Fancy Blue (13/2) led home an Irish 1-2-3 in the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines at Chantilly, giving Donnacha O’Brien his first Classic, and Ireland a first victory in the race since Séamus McGrath’s Sweet Mimosa 50 years ago.
Twenty-one-year-old Donnacha O’Brien, son of Irish champion flat trainer Aidan, and brother of former Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby-winning trainer, Joseph, had incredibly only three winners to his name before today’s win in France.
His filly, Fancy Blue, had finished an eye-catching runner-up behind his father’s Peaceful (11/4) in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh three weeks ago. With rivalry renewed in France today, the form was turned as Fancy Blue took the win, with Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star (6/4f), winner of the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, taking second, ahead of Peaceful in third.
With Harrington’s filly making much of the running under Stéphane Pasquier, she was eventually worn down by Fancy Blue in the hands of Pierre-Charles Boudot, as Peaceful made her challenge on the outside for Séamie Heffernan. In a tight finish, a head separated the winner and runner-up, with a further head back to the third.
The winning trainer, speaking at Fairyhouse, said of his maiden Group 1 victory:
“I always knew she was a very good filly and we always thought the step up in trip would suit her. It definitely did. Pierre-Charles is a very good rider and I told him beforehand he should do what he wants. There was no pace early so he went forward on her and sat upsides the leader. It was exactly what I would have liked him to do. She quickened up well and stuck at it.”
French jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, who tracked the favourite Alpine Star throughout, said:
“We didn’t go that fast so I took her up to just behind the leaders and it was pretty straightforward. She produced a sustained burst of acceleration and was really brave at the finish. There’s a lot that goes into the kind of run of big wins I’ve enjoyed in the last year, but mostly it’s a case of being lucky to get on these good horses.”
Donnacha O’Brien immediately hinted that the Juddmonte Irish Oaks at The Curragh on 18th July might be the next target for his Classic-winning filly:
“We’ll get her home and see how she is tomorrow. We might have a look at the Irish Oaks at The Curragh.”
Trainer of the runner-up Jessica Harrington was pleased with her filly’s performance, coming just 15 days after her win at Royal Ascot, with the Moone-based handler admitting:
“She’s gone very close and it was a whisker either way. Maybe the ground was a bit too quick for her but that’s life. It’s quite a funny feeling to be disappointed after running second in a Group 1. She ran her heart out. She seems to stay and she did everything right and maybe the ground was probably a bit quick.”