Aidan O’Brien’s string may have been under a cloud in recent months but they showed their well-being in no uncertain manner over the course of this weekend on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Mohawk kicked off what proved to be a bumper day for Ballydoyle at Newmarket when winning the opening Royal Lodge Stakes. On paper, he had plenty to find but the son of Galileo travelled best under Donnacha O’Brien to lead home an Aidan O’Brien 1-2-3. Beatboxer was the major disappointment in the race for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori as he trailed in a long last of seven runners.
Aidan revealed afterwards:
“The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile would be a possibility but I think I would probably like to leave him now and wait for the spring. I would imagine that he’s done enough.
“He’ll be very happy starting at a mile before progressing from there.“
Fairyland continued the winning thread when holding on to land the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes from The Mackem Bullet. Donnacha O’Brien positioned the daughter of Kodiac prominently throughout, while she raced freely but to her credit, she found plenty inside the final furlong to win a shade snugly. The Fillies Mile may be the next port of call where she looks sure to run well.
Pretty Pollyanna was the disappointment in the race where she ran too free in the hands of Silvestre De Sousa. If connections employ more positive tactics then she will return to winning ways soon.
The Group 1 Middle Park Stakes was the final leg of the Aidan O’Brien Group race treble where Ten Sovereigns quickened up well to deny Jash despite showing greeness. Both colts had unbeaten records coming into the race but Aidan’s son of No Nay Never showed most to clinch his first Group 1.
O’Brien said: “He learnt plenty. He is a very fast horse with a lot of speed. It is exciting for the lads as they have the stamina in the Galileo mares and now they have justified having the No Nay Never and Scat Daddy speed.
“That was the exciting thing today – he was going to Group One standard and you don’t really know how they will go until you run them.
“I’m delighted and Donnacha gave him a super ride. Donnacha said when he came in that it was the first time he showed greenness and I was worried about that as the first day he ran he galloped up the Curragh by himself.
“It wasn’t ideal to go back so quick for the next one, but obviously we were delighted that he did go back.”
Of the runner-up Simon Crisford said:
“I’m absolutely thrilled. It was a huge effort. We were beaten by a better horse on the day, but I’m convinced that when we get over a mile, our fellow will be even better. Great credit to him as obviously he lacks a lot of experience. So does the winner, who has also only had two runs (before today). I would say they are two very smart horses”.
The bookies were running scared when Aidan sent Kenya out in the Cambridgeshire Handicap and the Irish Cambridgeshire winner was sent off the 8/1 favourite as the stalls opened but to punters dismay, he finished a distant last. Wissahickon came home a cosy winner to give Gosden and Dettori compensation following their earlier disappointment in the Royal Lodge. Dettori could be seen coaxing the American bred son Tapit through halfway but he found most to come home a cosy winner.
Gosden said: “Frankie said they went too hard. He said he dropped the bit on him, let him coast for three furlongs and then picked him up again. It was a very clever ride.
“That’s experience. There is no other word for it. Full marks to the jockey.”
He added: “I think we will have to go for a Listed race now. He will be fine, but he likes this ground.”
On Sunday, Clive Cox’s Unfortunately returned to the winner enclosure when landing the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes under Chris Hayes at Naas. This was the three-year-old’s first victory since landing the Group 1 Prix Morny last season. St Patrick’s Day showed much-improved form by leading throughout and only just being headed inside the final 100 yards by Unfortunately. Connections of the first two home will be happy but in truth, it was a weak Group race and not one to have much faith in.