Royal Diamond proved the jewel in the crown of the Gain Horse Feeds Irish St Leger as he got the better of a four way photograph at the Curragh on Saturday evening for owner Andrew Tinkler, trainer Tommy Carmody and jockey Niall McCullagh.
Having finished a narrow second in the Ebor on his last start, Royal Diamond swooped late and fast at the end of the 1m 6f contest to narrowly edge out Massiyn, Brown Panther and Aiken in a desperately tight finish to the final Irish Classic of the season.
In the early stages of the contest it was Fame And Glory who took the field along under Jamie Spence with Royal Diamond content to just stit of what was a steady gallop for the first mile or so.
Turning into the long, winding, Curragh straight Spencer and Fame And Glory looked to have the whole field on the stretch with Hartani the first to crack as the Aidan O’Brien horse nicked a three length lead with two furlongs to go.
That lead was soon wiped out though as the closing pack, lead by Royal Diamond closed down on Fame And Glory. McCullagh nudged Royal Diamond into the lead and held all off late comers, in particular Brown Panther who was forced a little wide in the closing stages, to give trainer, owner and jockey their first Irish classic success.
Speaking in a packed winners enclosure, winning trainer Tommy Carmody said “You couldn’t write it, it’s just absolutely fabulous. He was in great form so it’s a great result. It’s fantastic. A six year old ex hurdler comes and wins a Classic.
Winning jockey Niall McCullagh was equally delighted saying “That means a lot. I’ve had a very good career with some dark days thrown in and this is the icing on the cake.
“We didn’t go that fast and my horse, as you saw in the Ebor, has a good change of gear.”