Favourite Santiago devastated the field in the Irish Derby, delivering a 14th win for Aidan O’Brien and a fourth for jockey Seamie Heffernan, writes Tom Harle.
The 2-1 winner was slung off the home bend by Heffernan and stayed on to win by a head from stablemate Tiger Moth in teeming Curragh rain.
It came just eight days after Santiago’s Queen’s Vase win at Royal Ascot, a feat of endurance that drew high praise from the king of Ballydoyle.
“It was a big call to run him so soon after Ascot,” said O’Brien, toasting a 1-2-3-4 with Dawn Patrol and Order Of Australia third and fourth.
“It was his first run over 1m6f as well so to come back and do that, you’re an amazing horse. I’m delighted.
“He’s a lovely, hardy, tough horse. He likes to take his time in his races and Seamus got a lovely run through and stayed very well.
“Seamus is a great fella, lots of experience and works hard. We are delighted for him. He knows the horses very well.
“Great credit to everyone for getting it on and getting racing back.”
Erstwhile 49-year-old Heffernan drew level with Pat Eddery and Johnny Murtagh on four wins in the race.
"I'm lucky enough to keep getting rides in the race and anyone would have won on that horse today," said the humble Heffernan.
As expected, Michael Hussey took O'Brien's Iberia to the front at the furlong mark as torrential rain descended on the Curragh and worsened as the race went on.
Jessie Harrington's Gold Maze, under Shane Foley, tracked the leader as Heffernan waited for his moment and had to carve out the gap.
Santiago bounded into the space, enjoying the trip enough to mean his next run could be as favourite for the St. Leger.
The hope will now be that Santiago can emulate Capri’s 2017 feats by doing the Derby and St. Leger double.
“I think so (go for the St Leger), it looks a lovely race for him.” O’Brien said
“We have the second and the third there too, so we will see what the lads want to do.
“They are two lovely horses (Tiger Moth and Dawn Patrol) and are two babies, they are progressing. In a month's time they will be even better we think."