Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Canny O'Brien shows what sets him apart with Rhododendron

Rhododendron ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes during the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day at Newbury on Saturday. Photo: Tim Goode/PA
Rhododendron ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes during the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day at Newbury on Saturday. Photo: Tim Goode/PA

Thomas Kelly

the decision-making skills of Aidan O'Brien are often what sets him apart from the rest and switching Rhododendron back to a mile paid dividends in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Having finished fourth on her return in the Prix Ganay over an extended 10 furlongs last month, last year's 1000 Guineas and Oaks runner-up claimed the third Group One success of her career when becoming the first filly since Red Evie in 2007 to lift the mile showpiece.

For a moment it looked as though Lightning Spear was going to go one better than in 2017 and break his duck at the top table, but it was not to be, with the 100/30 favourite holding on by a short head to give O'Brien his second victory in the race after the mighty Hawk Wing in 2003.

O'Brien said: "I was delighted, because she had run well either way. She probably got there a little bit early and she was left there a bit lonely and left there a bit by herself, but Ryan gave her a brilliant ride. She is brave and toughed it out."

Regarding future plans, O'Brien added: "She would have the option of going the mile (Queen Anne) at Ascot or the mile and a quarter (Prince of Wales Stakes)."

Djakadam was out of luck in a dramatic renewal of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil.

Willie Mullins' raider made little impact on the Grade One over three and three-quarter miles, as the Guillaume Macaire-trained On The Go snatched victory on the line in the hands of James Reveley, who was winning the race for the third year in succession.

Bapaume fared best of the Mullins runners when second behind runaway winner De Bon Coeur in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil.

Stablemate Yorkhill led for a long way, but had nothing left to give when headed by De Bon Coeur after jumping the third-last flight.

Elsewhere, Justify put himself within one race of joining the greats of American racing with victory in the 143rd Preakness Stakes at a murky and rain-soaked Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore, where 134,000 struggled to watch the action through thick fog.

Ridden by Mike Smith, 52, Bob Baffert's undefeated Kentucky Derby hero faced seven rivals in the second leg of the US Triple Crown, including runner-up Good Magic, who served it up to his old rival.

Justify eventually got on top and had enough left at the line to hold Bravazo and Tenfold, with Good Magic a close fourth.

He now needs to add the Belmont Stakes on June 9 to become just the 13th horse to win all three races.

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