JOSEPH PROVES A LEADING LIGHT IN GOLD CUP VICTORY

josephA stunning renewal of the Gold Cup will be remembered for a brilliant ride by Joseph O’Brien on the winner, Leading Light.

Niggling his mount before the home turn, O’Brien responded as The Queen’s runner Estimate, ridden by Ryan Moore, manoeuvred into position as the bend unfolded.

Estimate came alongside on Leading Light’s inner, going slightly better and apparently bound to take a vital advantage, but O’Brien galvanised his willing partner and kept Estimate from pulling around the weakening Brown Panther. Moore was forced to switch inside and squeeze through a gap between that Brown Panther and leader Missunited, while Leading Light enjoyed a clear run on the outside.

He wandered left before straightening in the final furlong, but did enough to prevail by a neck and a short-head from Estimate and Missunited.

The winning jockey said modestly: “When you win, it’s a good ride. They say that there is no such thing as a bad winning ride. When you have a tough horse on your side it’s easier.

“Ryan was looking for a bit of room, as he was well entitled to, and I was well entitled to keep the room I had. When I got to the front, my horse had a little look and he just wandered a little bit left, probably because he was getting tired. I was rowing away on him but I had some left and I was trying to hold off using my whip for as long as I could. Ryan gave me a little help when he was on my inside by pushing me along a bit.

“My fellow is as tough as nails, but I think his optimum trip is probably a mile and three-quarters to two miles. At that trip he would have a bit more zip at the end, but he’s as tough as old boots and keeps pulling it out. I was always holding on.

“It’s a brilliant feeling to win this race – unbelievable. Ryan is probably the best jockey in the world, and I’ve finished behind him on many occasions.”

LEADING LIGHT IN FACT

Aidan O’Brien was a relieved man after Leading Light won the Group One Gold Cup over two and a half miles in a thrilling finish with The Queen’s Estimate and fellow Irish challenger Missunited, the margins being a neck and a short-head at the line.

He had been worried coming in to Thursday’s highlight because a few disappointing performances from his horses at this year’s Royal Ascot – he highlighted the poor run of The Great War in today’s second race, the Norfolk Stakes.

O’Brien said: “Your heart would be in your mouth (watching the finish). Obviously, he’s idling and I thought he had a lovely position, settled well but, when the race came on, he was a little slow to react. I thought Joseph did well because Leading Light was very lazy when he got there. I think Joseph was trying to get in company with him. I am delighted.

“I am so lucky to have the horses and work with the people that I am working with. Andrew is in charge of this lad, Heather rides him and Jim looks after him. We are just in a very lucky position and the lads have such unbelievable horses with unbelievable pedigrees and we have an unbelievable place to train them in. The team is so strong from the time before they are conceived and all the way along.

“We were worried about the two and a half miles even though he had won over two miles here last year.. He is out of a filly that won the Queen Mary, so he is very fast on the dam’s side. He’s a horse who we thought could go back in trip, maybe for a King George, but it was tough there for that last half-mile. Once you go beyond two miles, you don’t know what is going to happen.

“Joseph saved him as much as he could – taking nothing out of him to get a position but he then had to move. It was nip and tuck. Leading Light is brave – he kept going and going. I thought he had won a stride after the line! We were worried because some of the horses have not been running as we hoped. We did not know what was going to run good and what was going to run bad. But Leading Light had taken a lot of work well and kept smiling which is usually a good sign.

“But you are never sure. I am not sure whether he won it through stamina or courage. He works with plenty of class. It was a tough race. We knew The Queen’s filly was working very well and Joseph said to me in the parade ring that she had worked better than Hillstar in her last piece of work, which for a stayer is a serious work.

“It was a long last furlong. Leading Light came off the bridle turning in and he had a good bit to go then. I am delighted he put his head in front. Two and a half miles around Ascot really tests a horse’s courage. It takes a very brave horse to win it – colt or filly. Courage has to kick in over the last three furlongs. Those three furlongs were as long as I can remember in a long time. I thought we were in trouble. So many horses could have won.

“We have had some horses run a little bit ordinary this week. Two of the two-year-olds ran very bad. If I had expected them to run like that, they would not have been here. Our best chances were today – the colt in the second race ran very disappointingly.

“I was confident until I knew what The Queen’s horse had been doing. The information was strong and it was right. I got a cold sweat on my back. The Queen was an absolute lady and we were sorry that her filly was second. A staying filly to be doing the work she was doing, she must be a very special filly – someone told Joseph but I better not say who! We have a tough young colt and he just found a little bit at the end. I could not believe that Joseph was able to keep him going and the rules are the rules – a jockey can only drive a horse so far. We will wait and see with Leading Light now.”

ESTIMATE THRILLS CONNECTIONS IN DEFEAT

Estimate almost landed back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot this afternoon for The Queen but found Leading Light just too strong in the dying stages of the race, eventually going down a neck to the Aidan O’Brien four-year-old.

The 8/1 shot loomed ominously behind long-time leader Missunited as the field hit the two furlong pole and stayed on strongly in a thrilling finish to Group One race, just edging out Michael Winters’ mare to claim the runner-up spot.

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute was keen to pay tribute to both the five-year-old and his staff back at his Freemason Lodge base in Newmarket following the race.

“It was a great run and I’m very proud of her,” said Stoute.

“It’s been a great team effort back at home to get her back on the track after so long but she’s made it easy for us as she’s a very brave filly.”

The Queen’s racing manager John Warren was also delighted.

“We really couldn’t ask for more,” said Warren.

“It was tremendous and the Queen got such pleasure out of it. She was so brave and to see her put in such a tremendous effort like that was tremendous. Ryan said it was a career best – she ran as good as you could have ever hoped.

“Having no prep, all the things going against her and for her to run that well. She lost nothing in defeat really, she is so game.”

Winters was also pleased with Missunited, who finished a further short head back in third, and revealed the dual-purpose mare could head to the Galway Festival to defend her crown in the Galway Hurdle, which she won last year.

“She’s run her heart out and Jim (Crowley) has given her a peach of a ride,” said the trainer.

“There was a moment down the back straight when I thought she might have given them the slip but it was a super run and a great ride.

“I’ll chat to the owners now but, all being well, we’ll head back to the Galway Festival. I’m glad we decided to come here and we’ve come so near but so far.

“If she continues in the same sort of form, we’ll all have a chat back home and could well come here again next year.”
Fourth race result

4.25pm Gold Cup (British Champions Series) (Group 1)
£375,000 total prize fund. For 4yo+, 2m 4f. Weights: 4yo colts and geldings 9st; fillies 8st 11lb; 5yo+ horses and geldings 9st 2lb; mares 8st 13lb. Penalty value 1st £212,662.50 2nd £80,625.00 3rd £40,350.00 4th £20,100.00 5th £10,087.50 6th £5,062.50

1) LEADING LIGHT (IRE) (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien IRE p4-9-00 Joseph O’Brien [14] 10/11f
2) ESTIMATE (IRE) (The Queen) Sir Michael Stoute 5-8-13 Ryan Moore [6] 8/1
3) MISSUNITED (IRE) (Vanessa Hutch) Michael Winters IRE 7-8-13 Jim Crowley [10] 40/1
4) BROWN PANTHER (Andrew Black & Owen Promotions Ltd) Tom Dascombe 6-9-02 Richard Kingscote [4]
5) SIMENON (IRE) (Wicklow Bloodstock Ltd) Willie Mullins IRE 7-9-02 Frankie Dettori [15]
6) ORIENTAL FOX (GER) (Markus Graff) Mark Johnston 6-9-02 Joe Fanning [5]
7) ALTANO (GER) (Dr Ingrid Hornig) Andreas Wohler GER t8-9-02 Eduardo Pedroza [1]
8) HAVANA BEAT (IRE) (Mick & Janice Mariscotti) Andrew Balding 4-9-00 David Probert [11]
9) SHWAIMAN (IRE) (Mohamed Obaida) James Fanshawe 4-9-00 Tom Queally [3]
10) AHZEEMAH (IRE) (Godolphin) Saeed bin Suroor p5-9-02 Kieren Fallon [7]
11) SADDLER’S ROCK (IRE) (Michael O’Flynn) John Oxx IRE b6-9-02 William Buick [9]
12) ROYAL DIAMOND (IRE) (Andrew Tinkler) Johnny Murtagh IRE 8-9-02 Richard Hughes [13]
13) RALSTON ROAD (IRE) (Thistle Bloodstock Limited) Pat Shanahan IRE 4-9-00 Ronan Whelan [2]

13 ran
Non-runners: Pale Mimosa (going), Tac De Boistron (going)
Time: 4m 21.09s
Distances: nk, sh, 4½, nk, 3¾, 3¼, nk, sh, 3¼, 13, 18, 12
Breeder: Lynch-Bages Ltd
Breeding: b c Montjeu (IRE) – Dance Parade (USA) (Gone West (USA))
Tote Win £2.10 Place £1.50 £1.80 £7.80 Exacta £12.20

Winning trainer:-Name: O’Brien, Aidan Date of birth: 16/10/69 Previous occupation: Assistant trainer to Jim Bolger and Annemarie Crowley/O’Brien Date of first licence: 1993 British Classic wins (20): Investec Derby (2001 Galileo, 2002 High Chaparral, 2012 Camelot, 2014 Australia), QIPCO 2000 Guineas (1998 King Of Kings, 2002 Rock Of Gibraltar, 2005 Footstepsinthesand, 2006 George Washington, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2012 Camelot), QIPCO 1000 Guineas (2005 Virginia Waters, 2012 Homecoming Queen), Investec Oaks (1998 Shahtoush, 2001 Imagine, 2006 Alexandrova, 2012 Was), Ladbrokes St Leger (2001 Milan, 2003 Brian Boru, 2005 Scorpion, 2013 Leading Light) Irish Classic Wins (29): Irish 2,000 Guineas (1997 Desert King, 1999 Saffron Walden, 2001 Black Minnaloushe, 2002 Rock Of Gibraltar, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2009 Mastercraftsman, 2011 Roderic O’Connor, 2012 Power, 2013 Magician), Irish 1,000 Guineas (1997 Classic Park, 2001 Imagine, 2003 Yesterday, 2008 Halfway To Heaven, 2011 Misty For Me, 2014 Marvellous), Irish Derby (1997 Desert King, 2001 Galileo, 2002 High Chaparral, 2006 Dylan Thomas, 2007 Soldier Of Fortune, 2008 Frozen Fire, 2009 Fame And Glory, 2010 Cape Blanco, 2011 Treasure Beach), Irish Oaks (2006 Alexandrova, 2007 Peeping Fawn, 2008 Moonstone), Irish St Leger (2007 Yeats, 2008 Septimus) Royal Ascot wins (43): Coventry Stakes (1997 Harbour Master, 1999 Fasliyev, 2001 Landseer, 2002 Statue Of Liberty, 2007 Henrythenavigator, 2011 Power, 2013 War Command), Chesham Stakes (1999 Bach, 2011 Maybe), St James’s Palace Stakes (2000 Giant’s Causeway, 2001 Black Minnaloushe, 2002 Rock Of Gibraltar, 2007 Excellent Art, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2009 Mastercraftsman), Norfolk Stakes (2001 Johannesburg), Jersey Stakes (2001 Mozart, 2012 Ishvana, 2013 Gale Force Ten), Coronation Stakes (2002 Sophisticat, 2010 Lillie Langtry), Hampton Court Stakes (2004 Moscow Ballet, 2005 Indigo Cat), King Edward VII Stakes (2004 Five Dynasties), Queen Anne Stakes (2006 Ad Valorem, 2008 Haradasun, 2013 Declaration Of War), Gold Cup (2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009 Yeats, 2011 Fame And Glory, 2014 Leading Light), Queen’s Vase (2007 Mahler, 2010 Mikhail Glinka, 2013 Leading Light), Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2008 Duke Of Marmalade, 2012 So You Think), Hardwicke Stakes (2008 Macarthur, 2011 Await The Dawn), Queen Alexandra Stakes (2008 Honolulu), Diamond Jubilee Stakes (2010 Starspangledbanner), Ribblesdale Stakes (2014 Bracelet) Wins in Britain (2000-2013): 11; 20*; 10*; 6; 4; 20; 11; 18*; 20*; 12; 7; 16; 13; 13 *champion trainer for win and place prize money; Wins in 2014 in Britain: 5 Aidan O’Brien is now the most successful trainer ever in the Gold Cup with six victories.

Winning Jockey:-Name: O’Brien, Joseph Born: May 23, 1993 Based: c/o Aidan O’Brien, Ballydoyle Stables, Cashel, Co Tipperary, Ireland Background: Son of champion trainers Aidan and Annemarie O’Brien. Won bronze individual eventing medal at the European Pony Championships in Belgium in August, 2009.Tied for the 2010 Irish Apprentice Title with Gary Carroll Gary Carroll and Ben Curtis. British Classic Wins (4): QIPCO 2000 Guineas (2012 Camelot), Investec Derby (2012 Camelot, 2014 Australia), Ladbrokes St Leger (2013 Leading Light) Irish Classic Wins (4): Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas (2011 Roderic O’Connor, 2012 Power, 2013 Magician), Irish Derby (2012 Camelot) First Ride: Coat Of Arms (12th), Boylemobile.com Handicap, the Curragh, May 24, 2009 First Winner: Johann Zoffany, Kilmacud Handicap, Leopardstown, May 28, 2009 First Winner in Britain: Grams And Ounces, Bet Now At Victorchandler.com Apprentice Handicap, Ayr, July 12, 2010 First Group Winner: Beethoven, Desmond Stakes, Leopardstown, August 12, 2010 First Classic (and First Group One) Winner: Roderic O’Connor, Abu Dhabi Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Curragh, May 21, 2011 Royal Ascot Wins (6): Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2012 So You Think), Queen Anne Stakes (2013 Declaration Of War), Jersey Stakes (2013 Gale Force Ten), Queen’s Vase (2013 Leading Light), Ribblesdale Stakes (2014 Bracelet), Gold Cup (2014 Leading Light) Other big race wins include: Dubai Sheema Classic (2013 St Nicholas Abbey), Moyglare Stud Stakes (2011 Maybe), Weatherbys Insurance £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes (2011 Reply), Racing Post Trophy (2011 Camelot), Breeders’ Cup Turf (2011 St Nicholas Abbey), Tattersalls Gold Cup (2012 So You Think), Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup (2012 & 2013 St Nicholas Abbey), Juddmonte International (2013 Declaration Of War), Dewhurst Stakes (2013 War Command) Wins in Britain (2009-2013): 0; 1; 2; 14; 10 Wins in 2014 in Britain: 4