O'Brien rules the world
French masterclass from the maestro
What an amazing story emerged from Chantilly in France on Sunday, with Aidan O'Brien achieving an unbelieveable 1-2-3 clean sweep in the season's highlight, the €5 million Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
The Wexford-born maestro of Ballydoyle has achieved many remarkable feats in his stellar career but this must be the ultimate.
Found was the winner under Ryan Moore and it was richly deserved - a Breeders Cup winner last year, she had been second in five successive Group 1 races this summer. Second was Highland Reel under Seamus Heffernan and third was Order of St. George under Frankie Dettori.
Aidan also had two close-up seconds in the all-Group 1 card - Promise to be True in the Prix Marcel Boussac for two-year-old fillies, and Washington DC in the Prix de l'Abbaye five-furlong dash for two-year-olds.
Fellow Wexford man, Jim Bolger, came within inches of getting in on the act with his Pleascach being pipped by a short head in the Prix de l'Opera by James Fanshawe's Speedy Boarding.
At Newmarket on Saturday, O'Brien and Ryan Moore picked up the £250,000 fillies' Group 1, the Sun Chariot Stakes, with a fine run by Alice Springs (13/8f), O'Brien's only raider of the day, and it hardly merited a mention.
The successes of O'Brien and Bolger are so regular that maybe we take them for granted, but these two proud Wexford men are truly among the very best in the ultra-competitive racing world.
Hard luck on J.J. Slevin from Kiltra, Caim, who suffered a leg injury in a fall at Gowran Park on Friday which may keep him out of the game for up to a month. His injury cost him a winner on Saturday as he was due to ride Lord Justice for cousin, Joseph O'Brien, which won the first at Gowran. I wish J.J. a speedy and successful recovery.
Jamie Codd kept up his sparkling recent run in bumpers with wins on successive days. At Clonmel on Thursday he dotted up on Coolmeen Hill (13/2), and on Friday at Gowran he rode Snow Leopardess (4/1) to victory for English raider, Charlie Longsden, attracted no doubt by the €20,000 pot.
Earlier on the Friday card, Seán Flanagan gave a copybook ride to Omega Springs (16/1) to gain a half-length victory for Liam Casey from Clonmel in a field of 20 in the handicap hurdle.
He went close to winning the big one on Saturday for John Cullen, the Wexford trainer and former jockey, in the €30,000 Grade C three-mile handicap hurdle. He was ahead with one hundred yards to go on Misty Lady (14/1) but could not resist the late challenge of Supreme Vinnie.
Colm Murphy sent out the last runner of his training career in the Kilkenny River Court Hotel maiden hurdle at Gowran on Saturday but there was no fairytale ending - Black Zambezi (16/1) under Mikey Fogarty was prominent throughout but faded back into fourth at the finish behind Gordon Elliott's impressive Blood Crazed Tiger.
Afterwards Murphy commented: 'We've been so fortunate and racing's been so good to us and you'll miss these days. It's nice to have done what we've done and at the moment I've no regrets on the decision'. Thanks for the many memories Colm, and good luck for the future.
Jimmy Quinn (New Ross) had his best week of the season. On Saturday at the prestigious Newmarket meeting he forced home the well-backed Summer Chorus (6/1 into 9/2) to win by a short head and a neck in the £50,000 six-furlong sprint for Andrew Balding.
He almost made it a big double in the £150,000 Tattersalls October Auction Stakes on Simmie (14/1) for Charles Bishop but was caught in the closing stages by Accidental Agent. Earlier he had winners on successive days: on Secretfact (6/1) for Malcolm Saunders at Bath on Monday, and at Wolverhampton on Tuesday with Royal Reef (3/1) for William Knight.
Jimmy Fortune (Ferns) got home by a neck on Make Time (3/1) at Salisbury on Wednesday, and Daryl Jacob had an armchair ride on Wholestone (8/11) in a novice hurdle at Warwick on Thursday.