Friday 28 October 2016

Niall Cronin: The weekend of racing that had it all

Champions meetings had everything from class to drama

Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Golden Horn to victory in The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes. Irish Champions Weekend. Leopardstown
Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Golden Horn to victory in The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes. Irish Champions Weekend. Leopardstown

What a weekend! Before the second race of the second year of Irish Champions Weekend was even run on Saturday, we had enough drama to fill an entire sports section.

As rain goes in Ireland, it didn't actually fall for very long in the last week but the amount that did fall was enough to rule Gleneagles out of the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday and what would have been a truly fascinating clash with Golden Horn and co.

News of his withdrawal came shortly after 2.30pm but it was shortly after 3.45pm that attention turned to Doncaster for their final Classic of the season and after the disappointment of ruling out Gleneagles, the same connections were dealt another blow when beaten just a head in the St Leger as the filly Simple Verse touched off Bondi Beach.

However, within moments and as the replay was rerun it became clear Bondi Beach still had a chance and after an enthralling Stewards Inquiry, where Colm O'Donoghue played a blinder, Bondi Beach was indeed promoted.

Such was his level of involvement in a hectic weekend that Aidan O'Brien was yet to even see the replay by the end of racing yesterday and while it won't be the last we hear of this race, the new result will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

There was to be more drama back at Leopardstown when Golden Horn took a notion in the latter stages of the Champion Stakes. What he saw on his left or what made him veer dramatically towards the standside will never be answered but it was a sign of just how talented the Derby winner of this year is.

Free Eagle was the biggest sufferer in Golden Horn's bumper car imitation and it was widely conceived that although Golden Horn may have been the best horse in the race, had Free Eagle finished second rather than just touched off by Found, he may well have been promoted.

There was to be no questioning Legatissimo's sheer class and that was proved again in the Matron Stakes.

At the Curragh yesterday it was O'Brien who dominated the Group Ones.

Minding was first up to lead home a 1-2-3 in the Moylgare as her fondness for soft ground was evident and then Air Force Blue gave more glimpses to just how special he may be in time with a comprehensive win in the National Stakes on ground he doesn't like. How good will he be on quick ground?

Order Of St George completed the hat-trick in the manner of a horse who will make his mark on the stayers Cup circuit next season.

And it wouldn't be right on this hectic weekend to not reference the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe trials at Longchamp yesterday.

Treve is three weeks from attempting to win a third Arc but yesterday put in a sensational performance to win the Prix Vermeille. She's a special filly who could prove to be a freak if she can extend her winning sequence in Europe's premier race next month.

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