O'Donoghue 'delighted' to win O'Brien's fourth Irish Oaks
TAGHROODA'S absence from Thursday's declarations, Joseph O'Brien's decision to ride Tapestry, shoes that didn't appeal to the Irish Turf Club officials, and a blanket finish all added to the intrigue, the delay and the drama of Saturday's Darley Irish Oaks.
You got the feeling that the winner of Saturday's Best Dressed Lady competition didn't have as many accessory problems as main British raider Volume.
She came to the Curragh looking to extend the drought of an home winner in the Irish Oaks to a sixth year and after it was discovered her racing shoes were not allowed in Irish racing, we were left with a 23-minute delay to the penultimate Classic of the season as she was reshod.
An embarrassing incident for all concerned seemed to have little or no effect on Volume herself but Aidan O'Brien's Tapestry appeared to take issue with the delay and didn't handle the extended preliminaries too well, but herself lost little in defeat as she settled for second behind her stable mate Bracelet.
Over 20 minutes later than expected, and recognised as the stables third string, Bracelet flashed past the post in front to give Aidan O'Brien a fourth Irish Oaks and Colm O'Donoghue a first.
Similarly to Seamie Heffernan, Colm O'Donoghue has enjoyed some career defining days as a jockey in his role of riding horses that were apparently not Ballydoyle first stringers and Saturday was a red-letter evening for a rider who had left the surroundings of Ballydoyle behind him to take up a role riding in Hong Kong.
O'Donoghue opted for pastures new last year but when things didn't go as well as had been hoped in Hong Kong, the 2011 Irish Derby-winning jockey returned to Ireland where the gates of Ballydoyle were still well and truly welcoming and he settled back into his old job as if he was never away.
Riding a Ribblesdale winner in the Irish Oaks would excite anyone.
However, when she is abandoned by the stable jockey in favour of Tapestry (who had never ran over further than a mile), Ryan Moore opts for the Classic winner in Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Marvellous, and the bookmakers make Bracelet a 10/1 shot, your confidence of success might just waver a little.
But if it did, O'Donoghue didn't show it. He said: "I'm very grateful to Mr Magnier, Mr Tabor, Mr Smith and Aidan for giving me this opportunity - I'm delighted. She is bred to win this race and now she has done it and she came her with a nice profile after winning the Ribblesdale Stakes."
It was a 1-2-4 for trainer Aidan O'Brien, whose fourth success followed a hat-trick from 2006 to 2008, and while Tapestry's success provided him with what is fast approaching his gazillionth Group One, the performance of his 18-year-old daughter Ana on outsider Beyond Brilliance to finish fourth had the master trainer beaming.
His youngest daughter had settled the 80/1 shot in the rear but timed her run well to stay on gamely for some of the minor spoils.
Going down to the O'Donoghue- ridden Bracelet by a neck on Tapestry means the history books will say that son Joseph picked the wrong one on this occasion but with such a narrow margin that is probably an unfair assessment.
The champion jockey dismounted Tapestry at the start while the delay was ongoing and she clearly didn't take the delay in her stride, while with that she also had the misfortune of O'Brien's saddle slipping after a stumble on leaving the gates. But connections were using no excuse as Bracelet basked in Classic glory.
The winning trainer said: "Tapestry ran a great race but got upset beforehand and things conspired against her but I'm delighted for Colm who gave Bracelet a fantastic ride.
"She is a seriously well-bred filly and I'm delighted for everyone associated with her. Colm has been beaten in this race a few times and it's nice that he has won it as he is a world-class rider."
Volume ran her heart out to finish third having set a good gallop throughout under Kevin Manning, and even when collared by Bracelet she showed great resolve to fight back inside the final furlong and go down by just a neck.
The big disappointment in the race was Tarfasha, who never looked like contesting at the business end and finished fifth.