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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us