Friday 19 January 2018

Abbey creates history with third Coronation

Tom Peacock

Aidan O'Brien was lavish in his praise of St Nicholas Abbey after the six-year-old created history by becoming the first horse to win the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom on three occasions.

Having beaten multiple Group One winner Midday two years ago and Ed Dunlop's globetrotting Red Cadeaux last year, it was Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden's turn to chase him home.

Settled at the rear along with his main market rival Dunaden as the two pacemakers set for sail around Tattenham Corner, Joseph O'Brien pressed the button two furlongs from home and the response was immediate.

The 30/100 favourite kicked three lengths clear and while Dunaden stuck gamely to his task in second, he never for one minute looked like catching the three-and-three-quarter-lengths winner.

A crack at the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot could now be on the agenda for St Nicholas Abbey, before the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

O'Brien Snr said: "He has everything you want in a racehorse, he quickens, he travels and is a joy to be around.

"Everyone has done a good job with him at home and he's a privilege to be involved with.

"Joseph said he has been very fresh the last few weeks and Chamonix leads him at home, which is why he ran. It's been a while since he ran.

"He's a great traveller, comes down the hill well and slowly moves up the gears, it was great.

"What everyone forgets is how much speed this lad showed as a two-year-old, he had that class all the time. Obviously, the trainer destroyed him at three and it took him three years to get back. He is an incredible horse.

"The lads said they might bring him back for Ascot, maybe the Hardwicke, on the way to the King George. If he doesn't go to Royal Ascot, he will probably have to go away for a racecourse gallop anyway, so it's possible he will go there."

O'Brien Jnr said: "Whatever it is over the winter he's matured, he lobs down to the start on a long rein and you can put him where you like in his races. On his blow at home the other morning he was exceptional, better than he has ever been. He's a force to be reckoned with this year, I don't see why he can't be the best around over middle distances.

"He loves this place, he's never put a foot wrong here. He's entitled to be rated up there with some of the very best horses, he's very, very good."

Co-owner Derrick Smith said: "I loved him from the moment he first ran and I've loved him all the way through.

"He disappointed in his three-year-old career but since then he's got better and better and, dare I say it, I think he's better than he ever was.

"Obviously the King George comes to mind and we might go for the Hardwicke, we'll just keep running him as he's as good as he ever was."

Mikel Delzangles, trainer of Dunaden, said: "I think that's as good as he is compared to St Nicholas Abbey. He ran a good race, but that's it. The winner is a true champion and very hard to beat, especially on this track."

Irish Independent

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