Aidan O’Brien’s Mekong River may head for France

Colt made it four from four when routing his Leopardstown opposition

Seamus Heffernanon winning The Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown on Mekong River yesterday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Seamus Heffernanon winning The Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown on Mekong River yesterday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Mon, Nov 4, 2013, 01:00

BRIAN O’CONNOR  

Ireland’s turf flat season wound up at Leopardstown yesterday but Mekong River is far from finished yet with Aidan O’Brien’s unbeaten star likely to tackle a Group One target in France this Saturday.

The colt made it four from four when routing his Eyrefield Stakes opposition and jockey Seamus Heffernan indicated the Criterium de Saint-Cloud – a race O’Brien has won four times in the past – could be a quick top-flight option next.

“He’s improving from win to win and the race in France could be right for him if everyone’s happy to go there,” said Heffernan who completed a hat-trick of wins yesterday on Ballydoyle horses.

Heffernan also landed the other Listed contest on Francis Of Assisi, while Blue Hussar made a winning debut in the two-year-old maiden, as the jockey made the most of Joseph O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup duty in America.

Nevertheless O’Brien Jnr wound up the campaign with a record tally of 126 winners while his father was crowned champion trainer for the 18th time having notched up 135 winners and a prizemoney tally of close on €4 million.

Champion owner
Jim Bolger’s wife Jackie was champion owner for the year with a money total of over €1.8 million. The various permutations of the three people that comprise the Coolmore syndicate were officially calculated separately, although together they collected over €3 million in Ireland. Leaving Cert student Connor King (17) was champion apprentice with 38 winners.

Johnny Murtagh’s big race haul has been one of the main threads through 2013 and he wound up the campaign perfectly with Sir Ector landing the €100,000 Movember Handicap for trainer Jimmy Lambe.

Dermot Weld’s first runner for the Aga Khan proved a spectacular winner as Balansiya made a hugely impressive seven-length winning debut in the fillies maiden that saw her introduced at 16/1 for next year’s 1,000 Guineas.