OK Ryan Moore, all is forgiven

Some weeks ago, we gave Ryan Moore plenty of stick for his ride aboard Sir John Lavery in a Group 2 at Leopardstown.
OK Ryan Moore, all is forgiven

Moore did just about everything wrong on the three-year-old, finding all the problems going, before switching out far too late and getting Sir John Lavery beaten into fourth place, less than a length behind the winner, David O’Meara’s Suedois.

The aftermath of that offering surprised me a little in that those who agreed with the sentiments expressed tended to stretch out the criticism even further and question whether Moore was actually as good as his massive reputation indicated.

Well, I had no such reservations, said so at the time, and on Saturday last at Ascot he showed just what he brings to the table with an awesome display on Order Of St George.

If anyone concludes there is an element of talking through the pocket here then they could not be more right.

Order Of St George was always a tight enough price to beat 12 rivals and you were never going to get rich backing him. You could, however, go bust!

In theory, he was a good thing, on the basis of clearly being the best horse in the race, but even more importantly was racing on a soft surface, which usually makes him well-nigh unbeatable.

Most of the marathon trip made for relaxing viewing, until Order Of St George began to struggle to close down the pair in front with over two furlongs to go.

Defeat looked inevitable, but somehow Moore cajoled and persuaded his partner to power forward and normal breathing, for us punters, only kicked in again about 50 yards from the post.

It was a masterclass from Moore and, suddenly, Sir John Lavery became just a distant memory! This was a terrific start to British Champions’ Day and it only got better.

The enjoyment was greatly enhanced by the brilliance of the television coverage by ITV. Their decision to go with a completely new team at the start of the year was questionable, but now looks entirely justified.

This was superb television, bright and breezy, innovative and highly entertaining.

Unlike another organisation we could mention, there were no passengers.

Oli Bell even got Moore to be far more co-operative than normal, to be more open and talkative. Moore responded extremely well to Bell’s numerous intelligent questions.

Two horses who very much caught the eye at Leopardstown last Sunday were Dermot Weld’s Contingent and Aidan O’Brien’s Kenya.

Contingent topped up a fine weekend for her sire, Frankel, when landing some decent wagers in a one-mile maiden.

Frankel, of course, had his first Group 1 success in Europe when the quite brilliant Cracksman destroyed the opposition in the Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

In Contingent, Frankel has another potentially top-class offspring to represent him, because her Leopardstown display was a little bit out of the ordinary.

Drawn almost out on the road, 18 of 18, was a disastrous start for her, although in Pat Smullen she had the best in business in getting across.

She broke like a rocket, but, rather unusually for a maiden, was never able to get a good position and Smullen had to sit and suffer.

Contingent had to challenge wide into the straight and we waited for her to wilt, with the undoubted promise of better to come. She surged into the lead with more than a furlong to cover, though, and was a decisive winner at the line.

Contingent could be good, very good, and will keep Weld warm for the winter, on the back of an unsatisfactory campaign.

There was much to admire in Kenya, who took the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes, over an inadequate seven furlongs.

His length defeat of Ger Lyons’ McMunigal was nothing spectacular, but Kenya has a good attitude and is just a likeable colt.

Here are two more that have real possibilities of keeping us in the style to which we have become accustomed through the winter, namely Samcro and Shady Operator.

I don’t know about you, but Samcro blew this observer away when taking a modest maiden hurdle at Punchestown nine days ago.

You can argue that the triple bumper winner, who was a 1-5 shot to beat opposition numbering 21, did no more than was expected in scoring by 15 lengths.

Perhaps, but he gave the impression of being a thorough stayer, with a huge amount of speed, and that is surely the perfect combination.

Right now, until knowing better, I have him pencilled in as the most exciting young National Hunt horse in training.

Ten days ago, also at Punchestown, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Shady Operator caught the eye when runner-up behind Gordon Elliott’s hot-pot, Cracking Smart, in a two and a half-mile maiden hurdle.

I can’t say he was on my list of horses to follow, having previously scrambled to victory in a moderate bumper at Limerick in March.

Punchestown was only his second ever outing, but he stuck to his task in encouraging fashion to be beaten four lengths by what is probably a smart winner. It will be most surprising if Shady Operator cannot win a maiden hurdle-at least.

The biggest certainty of the weekend is that Aidan O’Brien will take his Group 1 tally for the season to at least 26 and set a new world record.

We went on and on about his Saxon Warrior here a week ago and today will find out if we were right, or simply waffling about a horse we obviously over-rated.

Saxon Warrior faces easily his stiffest test to date, in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, and some of us will sleep soundly tonight should he sail through with flying colours.

Now Ryan, stay out of trouble.

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