JUST The Judge gave young trainer Charlie Hills his first Classic with a smooth success in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
The filly had gone agonisingly close when runner-up to Sky Lantern in the Newmarket version four weeks ago, but duly made amends on Irish soil.
Sent off the 2-1 favourite, the strong-travelling Just The Judge scored in the hands of Jamie Spencer from the fast-finishing Rehn’s Nest (40-1), with Just Pretending (14-1) third and Big Break just behind in fourth.
Hills, who took over the licence in August 2011 from his father Barry, who won this race twice with Nicer in 1993 and Hula Angel in 1999, said: “It feels pretty good. It’s more relief at the moment but I’m sure I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking it’s great.
“Jamie never really had to pick the stick up to her and he gave her a beautiful ride. He [Barry Hills] will be watching on TV and I’m sure he’ll have a tear in his eye.”
Spencer, who won the race as a teenager on Tarascon in 1998, added: “She’s a smart filly. I probably got rolling a little bit early at Newmarket. We went steady and it can be tricky there for a big filly like her. I was out in plenty of time today too.
“She’s a filly with a long stride and you don’t want to be breaking her stride. I’m sure she’d get ten furlongs standing on her head. She travels well but she doesn’t have an instant kick. When you let her down she stretches really well. It would have been nice to win at Newmarket, but I’m sure Sheikh Fahad will be happy to win here.”
Meanwhile, at Kelso, Royale Knight and Sam Twiston-Davies romped away with the feature race on the final card of the spring to supply Worcester trainer Dr Richard Newland with his first success at the Borders track.
A recent winner at his local track, the bottom-weight stormed home by 11 lengths with Carrigdhoun trailing in his wake in the John Smith’s Handicap Chase (for the Wilfred & Patricia Crawford Memorial Trophy).
Twiston-Davies said: “He did that really well and it is a cracking prize to win at this time of year. He gave me a great feel and didn’t mind the ground at all. It’s a long way to come but they make you really welcome here and this makes it worthwhile.”
Edinburgh owners Dennis and Margaret Coppola saw their colours carried to victory by Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania on Endeavour in the KOSB Handicap Chase.
The gelding, scoring for the first time over fences, slammed Some Lad by nine lengths for bang-in-form Penrith trainer Dianne Sayer.
Sayer said: “He can be a bit of a monkey this horse but he loved it out there today and bounced off the fast ground. There should be more races for him and we may even be tempted to run him back on the Flat.”