The European Breeders’ Cup Turf, from now on, that is what it shall be called.
This afternoon it was St Nicholas Abbey who carried the torch for the supreme turf continent in the world. Biding his time and covered up behind horses for the first ten furlongs, the bay son of Montjeu made a powerful and decisive move as the Breeders' Cup Turf field straightened out and stormed home past Sea Moon and Brilliant Speed to win going away by 2 ¼ lengths.
The Turf not only was reaffirmation of European dominance, but also turned out to be a family affair as St Nicholas Abbey was piloted by Joseph O’Brien, son of the trainer, Aidan O’Brien.
“It’s a dream come true. I rode him twice before and this is my first time winning on him. He relaxed lovely. We had a nice pace and he picked up where it mattered. It wasn’t a mad pace and he was comfortable and relaxed great,” said the younger O’Brien. “Obviously today it’s an easier track for him (than Longchamp). I think he was a little better going left-handed here than right-handed in the Arc (de Triomphe). The Arc was a rough race and sometimes the best horse doesn’t always win. He traveled well today and looked great and picked up great.”
Once thought of as a future super horse across the pond, it’s been a bit of an on again, off again career for the Irish runner. An undefeated two-year-old champion in 2009, St Nicholas Abbey had physical setbacks and went winless in his only go last year. This year, he showed flashes of brilliance, but was beaten in his last three starts including a fifth place finish in last month’s Arc.
None of that mattered today though, as he proved much the best against some of the best turf horses in the world, or make that some of the best turf horses from Europe, because as we all know, that is one in the same.