Aidan O’Brien was the dominant figure on day two of the second renewal of Champions’ Weekend, the Ballydoyle maestro taking all three Group 1 contests on yesterday’s card at the Curragh.
The Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger was the feature on the programme, and rapidly progressive stayer Order Of St George landed some tidy wagers when routing his older rivals under a confident Joseph O’Brien.
Available at 11-4 early but returned 5-4, he was settled out the back as Good Tradition forced a strong pace. However, the field tightened up markedly before the turn for home, with the market leader travelling noticeably strongly.
Brought between runners to lead three furlongs out, he galloped clear in tremendous style to put 11 lengths between himself and Agent Murphy, with County Hurdle winner Wicklow Brave running a superb race to take third place.
Said O’Brien: “It was a tough race, against older horses, but I thought it was a good race. They went very fast up front, Joseph felt they were going too hard, so he let them go. When they go that hard on that type of ground they’ll always come back, and that’s what happened.
“He handles an ease in the ground, travels really strongly, gets the trip and when Joseph said ‘go’ on him, he quickened really well. Unusual a horse with that sort of class stays that well - he’s very exciting.”
A Cup horse for the future, the two-mile race at Ascot on British Champions’ weekend has been put up as a likely next target, though the Arc hasn’t been ruled out.
A sad overtone to the race came from the demise of 2014 winner Brown Panther who suffered a compound fracture of a hind leg mid-race, was pulled up immediately, but couldn’t be saved.
Not only did O’Brien win the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes with Minding, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, he completed a 1-2-3 with Ballydoyle and Alice Springs.
Favourite Ballydoyle travelled strongly on the front end and sought to see off all challenges, but Minding, who’s bred to appreciate ease in the going, moved up smoothly to challenge late, and ran on stoutly to beat her stable companion by three parts of a length, with Alice Springs a close third.
“We knew she would handle the going - her dam, Lillie Langtry, handled soft ground very well,” said O’Brien. “We thought she would improve from her last run, and she got the trip well. She could head to the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot next.”
After filling the frame in the Moyglare, O’Brien took the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes courtesy of a tremendously impressive display from Air Force Blue.
Despite concerns regarding the ground, he was backed into 10-11, and there was never a moment’s worry for his supporters, as he travelled ominously well, and quickened clear in the closing stages to beat Herald The Dawn by a comfortable three lengths.
“Delighted with him,” said O’Brien. “We took a chance running him in ground he would have hated, but Joseph said he was running away the whole way, and couldn’t even get him back in behind them. He has that natural pace that real good horses have.”
Of possible future targets this season, O’Brien added: “He’s had four runs, so he’s learned plenty, but if he’s to run again I suppose it’ll be the Middle Park or the Dewhurst.”
The James Fanshawe-trained Ribbons left behind the disappointment of her recent Deauville defeat behind when taking the Group 2 Blandford Stakes under Tom Queally.
Patiently ridden, the mare moved to the front with a furlong to go, and stayed on well to beat the returning Tapestry by half a length.
Sole Power, trained by Eddie Lynam and ridden by Chris Hayes, did enough to fend off the late thrust of Maarek in the Group 2 Flying Five. Remarkably, the evergreen sprinter was recording his first win on turf in Ireland, both previous successes at home having come at Dundalk.
“The ground wasn’t ideal but we wanted to support the race,” said Lynam. “I thought for a second Jamie Spencer (rider of Maarek) was going to ruin my day. He’s been a great horse for me – he’s carried me for five or six years – and I’m delighted to win at home.”
Of future plans, he added: “He’s going to Paris for a weekend in October, to Hong Kong in December, and Dubai in March – the same old boring stuff.”
Glass House overcame a tough draw to land the valuable Tattersalls Ireland Sales Race for trainer Ger Lyons, who was denied a double when Fog Of War was touched off by the David Wachman-trained Torcedor in the finale. The opener was won in convincing fashion by the Richard Fahey-trained, Jamie Spencer-ridden George Bowen.
* The attendance was 10,384, down from 10,978 for the same day last year.
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