Friday 15 November 2019

Breeders history for O'Brien

Iridessa and Wayne Lordan win the Filly & Mare turf race during the 36th Breeders Cup meeting at Santa Anita Park. Photo: Richard Mackson.
Iridessa and Wayne Lordan win the Filly & Mare turf race during the 36th Breeders Cup meeting at Santa Anita Park. Photo: Richard Mackson.

Joseph O'Brien made history at Santa Anita in California last night when he became the youngest ever trainer of a winner at the Breeders Cup meeting.

O'Brien's Iridessa just got home in the ten-furlong Filly and Mare Turf in a pulsating finish with American horse Vasilika. The hot favourite Sistercharlie finished third.

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It completes a crazy double for O'Brien who at 18 was the youngest ever jockey to win a Breeders Cup race on St Nicholas Abbey eight years ago.

Freddy Head, the brilliant French horseman, is the only other person to ever ride and train a winner at this meeting, known as the 'Thoroughbred World Championships'.

Drawn one, Iridessa got first run on both Vasilika and Sistercharlie and showed great battling qualities under jockey Wayne Lordon.

"It's a wonderful win," gushed O'Brien after the race. "Wayne gave him a brilliant ride and this is one for all the team at home who do all the work with the filly."

Meanwhile, Road To Respect got the better of Clan Des Obeaux to record victory for the second successive year in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal. Noel Meade's eight-year-old took his Grade One tally to four, again winning first time out as he did 12 months ago.

Road To Respect appeared to face a much tougher task this time. But with top novice Delta Work paying for some sloppy jumping and finishing only fourth, Seán Flanagan took his time and then produced the 5-2 winner to challenge Clan Des Obeaux and lead narrowly at the last.

Paul Nicholls' King George VI Chase winner kept battling, having helped to force much of the pace - but it was Road To Respect who was always edging their duel up the run-in on the way to victory by four lengths from the 7-4 favourite, vindicating the pre-race confidence of Flanagan.

"This is definitely his time of the year," said Flanagan. "He was in super form at home."

Meade reported that former jockey Paul Carberry had helped in Road To Respect's preparation, and he too was expecting a big run.

"We brought him to Punchestown and worked him, and then we brought him to Navan and worked him," said the winning trainer. "The last day he said, 'spot on, don't do any more'."

There was a minor last-minute worry, though, when Meade put Road To Respect on the scales.

"I weighed him every week, and I got the fright of my life this morning because he is 19 kilos heavier than he was this day last year - and he was heavy here last year. He has obviously matured a lot and has got very strong."

Meade has high hopes that, unlike last season when Road To Respect went on to run with credit but no further wins at the highest level, Down Royal glory proves a springboard to further success.

"To be honest, last season (he) got destroyed when he ran on fast ground at Leopardstown. Everyone kept saying he wants fast ground - he doesn't, he wants soft ground, and it destroyed his jumping.

"He didn't jump in Cheltenham, because he wouldn't let himself go in the shoulders. Leopardstown is the obvious place to go again, but we'll see about the ground - it would have to be easy enough. He'll definitely be put in the King George. He seems to have straightened out his jumping.

"(Owners) Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) will make plans. Michael has always been keen to stay in Ireland before going to Cheltenham."

Envoi Allen extended his unbeaten career record with an impressive victory on his debut over hurdles. The winner of last season's Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival took his successful tally to six out of six - putting himself on course for the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse next.

Envoi Allen led throughout and was fluent at his flights in the Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle under Davy Russell - landing odds of 1-4 with ease, by six and a half lengths, from Joseph O'Brien-trained pair Front View and Entoucas

Gordon Elliott and Cheveley Park Stud's exciting five-year-old was adding a first hurdles win to four in bumpers last season, and his point-to-point debut.

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