Joseph O’Brien won some of the world’s biggest races at a jockey, including the English and Irish Derby’s, and is continuing to plunder the riches as a high-class trainer in the making.
In his debut year, the 25-year-old has already claimed the Group1 Melbourne Cup and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby with lesser fancied horses, and on Friday he saddled 20/1 chance Iridessa to land the Fillies’ Mile, the feature race on day one of the Dubai Future Champions Festival at Newmarket Racecourse in the UK.
The festival, which was created to showcase talent among the best juvenile horses in Europe, lived up to expectations with some highly impressive performances all through the seven-race card many of which carried the names of the Dubai-owned stable, Godolphin, and Jumeirah Al Qasr, a luxury resort in the emirate.
Iridessa, a well-bred daughter of Ruler Of The World, perhaps delivered the performance of the day when showing plenty of ability to defeat a quality field in the £500,000 Fillies’ Mile, Europe’s joint most valuable Group 1 two-year-old race together with Saturday’s feature, the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes.
The winner, who was ridden with confidence by Wayne Lordan, scored by a comfortable margin of a length and a half from Hermona, the mount of Donnacha, Joseph’s younger brother.
Pretty Pollyanna, the pre-race favourite finished third.
Iridessa was shortened to a top price of 20-1 with Sky Bet for next season’s 1,000 Guineas, although O’Brien indicated that the horse would be more suited by the Oaks.
“We always thought the world of her,” the trainer told Racing UK. “Today was a huge step up in class, but she was always going to get the trip well as she is by Ruler Of The World.
“The draw helped us get some cover in the middle with strong wind. She did it very nicely in the end and look forward to next season with her.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s D’bai found defending champion Limato too strong a rival in the Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes.
Henry Candy’s stable flag-bearer, who won the Group 1 July Cup and the Prix de la Foret in 2016, bounced back to his best form on a fast Newmarket track swept by strong winds.
Saturday’s card features three Group races, including the £500,000 Darley Dewhurst Stakes and the 180th renewal of the Dubai £500,000 Cesarewitch, a two and a quarter mile heritage handicap which has seen its prize money doubled since last year, making it the joint most valuable flat handicap in Europe.