La Bague Au Roi not for passing as Brits bank first festival win in Flogas
One was enough. Despite almost £1 million in prize-money, there was just the sole raider from Britain for day two of the Dublin Racing Festival, but it was more than enough. When the one was La Bague Au Roi, the visitors always had a chance of getting on the board.
She had already beaten the best of Britain but to secure a 14th success from 19 starts, she would have to overcome five Irish novices rated between 144 and 150.
The defection of Delta Work simplified her task but it was no cake-walk and when the quintet queued up to take aim on the home turn, a first defeat over fences looked likely. Oh we of little faith.
The only thing that outweighs La Bague Au Roi's slick jumping is her heart and after winging the last under Richard Johnson, she stuck her neck out to repel 33-1 outsider Kaiser Black. They could have continued down the M50 motorway into County Wicklow and she still would not have been passed.
That's what makes her so special. That's why Warren Greatrex felt like puking into his porridge with nerves all morning. That's why he says she's the best mare he will ever train. That's why she received a rousing reception from the crowd upon returning to the winner's enclosure.
If you don't feel some sort of love for La Bague Au Roi then you are in the wrong game.
A visibly-relieved Greatrex said: "She's a star and she just loves her jumping. The way she jumped the last, it was do or die.
"People were probably calling me mad for coming over here for this but it's worked out. At last people are realising how good she is. We will have a party tonight. It's fabulous, she's incredible.
"I've never felt so sick as I was today. I've really struggled. I'll never train a mare as good as her and for her to go out and win her second Grade 1 is amazing."
The next question asked itself. Cheltenham, yes or no? She was cut to 8-1 (from 10) for the JLT by a number of firms, while she is the same price for the RSA with some bookmakers, although 12-1 is available.
Greatrex replied: "She has put a lot into that today so may need a bit longer to recover.
"She's proved herself in England and Ireland now. I know Richard's first thoughts were not Cheltenham. He just said she put everything into that and Aintree might be for her. That track might suit her better.
"The temptation to go to Cheltenham will be there as she looks the best novice around, but we need to do what's best for her. Aintree is her track and we'll step her back to three miles."
Either way, Cheltenham would not define her. She has already proven herself a star and we have loved every second of her this season.
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