St Mark's Basilica (left) strides to victory. PA
total eclipse

Ryan Moore impresses on St Mark's Basilica to win the Coral Eclipse

French Guineas and Derby hero too good for Addeybb and Mishriff.

GIVEN THE GREATS of the Turf Aidan O’Brien has trained in his illustrious career to date, it is probably worth listening when he talks of St Mark’s Basilica in such glowing terms.

One of two three-year-olds in a field of four for the Coral-Eclipse, he arrived with a serious claim for already being the best colt of his generation – possibly in an argument with Jim Bolger’s crack miler Poetic Flare.

However, St Mark’s Basilica had beaten Bolger’s teak-tough colt in the French Guineas and subsequently added the French Derby to the Dewhurst which he won last season, so the only Siyouni colt in O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable came with a smart CV.

He faced by far his toughest test to date, though, with William Haggas’ Champion Stakes winner Addeybb, a multiple Group One winner in Australia, and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff, last year’s French Derby winner who had also won on dirt in Saudi Arabia and the Sheema Classic in Dubai, in opposition.

It was not the fact that St Mark’s Basilica won – in receipt of 10lb many thought he would and he was sent off the even-money favourite. It was more the ease with which he did it, by three and a half lengths and displaying an electric turn of foot that had O’Brien reaching for the superlatives.

“We came here today taking on two proper older horses, they weren’t middle of the road horses, so it was pressure time as he would have been exposed if he wasn’t very good,” said O’Brien.

“They didn’t go very fast and he gave the two older horses first run, but he quickened up and put it to bed very quickly. He’s just a lovely horse, lovely nature, does everything right and is a true professional. I’m over the moon.”

Ryan Moore had not been on board since his defeat in the National Stakes last year, but had taken advice from his Dewhurst pilot Frankie Dettori and Ioritz Mendizabal, who rode him in France.

“Ryan was confident on him, but that is how Ioritz and Frankie rode him. Ryan spoke to them both and you can ride them like that when they have that change of pace,” said O’Brien.

“It’s what marks out the good horses and the ones who are better than good when they can turn it on like that.

“He’s very relaxed, he’s chilled, he floats along and is very professional. Ryan said today he was quick out but he was relaxed – even though there was no pace he settled.

“With everything about him, he’s always a horse you are confident with going into races. I was thinking about it the other day, it’s a different feeling with that type of horse, you are happy. He relaxes, he quickens, he’s genuine – it’s just a different feeling.

“I wasn’t nervous today, but the only nerves I had was that he had a lot to lose today because if he got beat it would neutralise all the work he had done up to now. He’d won two French Classics and a Dewhurst, so he had a lot to lose.

“We had to step him up somehow and this was the first chance. You can sometimes take on the older horses in this and they wouldn’t be as strong as those two were today – and in slowish ground.”

Press Association
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