Shock result as Willie Mullins wins his first Classic

Wicklow Brave caused a major upset to provide Willie Mullins with his first Classic success in the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St. Leger.

Ireland's all-conquering champion National Hunt trainer is no stranger to big-race success on the Flat, but few gave 11-1 shot Wicklow Brave a chance of victory in a race that was expected to be dominated by last year's winner Order Of St George.

Aidan O'Brien's stayer came into the Group One contest unbeaten in three previous starts this season, including a brilliant display in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, and was just 1-7 to successfully defend his crown at the Curragh.

Trainer Willie Mullins celebrates with jockey Frankie Dettori after winning on Wicklow Brave. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie
Trainer Willie Mullins celebrates with jockey Frankie Dettori after winning on Wicklow Brave. Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

However, the warning signs were there for his supporters from early in the home straight, with Ryan Moore having to cajole Order Of St George into contention while Wicklow Brave bowled along merrily at the head of affairs under Frankie Dettori.

The odds-on favourite started to bridge the gap inside the final two furlongs, but Wicklow Brave was not for catching and passed the post half a length the good.

Bookmakers shortened the winner for the Melbourne Cup and Mullins confirmed the Flemington showpiece is top of his agenda.

"Ruby (Walsh) rode him in his last bit of work and he said there may not be anything to make the running," said the Closutton maestro.

"We have been holding him up all our lives and he often doesn't produce what it looks like he will.

"Frankie was fantastic, as he is always is. He rode my father's Classic winner here, Vintage Tipple (Irish Oaks in 2003), and I think that was his first Irish St Leger winner.

"Hopefully it will be the Melbourne Cup next. That has been the plan all year as the pace and the ground will suit."

Dettori joked: "I told Willie there's no chance of me riding him over hurdles, no chance!

"He's was only about Willie's fourth choice for this too, imagine what Annie Power would do in this race?"

It proved to be an afternoon of firsts on the second day of Irish Champions Weekend as Intricately claimed the Moyglare Stud Stakes to secure Joseph O'Brien's maiden Group One win as a trainer.

Also providing jockey Donnacha O'Brien with his first success at the highest level, the 25-1 chance narrowly outpointed Hydrangea, trained by the pair's father Aidan O'Brien, by a short head.

Joseph O'Brien said: "It's unbelievable. She's very tough. She's been running well all year and Donnacha gave her an unbelievable ride today.

"This means the world to me. It's Donnacha's first Group One and my mum bred her."

O'Brien senior added: "I can't tell you how happy I am for them. It's so hard to win Group One races and I'm very happy to miss out on this one.

"For Donnacha and Joseph and everyone that works so hard in their yard, it's great."

The master of Ballydoyle did strike gold in the middle of the three Group Ones on the card as Churchill (4-5 favourite) dominated the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes.

The Galileo colt added to his previous wins in the Chesham Stakes, Tyros Stakes and Futurity Stakes with a clear-cut victory over Richard Hannon's British raider Mehmas to confirm his place as ante-post favourite for both the 2000 Guineas and the Investec Derby.

O'Brien said: "He settles and he quickens. He's a very smart horse.

"He looked like a miler, but Ryan said he'd have no trouble getting a mile and a quarter next year.

"We always viewed him as a Guineas horse."

The formidable combination of trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Pat Smullen landed the Moyglare "Jewels" Blandford Stakes, with 2-1 shot Shamreen reversing previous form with O'Brien's 5-4 favourite Best In The World.

Weld said: "She is a very consistent filly and it was a very good ride by Pat.

"That is her trip and we will look at the Prix de l'Opera."

The Ger Lyons-trained Ardhoomey (16-1) landed the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, while New Bidder was a 22-1 winner of the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund 'Bold Lad' Sprint Handicap for British trainer David Barron.

There was further success for the raiding party in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes, with the lucrative prize going to Brian Ellison's 14-1 shot Orewa.

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