Costello's Cup runneth over on Reflection
Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30
Aidan O'Brien took his Royal Ascot tally to five with a massive 577/1 double, although yesterday ultimately belonged to Dougie Costello.
On another trying afternoon for Ryan Moore, O'Brien's long-serving Ballydoyle deputies Seamie Heffernan and Colm O'Donoghue excelled.
Heffernan first drove the aptly-named Brave Anna to victory in the Albany Stakes. Despite odds of 16/1, Brave Anna was the shortest priced of Heffernan's three winners at the meeting for O'Brien.
However, O'Donoghue would top that with a sublime 33/1 triumph aboard Sword Fighter in the Queen's Vase. Renowned on home soil as an exceptional judge of pace, he dictated the fractions to a nicety in the two-miler, with his willing partner eventually holding on gamely by three parts of a length.
The brace, on a day that left Moore ruing his luck after first getting out too late when flashing home for third on Alice Springs behind French raider Qemah (6/1) in the Coronation Stakes and then getting carved up by the Fran Berry-ridden Kinema (8/1) in the Duke Of Edinburgh, was another reminder that the dregs in Ballydoyle are still pretty tasty.
The wins for Heffernan and O'Donoghue, such loyal team players, were warmly received. Equally popular, though, was that of Quiet Reflection in the Commonwealth Cup under Dougie Costello.
A year ago, Graham Lee vindicated his decision to quit riding over jumps when securing Gold Cup glory on Trip To Paris. This time, his fellow Galwegian enjoyed a similarly resounding reward for his switch, displaying remarkable cool to wait for the gaps to come before driving Karl Burke's Quiet Reflection to victory in the six-furlong dash.
Having only agreed in November to eschew a successful jumps career to ply his trade on the Flat at Burke's behest, it was some feat for 33-year-old Costello to reap a Group One reward so soon.
He enjoyed his finest moment over jumps when Countrywide Flame landed the 2012 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. However, even then he wasn't reduced to tears in the way that he was after yesterday's £227,000 coup.
Quiet Reflection returned the 7/4 favourite and her chance was helped when the eventual runner-up Kachy hung left across the track, but this was a deserved triumph for the hard-working Costello. His emotional response illustrated just how much a win on such a grand stage meant to someone used to driving "90,000 miles a year" to slog through the mud for a living.
"I owe Karl Burke a lot and I'm so lucky," Costello said after his famous length success.
"Anybody would have won on her today, but she's such an honest mare.
"She jumps, wherever you want to go she goes and she switches off. She's picked up on the ground and her courage and class has taken her through."
Quiet Reflection, beaten just once in seven starts, is owned by a syndicate that includes Irish man Niall O'Brien.
"I haven't slept for a week thinking it could happen," a relieved O'Brien admitted. "We've had our day now and we'll cherish it forever."