23 August 2023

O’Brien points to tough campaign after Paddington eclipse

23 August 2023

Aidan O’Brien blamed himself for pulling “the elastic band too long” with Paddington after his star colt’s remarkable winning run came to an end in the Juddmonte International at York.

The son of Siyouni has arguably been the star of the season so far, winning each of his previous six races including Group One triumphs in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace, the Coral-Eclipse and the Sussex Stakes.

As was the case at Goodwood three weeks ago, Paddington Bear was in attendance on the Knavesmire as his namesake aimed for a fifth top-level success in the space of three months.

Ridden by Ryan Moore, the 4-6 favourite did his best to keep tabs on the front-running Mostahdaf and Frankie Dettori.

But try as he might, he could never quite get on terms with with John and Thady Gosden’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes hero and in the end he was pipped to the runner-up spot by the winner’s stablemate Nashwa.

“He ran a great race, he had a tough race the last day and maybe it was a race too many for him,” O’Brien said afterwards.

“Maybe I just pulled the elastic band too long – that’s the reality. He had a tough race in Goodwood on soft ground. He had to fight twice in Goodwood and it just told today.

“He was just a little bit down in himself. Maybe I should have waited and gone to Leopardstown (for the Irish Champion Stakes) to give him a bit more time.

“He’s only a baby three-year-old and Ryan felt he was just a little bit flat. He was in good form and obviously we were happy to come here, but you don’t really know until the speedometer goes to red.

“Frankie went evenly strong all the way and Ryan said he didn’t travel with his usual fluency, but he still ran very well.”

Considering future plans, he added: “We’ll see how he is – everything’s a possibility.

“He definitely won’t go to the Irish Champion after that and it will depend what the lads want to do.

“He is only a baby three-year-old and we have fairly given it to him – we backed him up fairly tough and he did have a tough one the last day.

“I would have to say maybe I shouldn’t have ran him, but that’s the way it is.”

Connections of Nashwa consider her performance a career best as she came home a length behind the winner.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner-breeder Imad Al Sagar, said: “We were always confident she was going to run a big race and she really did.

“Everything went pretty smoothly in the race, she absolutely put it to them, and what a race for York and for racing and everybody.

“Nashwa has really been exceptional and I’m sure today was a career-best. If you beat Paddington, you’d have to say it is.

“I think in the back of our minds the Queen Elizabeth II is where we’d like to end up, most probably, as it’s most likely to be on soft ground. She gets a mile and a quarter well, but a mile on soft ground would probably be more her thing.

“Really and truly, you’d have to be really pleased with her today.”

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