O’Brien fails to shine on St Nicholas

Even the best of jockeys sometimes get it wrong and that was clearly the case in Joseph O’Brien’s riding of his father Aidan’s high-class St Nicholas Abbey who was given far too much to do when going down to a length defeat to rank outsider and stable companion Windsor Palace in the Group 3 High Chaparral European Breeders Fund Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh on Bank Holiday Monday, writes Elliot Slater.

Only 48 hours after he had given Camelot a great ride to win the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, and just 24 hours after the yards’ Homecoming Queen had run her rivals ragged (including O’Brien’s mount and hot favourite Maybe), in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, the teenager was expected, among horse racing betting tips at least, to have a simple task in guiding St Nicholas Abbey to a long odds-on win in the 10-furlong contest having already shown fine form this term when running the superb Cirrus Des Aigles to just a neck in the £2,000,000 Dubai Sheema Clasic at Meydan five weeks earlier.

With Windsor Castle setting the pace under Colm O’Donoghue for his illustrious stable companion, O’Brien settled well down the field in the soft ground and still had 10-lengths to find on the 66/1 shot going down to the final quarter mile. Although he ran on well it soon became clear that O’Brien junior had overdone the waiting tactics and in the end the post came too soon for last season’s Breeders’ Cup Turf and Coronation Cup winner as he failed by a length to peg back his unconsidered stablemate.

Certainly there were plenty of punters who bet on racing more than a little miffed at the result, but it seemed a genuine case of simple jockey error. Aidan O’Brien, defending the ride of his son, explained to the stewards that St Nicholas Abbey had been beaten on similar ground last term before going on the win at the highest level and he felt the horse may be better for the outing. A repeat bid for the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in early June has been mooted as the next outing for the son of super-sire Montjeu.