O’Brien’s trip to America pays off
Aidan O'Brien made an overnight five-horse raid to the United States on Saturday to contest the famous Arlington Million and a couple of other Group 1s on the card, and it was a worthwhile trip with two seconds and a fourth in the big races earning over £250,000.
Magic Wand put up a great performance under Wayne Lordan to take a close second in the 'Million' and a prize of £152,000.
Lordan struck for home after turning into the finishing straight but the favourite, Bricks and Mortar, regarded as the best turf horse in America, ran him down in the final hundred yards.
American trainer Chad Brown won all three group one races on the card, a historic first. In the Secretariat Stakes, his winner was Valid Point, despite the best efforts of Lordan to reel him in on Van Beethoven who was a game second (worth £76k),and Ryan Moore was fourth on Fleeting in the fillies and mares' Beverly D. Stakes, taking home over £23k.
Back on the flat in Ireland, apart from Willie Martin's success at Naas, there were also wins for the more usual Wexford suspects, Aidan O'Brien and Jim Bolger. O'Brien and son Donnacha combined to win the six furlong, two-year-old race with Harpocrates (11/4), reacting well to pressure to hold off Bolger's Geometrical (20/1) by half a length.
Bolger's turn came in the Apprentice Handicap with Cuban Surfer (well backed 9/4 favourite) winning cosily under Gavin Ryan, from stablemate National Identity (9/1), ridden by Piercestown jockey Willie Byrne.
The two Wexford 'big guns' battled it out at Leopardstown on Thursday evening with O'Brien recording a double - Quote (11/10f) taking the 1m, 5f. maiden under Donnacha, and Cormorant (7/2) winning the opening maiden by a short head under Seamie Heffernan from Bolger's Agitare (16/1).
Bolger was also second in the evening's feature, the €63k Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes, his Guaranteed (9/2) being less than a length behind last year's Irish Derby winner, Latrobe (9/10), for the O'Brien brothers.
Aidan had three of the five runners in the most valuable race of the domestic week, the first Group 1 of the season for two-year-olds, the €300k Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, but did not have the winner.
That was Siskin (10/11) for Colin Keane and Ger Lyons, their first domestic Group 1 success, defying a strong challenge by Ryan Moore on O'Brien's Monarch of Eqypt (6/4), and O'Brien also filled third and fourth with Royal Lytham (9/2) and Mount Fuji (25/1).
In the €52,500 listed feature at Tipperary on Sunday, the Coolmore Caravaggio Stakes, Aidan's Harpopcrates (5/4f) was unable to follow up on his Naas success when coming second to Ger Lyons and Colin Keane again, this time with Justifier (6/4)
In Britain, P.J. McDonald kept up the momentum of his Goodwood leading jockey success with a 49/1 first and last race double at Ripon on Monday, with Final Option (14/1) and Matewan (9/4jf). He had to wait until Friday for his third win of the week, scoring on Balancing Act (13/8f). He is still fourth in the British Jockey's Championship with 57 wins.
A final reminder that the eighth annual Hurling for Cancer Research game organised by trainer Jim Bolger and top jockey Davy Russell takes place at St. Conleth's Park in Newbridge this Tuesday evening (August 13) when it is confidently expected that the one million euro mark in funds raised will be exceeded. Tickets will be available on the gate, at a very reasonable €15 for families, €10 for individuals. It starts at 6 p.m. but people are advised to arrive early to enjoy the pre-match entertainment.