Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 17 December 2017

O'Brien eyes are fixed on Dawn raid at Newmarket

Damien McElroy

Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien plans to step up last month's Leopardstown scorer Await The Dawn significantly in grade again in the Emirates Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The son of former Ballydoyle star Giant's Causeway left his bloodless success in a three-runner August affair in Cork in the shade when running away from proven performers for Johnny Murtagh in the Kilternan Stakes. "We've been very happy with him," said O'Brien of his charge, rated an 8/1 for the big race.

That fluent Group Three triumph elevated an unexposed Await The Dawn in the pecking order among the stable's middle-distance performers, particularly with one-time Derby hotpot St Nicholas Abbey bypassing yesterday's Finale Stakes at The Curragh.

There's every chance now that the Montjeu colt will be kept in training as a four-year-old, with Fame And Fortune likely to be going off to stud.

Darley Irish Oaks third Lady Lupus and hat-trick seeker Rain Forest were O'Brien's runners in the Finale Stakes in the absence of St Nicholas Abbey and the former fared much the better of the pair, although only a well-beaten fourth to surprise scorer Hazarafa.

Local trainer John Oxx saddled the principals in this Listed contest in which Roses For The Lady made a brave bid from the front under Fran Berry to sign off in style on her final outing before retiring to the paddocks.


For much of the mile-and-a-half trip that ploy looked like working out a treat, only for stable companion Hazarafa to mount a sustained challenge that eventually brought the Aga Khan's Daylami filly to the head of affairs in the hands of young Ben Curtis.

That 12/1 triumph put paid to the Jackpot, with the pool of €3,037 being rolled over to today's session at headquarters, much of the damage having been inflicted earlier when Silver Shuffle (28/1) romped away with the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice Handicap.

The O'Brien-Murtagh axis was in double form earlier in the session as Petronius Maximus benefited from a first-time visor to belatedly get off the mark in the sprint maiden and Gemstone claimed the Lanwades & Staffordstown Studs Stakes.

O'Brien was landing this Listed juvenile fillies' event over a mile for the third time in four years as Gemstone forced the issue in the straight and kept going long enough to foil the late surge of the unlucky Rising Wind.

In between, James Nash's Luisant improved on last year's second to Rayeni in the Waterford Testimonial Stakes by overtaking the lone English raider Definightly inside the final furlong.

Joseph O'Brien kept up his title hopes in the apprentice division with a hard-earned success on his father's Big Occasion in the Mongey Communications Handicap after My Blue Heaven and Lynott had both come to grief rounding the final bend.

Thankfully both Seamus Heffernan (My Blue Heaven) and Lynott's pilot Davy Moran emerged unscathed from the accident, before Joseph was pipped with Apache in the finale by Billy Lee on Jessica Harrington's fellow debutant Banksters Bonus (20/1).

Meanwhile, Irish eyes were smiling across the water on Saturday after Tipperary trainer John Grogan enjoyed a red-letter day with Katla in the Coral Rockingham Stakes at York.

The Cashel farmer bred the Majestic Missile filly himself, still owns her and she is also the only horse he trains. She had run dual Group One winner Misty For Me to a length and a quarter at The Curragh in July and that ability was in evidence as she pulled Billy Lee to the front to win by six lengths.

There was another Irish success at Ascot, where Charles O'Brien-trained Bewitched powered home to settle the Bengough Stakes.

Members of Irish racing's most famous dynasty came together as O'Brien's mother Jacqueline, widow of the legendary Vincent, owns the filly along with the Magnier family.

At Goodwood yesterday, Paul Hanagan took his lead in the jockey's table over Richard Hughes back to nine, but it came at a price. Hanagan was given a one-day ban (October 25) for hitting Celtic Sixpence (2/1) in the wrong place en route to a comfortable victory in the auction maiden. Hughes is suspended for seven days after next Saturday.

Irish Independent

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