Thursday 5 December 2019

Marvellous masterclass gives O'Brien timely lift

Marvellous and Ryan Moore surge clear in yesterday’s 1,000 Guineas
Marvellous and Ryan Moore surge clear in yesterday’s 1,000 Guineas

Richard Forristal

Marvellous lived up to her name by unleashing a blistering turn of foot for Ryan Moore in yesterday's Etihad Airways Irish 2,000 Guineas to drag Aidan O'Brien's elite team out of its sluggish start to the campaign at the Curragh.

Just 35 minutes after Magician had failed to pull the rabbit out of the hat when foiled by Noble Mission in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, the Ballydoyle whiz struck for his first Group One of the season with the 10/1 second string.

Joseph O'Brien had opted for Palace in the mile fillies' Classic, but the deep ground ultimately didn't suit the American-bred, which eventually finished fifth.

In contrast, Marvellous, on just her third start, responded gamely to Moore's urgings, having looked in trouble at the rear early on.

It was a performance that constituted a marked progression from her indifferent Leopardstown reappearance in March.

She swooped 100 yards out to confine the Newmarket second and favourite Lightning Thunder to the runner-up berth again, with Vote Often third.

Marvellous was cut to a 10/1 for the Oaks, and O'Brien confirmed that Epsom is on the agenda.

"She handled heavy ground at Navan in the autumn, so we knew it wouldn't be a problem," he said of his sixth winner of the €300,000 contest.

"We always thought she was a good filly, but she had a cough early on and we had to back off her.

"When Joseph made his decision on Friday, he went with Palace because the ground was better then, but it was a close call. Marvellous got home well. The plan was to come here and then go to Epsom, so we'll see what the lads want to do now after that."

Last term, each of the 12 domestic Group Ones went to a different stable, something that, in theory at least, could be replicated this year.

Lady Jane Cecil had struggled to hold back the tears after Noble Mission gave her reason to fly Warren Place's famous Group One flag – an heirloom said to have been given to a Cecil ancestor by Robert the Bruce in 1323 – for a first time since her legendary husband Henry passed away last year.

James Doyle, who was stretching his unbeaten record in Group Ones at the track to four, was once again sublime on the improving five-year-old, a full-brother to the mighty Frankel that Cecil boldly opted to supplement here at a cost of €21,000.

Her ambition reaped a rich dividend, as Doyle took advantage of a soft lead on the soft-ground specialist and renowned front-runner to claim the €130,200 prize.

Magician, sent off joint-favourite with Khalid Abdullah's charge at evens, eventually got to within one-and-a-quarter lengths of him.

However, Doyle's decisiveness had won the day by then, as Joe Murphy's Euphrasia ran gallantly in third, just a head behind the runner-up.

"The horse was great and James was great," gushed Cecil, "but I can't thank Prince Khalid enough for supporting me.

"He could have retired him or sent him to America, so I am really grateful.


"We have a very, very good team at home, and it is wonderful that we will be able to fly Henry's flag again. I really wanted to win a Group One for him, so to do it so early is just wonderful."

Aidan O'Brien initiated a 40/1 treble when the odds-on Adelaide secured him a 13th win in the Group Three Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes under his son, who took the final maiden on Table Rock.

"I am delighted with that," the champion trainer said of Adelaide.

"He could go to Chantilly for the French Derby on Sunday, or we could wait for Royal Ascot if that comes too soon for him."

Tommy Stack and Wayne Lordan struck in the six-furlong handicap, their 4/1 favourite Great Minds knuckling down bravely to complete its hat-trick. "Hopefully he'll go for all those good handicaps like the Scurry, Rockingham and Ayr Gold Cup," said Stack's son Fozzy.

Another 4/1 market leader, Thomas Edison, obliged in similar style in the 12-furlong edition for Tony Martin and Fran Berry. Successful over course and distance in April, JP McManus' seven-year-old was backed in from 11/2 and made the most of a nice split on the rail to land the money.

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