The Group 1 race, formerly the Racing Post Trophy, was carrying a new sponsor for the first time since 1989 but there was a familiarity about the result as the Irish trainer once again was present in the winner’s enclosure albeit after a controversial finish.
Magna Grecia was ridden by O’Brien’s son Donnacha and the race favourite made a late surge to win the race by a head’s distance from the Charles Hill-trained Phoenix Of Spain.
The margin of victory may not indicate a dominant win but it was a dramatic one. Magna Grecia was two lengths off the pace coming into the final furlong of the mile race. That was until the 20-year-old O’Brien, who also won this year’s Irish Derby, found a gap through the centre of the field to record the two-year-old’s second victory in his three races.
However a stewards’ inquiry was called as there appeared to be contact between the first two horses, initially when Magna Grecia moved out to make his challenge and then just before the line. Having had a lengthy look at whether the winner had unfairly impeded runner-up, the placings remained unchanged earning Donnacha O’Brien his sixth Group 1 of what has been a fine campaign.
His father’s outside chance Western Australia was three-quarters of a length further back in third place.
O’Brien senior said afterwards: “He’s still a little bit green but he’s coming forward. It was lovely, he will have learned a lot today, he’s a lovely horse. We think a mile will be his thing.”
There was an air of frustration for the runner-up trainer Charlie Hills as Phoenix Of Spain was denied a better outcome. Both Hills and jockey Jamie Spencer believed their horse was the victim of two separate instances of interference, both of which were deemed to be accidental.
Hills said: “Jamie said the winner careered into him and he lost his impetus and it put him off balance.
He was in front when he got that bump. We’re disappointed we didn’t win, but he’s run a great race”.