O'Brien keeps eyes on Phoenix prize with Nobel

Of all the Group One races won by Aidan O'Brien, few can have given him more excitement than the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh yesterday.

It was not as if this was a prize – sponsored for the first time by Camas Park and Ashtown House Studs – he had found at all elusive. In fact, Alfred Nobel was his 10th winner in a dozen runnings, a quite astonishing record even by O'Brien's standards. But the favourite's continued, rather surprising development into one of the juvenile stars of the season was only achieved by cutting down his unfancied stablemate, Air Chief Marshal, who for a few strides had threatened to give O'Brien's 16-year-old son, Joseph, a remarkable success on level terms with Johnny Murtagh, the Ballydoyle stable jockey.

Joseph remains so inexperienced, after just five winners and 49 rides, that he is entitled to claim 7lb in normal races. But while he could not do so in one of this calibre, he did not look remotely out of place as he kicked Air Chief Marshal into a clear lead in the final furlong. There was no ungainly loss of rhythm in the heat of the moment.

Murtagh had always been sitting quietly on Alfred Nobel, however, and only switched his attention to Air Chief Marshal, who was on the stands rail, once mastering the filly Walk On Bye up the centre. Walk On Bye perhaps ran a little flat, just a fortnight after her latest win, and kept on only at one pace for third. Meanwhile, the two Ballydoyle colts went two and a half lengths clear, Alfred Nobel in turn sustaining his run to get up by half a length.

The winner had looked rather awkward under pressure at the Curragh on Irish Derby day, but O'Brien explained that he gets "lonely" in front and attributed defeat in his first two starts to inexperience. The Danehill Dancer colt certainly warrants increasing respect as he learns more about his vocation, and Ladbrokes duly cut him to 16-1 from 25-1 for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas.

"He's a very good-moving horse who can change gears very quickly," O'Brien said. "The worry today was whether he could do so on that heavy ground, but obviously he's a very good horse. The last day he won very snug, but Johnny said he just got there too early, so today he was going to wait and wait. He has progressed well and may next run in the Prix Morny. We were delighted Air Chief Marshal has run so well, too, as we thought he was a very smart horse on his first few runs but he had just lost his form."

The Morny is just 13 days away, and would entail a clash with Canford Cliffs, the devastating winner of the Coventry Stakes.

On the final day of the King George meeting at Ascot yesterday, meanwhile, Marcus Tregoning came in from the cold when Sterling Sound became his first winner in 91 days. Tregoning had closed his Lambourn yard for six weeks because of a virus among his horses. "It started in May and gave us terrible trouble," he said. "I should really have gone fishing for six months. Hopefully, we can have a good autumn now."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests