Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (Group 1)
THIS was a story of emerging stars on the equine and human front as Al Riffa thrust himself to the forefront of his generation under last year’s champion apprentice jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle who was securing a first success at the highest level.
Following a promising debut with a maiden victory here in early August, the son of Wootton Bassett did enough for Joseph O’Brien and owner Jassim Bin Ali Al Attiyah to stump up €40,000 to supplement into this race.
A good run looked entirely likely but he took a jump forward to lower the colours of some quality opponents which bodes especially for his future as this colt was regarded as one who would really come into his own as a three-year-old.
For much of the race Dylan Brown McMonagle was content to drop his mount in at the rear but Al Riffa (9/1) started to make meaningful progress on the outer entering the last quarter of a mile. At this point the field came together which left five of the six runners holding every chance.
Began to falter
Among this quintet was the favourite Aesop’s Fables but his effort began to falter as Shartash and Proud And Regal both moved into the reckoning. However, on the outside, nothing was finishing off better than Al Riffa who produced a terrific charge over the course of the last furlong.
The 9/1 shot hit the line strongly and gave the impression there was more to call upon if required as he prevailed by a length and a quarter. Proud And Regal finished a fine second with Shartash running a splendid race to lie a further half a length away in third.
The odds-on Aesop’s Fables could only manage fourth.
“That was a special performance,” stated the trainer. “He won very well here the last day and we thought he’d handle the ground and that was very impressive performance to come from behind and win well.
“He was a huge big shell of a horse as a yearling and I thought he’d be a lovely three-year-old. He is a big good moving horse and a horse that was going to mature very well so for him to do what he is doing now looks very exciting for the future.
“He’s got stamina in his pedigree but he’s not slow and he looks a 2000 Guineas horse for sure.
“The plan coming here was to run and maybe head to France for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere but I’ll speak to the owners and see where we go.
“We were hoping to finish in the three which would have been a lovely run so to see him do that is wonderful. I thought Dylan gave him a marvellous, confident ride.”
Meanwhile the winning jockey remarked: “I just followed them along and when I gave him a click to get upsides them two furlongs out I had to take a pull but then he lengthened well.
“It was an unbelievable performance and I must say a massive thanks to Joseph and the owners for putting me up. This is what dreams are made of - to get a Group 1 winner on such a nice horse.”
Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group 1)
RECENT weeks have indicated that a season which contained its share of tribulations was heading in the right direction for Dermot Weld and perhaps emblematic of the trainer’s return to form was this stunning effort from Tahiyra who will head into winter quarters as one of the most exciting juvenile talents in Europe.
Only a second winner of this race for the trainer and his first since Flutter Away in 1987, the Aga Khan-owned Tahiyra lined up as the least experienced member of the field having made a winning debut at the Galway Festival.
That debut success promised so much though and that translated into an outstanding effort to lower the colours of the previously unbeaten Meditate.
Thus even at this formative stage of her career Tahiyra (10/3) looks to have all the attributes to progress into a Rosewell House great.
A podium finish here would have promised much for 2023 but the half-sister to Tarnawa produced a performance laden with style, substance and authority that is the preserve of just a few exceptional talents.
Stable jockey Chris Hayes could hardly have hoped for a smoother passage through the race as he was able to take up a nice position on the outside of the field.
Up front though, Meditate was doing what she does best and when the favourite changed gear inside the last quarter of a mile, most of the field were toiling.
One notable exception was Tahiyra who had tanked through the race and when she was asked to quicken the daughter of Siyouni produced an electrifying turn of foot to cut down Meditate inside the distance and win by two and a quarter lengths.
These two fillies dominated the race to the exclusion of everything else and it was no surprise to find that there was a gap of four and a half lengths back to the third place Eternal Silence.
“She did it very well and she’s beaten a high class multiple group-race winning filly in an excellent renewal of this race,” commented Weld.
“Beforehand I was afraid this might come a little soon in her career and I’ve always said what a beautiful filly I think she will make up into next spring.
“She learned a lot at Galway. She did it well there and has progressed and we’ve lots to look forward to.”
“Chris (Hayes) has been riding exceptionally well for me all year and gave a masterclass of riding to win on Duke De Sessa yesterday. I told him to take his time and make steady progress and a ride like that takes confidence.
“We’ll discuss things but I would say that’s her finished for this year.
There’s brilliance, speed and stamina in the pedigree and we’ll review things in the spring but possibly she could head for a classic trial and then go for one of the 1000 Guineas,” concluded the trainer.