Tuesday 20 March 2018

Stewards launch inquiry after O'Brien outsider wins

St Nicholas Abbey, riden by Joseph O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images
St Nicholas Abbey, riden by Joseph O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

HAVING seen his outsider Homecoming Queen land the Newmarket 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, Aidan O'Brien repeated the trick at the Curragh yesterday in even more spectacular style.

St Nicholas Abbey was rated a 2/5 shot to secure the Mooresbridge Stakes, but the favourite failed to reel in stablemate Windsor Palace, which returned at 66/1.

Having signed off his 2011 campaign with a brilliant performance in the Breeders' Cup Turf and finished a narrow second in the Dubai Sheema Classic two months ago, this appeared to represent an ideal opportunity for St Nicholas Abbey to find the target.

Joseph O'Brien was happy to sit third as stable companions Windsor Palace and Robin Hood set a strong gallop.

The two of them had opened up a big lead on the rest of the field rounding the home turn, but both O'Brien and Johnny Murtagh on second-favourite Sharestan were happy to let them go.

However, a couple of furlongs later it was evident the front pair were not stopping and though the market principals were making good late ground, it proved all too late. Windsor Palace, under Colm O'Donoghue, passed the post with a length in hand over St Nicholas Abbey, with Sharestan third.

"We knew St Nicholas Abbey wasn't a heavy ground horse, everyone knows that. Joseph just let him find himself and it was his first run after Dubai," O'Brien explained. " St Nicholas Abbey ran a lovely race and we're delighted with him. The Coronation Cup will be next."

The stewards inquired into the running and riding of the favourite, and having heard the evidence from the O'Briens, they noted the explanations.

Sharestan's trainer John Oxx is eyeing a tilt at the Irish 2,000 Guineas with the potentially exciting Takar after he took the Dylan Thomas EBF Tetrarch Stakes.

A confident Murtagh still had the 5/4 favourite positioned last heading inside the final furlong but after angling him out wide, Takar soon picked up and scored by a cosy length and a quarter from Coolnagree.

Gossamer Seed gave her younger rivals a sound beating in the Canford Cliffs EBF Athasi Stakes. John Joseph Murphy's 9/1 chance pulled clear in the hands of Shane Foley to register a victory over Bulbul. Foley went on to complete a double as Mick Halford's Ondeafears took the seven-furlong handicap.

Jim Bolger's Move To Strike looks sure to go on to better things after getting off the mark at the second attempt in the two-year-old maiden. The juvenile was sent off the 4/6 favourite and he was never in danger as he quickened away under Kevin Manning to score by nine lengths from Slope.

Wrekin Rock (7/1) collected the 10-furlong handicap for Jim Gorman and Michael Hussey while the David Wachman-trained Singing Bird (16/1) made a winning debut under Billy Lee in the seven-furlong maiden.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport