Romanised delivered a 25-1 shock in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday, storming home to conquer Ballydoyle duo US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt and provide trainer Ken Condon with not just his first Classic triumph but his first victory of the year.
The son of Holy Roman Emperor was produced in the final furlong by Shane Foley and won going away from US Navy Flag, on whom Ryan Moore tried to make all.
The winning margin was two and a quarter lengths, with Gustav Klimt a length and a quarter adrift in third.
Elarqam, the 2,000 Guineas fourth who was sent off 2-1 favourite, was disappointing, coming under pressure three furlongs out and folding tamely to finish sixth.
The success was a welcome change of luck for Condon and for Romanised, who had got no sort of run in the Tetrarch Stakes on his reappearance at Naas.
Curragh-based Condon, from Ballyhea in County Cork, has been training since 2002, having spent five years with John Oxx and also time in the stud and racing business in the US, where he worked for Todd Pletcher among others.
He said: “It’s going to take a day or two for this to sink in. It’s pretty special to step through the door which doesn’t open for many and train a Classic winner.
“I’m delighted for Romanised’s owner Robert Ng and for Shane and everyone in the yard.
“Romanised showed us early last year he could be a good one. He was second in the Solario last season and was unlucky in running on his first start of the year at Naas. He did his best-ever bit of work on Tuesday and I thought he’d run a big race today, if he settled.
“We have 30 horses in the yard and, like so many other trainers, it’s days like these that you dream about,” added Condon, who runs another outsider, Success Days, in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup on Sunday.
Regarding plans for Romanised, Condon said: “He’s in the St James’s Palace and Commonwealth Cup but we’ll wait and see how he comes out of today’s race before making plans.”
Romanised was cut to 10-1 (from 33) by Paddy Power for the St James’s Palace Stakes, while Coral and Betfair Sportsbook quoted a best-priced 12-1.
Foley, who was riding his second Classic winner after Jet Setting in the Irish 1,000 Guineas two years ago, said: “I’ve always liked this horse and to come back after the last day was great. I was quietly confident.
“The plan was to get him relaxed – I nursed him around and he picked up well. Ken stood by me as an apprentice and I’m delighted to ride a Classic winner for him.”
Romanised was last out of the stalls and Foley bided his time before producing the colt with a strong run on the outside to sweep to the front inside the final furlong.
O’Brien, who was one of the first to congratulate Condon, said: “It’s great for Ken. Our horses ran well and it would be hard to say US Navy Flag didn’t get the trip.
“That being said, he probably just about gets the mile, and seven furlongs might be his optimum. He has a few entries at Ascot and we’ll wait and see.”
Mark Johnston offered no excuses for Elarqam’s below-par performance. “It was too bad to be true. We’ll take him home and see if anything comes to light,” he said.
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