Empress Josephine rules over Joan Of Arc in Irish 1,000 Guineas
Empress Josephine produced a relentless late charge to beat stablemate Joan Of Arc to victory in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien saddled three runners in his bid for a 10th victory in the fillies’ Classic, with Joan Of Arc very much his main hope following her triumph in the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown a fortnight ago.
Empress Josephine was a 14-1 chance off the back of finishing second in a Listed contest at Gowran Park on her latest appearance and tracked 15-8 favourite Pretty Gorgeous for much of the way.
With the latter’s effort petering out on her belated first run of the year, it looked like Joan Of Arc would claim top honours after eventually mastering No Speak Alexander at the head of affairs.
However, Empress Josephine really found top gear in the last half-furlong and beat her stablemate on the bob by a short head – providing jockey Seamie Heffernan with his fifth success in the race.
No Speak Alexander finished third, with 125-1 chance Belle Image a close-up fourth.
O’Brien said: “We thought she was lovely – she’s a sister to Minding.
“We thought she was lovely when she won the first day and then she went to Leopardstown and they went too fast over seven furlongs.
“We ran her over nine furlongs in Gowran Park and had a lovely run, but we just felt the trip maybe caught her out.
“She’s quick and Seamus gave her a lovely ride. She’s a classy filly.
“It’s a long time since Seamus rode his first Group One winner for us. He’s a great fella who works with us day in day out.
“Joan Of Arc ran a lovely race. We were going to step her up to a mile and a quarter after today. She might go to the French Oaks.
“The winner might go for the Coronation, but we’ll speak to the lads and see what they want to do.
“She has the option of the French Oaks or coming back here for the Pretty Polly, but she’s not slow and I’d say a mile maybe suits her better than a mile and a quarter.”
Heffernan said: “I thought I had got there. I had a willing partner.
“I should have won well, I got (knocked) sideways two (furlongs) down and it knocked her off balance. I was a lucky winner, but I should have won well.
“I’m delighted to be on this one. It’s my fifth Guineas, I’m as hungry as ever. I won on her in Naas on similar conditions and she’s very well bred – I’m delighted to be on a winner.”
She’ll probably go to Ascot. It’s a long year
Of Pretty Gorgeous, who had not been seen since her victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October, Joseph O’Brien said: “I thought she ran very well.
“It’s a tough mile up there in that ground without a prep run and she was only beaten three lengths. We’re looking forward to the rest of the year with her.
“She’ll probably go to Ascot. It’s a long year.”