Fancy that! Diane brings Donnacha O'Brien a first Classic as a trainer at 21
They say if you’re good enough you’re old enough and that certainly bore fruit as Fancy Blue led home a historic Irish 1-2-3 in the Prix de Diane Longines for Donnacha O'Brien, trainer of precisely three winners before landing his first Classic.
It was a desperately close finish as Pierre-Charles Boudot and Fancy Blue bore down on the leader Alpine Star, with the third member of the Irish challenge Peaceful renewing her challenge on the outside for Donnacha's father Aidan O’Brien, and the unbeaten Raabihah in close attendance.
There have been plenty of times that the Coolmore ownership partners and punters alike have had Donnacha to thank for his skill in the saddle, but he was powerless as he watched on from Fairyhouse as Boudot just edged out Stephane Pasquier and Alpine Star to record back-to-back wins in the Longines-sponsored Classic.
O'Brien said: "I didn't even think I'd get to see the race, as I had to saddle one up for the next race at Fairyhouse, but I managed to find a spot to watch it quickly. And, I'm glad I got to watch it now!
"I always knew she was a very good filly and we always thought the step up in trip would suit her. It definitely did.
O'Brien added: "Pierre-Charles is a very good rider and I told him beforehand he should do what he wants. There was no pace early so he went forward on her and sat upsides the leader. It was exactly what I would have liked him to do. She quickened up well and stuck at it.
"The home straight felt like a lifetime, I didn't really know what was going on. Thankfully at the end of it all she got her head in front. Fair play to Pierre-Charles, he gave her a peach of a ride."
A peach indeed from Boudot, who is sometimes called "Peachy" by his weighing room colleagues in reference to the French rendering of his initials, P-C.
At 27 the senior member of the winning partnership by six years, Boudot enjoyed a perfect sit on the shoulder of Alpine Star throughout.
"We didn't go that fast so I took her up to just behind the leaders and it was pretty straightforward," said Boudot. "She produced a sustained burst of acceleration and was really brave at the finish.
"There's a lot that goes into the kind of run of big wins I've enjoyed in the last year, but mostly it's a case of being lucky to get on these good horses."
O'Brien may look at a further step up in trip for Fancy Blue, who was able to reverse the finishing order with Peaceful from the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas.
"I was glad we didn't go to Epsom after what I saw yesterday," said O’Brien. "I would say Love is a fair machine. Thankfully we made the right call in sending her to France.
"We'll get her home and see how she is tomorrow. We might have a look at the Irish Oaks at the Curragh.”
Alpine Star lost little in defeat by a short neck having turned out just 15 days after her Coronation Stakes triumph.
“She's gone very close and it was a whisker either way," said trainer Jessica Harrington. "Maybe the ground was a bit too quick for her but that’s life. It’s quite a funny feeling to be disappointed after running second in a Group 1. She ran her heart out.
"It's pretty quick after Ascot and I'm delighted with her. She seems to stay and she did everything right and maybe the ground was probably a bit quick."
Delighted was also Seamie Heffernan's feeling with respect to Peaceful, who slightly lost her prominent pitch when Alpine Star surged up to take the lead from stall one, but who was doing her best work late.
Raabihah lost her unbeaten record a head further away in fourth on only her third start but it was a day for Ireland, as the front three put well and truly to rest the notion that this was a race that continued to elude.
50 years on from Seamus McGrath and Sweet Mimosa, 21 year-old Donnacha O’Brien is now the young master of Chantilly.
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