Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 24 April 2018

O'Brien plan comes good with Joshua

Damien McElroy

Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien combined with Cork rider Colm O'Donoghue for a valuable victory in Toronto on Saturday night when Joshua Tree held off the ex-Irish Mores Wells and English raider Redwood in a tight finish to the Canadian International.

Taken out of the Ballydoyle handler's Arc team for Longchamp earlier this month, the Montjeu colt, which was making just his third start of the season, was sent to the front over a furlong out and was kept at full stretch as the pack closed up on the outer.

"Aidan had Joshua Tree well prepared for tonight and knew he was the right horse for this race," said O'Donoghue as he celebrated the winner's prize in excess of €800,000 heading to the O'Brien yard for the second time in recent years.

O'Donoghue, thus, was taking another notable scalp on the son of Montjeu, the pair having landed Ascot's Royal Lodge Stakes last autumn. Joshua Tree was third in York's Great Voltigeur Stakes and fifth in the English St Leger before being flown to Toronto.

Ballingarry, with Mick Kinane up, was Aidan's previous victor in this mile-and -a-half Grade One contest and that colt was sold to continue his racing career in America before being retired to stud in France. This weekend's victor could be leaving the stable too as a significant share was purchased last week by an Arab investor.

That latest triumph in Canada materialised several hours after Roderic O'Connor had run the race of his life at Newmarket to finish second to hotpot Frankel, likewise a son of the all-conquering Galileo, in a vintage renewal of the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes.


There could be another Group One race overseas for the late-maturing Roderic O'Connor in the coming weeks, while we can expect improvement to be forthcoming from Ruling, which made a winning debut at Naas yesterday in the opening Tifrums Maiden.

Playing catch-up most of the way, the son of Footstepsinthesand buckled down well, however, for Johnny Murtagh to prevail by a head from main market rival Anderiego, which was also making his first start for Dermot Weld and should open his account next time.

"He was very green, but saw it out well," said the champion jockey after Ruling, bred by Turf Club starter Joe Banahan and a €183,000 yearling, had emulated his sire, which landed the same event first time out in 2004 and won the English Guineas the following year.

The Weld stable and the season's leading rider Pat Smullen made no mistake, though, in the Garnet Stakes as favourite Emulous, in the Frankel and Twice Over colours of their breeder Khalid Abdullah, swept past the opposition on the climb to the post.

Always motoring sweetly on the outer for Smullen, the consistent Dansili filly's response was generous when he asked her to assume control as the majority of the runners for this Listed contest came wide in search of better ground.

That tactic was likewise employed to great effect by Fran Berry, earlier victorious on John Oxx's Redskin Dancer, in the October Premier Handicap as he brought Jessica Harrington's versatile Gimli's Rock close to the stands rail to see off a tightly-packed chasing group.

The Derrinstown Stud Birdcatcher Premier Nursery provided Pat Martin with his most notable success on the flat, as Tom Brennan's home-bred Knock Sytars defied a Dundalk penalty.

Now with three races to her credit, the Soviet Star filly is described by Martin as "a bit hot and quirky, but very straight-forward on the track" and she travelled well before taking a decisive advantage inside the furlong marker.

Irish Independent

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