Irish Champions Weekend: here’s your Curragh takeaway as Thunder Moon lights up Day 2

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know the winners and losers on Day Two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh on Sunday, when Thunder Moon thrilled in the National Stakes. You’ve probably seen all the races – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know.

What’s going on?

National: Thunder Moon rockets into Guineas picture

Displaying a stunning turn of foot after meeting trouble in running, Thunder Moon (Joseph O’Brien/Declan McDonogh) is as short as 6-1 favourite (SkyBet, William Hill) for next year’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas after taking the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes.

Other firms weren’t quite so taken, mind you, and 12-1 was available elsewhere after Ireland’s premier two-year-old race. 

Having run just once before when landing a Curragh maiden a month ago, the son of Zoffany was undeniably impressive. Yet in some respects this was a messy race as both joint favourites Master Of The Seas (didn’t settle) and Lucky Vega (trouble in running) were compromised and Royal Ascot winner Battleground was ruled out after coughing.

2021 2,000 Guineas betting (Ladbrokes): 7 Battleground, 8 Cadillac, Thunder Moon, 12 Chindit, 16 Lucky Vega, Master Of The Seas, 20 bar.

Moyglare: Shale is new Classic favourite

Shale (Donnacha O’Brien/Ryan Moore) is the new favourite for next year’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas and Oaks after a battling victory old rival Pretty Gorgeous in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

The pair had met twice before, the score standing at 1-1 after Pretty Gorgeous came out on top last month in a G2 over course and distance.

Shale is now 7-1 market leader for the Guineas with Ladbrokes, while Coral go 10s and Paddy Power are 12-1. More immediately, another G1 target beckons: she will run next in either the Prix Marcel Boussac or the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

2021 1,000 Guineas betting (Coral): 10 Shale, 12 Pretty Gorgeous, 14 Indigo Girl, 20 Dandalla, Monday, Sacred, 25 bar.

G1s are a family affair for O’Brien clan

Shale’s victory was a third G1 this season for her rookie trainer, the reigning Irish champion jockey Donnacha O’Brien, who has landed the Prix de Diane and Nassau Stakes with Fancy Blue.

It also meant Sunday was a proper red-letter day for the O’Brien family, as dad Aidan and Donnacha’s brother Joseph also scored top-level wins with Mogul in France and Thunder Moon in the National Stakes respectively.

Flying Five: Glass Slippers now set for Abbaye defence

Glass Slippers (Kevin Ryan/Tom Eaves) held off British-trained compatriot Keep Busy in a tenacious effort on the far rail as fillies recorded a 1-2-3 in Ireland’s only G1 sprint for three-year-olds and their elders.

Five of the last ten runnings of the Derrinstown Stud-sponsored event have been won by UK-trained horses, and Glass Slippers will now head to Paris in a bid for a repeat success in the Prix de l’Abbaye.

Abbaye betting (Ladbrokes): 6-5 Battaash, 5 Glass Slippers, 7 Que Amoro, 8 Make A Challenge, 12 Liberty Beach, 14 Air De Valse, 16 bar.

Irish St Leger: No.9 for Dermot Weld – No.1 for Oisin Orr

Dermot Weld was cock-a-hoop after Search For A Song recorded the veteran trainer’s ninth victory in Ireland’s final Classic to equal the record of the legendary Vincent O’Brien.

Oisin Orr, Ireland’s joint-champion apprentice alongside Andrew Slattery, was landing his first G1 victory as the Moyglare Stud hombred completed back-to-back Leger victories.

Weld was also completing a G1 double on the afternoon after Tarnawa’s triumph in the Prix Vermeille on the Longchamp Arc trials card. “It’s been a special day, especially when you win your ninth St Leger,” said Weld.

“I had one horse win four back-to-back (Vinnie Roe), Vintage Crop won it twice and now she has, too.

“When you win the Vermeille and the Leger on the same day with two fillies when you train 100 horses, which is no great number in Ireland these days – yes, you still get a big kick.”

Blandford: America calls for Cayenne Pepper

Irish Oaks runner-up Cayenne Pepper (Jessica Harrington/Shane Foley) is set for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf after storming home for a four-length victory in the G2 Blandford Stakes. Before that race, the Australia filly may take on Sharing in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Shall we talk about it?

Declan McDonogh (Thunder Moon’s jockey): “He quickened very well. I was just caught on heels a little and had to bite the bullet and sit and suffer, but he showed great heart when he got a bit of room. He was always giving me the feeling that he was going to run them down and he was very impressive. He was impressive the first day, but you never know what you’re beating.
“He’s got a serious will to win because when you are racing and it got tight he just wanted to run by them. The ground was as slow as he wanted, he has a real fast-ground action – fast ground suits him really well. He seemed like he was in third gear all the way.”

Horse Racing The Curragh Shale Moyglare Stud Stakes Irish Champions Weekend. Thunder Moon also won
Shale (Ryan Moore) wins the G1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh. Photo: Horse Racing Ireland

Donnacha O’Brien (Shale’s trainer): “It was a lovely performance. She was one of the first off the bridle and at halfway I didn’t think she was going to do anything, but she found plenty for pressure. She was always a nice filly, but wasn’t one we thought would be capable of winning a Moyglare at the start of the year – she’s kept progressing the whole way. Her last run was good and Joseph’s filly [Pretty Gorgeous] is very classy, they are two very good fillies.”

Dermot Weld (Search For A Song’s trainer): “I’d trained her for the day for a long time, I also wanted to get that Group 1 over a mile and a quarter into her so people didn’t think she was just a staying mare. You saw what the filly that beat her, Magical, did so I was quietly confident she’d win today.
“I thought it was a lovely ride from Oisin Orr, he’s only 23 the other day but he switched her off beautifully and I was confident turning for home that we’d win. I think he has wonderful hands and he fills horses with confidence.”

Tom Eaves (Glass Slippers’ jockey): “She’s been a great filly for everyone involved and has been extremely good to me. She takes a while to warm into her season and comes good at this time of year. It’s a great training performance by Kevin and she seems to come right at the back end of the year.Kevin didn’t rush her and we were pleased after the run at Goodwood that she was heading the right way again.”

Glass Slippers and Tom Eaves after their win in the G1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five. Photo: Horse Racing Ireland/Patrick McCann/Racing Post

Kevin Ryan (Glass Slippers’ trainer): “She’s so tough and genuine, but she has a lot of class. She loves it when they go really quick, but the ground was tacky today so she’s done well to cope with that. I’m absolutely delighted.
“It was Terry Holdcroft’s [owner of Bearstone Stud] decision to miss the Nunthorpe and give her a bit more time and he’s obviously been vindicated. She’s an amazing filly, so simple to train and makes my job very easy. She’ll go back for the Abbaye now.”

Kate Harrington (daughter of Jessica Harrington, Cayenne Pepper’s trainer): “That was the true Cayenne Pepper. She got a good tow into the race and was really impressive. We had a lot of issues with her in the spring and today was the first day she looked well and strong. She’s got an invite for the QEII at the Keeneland and she could stay over there for the Breeders’ Cup.”

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• Visit the Longines Irish Champions Weekend website and the Curragh website

Irish Champion Stakes: get the takeaway as Magical thwarts Ghaiyyath in an epic

Arc trials: Stradivarius beaten in Prix Foy as Anthony Van Dyck, Mogul and Tarnawa strike

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