Fancy Blue holds on to deliver Nassau win for O’Brien Jnr
Many young men Donnacha O’Brien’s age are about to set out in life having just received their degree results, but the 22-year-old trainer is interested in firsts of a different kind.
O’Brien, the youngest son of Aidan and a successful jockey until weight got the better of him last year, has taken over Longfield Stables in Tipperary, 20 minutes from Ballydoyle, the place he calls home.
He is already a French Classic winner and Fancy Blue, the filly who delivered him that, gave him a maiden British Group One success with his first runner in England when she and Ryan Moore beat the fast-finishing One Voice a neck in an all-Irish finish to the Qatar Nassau Stakes.
“It’s unbelievable to get a filly like this in my first season,” he said. “I’m under no illusion about how lucky I am. It’s massive, I never expected anything like this, but you’ll always have a chance with Coolmore’s pedigrees.
“I was looking after her last year although she was running in Dad’s name. We’ll give her a little break now. She’s had a busy start to the season and we’ll bring her back for Irish Champions weekend – either the Matron Stakes or the Irish Champion.
“Then it will be the Arc or the Opera at Longchamp, and after that she could either go to the Breeders’ Cup or Japan for a race where she gets a bonus, having won the Prix de Diane. They love their racing there and being by Deep Impact [the leading Japanese sire] she’d have a big following among Japanese race fans.”
Who has bragging rights on the best middle-distance filly, Aidan with Love or Donnacha with Fancy Blue, at meal-times might not be decided for a while. “I wouldn’t be writing her off in the Arc with the three-year-old fillies’ allowance,”
O’Brien said. “She might not have been as impressive as Love yet, or have as high a rating, but she’s shown a few attributes Love has yet to show and French racing seems to suit her.”
It was a good day for the O’Briens and Moore. Aidan O’Brien won the John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes with Mogul, a slightly disappointing sixth in the Derby even though he had been Ballydoyle’s “Derby horse” last winter.
However, he was as big as a bull at Royal Ascot and this confirmed he was still in need of his run in the Derby after the 9-2 shot beat Highland Chief, the Derby 10th, threequarters of a length.
The Gordon was a war of attrition, with Subjectivist, the third, setting out to make it a stamina test. English King, who had looked a shade unlucky in the Derby, may not be the luckiest horse in the world because the gap closed on him just as Frankie Dettori seemed to have a foot in it, and he finished fourth.
“We always thought it would take two runs and we hoped he’d get that before the Derby,” O’Brien snr said. “This was only his third run and we’re thinking there’s still more to come. He’s built like a miler, he carries a lot of weight and muscle and he takes a while to tune up.”
Clive Cox won last year’s Qatar Richmond Stakes with Golden Horde, who went on to win the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot this summer, and it appears there is nothing wrong with his production line because he did it again, this time with Supremacy, an 11-2 shot who won by four lengths.
With Nando Parrado, the Coventry winner, also in his stable, Cox has a good bunch of juveniles. “He’s a tall, scopey horse with a long stride,” said winning jockey Adam Kirby. “He’s fast and he’s not just a horse for this year.”
By a neck: Ryan Moore rides Fancy Blue to victory ahead of One Voice in the Qatar Nassau Stakes on day three of the Goodwood Festival