Luxembourg conquers Doncaster to complete perfect 10 for Aidan O’Brien

Luxembourg cemented his position at the head of the ante-post lists for next year’s Epsom Derby with a clear-cut victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster – the final domestic Group One race of 2021.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 9:58 am
Luxembourg ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The impressive victory also provided Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien with a 10th win in this mile contest for two-year-old juveniles, equalling the record of the late Sir Henry Cecil.

Among that number were a pair of Derby winners in High Chaparral and Camelot, a St Leger hero in Brian Boru and two subsequent 2000 Guineas winners in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia. Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, was the odds-on favourite to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour, having looked every inch a top-class colt in the making in two previous starts.

Sissoko, trained by O’Brien’s son Donnacha, did his best to make a race of it, while Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst third Bayside Boy finished strongly after a slightly troubled run.

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But Luxembourg left nobody in any doubt he was much the best horse in the race as he passed the post with almost two lengths in hand under Ryan Moore.

“I’m delighted with him. He’s a really smart horse, very scopey. He travelled easy,” said the winning jockey who never becomes carried away with hyperbole and hype.

“I lost my cover at halfway and I had to keep going. He took me to the front. When I asked him the question, he just waited a bit.

“I grabbed hold of the him the last 100 yards and he found a bit more. That’s three races and three wins. We’re delighted with what he’s done and he’s an exciting horse to look forward. It couldn’t have gone smoother and there’s more improvement to come.”

O’Brien raised the possibility of Luxembourg running in both the Guineas and the Derby next season.

He said: “He would have preferred a stronger gallop, but he’s a high cruiser and he got there a little bit after halfway. He was very babyish in front, but he’s a lovely horse. You’d have to be delighted.

“He’s been coming along slowly and he’s got a lot of class. Ryan was impressed with him. He has a big, open stride, but that’s what good horses have.

“Like human beings – the good athletes cover the most ground, don’t they?”

Reflecting on the season as a whole, the trainer added: “We’re very happy with the year. Someone told me that was our 18th Group One and we have won seven Classics.

“We lost loads of races, we won a few – that’s the way it is. It has to go around and everyone has to live, everyone has to get a bit of it and we’re delighted when we do get a bit of it.”

Meanwhile, connections of Royal Patronage were left cursing their luck after the high-class juvenile was struck into during the Vertem Futurity Trophy.

Mark Johnston’s colt lined up for the final Group One of the British Flat season with leading claims, judged on his defeat of subsequent Autumn Stakes winner Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.

But after making much of the running over Doncaster’s straight mile, Royal Patronage ended up passing the post a long last of eight runners – after which his injury came to light.

Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Unfortunately he was struck into and returned with a nasty gash just above his hock.

The jockey (Jason Hart) was very happy with him travelling, but he said he felt him wobble behind and he obviously eased him down immediately and pulled him up.