Racing: Aidan O’Brien lands St Leger double

ORDER Of St George crowned a mightily-successful weekend for Aidan O’Brien with a runaway victory in the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger at the Curragh. Successful in the world’s oldest Classic at Doncaster with Bondi Beach, albeit in controversial circumstances, O’Brien’s decision to switch Order Of St George from Doncaster because of more suitable ground in Ireland was vindicated.

Colm ODonoghue guided Bondi Beach to a controversial St Leger win. Picture: Getty
Colm ODonoghue guided Bondi Beach to a controversial St Leger win. Picture: Getty
Colm ODonoghue guided Bondi Beach to a controversial St Leger win. Picture: Getty

Joseph O’Brien was content to have Order Of St George at the rear of the field as Good Tradition made the running in the early stages from last year’s winner Brown Panther.

However, the latter was pulled up at around halfway mark with what tragically proved a fatal injury, leaving Dermot Weld’s Forgotten Rules, stablemate of Good Tradition, to track the leader.

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Once in the straight, the race changed complexion and the well-backed Order Of St George (5-4 favourite) swept into the lead two furlongs out and sealed the issue in a matter of strides.

He went on to win unchallenged by 11 lengths from the Brian Meehan-trained Agent Murphy, with Willie Mullins’ Wicklow Brave third.

O’Brien, completing a hat-trick of Group One races on the card after wins in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and National Stakes, said: “He was very impressive here the last day [in the Irish St Leger Trial]. I didn’t say anything to Joseph, but they went hard up front and he put him asleep. He sneaked through lovely and is a very good stayer.

“He got the trip really well and travelled very strongly. When Joseph said go he quickened up very well.

“It’s unusual for a horse that stays that well to have that kind of class. He’s a very exciting horse.

“We may have a look at the two-mile race at Ascot [Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup on 17 October] with him.

“He’s a free sweater and if he didn’t do that you’d be worried.”

The jockey, winning the Irish Leger for the first time, said: “He handled the ground and stayed well.

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“He improved a lot for his second start and was really good today.

“I was a bit further back than I intended and I looked up at the top of the hill and Pat Smullen was going well [on Forgotten Rules] and I made my move earlier than I wanted to as I didn’t want him to get away from me.

“I ended up in the lead sooner than I wanted but he stayed all the way to the line. He stays well and has got lots of gears, too. He’s an exciting horse.”

On Saturday, Bondi Beach’s Ladbrokes St Leger win at Doncaster had been controversial to say the least, with Simple Verse disqualified from first place after a stewards’ inquiry into interference with O’Brien’s horse.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Simple Verse looked like she had justified the decision to supplement her for the final Classic of the season, but her rider Andrea Atzeni, successful 12 months ago on Kingston Hill, had to manoeuvre his mount off the rail in the closing stages.

Simple Verse (8-1) and the Colm O’Donoghue-ridden Bondi Beach (2-1 joint-favourite) had a bit of a bumping match before the former passed the post a head to the good.

An inquiry was swiftly called into possible interference, and after both riders had argued their case, the announcement was made that the placings would be reversed, meaning another Classic for O’Brien, who admitted “it’s never a nice way to win”.

Both jockeys picked up bans. Atzeni was given three days (September 27-29) for careless riding and O’Donoghue got two (September 27 and 28) for using his whip above the permitted level.