04/04/2011 11:44AM

St Nicholas Abbey third in return at Curragh

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St Nicholas Abbey looked decidedly dull in his return to the races at the Curragh on Sunday as he plodded home a well-beaten third in the 1 1/4-mile Alleged Stakes, a listed race worth $56,400.

The 2009 European juvenile champion, absent since finishing sixth as the favorite in last May’s 2000 Guineas, St Nicholas Abbey never got involved in being beaten by the 4-1 hurdler Unaccompanied by 6 1/2 lengths, with Cilium splitting them, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Sent off as the 4-11 favorite under Jamie Heffernan, St Nicholas Abbey lagged toward the back of the six-horse field early and was outpaced late, although he managed to pass a couple of modest handicappers in the late stages.

The filly Unaccompanied, recently second in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, covered the 10 furlongs on soft ground in 2:24.26.

St Nicholas Abbey's trainer, Aidan O’Brien, has himself a 2000 Guineas candidate in Sing Softly. A Kentucky-bred son of Hennessy, Sing Softly was the clever winner of the listed seven-furlong Loughbrown Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, defeating Defining Year by a length while traveling the distance in 1:33.71. Out of Grade 2 Cotillion Stakes winner India, the 7-2 Sing Softly had won his maiden in his second start and seasonal debut going sixfurlongs at the Curragh on March 20.

As usual, O’Brien is playing it close to the vest with Sing Softly, saying that the colt could run in any of the three 2000 Guineas in England, France or Ireland.

The Tommy Stack-trained Lolly For Dolly won her third Group 3 contest in just seven career starts when she came from last to first to win the $91,000 Gladness Stakes. Ridden by William Lordan, the 4-year-old daughter of Oratario came late to nip British raider The Cheka by a short head, clocking 1:30.95 for the sefven furlongs. A 9-2 chance, Lolly For Dolly was coming off a two-length tally in the one-mile Park Express Stakes on March 20 and had won the seven-furlong Athasi Stakes last May. All three of her Group 3 triumphs have come against males.

* At Saint-Cloud on Sunday, Christophe Soumillon timed his ride perfectly aboard the 7-5 Skins Game as the 5-year-old son of Diktat got up on the line to land the Group 3, $112,000 Prix Edmond Blanc by a nose from Rostrum. A listed winner over the same Saint-Cloud mile in October 2009, Skins Game is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget for the Marquise de Moratalla. He covered the mile on heavy ground in 1:48.10.

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