O'Brien's Fairyland fights back to nose out The Mackem Bullet in a thriller
Fairyland and The Mackem Bullet fought out a pulsating finish to the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday with the former grasping victory by a flared nostril.
The state of his horses’ noses has been something Fairyland’s trainer Aidan O'Brien has been worrying about for much of the season, his yard being affected by a respiratory virus that has tamed his normally unstoppable Ballydoyle beasts.
Fairyland was among those prevented from running due to the ailment with her previous outing coming 62 days previously when she was third in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Despite the absence, Fairyland, backed into 6-4 favourite, was bounced out into the lead by Ryan Moore and had her rivals under pressure as they approached the final couple of furlongs.
But then, this being her first run for a while, Fairyland needed to refill her lungs as the exertions of racing began to catch up with her. This opened the door for a shock, and 25-1 shot The Mackem Bullet so nearly grasped the opportunity.
Thundering down the centre of the track under apprentice Ben Robinson, who was unable to claim his 3lb, The Mackem Bullet caught up with her rival and went in front, only for the favourite to respond with guts and determination to force a photo and claim the prize.
Bookmaker quotes ranged from 18-1 to 25-1 for Fairyland to win the Qipco 1,000 Guineas afterwards, but O’Brien was just pleased to be back in the winner’s enclosure.
“We’re delighted with her,” he said. “Ryan said she took a blow at the two-furlong marker which would be fair. It’s been a long time since she ran and they’ve been a little bit under the weather for a while. The Cheveley Park looks the race for her.”
The Mackem Bullet was beaten just 0.01sec but trainer Brian Ellison was far from downcast and said: "She's run a blinder. I was a bit worried because we had her sold to America after Ascot.
“She passed the vet so I stopped training her for a week as I didn't want anything to go wrong. Then they said they didn't want her and because we'd paid all the money we said we'd go for the Lowther. She's a good filly.”
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