Relieved Spencer seeking more Fame And Glory
As most of the country got set to bask in the glory of our global hero Rory McIlroy, Ireland's heroes from last week's Royal Ascot were looking forward to the future.
Royal Ascot is to racing what a Major is to golf, and with six winners it was yet another good week for our little Emerald Isle.
Yes, there was the short-priced ones that got overturned -- So You Think the obvious one, Teolane another, who has a big future ahead of her. But some of our finest exports, like Richard Hughes and Jamie Spencer, were flying the flag from the saddle, while Johnny Murtagh continued to mix it up on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Given the week that was in it, Jamie Spencer honestly admitted that it was a relief as much as anything to win one of the week's features, the Gold Cup, on Fame And Glory.
The horse was supported in the betting ring like it was a formality similar to the royal precision prior to racing, but the four-time Group One winner had to go out there and tough it out and prove that he could see out that gruelling 2m4f trip in what was becoming testing ground.
Spencer landed the ride due to the recent investment in the horse of the Hays -- Dr Jim and his wife Fitri -- to whom Spencer is retained. Speaking yesterday in reflection on the big win, the rider said: "Initially I was more relieved than anything else. It's a big ride and he's a great horse."
Spencer admitted that the horse's class was clearly evident: "The race went very smoothly and when you're on a horse like him it's like everything is in slow motion. You can go where you want and the gaps open."
Spencer added: "Let's hope he's around for a few more years and he can go back there and win again."
Of the six Irish winners, four were trained by Aidan O'Brien with a couple more filling the runner-up spot and yesterday the trainer's wife revealed: "All our Ascot runners seem to be fine so far after their races this week. We hope to sort out next targets in the coming days."
One of the highlights of the week was the success -- a first at Royal Ascot for everyone concerned -- of Lolly For Dolly as she, Tommy Stack, ably assisted by his son Fozzy, jockey Wayne Lordan and owners David and Cecelia Keoghan.
Unraced as a juvenile, she won her first two starts and has only twice been out of the first four -- once at Royal Ascot last year when connections decided blinkers were the key and the other occasion was in a competitive Group One on ground quicker than ideal.
Now the Matron Stakes on Champion Stakes day at Leopardstown is her target according to Fozzy Stack.
"She's come out of the race well and we're going to give her a little holiday now as she was on the go fairly early this year," said the son and assistant to the trainer.
Banimpire was successful last week and the Irish Oaks -- with a prep run between now and then -- remaining as her target according to Jim Bolger but one filly who failed to land a blow was Golden Jubilee favourite Bewitched.
Charles O'Brien's filly was well fancied for the final day feature and when the other leading fancy Delegator came out of the race it looked set up for her. However, the four-year-old previous Royal Ascot winner was found to be lame after the race.