O'Brien unearths another gem to conquer Legatissimo
Seamie Heffernan outfoxed his marquee colleagues Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori to claim yesterday's Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh aboard Diamondsandrubies. Aidan O'Brien's long-serving deputy had gone out with instructions to track the expected front-runner, Secret Gesture. After breaking a tad slowly before squeezing Diamondsandrubies up the inside, Heffernan found himself in front, with Secret Gesture's rider Andrea Atzeni seemingly happy to take a lead.
They say that there's no point getting older if you don't get any wiser. Heffernan, soon to turn 43 years of age, cannily dictated the pace to suit himself and had a short-head to spare over the Moore-ridden favourite Legatissimo at the line.
The 1,000 Guineas heroine was closing at pace having not got a clear run, and Dettori was also coming with a flourish aboard Ribbons, which finished a neck behind in third. Heffernan, though, had judged it to a nicety on the Cheshire Oaks-winning filly. Diamondsandrubies had endured serious interference in the Oaks at Epsom before keeping on to be fourth to Qualify, so this 8/1 success wasn't out of turn.
"Seamie thought she fared worse than anything else at Epsom, so she was unlucky there," O'Brien said of his 10-furlong Group One winner. "She is a good filly. We'd have liked to get a lead but Seamie gave her a great ride.
"I'd imagine she will come back here for the Irish Oaks, as will Qualify. She ran well (staying on sixth in the Irish Derby) but I probably overdid telling Colm (O'Donoghue) to drop her out. I wanted her to be ridden the way she won at Epsom but the pace wasn't strong enough in the end."
Since the €250,000 Pretty Polly was elevated to Group One status in 2004, only O'Brien has won it with a three-year-old. This was the third time that he has done so, and Heffernan had adopted identical tactics on the second occasion on Misty For Me in 2011.
Having contrived to beat Legatissimo in the Oaks with a filly not sporting the Coolmore colours, O'Brien pulled off a similar feat here, as Diamondsandrubies sports the silks of breeder Richard Henry. David Wachman expressed himself happy with Legatissimo, though he acknowledged the race wasn't run to suit. Goodwood's Nassau Stakes may be next, while Pleascach was well held in fifth.
Heffernan again foiled Moore in the At The Races Curragh Cup to complete a 71/1 brace. Forgotten Rules never looked happy under pressure on the prevailing fast ground, as Bondi Beach and Order Of St George settled down to fight it out.
Heffernan had got Bondi Beach (7/1) up to thwart the gambled-on Bantry Bay at Leopardstown, so he was repeating the dose by denying a lower-priced Ballydoyle runner by a short-head. Wachman and Moore earlier combined to good effect to take the Grangecon Stud Stakes with Most Beautiful. Having accounted for the Royal Ascot winner Waterloo Bridge on her previous outing at Navan, the Canford Cliffs filly, which is partly owned by Ronan O'Gara, had the form in the book.
"She is a nice, big filly and I'm not in any rush with her," Wachman said of the well-backed 11/8 favourite. "She is in races like the Moyglare Stud Stakes so we'll see. Ronan is on holiday with his family in France but I'd say he won't miss the next day."
Moore initiated a short-priced double aboard Air Pilot in the 10-furlong Group Three in similarly enterprising style as Heffernan would later do in the big race. Kevin Manning tried to peg him back aboard Parish Hall but Moore had enough in reserve on the odds-on Ralph Beckett-trained Air Pilot to repel him by a length-and-a-quarter.
"We were lucky to fall into a three-runner Group Three," Beckett admitted. Manning and Jim Bolger took the juvenile maiden with Sanus Per Annum, two days after its full-brother Morning Mix broke its duck at the track. "He's a big, raw two-year-old," Bolger said of the Teofilo colt. "If I was a proper trainer you wouldn't see him next until a Derby Trial! He could come back for the Futurity and possibly the National Stakes."
O'Donoghue excelled from the front in the €100,000 Tote Rockingham dash aboard Michael Wigham's 20/1 raider Foxy Forever, while Have A Nice Day took the Sunday Independent Handicap for a second year for Sabrina Harty and Leigh Roche. "He's a little legend," Harty said of the 8/1 shot.
In France, meanwhile, Treve maintained her unbeaten record this year with a determined win in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. The dual Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine had to work harder than odds of 4/9 would suggest to overhaul Flintshire in the Group One, but she eventually ground down last year's Arc runner-up to get on top under Thierry Jarnet.
Criquette Head-Maarek's brilliant five-year-old was cut to as low as 2/1 from 3/1 to record a historic third Arc win at Longchamp in October.