The sky’s the limit for Donnacha O’Brien and the young trainer reckons he can conquer the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after Fancy Blue’s win in Glorious Goodwood’s Qatar Nassau Stakes, writes Will Jennings.
The 22-year-old hotshot handler, son of Aidan, watched fabulous filly Fancy Blue soar to another Group One glory in the Thursday showpiece after her French Oaks triumph earlier this month.
Ryan Moore was the man on board as O’Brien’s three-year-old had to fight in the West Sussex sunshine, holding off a searing late charge from Jessica Harrington’s One Voice to win by a neck.
You’d think an inexperienced 22-year-old would settle for two Group One triumphs in the space of a month but not O’Brien, who could barely watch the 1m2f thriller.
Asked whether a tilt at the Arc could be on the cards for Fancy Blue, he said: “Yes, possibly.
“She’s had a busy start to the year and there’s not much going on in Ireland at the minute, so I’ll give her a little break and then come back possibly for something on Irish Champions Weekend.
“Then we’ll look towards the Arc weekend, where she’ll have the option of the Arc itself.
“And then after that it will probably be either the Breeders’ Cup, or there’s a race in Japan in the middle of November that could suit her.
“I didn’t enjoy it at all though - it was very hard to watch, but thank god she got there in the end!"
Fancy Blue’s triumph made it a pair of Irish Group glories on a thrilling Thursday at Goodwood, as she followed up Mogul’s win in the John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes for Aidan O’Brien.
But it was all about Donnacha - who turned 22 just last week - in the main event of the afternoon as his mount lived up to the pressure to deliver a brilliant performance.
It was a closely-congested field heading into the final two furlongs as Fancy Blue and Magic Wand duelled it out at the front in the striking orange and blue of owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier.
Moore hit the accelerator to pull away from Aidan’s raider, only for Harrington’s One Voice - with Tom Marquand on board - to come hurtling up the outside and tee up a pulsating climax.
One Voice stayed on well but Fancy Blue had enough to hold on and hand an anxious Donnacha his second Group One in the space of just 25 days.
The youthful O'Brien, who won four Classics as a jockey, is taking to the training world like a duck to water but admits it was much harder to watch as a trainer as Moore did the business in the saddle.
“It’s horrible [to watch as a trainer rather than a jockey], it’s absolutely horrible," he added.
"When you have someone like Ryan on board you obviously trust him, but it’s fantastic and thank god she did it.
“It’s great for all the team as they’re the ones that work hard on the yard, so it’s just fantastic.”