Saturday 24 February 2018

Moore raised Aloft at Ascot

Ryan Moore partners Aloft to victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot to secure a record-breaking ninth victory at the festival, surpassing the mark set by Pat Eddery in 1989
Ryan Moore partners Aloft to victory in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot to secure a record-breaking ninth victory at the festival, surpassing the mark set by Pat Eddery in 1989
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

After Ryan Moore's post-war record ninth Royal Ascot win on Aidan O'Brien's Aloft in yesterday's Queen's Vase, eight Irish-trained horses will today seek to do likewise.

In 2008, O'Brien saddled six winners at the royal fixture to help the raiders plunder eight victories for a first time.

Following Aloft's determined triumph at odds of 5/2 favouritism on his seasonal bow, that quota has now been emulated in four successive years, so it would be some testament to the domestic ranks were it to be topped now.

Dermot Weld, Willie Mullins and David Wachman have also contributed to this week's tally. Weld and Mullins have live chances of a further contribution to the cause with Mustajeeb and Wicklow Brave (Moore), while O'Brien will saddle Ballydoyle and Due Diligence. Should both prevail, not only would it ensure a new pinnacle for Irish runners and enhance the benchmark that Moore has apprehended from Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery, it would also constitute an unprecedented haul for an individual Irish trainer.

O'Brien's six wins in 2008 was a feat preceded only by Vincent O'Brien, his Ballydoyle forerunner missing with just a solitary runner when he sent seven raiders across in 1975.

Of course, all this must be viewed in the context that the pomp and splendour of the royal gala was first extended to five days in 2002. That is a point that wouldn't be lost on Moore, now so incontrovertibly earning the wider recognition that his talent merits.

A ferociously taciturn competitor in the mould of Piggott or Mick Kinane, he is similar to those icons in that he lets his horses do the talking. He emits the same genuine reticence that Kinane did at his peak, and his formal association with Coolmore this year has been a revelation for both firms.

They complete and complement each other. "It is not something you think about; we'll think about tomorrow then worry about this," Moore said humbly of his historic heroics on Aloft. "I'm very lucky to ride the best horses and that makes a big difference."

After the hard-earned triumph that saw Aloft halve in price for the St Leger to 10/1, Coolmore supremo John Magnier was slightly more effusive. "He is a very modest guy and regardless of what anybody says, he has a great sense of humour and is good company as well as being a very good jockey," Magnier said succinctly of Moore.

His partner Michael Tabor was more generous still. "I think that's an understatement," he volleyed. "You can't add any more superlatives to what we've seen - just brilliant riding and dare I say he has been very unlucky in a couple of races, but that happens."

Piggott himself added of the man who trumped the figure that he twice accumulated: "Ryan is a brilliant jockey, anyone can see that. To win nine races during any week is a fantastic achievement, but to do it at Royal Ascot is extremely impressive."

Found's defeat in yesterday's Coronation Stakes will join Kingfisher's Gold Cup near miss as the sort of outcome that Moore will pore over to ascertain what led to his being denied.

However, those are racing's swings and roundabouts, diverse fortunes evidenced in more stark fashion by the likes of Richard Hughes, Jamie Spencer and Graham Lee, who have all endured gutting lows and heady highs.

Indeed, O'Brien, at pains all week to stress his son Joseph's unsung endeavours after Moore had ridden a winner for him, might have found Aloft's triumph slightly bittersweet, as Joseph looked poised to put it up to the winner on Bantry Bay only to be shunted sideways in the straight.

Michael Stoute, who combines twice with Moore today, has had a miserable Ascot, with three of his runners being pulled up prematurely. It was Pat Smullen who had to take Stoute's Yarrow out of yesterday's finale, so he has also sampled the extremes of emotion.

Today, as well as being booked for Stoute's Snow Sky, he is on last year's Jersey Stakes hero Mustajeeb for Weld in the Diamond Jubilee following a successful sprint foray at the Curragh. "I couldn't have been more impressed with him," Smullen said of that display. "I think he has got a big chance."

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