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Saffron Beach to skip Oaks and stay at a mile for Irish 1,000 Guineas bid

Saffron Beach and Adam Kirby (red silks) chase home Mother Earth in the 1,000 Guineas
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Saffron Beach, runner-up in the 1,000 Guineas, is set to bypass the Cazoo Oaks next month and stick to a mile in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh next Sunday.

The daughter of New Bay, who had been a 12-1 chance for Epsom, headed the group that raced down the middle at Newmarket but had no answer to the late swoop of Mother Earth on the far side and went down by a length.

Saffron Beach, who has yet to race anywhere other than Newmarket in her four starts, was tackling a mile for the first time in the Guineas after finishing runner-up in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes on her seasonal return in April.

Chapple-Hyam said: “After discussions with the owners, it’s been decided Saffron Beach will stick to a mile and will head for the Irish 1,000 Guineas. There’s plenty of time to step her up in trip if we need to later in the season instead of going a mile and a half right away. If she tells us she’s ready for a step up there are races like the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes back in Ireland in the summer.”

O'Meara stalwart Watchable retired after nine-year career

Trainer David O'Meara has hailed Watchable after the prolific sprinter was retired following a career spanning nine years.

The 11-year-old has been a firm favourite at O'Meara's yard since winning on his debut for the trainer – and second career start – at Ayr in 2014 and later that season he finished third at Royal Ascot and won a valuable handicap at the Curragh.

The following year he was tried at Group 1 level and got within two lengths of champion three-year-old sprinter Muhaarar when fourth in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.

A winner of 12 of his 93 starts and £338,932 in prize-money, Watchable broke the 6f course record at Epsom at the age of nine when winning on Derby day in 2019.

The son of Pivotal made his debut in a Redcar maiden in October 2013 and ended his career with a fifth-placed finish at Newcastle in February this year.

"I've had him a long time and he's been a fantastic horse for all these years," said O'Meara. "He won a big sprint handicap in Ireland and has been placed in multiple big races. His joints were catching up with him and he's gone back to his owner Philip Bamford's farm where he'll enjoy his retirement."

HRI adds four fixtures to cater for backlog

Horse Racing Ireland has responded to the backlog of low-grade horses needing a run by adding three jumps fixtures in May and one in June.

The first additional meeting will be an all-chase card at Limerick on May 18. The programme that was originally set to take place at Limerick moves to Thursday, May 27 and will become a hurdles and bumper card.

There will be an all-hurdles card at Tipperary on May 25 and an additional jumps fixture for Punchestown on Monday, May 31.

The June meeting will take place at Navan on Wednesday, June 16, and the programme details will be published in next week's Irish Racing Calendar (dated May 20).

Cheltenham winner Unioniste dies aged 13

Popular chaser Unioniste suffered a fatal injury in a point-to-point last weekend with former trainer Paul Nicholls paying tribute to a "wonderful horse".

The 13-year-old won nine races in Britain in almost a decade of racing, including the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham and Aintree's Many Clouds Chase, when it was formerly a Listed contest.

He also competed in the Grand National twice and was fourth to Lord Windermere when sent off 5-2 favourite in the 2013 RSA Chase. Unioniste would go on to flourish in the hunter chase division before competing in point-to-points with Michael Biddick in Cornwall.

Unioniste career details

Nicholls said: "He was a wonderful horse and he won the big race at Cheltenham at the age of four when Harry [Derham] rode him. He won plenty of races through the years. It was a great tragedy as he was a great horse for a lot of people."

Will Biddick, who rode him on Sunday, confirmed he would be out for the remainder of the point-to-point season after breaking his ankle that day.

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There?s plenty of time to step her up in trip if we need to later in the season instead of go a mile and a half right away
E.W. Terms