So You Think stakes his claim to global greatness

Ballydoyle's champion Australian import downs mighty Workforce in epic

On a weekend of heavyweight showdowns, the first certainly lived up to its billing. At the end of yesterday's 114th Eclipse Stakes there was, after a pulsating home-straight duel, just half a length between two of the finest middle-distance thoroughbreds on the planet, the great ex-Australian champion So You Think and Workforce, hero in these parts of last year's Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

And along with the tremendous spectacle of two top-class horses eyeballing each other at willing full stretch came huge professional satisfaction for Seamie Heffernan, on board the winner. After riding So You Think to victory on his first outing since his transfer from Bart Cummings in Melbourne to Aidan O'Brien in Co Tipperary, Heffernan was passed over in favour of Ryan Moore for the horse's tilt at top-level glory at Royal Ascot.

In the event, So You Think was beaten there. Now, under Heffernan, one of the linchpins of the Ballydoyle empire and more than once a supersub on the track, his global reputation as a runner and a potential stallion has been restored. And though vengeance was not at all a word in the jockey's lexicon, the moment was sweet, for on Workforce yesterday was Moore.

"I have a brilliant job," Heffernan said. "I'm part of a very big operation, I've worked for them a long time, I'm well looked after. I ride a lot of work on the best horses at home and I get a real buzz from that. But to get the leg up on the track on these big days means a lot."

In terms of their physiques, So You Think and Workforce are indeed heavyweights, both powerful, imposing specimens of their breed. In the preliminaries, as in the race, So You Think – whose muscular dark brown frame made his 18st attendant David Hickey look positively dainty – just shaded it, remaining much cooler and calmer than his adversary as he was saddled up on a sweltering afternoon.

And though the margin of redemption was narrow for the Coolmore partners' colourbearer it was, in the final strides, decisive. So You Think ranged alongside Workforce, who had been towed to the home turn by his pacemaker Confront, a quarter of a mile out, and after a stirring tussle surged ahead in the final half-furlong.

"He won it well," said Heffernan. "I had a perfect lead from a very good horse, it was almost like riding a piece of work. And once I got to him I was always confident of getting by him. I could feel a lot of power under me."

Unlike boxing bouts or tennis matches, two-horse races rarely are, but yesterday the three other runners did not upset the big guns. Last year's runner-up Sri Putra was a distant third, with the top-class filly Snow Fairy a ring-rusty fourth.

So You Think gave O'Brien, who had blamed himself for leaving his charge undercooked before Ascot, his fifth success in the Coral-sponsored ten-furlong contest. "We hadn't actually done much with him since the last day," he said, "as that race set him right. He settled perfectly today – a pacemaker helps everyone and makes it a fair test – and when you have a horse that stays, and has a miler's speed, and settles, the sky can be the limit."

The son of High Chaparral is now favourite for the Arc, but whether he is still around in October remains to be seen. An unprecedented third Cox Plate – Australia's Arc equivalent – back home at Moonee Valley is on his agenda, and quarantine regulations may mean he has to miss a tilt at Workforce's Longchamp crown. Earlier contests like the York International and the Irish Champion Stakes have been pencilled in, but for now the job – a mainstream European Group 1 prize on his cv – is well done.

Today the focus switches to France, where So You Think's stablemate Zoffany, who gave Frankel something of a fright at Royal Ascot, heads the overseas challenge for the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly, and to Germany, where Brown Panther, a runaway winner at last month's feature meeting, is the sole British raider in, and favourite for, the Deutsches Derby in Hamburg.

Brown Panther, trained by Tom Dascombe in Cheshire, carries the colours of Michael Owen, who knows what it is to win in Germany.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'