Before he began his current tenure at Ballydoyle and changed the modern face of racing, Aidan O’Brien was transforming the careers of jumpers at Piltown, and it is down to that affinity with long-distance horses that has made him one of the most notable names in the story of the revival of Royal Ascot’s centrepiece, the Group One Gold Cup.
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Ascot Gold Cup
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(Image : Telegraph - Footage : Racing UK)
GOLD CUP (Group 1)
Royal Ascot, 4000m
16 June 2011
Royal Ascot witnessed one of the great gambles yesterday when Fame and Glory (GB) (Montjeu) gave a passable impression of Yeats (Ire) to annex a fifth G1 Gold Cup in six years for Ballydoyle at a rain-soaked Royal Ascot.
Settled against the rail early under jockey Jamie Spencer in the spot the his illustrious predecessor used to enjoy in his four forays here, the bay was lolling off the moderate pace which was upped a notch after a mile by the veteran Geordieland (Fr) (Johann Quatz). Still cruising with a half mile remaining, Jamie Spencer waited for racing room to appear on his outside, and asked Fame and Glory to go through the gears at the top of the stretch. The confidence in his 11-8 favoritism proved infectious and the bay was carried by the wave of the crowd’s will as he swooped to the lead approaching the final furlong. Rolling by Duncan (GB) (Dalakhani), he received a smack with the whip there and a few after as Opinion Poll (IRE) (Halling) arrived and kept grinding way in the final yards. Godolphin had overturned So You Think (NZ) on Wednesday and it looked momentarily as if a case of de ja vu was about to strike with Opinion Poll coming out wide. But the Derrick Smith silks stayed ahead this time and, at the line, it was three lengths back to the royal blue.
“We didn’t go very fast early and I was delighted when I saw Geordieland go round the field and inject some pace,” Spencer said. “He wasn’t keen, but because he has so much class and is used to going a different pace he wanted that to make it more comfortable for him. It was a very easy, push-button ride and I’m just privileged to be allowed to ride him. Everyone was doubting him for the last few weeks, but we never had any doubts as those first two races were just to bring him along. It’s a great training performance.”
“Very few mile-and-a-quarter Group 1 winners get to run in a Gold Cup, but class makes them stay,” Aidan O’Brien said of the 5-year-old, who capped a successful venture for Dr Jim and Fitri Hay into joint-ownership with Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor. “He’s been a Group 1 winner every year since he was a 2-year-old, and we never knew until we tried, but we believed he would definitely get two miles. We are privileged to have him and Jamie was very confident and gave him an unbelievable ride.”
Another tilt at the October 2 G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is on the cards for Fame and Glory after his luckless runs in that Longchamp showpiece in 2009 and 2010. “The plan after today was to give him a break and train him for the Arc again, with a run beforehand,” O’Brien added.
GOLD CUP (Gr1)
FAME AND GLORY (GB)
OPINION POLL (IRE)
Mahmood Al Zarooni
ASKAR TAU (FR)
KASBAH BLISS (FR)
AAIM TO PROSPER (IRE)
Sir Mark Prescott Bt
BLUE BAJAN (IRE)
THE BETCHWORTH KID (GB)
FICTIONAL ACCOUNT (IRE)
Saeed bin Suroor
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News