09/13/2008 11:00PM

Mastercraftsman over Shaweel by a head


Mastercraftsman maintained his position as Europe's leading 2-year-old at the Curragh on Sunday, but only barely, as he outgamed Shaweel by a short head in taking the $425,000 National Stakes. Victory for the Danehill Dancer colt gave trainer Aidan O'Brien his seventh victory in Ireland's premier juvenile event as well as his 20th Group 1 triumph of the year.

Ridden by Johnny Murtagh, the 9-4 Mastercraftsman was adding to victories in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes and the Group 3 Railway Stakes, both at six furlongs at the Curragh. In the Mark Johnston-trained Shaweel he was beating the winner of the six-furlong Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to recent seven-furlong Group 2 Futurity Stakes winner Arazan.

Now undefeated after four starts, Mastercraftsman covered the seven furlongs on a Curragh course rated soft to heavy in 1:37.59. O'Brien will now aim him at the seven-furlong Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchmp on Arc Day, Oct. 5, a race he has win five times since 1999 with Ciro, Rock of Gibraltar, Oratorio, Horatio Nelson, and Holy Roman Emperor.