Dylan Thomas prevailed from the valiant Ouija Board under an inspired ride by Kieren Fallon in the Baileys Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
The 1,000,000 race had been billed as a rematch between Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun after their scintillating battle in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood last month, but it was the younger male who spoiled the party.
Winner of the Budweiser Irish Derby earlier in the season, Dylan Thomas was on a retrieval mission after flopping in the Juddmonte International at York just over two weeks ago.
But connections were not afraid to give the son of Danehill another crack at a mile and a quarter and that faith paid off as the 13-8 favourite nailed the globe-trotting mare to score by a neck.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained winner’s stablemate Ace dictated the early gallop and Fallon set sail for home rounding the final bend.
He was soon joined by multiple Group One winner Ouija Board under Jamie Spencer and she went into the lead with what appeared to be relative ease.
But Fallon is never a man to be underestimated and galvanised Dylan Thomas to go back past Ouija Board in the dying strides and delight his legions of supporters.
Alexander Goldrun was beaten just short head at Goodwood but never looked like getting seriously involved and finished two and a half lengths adrift in the five-runner contest.
“What can I say?” said O’Brien after winning the race for the fourth time. “He is a horse with a big heart and a lot of class.
“I saw the filly head us but I still wasn’t sure that we were beaten. You never know with Kieren. He still hadn’t hit him and he only uses the stick as a last resort.
“I looked at Kieren’s body language and I thought there was more there.
“You are always worried dropping back in trip but he has an extra gear and he loves this fast ground.”
Reflecting on his York effort, O’Brien continued: “We had kept him on the bridle at home just in case he had to go to the King George if Hurricane Run didn’t go, so he ended up being very fresh for York.
“He was keen there and they went no pace and it caught him out.”
And the Coolmore-owned, Andre Fabre-trained Hurricane Run’s future running arrangements will dictate plans for Dylan Thomas.
“Hurricane Run will run in the Arc but if it was to come up very fast he will be on standby,” added O’Brien.
“The Breeders’ Cup will probably be next for him. He gets a mile and a half so could go for the Turf but he has the class for a mile and a quarter so could go for the Classic.
“To be honest I would love to have a go at the dirt. But Kieren won’t be able to ride him there and that is an awful disadvantage with all of these horses as he knows them so well.”
Fallon added: “I thought they had gone quick enough but when I kicked three furlongs out I realised they hadn’t gone fast enough.
“I needed more help and thankfully Ouija Board appeared. She went past and he put his head down and battled – I always knew I would get back up.
“A bigger field would have suited him better and he got past Ace quicker than I thought he would.
“He is one of the nicest horses I have ridden. I knew he had no dangers in the Irish Derby and he was electric there.
“He will be a tough horse to beat from now on and he is getting better and better.”
Ouija Board has had the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup meeting on November 4 as her main target this year, but Ed Dunlop and her owner Lord Derby will take her home and check her out before deciding on definite plans.
Dunlop said: “She has run a great race and when she hit the front it looked like she was going to win, but she has just been out-battled.
“We’ll take her home and she how she is before deciding where to go next.”
Derby added: “She has run a brave race and it was no disgrace being beaten by an Irish Derby winner to whom she was giving 4lb.
“She’s a truly loyal horse and always tries her best.”
Jim Bolger said of the third: “It’s as good a race as she’s ever run. I hoped, turning in, that she might go on but the way it unfolded, we knew our fate quite early.
“We will take her home and see how she is, but we’ll give the Prix de l’Opera serious consideration.”