Pathfork paves way to glory
Harrington's new flat star has shot to top of 2000 Guineas betting
"He did it," were trainer Jessica Harrington's immediate words to the press after Pathfork had, indeed, achieved something very special.
He had won the Group One Boylesports.com Vincent O'Brien National Stakes on Saturday and in the process catapulted himself to the head of the betting for next year's 2000 Guineas and provided both Harrington and jockey Fran Berry with a very first win at Group One level on the flat.
The fact that Saturday's race was a first Group One winner for Berry was initially extremely hard to believe for most, but he certainly made it a weekend to remember as he then went on to land yesterday's listed Flame Of Tara Stakes on 25/1 outsider Chrysanthemum for trainer David Wachman.
Pathfork, though, maintained an unbeaten record of three runs and three wins, giving us, on this side of the water, something to really get excited about in the way of next season's Classics.
"I find it hard to believe myself, that I have a horse that is favourite for the 2000 Guineas," Harrington admitted afterwards.
There was an awful lot to like about the American-bred son of Distorted Humour who is owned by Tommy and Bonnie Hamilton, absent from the Curragh on Saturday but likely to have shared a drink with their successful trainer as she flew out to the sales at Keenland yesterday morning.
Pathfork defied a lot in winning on Saturday. Apart from emerging from an untraditional Classic contender producing stable, the colt had to dig deep in very testing conditions and now is right up there with the best of the juveniles we have seen this season. He could arguably be the best of them.
On the morning of July 18, Pathfork was mildly backed to win his maiden at the Curragh, but certainly at that stage hadn't got the dogs on the street talking.
In winning that day, he was impressive and there was little doubt he was above average, and now just nine weeks later, Pathfork is a general 8/1 joint favourite for classic glory.
And to be the honest, the fact that he doesn't come from a traditional Flat yard who have trained tens of Group One winners and enjoyed Classic honours before makes it that bit more enjoyable.
"I must say I got a bit of a shock after I rode in the first race and saw how soft the ground was. He is a better horse on better ground and he showed a lot of guts to get home," Berry said on Saturday.
Harrington added: "I was sick before the race, but the last 100 yards were a real panic. Fran said he had to be very tough. I don't know where we go now, I haven't spoken to the owners yet, I will meet them in Keenland at the sales, but he had a hard race today...It's fantastic."
For Berry and his family it was a proud, red-letter day, as a first Group One is something he will forever cherish. His proud parents were in attendance and his brother, who is based with Jonjo O'Neill in Cheltenham, was over to ride in the Amateur Derby.
"That's a dream come through, it has been a while coming but that's a monkey off my back now!" said the delighted jockey.
Harrington was out of luck with her three runners at HQ yesterday but did saddle a double at the opening day of the Listowel Harvest Festival, further proving how much of a terrific time of things she is having.
Punters should also make a lasting note of Casamento. Michael Halford's two-year-old pushed Pathfork, his more experienced counterpart, all the way to the line in Saturday's race and on just his second start, and making the jump up from maiden company, he is another that we shall be hearing an awful lot more of in the future.
2011 English 2000 Guineas - Boylesports Bet: Pathfork 8/1, Saamidd 8/1, Frankel 10/1, Strong Suit 10/1, Peter Martins 14/1, Casamento 14/1, Zoffany 16/1, Dream Ahead 16/1, 20/1 Bar.