Hayes gets quick Group 1 follow-up as Voleuse routs her Leger opposition

Toormore keeps unbeaten record in the National Stakes

Just eight days after winning his first Group 1 on La Collina, jockey Chris Hayes had his heart stolen by another filly, Voleuse De Coeurs, who turned yesterday's Gain Irish St Leger at the Curragh into a six-length rout, delivering a seventh victory in the final classic of the season to trainer Dermot Weld in the process.

The impact of La Collina's 25-1 shock in Leopardstown's Matron Stakes memorably reduced Hayes to tears but the Limerick jockey was coolness itself on the 9-1 winner, in the colours of Chryrss O'Reilly.

Hayes has a long-established link with the O'Reilly team but only secured the Leger ride on Voleuse De Coeurs when Weld's number one jockey Pat Smullen elected to team up with the stable's other hope, Pale Mimosa.

The Smullen household's cat might want to take evasive action for a while as Pale Mimosa faded to beat only two home while her stable companion swept to the front early in the straight and proved much too good for cross-channel favourite Ahzeemah, with Saddler's Rock slightly unlucky in third.

Avenue Gabriel
It completed a memorable afternoon for Hayes and O'Reilly, who had earlier combined to land the Listed Flame Of Tara Stakes with Avenue Gabriel.


“It was a brilliant opportunity to get and she was brilliant from the get-go. The plan disappeared coming down the hill when she really came on the bit and I probably got there too early. But with these stayers you’re always better going forward,” said Hayes, a former multiple champion apprentice.

Weld predicts great things for Voleuse De Coeurs if she continues to race next season and her progress since winning an ordinary handicap at last year's Galway festival has certainly been remarkable.

"I definitely see her as a Cup mare for next year. I was very fortunate to win this race four times with Vinnie Roe and twice with Vintage Crop and this is a lovely, straight-forward mare to train," Weld said.

“Pat (Smullen) picked the other filly because he just thought she’d a bit more pace but she hadn’t run in a long time and that probably told.”

Earlier, Avenue Gabriel overcame a bumping match with the disappointing odds-on favourite Dazzling to earn a Group 1 pitch at the Fillies Mile in Newmarket next month.

Dazzling looked beaten anyway when Ballybacka Queen hampered her but she then rolled onto Avenue Garbriel on the rail leaving Hayes with little option but to sit and hope for a gap up the inner.

However, when the Reilly filly got that opening, she accelerated quickly to beat Ballybacka Queen by a neck.

Real tough
"It got real rough but she's tough, like a colt," said trainer Paul Deegan. "She's a big, tall, scopey filly, who's improving every week and the Fillies Mile might suit her better than the Boussac if the boss decides she'd like to run in a Group 1."

Toormore already has a Group One under his belt after Richard Hannon’s unbeaten two-year old impressively made all the running to beat the Phoenix Stakes winner Sudirman in the Goffs National Stakes.

"He's still a big shell of a horse, not a precocious two year old, and we think he's very good," said British champion jockey Richard Hughes who took the initiative right from the start.

“It’s tough for two year olds to lead when it’s that windy and the track is that wide-open. But he’s definitely one of the best we have.”

The Ballydoyle team struck in the opening maiden when Guerre made a winning debut but while the Middle Park Stakes could be an option for him, plans for his highly-touted stable-mate Darwin are less clear after the 4-7 favourite could manage only third in the Solonaway Stakes.

Instead, Brendan Brackan, winner of the big mile handicap at the Galway festival in July, successfully stepped up to Group 3 level under apprentice rider Colin Keane, leaving trainer Ger Lyons to report: "We trained him for Galway and going up to the rating he has without winning a Stakes race was unbelievable. I'd say we'll put him away and go to Dubai."

Tylery Wonder sprang a 25-1 shock, and paid over 60-1 on the Tote, when scoring for trainer Willie McCreery in the six furlong handicap, while Pat Smullen’s otherwise forgettable day wound up on a positive note when the Weld-trained Wandering Star landed the final maiden.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column