'St George' flies the flag for O'Brien in Gold Cup
Order of St George produced a superlative turn of foot for Ryan Moore to stamp its authority all over a messy edition of the Gold Cup on a memorable afternoon for Aidan O'Brien at Royal Ascot.
The strong 10/11 favourite endured a fitful passage under Moore in behind, as the leaders slowed the pace emerging from Swinley Bottom.
That caused the field to bunch up, and Moore, who has endured some forgettable outings for the stable of late, had to fight his corner.
However, when they straightened for home, he finally extricated his mount from the rowdy mob. Order Of St George responded spectacularly, accelerating three lengths clear of Mizzou from the furlong pole.
It was a stunning turn from last year's Irish St Leger victor that took the master of Ballydoyle's tally in the gruelling Group One to an incredible seven since 2006. Moreover, the £227,000 prize stretched his lead in the trainers' championship to over £1m.
"That was brilliant," admitted O'Brien, who suggested another tilt at the Irish St Leger could be on the cards for the winner before a possible stab at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
"He has had only one run this year and it was a bit rough out there, and because he had never run over the trip, Ryan had to put him to sleep, so it was marvellous." Moore admitted: "I had to ride about four different races there. It was a nightmare, but he is a class horse and class horses win races. To still be pouring it on after two-and-a-half miles, it was a very good performance."
The duo initiated a double when the gambled-on Even Song surged home in the Ribblesdale.
Backed from 5/1 into 15/8 favouritism, the sister to last year's St Leger heroine Simple Verse was O'Brien's 50th at the royal meeting, 19 years after his first.
"We were looking forward to seeing her run," O'Brien said of Even Song. "Ryan thought that she would get a mile-and-a-half well and he thought that she would handle an ease in the ground well, and it all worked lovely for her. We were thinking if went well today that we'd go back for the Irish Oaks, so that's what we might do."
The raiders head into day four with five wins, while Jamie Spencer got off the mark for the week when Jamie Osborne's Defrocked (13/2) clung on gamely in the Britannia Handicap.
At home this evening, there is slightly more mundane action at Limerick and Down Royal, where thetote.com Galway Plate trial features last year's winner of the Ballybrit showpiece.
With Jonathan Burke sidelined, Shanahan's Turn will be ridden for a first time by Davy Russell. He failed to really fire in three starts last winter, but he might be a more potent prospect after a break on some summer ground.
Shanahan's Turn shares top-weight with Mouse Morris's veteran star First Lieutenant in the €24,000 event.
Also on duty in the 10-runner contest is Shantou Flyer. Colin Bowe's six-year-old is an immensely likeable individual, and appeals as nap material under Barry O'Neill here.
Successful on his fencing bow at Galway last year en route to winning four out of five, he ran well to be fifth behind Zabana when last seen in Grade One company at Punchestown.