well. There is plenty of improvement in him still. Once I got him out and gave him a few cracks he went on about his business.
"The first two are probably nice stayers, and my lad could be for something like the Queens Vase or even a King Edward."
The Stewards enquired into two separate incidents in this race. The first involving King D'argent (FR), ridden by C.T. Keane, Moktamel, ridden by C.D. Hayes and Southern France, ridden by D. O'Brien, where it appeared that King D' argent had to check, and the second incident involving King D'argent, ridden by C.T. Keane, Stronghold (FR), ridden by D.M. Redmond and Niku, ridden by C. O'Donoghue, where it appeared that King D'argent checked. Evidence was heard from the riders concerned. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Stewards were unable to apportion blame in relation to the first incident and took no further action, but cautioned D.M. Redmond to be more careful in the future in relation to the second incident.
Additional reporting by Alan Magee