Champion Coolmore stallion Encosta De Lago sired his first Irish bred winner when Griffin won the Thomastown Stables Maiden (1500m) at Tipperary on Thursday evening.
Griffin (Ire) tracked front-runner Free Art (Iffraaj) and then challenged the leader entering the straight. They duelled for two furlongs before Johnny Murtagh edged his colt clear in the final few strides.
Griffin firmed was heavily-punted into odds on and his supporters had to sweat out a close finish and a stewards’ enquiry before collecting.
Griffin (2c Encosta De Lago — Ashtarka by Dalsaan) had been placed behind Ballydoyle colt Eskimo (Galileo) on debut at Tipperary last month. He is trained by David Wachman for owner Evie Stockwell.
Encosta de Lago shuttled to Coolmore Ireland for a one-off season in 2007. His northern hemisphere bred yearlings sold to 280,000 gns (AUD 534,650) in England and to US$500,000 in the United States last year. Coolmore did not publicise his northern service fee but it was in the region of 40,000 euros.
Encosta de Lago is gunning for a hat-trick of Australian titles in 2009-10. He holds a $200,000 lead over Redoute’s Choice going into Saturday’s G1 Winter Stakes meeting and will be assured of another premiership if Redoute’s Choice filly Melito fails to win the $500,000 feature for fillies and mares.
Encosta de Lago’s first Irish winner is a half-brother to Ashkalani (Soviet Star) who was a G1 winner of the French 2000 Guineas and Prix du Moulin for the Aga Khan. Griffin’s dam is a half-sister to G1 Prix du Cadran winner Shafaraz.
The Tipperary meeting also saw Murtagh double up on the Aidan O’Brien trained Big Occasion (Sadler´s Wells). They will team up again this Sunday with Cape Blanco (Galileo) in the G1 Irish Derby at the Curragh.