For Ireland's Cheltenham heroes Hardy Eustace, Moscow Flyer and Kicking King it was a case of "job done" as they took the acclaim in a parade during racing at the Curragh yesterday. For Kieren Fallon it was only "job started" as he opened his account as stable jockey to Aidan O'Brien on the first day of the Irish Flat season.
In a country that knows how to party, the opportunity to celebrate a remarkable week of success was never going to be overlooked. Festivities began at the Kicking King stables of Tom Taaffe in the morning, with the Gold Cup being passed around the wellwishers and the new Pat Taaffe, three-year-old grandson of Arkle's jockey, sitting astride the winner of chasing's blue riband.
At the Curragh, Kicking King was joined by the Champion Hurdler, Hardy Eustace, and Champion Chaser, Moscow Flyer, as Ireland's Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, led the tributes - Richard Caborn, Britain's Minister for Sport, is long odds against to follow suit after the raiders return from the Punchestown Festival.
For Kicking King the partying rolled on into the evening with the Taaffe family's "close family and friends" numbering around 150. If Kicking King shakes off the hangover he will attempt to cap his season in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown next month.
By then the first Classics of the season will be imminent and the first clues to those races to be publicly revealed were allowed to slip out yesterday. Fallon and O'Brien teamed up with Kitty O'Shea, who put herself in the Classic picture with an emphatic six-length win in the Listed Park Express Stakes.
The unbeaten and beautifully bred filly, a full-sister to O'Brien's St Leger winner Brian Boru, impressed the bookies enough for them to cut her odds for the Oaks to as short as 12-1, from 25-1, with Coral. Ladbrokes also slashed her to 25-1, from 50-1, for the first fillies' Classic, the 1,000 Guineas.
O'Brien, typically understated, said: "She is a very nice filly. Those were good horses behind her, and she has been working well at home. She is entered in all the Classics, but we will see what Kieren says first."
Fallon had been out of luck on his first two rides on the card, taking sixth with Jaguar On The Run, 11-10 favourite for a maiden and his debut for O'Brien.
On his first ride of the day he had to settle for ninth on One Fell Swoop, trained by David Wachman, the son-in-law of the Coolmore/Ballydoyle supremo John Magnier.
Afterwards Fallon said: "It is a new year - I am looking forward to it, and with a bit of luck, we can't go wrong.
"It's early days. The horse of David's just needed educating there and hopefully next time he can do better over a longer trip. But it's early for the babies just now. They're still learning."
After the day's racing had concluded there were some significant appearances out for some track work as O'Brien worked a total of 30 horses, including some of his main Classic hopefuls.
The string went out in six five-horse lots, and in the first of them Fallon rode the unbeaten Footstepsinthesand. Next up for the former champion was Tiger Dance, a full-brother to Giant's Causeway.
He then partnered the Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Oratorio, followed by Grand Central and Gypsy King. The latter has been in demand with Ladbrokes for the Derby, the once-raced Leopardstown maiden winner being cut to 12-1 from 16-1 for the premier Classic yesterday. Fallon completed his work with a spin on Almighty, a half-brother to Arc winner Sagamix.
Wachman gave a spin to Damson, second-favourite for the 1,000 Guineas. Jamie Spencer, whom Fallon replaced at Ballydoyle, partnered the Sue Magnier-owned filly.
2,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 30 April) Coral: 9-2 Dubawi, 5-1 Shamardal, 10-1 Etlaala, 14-1 Grand Central, Ad Valorem, Oratorio, Rob Roy, 16-1 Dark Cheetah, Motivator, 20-1 Footstepsinthesand, Iceman, Layman, Librettist, 25-1 others.
1,000 GUINEAS (Newmarket, 1 May) Coral: 4-1 Divine Proportions, 10-1 Playful Act, 12-1 Damson, Discuss, 16-1 others.
OAKS (Epsom, 3 June) Coral: 8-1 Playful Act, 12-1 Intrigued, Kitty O'Shea, 14-1 Ayam Zaman, 16-1 Dash To The Top, 25-1 others.
DERBY (Epsom, 4 June) Coral: 6-1 Dubawi, 10-1 Motivator, 20-1 Grand Central, Gypsy King, Rob Roy, 25-1 Albert Hall, Belenus, Footstepsinthesand, Oude, Perfectperformance, 33-1 others.
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