Fame And Glory proved himself on course for the defence of his Ascot Gold Cup crown when getting the better of gallant mare Unaccompanied in the listed Vintage Crop Stakes in Navan yesterday.
Ridden for the first time by Joseph O’Brien, the five-time Group 1 winner was made to work hard in the closing stages but, in the final furlong, had the edge over the mare and got home by a neck to complete a treble for the winning rider and his trainer-father Aidan, following the earlier maiden successes of Cristoforo Colombo and Offer.
Table Mountain set off at a solid pace and was taken on after a half-mile by the winner. In front at half-way, Fame And Glory edged clear briefly turning for home but, approaching the two furlong pole, was tackled by Unaccompanied and Steps To Freedom.
The six-year-old battled tenaciously and, under hands and heels riding in the closing stages, asserted close home to repeat last year’s win in this event.
“He was quite fresh all the way down the back, but did it well,” said Joseph O’Brien. “I was happy to get a lead and had him in a nice position, until he changed his legs and took off. He was very fresh and got a little bit tired. But he was entitled to do that in his first run back.”
Dermot Weld, trainer of runner-up Unaccompanied, was delighted with the mare’s display, commenting: “That was some horse-race! Our mare ran the best race of her life, against an Irish Derby and Ascot Gold Cup winner. She ran her heart out and will probably go to Cork for the Noblesse Stakes next (on June 17).”
Friendless in the market, drifting from 13/8 to 7/2, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Cristoforo Colombo proved an impressive winner of the opening two-year-old maiden, showing good speed throughout and readily accounting for well-backed favourite Scream Blue Murder by a length and a half.
From the first crop of Henrythenavigator, Cristoforo Colombo impressed his rider Joseph O’Brien: “He had done a couple of nice pieces of work, but ours usually improve from their first run. So he surprised me a bit. He jumped and travelled and, although he was quite green in front, he won well. He’s a smart horse and, by Henrythenavigator, will appreciate better ground.”
Coolmore representative Tammy O’Brien later confirmed that Cristoforo Colombo will be part of Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot team.
The middle leg of the O’Brien treble came in the navanracecourse.ie Maiden (one mile and five furlongs) when 1/9 favourite Offer built on his debut second at Tipperary to beat debutant Civil War by more than four lengths.
A course and distance winner last October (her trainer’s last success), My Girl Anna bounced back to winning form when justifying 9/2 favouritism under Rory Cleary in the €20,000 navanracecourse.ie Handicap over five furlongs.
Trained by Muredach Kelly, the Orpen mare held the late surge of Luisant by a nose, the pair stretching four and a half lengths clear of the remainder.
A delighted Cleary said: “She just held on, but she deserved a change of luck — she’s been knocking on the door. We decided to change tactics on her, to hold onto her for a while, and it worked.”
Johnny Murtagh seldom leaves Navan without a winner and struck on the Ger Lyons-trained Kashmir Peak in the Come Racing On June 9th Handicap while the Tommy Stack-trained Coin Of Courage (Billy Lee) proved a shock winner of the concluding maiden, getting the better of favourite Qasser.
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