Sport Horse Racing

Monday 11 December 2017

'St George' proves highlight of superb O'Brien hat-trick

Joseph O’Brien in the Curragh winner’s enclosure with Order Of St George after their victory in yesterday’s Irish St Leger
Joseph O’Brien in the Curragh winner’s enclosure with Order Of St George after their victory in yesterday’s Irish St Leger

Thomas Kelly

Order Of St George rewarded connections for being switched from Doncaster to the Curragh by running away with the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger - the centrepiece of an Aidan O'Brien Group One treble.

The Galileo colt was declared for both Classics but trainer O'Brien, who won a controversial renewal of the Ladbrokes St Leger with Bondi Beach, withdrew Order Of St George from the English version because of the prospect of more suitable ground in Ireland.

Joseph O'Brien was content to have Order Of St George at the rear of field as Good Tradition made the running in the early stages from last year's winner Brown Panther. However, the latter was pulled up at around halfway mark, leaving Dermot Weld's Forgotten Rules, stablemate of Good Tradition, to track the leader.

Once in the straight, the race changed complexion and the well-backed Order Of St George (5/4 favourite) swept into the lead two furlongs out and sealed the issue in a matter of strides. He went on to win unchallenged by 11 lengths from the Brian Meehan-trained Agent Murphy, with Willie Mullins' Wicklow Brave third.

"He was very impressive here the last day (in his trial)," said O'Brien Snr. "I didn't say anything to Joseph but they went hard up front and he put him asleep. He sneaked through lovely and is a very good stayer.

"He got the trip really well and travelled very strongly. When Joseph said go he quickened up very well. It's unusual for a horse that stays that well to have that kind of class.

"We may have a look at the two-mile race at Ascot (Qipco Champions Long Distance Cup on October 17) with him."

There was a sad postscript when it emerged that the Michael Owen-owned Brown Panther, the 2014 winner of the race, suffered a broken hind leg and had to be put down.

Earlier, the Ballydoyle supremo initiated his treble by saddling a 1,2,3 in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, though not in the order that punters expected as Minding overturned her better-fancied stablemate Ballydoyle to grab the spoils.

O'Brien Jnr tried to make all the running over the seven furlongs and looked like doing so until Minding (15/2) ranged up alongside to lead in the final half-furlong.

Minding galloped on strongly for Seamie Heffernan as she got revenge on 5/4 favourite Ballydoyle which had beaten her two lengths in the Debutante Stakes three weeks ago. Alice Springs was third to complete a clean sweep for the O'Brien contingent.

Air Force Blue then gave O'Brien a 10th triumph in the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes with an authoritative display in the seven-furlong Group One for two-year-olds at the Curragh.

O'Brien's other runner Painted Cliffs set early the pace from Birchwood with Air Force Blue tucked away under Joseph O'Brien. Birchwood made his bid for glory two furlongs out and was soon joined by Herald The Dawn, but Air Force Blue (10/11 favourite) cruised up on the outside.

In command a furlong out, the son of War Front skipped clear to win by three lengths from Herald The Dawn.


Eddie Lynam's Sole Power overcame concerns about the ground to win for the first time on Irish soil since Dundalk in April 2010 and land his 12th career success in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes under Chris Hayes.

After tracking Toscanini, Hayes angled Sole Power (5/1 co-favourite) out to take a decisive lead in the final furlong. Maarek finished with a flourish but was a head behind at the line.

"I'm delighted. I thought the ground had gone on him but I wanted to support the race," said Lynam.

James Fanshawe's Ribbons bounced back from a disappointing run at Deauville in great style to take the Group Two Moyglare 'Jewels' Blandford Stakes.

Settled in the rear by Tom Queally, the five-year-old mare made smooth progress in the straight and skipped past O'Brien's Tapestry to lead a furlong out. To her credit, Tapestry rallied strongly and Ribbons (3/1) was all out at the line to score by a half-length.

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