Racing: O'Brien's Classic has run of Park

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The Independent Online
Aidan O'Brien, the wunderkind of Irish racing, gained the first Classic success of his brief but brilliant training career when the 20- 1 shot Classic Park took the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh yesterday. And for good measure O'Brien, 28, also saddled the runner-up Strawberry Roan.

The result may have been a shock - there has not been a longer-priced winner of the race in its 75-year history and O'Brien's stable jockey Christy Roche had picked Strawberry Roan - but there was no fluke about Classic Park's performance, which shredded the form of the English and French equivalents.

Oh Nellie, second to Sleepytime at Newmarket, took the field along from Seebe, narrowly beaten by Always Loyal at Longchamp, and at half-way the two English raiders still held the call. But they were left bobbing in Classic Park's wake as the daughter of Robellino flashed past them with a wet sail going into the final furlong.

The bay filly had shown the same turn of foot when taking the Leopardstown Trial five weeks previously, ridden, as yesterday, by Stephen Craine. The only threat came from her stablemate, who was doing her best work at the finish after being bashed in the face a furlong out but Classic Park had a length to spare at the line.

Two and a half lengths behind another Irish-trained longshot, Caiseal Ros, short-headed the best of the British raiders, the 3-1 favourite Ryafan, from John Gosden's yard. Oh Nellie was fifth, Seebe sixth, but Dazzle, third in the Newmarket 1,000, beat only O'Brien's third runner Royale home.

Classic Park's next outing will be the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. O'Brien said: "Looking back on her two-year-old career, we probably took the wrong road by confining her to five and six furlongs. She finished really well to take her trial at Leopardstown, and it was the same tactics here - hold her up as long as possible. She quickened very well when Stephen asked and won on merit, but I think Strawberry Roan was unlucky as she appeared to be struck with a whip at least once when attempting to come between horses over a furlong out."

The stout effort in adversity by Strawberry Roan, a Sadler 's Wells half- sister to the Derby winner Generous, blew some life into the Oaks market. Her odds for the Oaks were slashed from 16-1 to 5-1 second favourite by Hills.

Classic Park was bought for just 30,000gns as a yearling by Seamus Burns, and runs in the colours of his wife Trish. The delighted owner, whose voice was hoarse not from shouting his filly home but from chasing recalcitrant sheep the previous day, said: "I just saw her in the sale-ring and liked her, and bought her on a hunch. I thought perhaps she had too much speed to win over a mile, but then her trainer is a genius."

Michael Tabor, who fields Desert King in today's Irish 2,000 Guineas and Dr Massini in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, received advance consolation - just - for Oh Nellie's disappointing show in the fillies' Classic when well-backed Among Men carried his blue and orange colours to victory in the Heron Stakes at Kempton. The winning margin over Amid Albadu was about an inch, but that was as good as a mile for those who backed him from 6-4 to 10-11 at the off.

The race marked the appearance of the first Godolphin runner for a fortnight after a dramatic loss of form by the Dubai team. The colt in question, Swiss Law, ran a respectable fourth after leading until inside the final furlong and there was a further sign of a revival by Sheikh Mohammed's boys in blue when Derby entry Stowaway ran an excellent half-length second to more experienced Falak in the Rosehill Stakes at Doncaster less than an hour later. A decision about the Slip Anchor colt's Epsom participation will be made nearer the time.

The Dick Hern-trained Falak paid a considerable compliment to today's Irish Guineas contender Royal Amaretto, who had trounced him last time out. And at Haydock the well-being of the Brian Meehan string was emphasised by Tomba, Royal Ascot-bound after winning the Sandy Lane Rated Handicap.

Kieren Fallon had mixed fortunes, as a treble on Falak, Viridian and Embryonic was punctuated by a four-day ban (2-5 June) for dropping his hands on Highborn, who lost third place in the Merlin Land Rover Handicap in the last stride.

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