herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Donnacha to the fore at hq

Few of us had even thought about breakfast on Saturday morning by the time we were chewing over the news that dual Derby winner Australia was no longer a racehorse and instead Coolmore's most exciting new recruit.

It was never in question that Australia wouldn't race on as a four-year-old but the plan to sign off his career at Ascot on Saturday was shelved after he developed a hoof problem and connections took the decision to retire the Irish Champion Stakes runner-up.

After retiring the horse he described as "unique" and "one of the best" he has ever trained, Aidan O'Brien had a much more enjoyable day at the final meeting of the Curragh's season yesterday when he watched on with pride as his 16-year-old son Donnacha fought off the challenge of his uncle Pat Smullen and his brother, Joseph, to land one of Ireland's most fiercely competitive handicap's, the Irish Cesarewitch.

Enjoying just his fourth winner in his short career, the youngest of the O'Brien family was partnering 25/1 shot El Salvador - who is owned by his mother, Ann-Marie - and saw off the challenge of Hidden Universe (Smullen) and stable companion Marchese Marconi (Joseph) in third.

Science

With Donnacha unlikely to defy science quite like his older brother and possibly not enjoy as long a career on the Flat, this was a red-letter day for the family. His father said afterwards: "It's great - a special moment. I'm delighted for Donnacha, he's a big fella.

"He's doing his Leaving Cert this year, so it's great for him.

"I thought he was in trouble at the start but he was calm on him.

"He's a good tough horse and on his day he has very high-class form."

That was the final leg of a treble for O'Brien after he landed the seven-furlong maiden with impressive newcomer Royal Navy Ship under Séamie Heffernan, who defeated another Ballydoyle newcomer, Jacobean.

And later on the card, Together Forever won the Staffordstown Stud Stakes, also leading home a stable 1-2 with 20/1 shot Cocoon putting in a career-best effort.

Eddie Lynam's Slade Power landed in Melbourne over the weekend ahead of his assault on the Spring Carnival next month, and the trainer will look for another big sprint win at Ascot this weekend with Viztoria, who returned to her best when easily claiming the Testimonial Stakes and beating her stable companion Gathering Power.

Entitled

"She'll go for the Champion Sprint at Ascot next weekend and she is entitled to take her chance," Lynam revealed.

He continued: "It's great to have a good horse but even better to have a patient owner and this filly just never got her ground."

Viztoria was third in the Ascot race 12 months ago behind Slade Power and was cut into as short as 8/1 with some firms yesterday for this year's renewal, while Boylesports remain at 12/1 for the Champions Day assignment.

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