Order of St George rounds off winning weekend for Coolmore
Aidan O’Brien-trained horse romps home to victory in Irish St Leger at the Curragh
Joseph O’Brien on Order of St George romps home to win the Irish St Leger at the Curragh as part of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Only for Golden Horn denying Found in Saturday’s Champion Stakes, it would have been a Coolmore clean sweep in the five top-flight prizes. The David Wachman-trained Legatissimo blitzed her Matron Stakes opposition at Leopardstown and a day later it became a Ballydoyle bonanza with a near 35-1 hat-trick for O’Brien, headed by an 11-length St Leger rout for Order of St George.
Only the second three-year-old to beat his elders in the last 25 years of the final classic of the season, Order of St George gloriously vindicated his trainer’s decision to skip the Doncaster Leger a day before – ultimately won by stable companion Bondi Beach – while indicating the best could easily be yet to come from the colt.
Strength in depthAir Force
Certainly any overseas perception that Ireland is very much their playground is unlikely to have been altered by this Champions Weekend action but Coolmore supremo John Magnier was keen to stress the international element to the concept.
“A lot of people have worked very hard to make this work and it has put Ireland on the international map. These big meetings take place in England, France, America and it is important we are part of it too,” he said, as the second Champions Weekend wound down. “It will start to take on a life of its own and hopefully the redevelopment of the Curragh will make a big difference.”
Gleneagles’ absence from the Champion Stakes appeared the only weekend negative for Magnier and his partners, including Michael Tabor, who indicated, after consulting with O’Brien, that Ascot’s Long Distance Cup next month could see Order of St George again tackle older horses.
It was no trouble to him here as Joseph O’Brien sat off a strong pace and sauntered through the field to justify a major gamble.
“It’s unusual for a horse that stays so well to have that sort of class. He’s a very good stayer and he handles soft ground very well which is why we came here,” O’Brien snr said.
The one sad Leger note was that the 2014 winner, Brown Panther, had to be put down due to fracturing a hind leg.
Officially “yielding” ground on the straight had the O’Briens hesitating before committing the odds-on Air Force Blue to the National but the Phoenix Stakes winner ultimately won with authority by three lengths.
“He has a huge engine and I haven’t ridden many as good,” Joseph O’Brien said while his father suggested the Dewhurst Stakes could be an option for a colt who is as low as 7-2 favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.
Better resultSeamus Heffernan
It was a much better result for the jockey compared with the opening handicap won by George Bowen where he picked up a ten-day ban for dangerous riding on the disqualified runner-up, In Salutem.
Ireland’s reigning Horse of the Year Sole Power secured a first ever win on Irish turf at the age of eight when just holding off the other joint favourite Maarek in the Flying Five.
“I thought the ground had gone for him,” said trainer Eddie Lynam but the damp conditions were perfect for the James Fanshawe-trained Ribbons who landed the Group 2 Blandford Stakes under Frankel’s jockey Tom Queally.
The Curragh attendance of 10,384 was down from last year’s 10,978, a near 5 per cent slide, which track manager Paul Hensey attributed to the wet weather.
nMonday’s Listowel meeting has to pass a 7.30am inspection. Further rain is forecast for the Kerry track which only got the green light to race on Sunday just before noon yesterday.