So You Think and O'Brien totally eclipse the doubters

Ex-Australian star may take on old rivals at home after clear-cut defeat of Workforce

Undertones of nationalism through the racing weekend ultimately proved discordant for the British, who saw one of their champions beaten on home soil and another chastened on his return to a foreign field. Michael Owen's Brown Panther could not justify his billing as favourite for the German Derby yesterday, while the colt who won the Epsom original last year, Workforce, had succumbed to So You Think, the Australian import, at Sandown the previous afternoon.

Nowadays stabled with Aidan O'Brien in Co Tipperary, So You Think may yet be sent "home" in search of a third success in the Cox Plate this autumn, provided quarantine issues can be resolved. If so, there would be an irresistibly piquant subplot, his former trainer having allowed resentment of his sale and export to fuel some trenchant observations about his new environment. To beat Bart Cummings and company in their own backyard would be especially sweet for O'Brien, who seems to have an inadvertent knack for winding up Australians.

When Cummings won the Melbourne Cup for a 12th time, in 2008, O'Brien saddled three of the last four finishers. Seated at his dinner table in a city hotel, he was astonished and incensed to be summoned back to the track for a stewards' inquest into the tactics used on his runners. In the event, they took no action, but local press and professionals savaged the Ballydoyle jockeys for forcing a reckless pace between them. A former senior steward declared that Johnny Murtagh "obviously had a brain explosion" and should be "ashamed" of his performance. Cummings himself could not resist a dig. "They must believe their own publicity," he said. "I can't believe what they did."

The outspoken octogenarian may well have admitted a corresponding sense of schadenfreude, then, after So You Think's odds-on defeat at Royal Ascot last month. For all his success, including with previous imports in Haradasun and Starspangledbanner, O'Brien will never be as respected or cherished as Cummings in Australia. And there was renewed derision for Ballydoyle's tactics after O'Brien's teenage son had a rather chastening experience on the pacemaker at Ascot. Characteristically, however, the harshest criticism was that reserved by O'Brien for his own role.

He immediately suggested that he had miscalculated the volume of work required to bring So You Think to his peak, and appeared to be vindicated in that judgement on Saturday. The notion that a gruelling race at Ascot could "put him right" for Sandown would ordinarily sound quite outlandish, but So You Think palpably sustained an unflinching charge at Workforce through the final two furlongs.

It was gratifying to see the race play out so consistently with its billing as a showdown between two of the best thoroughbreds from either side of the Equator. They had certainly looked the part beforehand. So You Think is so physically intimidating that the process of dominating his rivals begins long before he starts extending that vast stride out on the track. And Workforce, his brawny shoulders rolling, has developed into a captivating composite of solid bulk and liquid movement.

The race was set up perfectly by Jimmy Fortune, who showed exactly how a pacemaker should be ridden on Confront. Aside from pulling wide as Ryan Moore struck for home – fully three furlongs out, in an effort to bring his mount's stamina to bear – Fortune further obliged Workforce by hemming Seamus Heffernan against the rail for as long as he could. As a result, So You Think had to get through the gears fairly hastily, and the final margin of half a length does inadequate justice to the authority of his inexorable challenge.

Heffernan coolly resisted any temptation to force his way out and deserves to retain the ride, regardless of Moore's availability next time. Workforce was by no means diminished by defeat, and connections are entitled to hope that he could yet embellish his stud profile with a Group One success over 10 furlongs, but their priority will be the defence of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

Moore rejoined the Ballydoyle cause in France yesterday when narrowly foiled on Zoffany in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly. Richard Hughes gave the Jersey Stakes winner, Strong Suit, an artful ride from the front and was collared only in the dying strides, with Mutual Trust sticking his nose in front just in time under Maxime Guyon and holding the slightly awkward Zoffany in a three-way photo. The winner, trained by André Fabre for Khaled Abdulla, is now unbeaten in four starts and may now meet Goldikova at Deauville next month.

The most intriguing overseas raid of the day, however, was that of Brown Panther, whose owner once made a global breakthrough on German turf. This colt had given Owen his biggest success in the sport when running away with a handicap at Royal Ascot, but could manage no better than fifth behind Waldmark. Richard Kingscote evidently abandoned the script when electing to make the running, but managed to get plenty of his pursuers off the bridle in the testing conditions before fading late on. It was a perfectly creditable effort from a colt taking a big step up in class, and there is always a possibility that the race may have come a little soon after his generous effort at Ascot. The winner was the only unbeaten colt in the field and Andreas Wöhler, who also saddled the runner-up, Earl Of Tinsdal, may well train him for the Arc.

Turf account

* Chris McGrath's Nap

Spanish Pride (4.00 Brighton)

Looked to have been given a fair rating when shaping very well on her comeback at Sandown last month, soon having plenty to do but staying on well, and looks sure to be sharper this time.



* Next best

Elusive Prince (8.20 Ripon)

Looked an improver in two wins over course and distance before a pardonable failure in a fiercely competitive handicap at York last time, and can resume his progress back down in grade today.



* One to watch

Lucky Money (Sir Mark Prescott) was extremely green on his debut at Yarmouth last week but ultimately gathered good momentum into midfield and will be more streetwise next time.

Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our exclusive client in St Albans Hertfords...

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Primary Teachers

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teachers needed in Hertfordshir...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ACCA/CIMA - St Albans, Hertfordshire

£55000 - £58000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - London, Old Street

£25000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - Londo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness