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Emotions run high as Happily leads home O'Brien 1-2-3
11 Sep 2017 | 

On a day of apocalyptic wind and rain fused with bright intervals, the fates shone favourably on Donnacha O'Brien as the late defection of Clemmie prompted a bout of Moyglare musical chairs that culminated in him beating his intended mount Magical aboard Happily in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes (1400m) at the Curragh on Sunday.

In the same race a year earlier, the 19-year-old had beaten his father Aidan's Hydrangea when combining with his brother Joseph to secure their respective first Group 1 success as jockey and trainer with Intricately.

Coming from a handy position to land his mount's nose in front on the line, the manner of victory was similarly enthralling this time. However, here he was enjoying his first top-level success for the family patriarch.

With Clemmie withdrawn when the word 'heavy' entered the going description after the second race, Ryan Moore switched to Magical. O'Brien therefore rode Happily, with Wayne Lordan in turn left to partner outsider Ballet Shoes. Seamie Heffernan remained in his chair on September.

A day earlier, with Winter short of peak fitness, Lordan had been the beneficiary of the lack of a distinct pecking order among Ballydoyle's fillies when he pipped the brilliant grey aboard Hydrangea.

He lost out on this occasion, with O'Brien jnr maintaining his 100 per cent record in the €350,000 event. For him, it all ended happily, as it had previously in the Debutante Stakes.

On that occasion, Moore had opted for Happily and Heffernan September, leaving O'Brien to partner Magical to a stylish victory. He clearly knows how to get a tune out of the female of the species. 

"We'll see if I last until next year to ride another one," he joked subsequently of his Moyglare record, the intimation being that his towering frame will bring an end to his riding career in the not too distant future.

He added: "Happily is a tough filly and there isn't a whole lot between them at home. Thankfully I was on the right one."

September kept on well from the rear to ensure the winning trainer was responsible for the first three home in a Group 1 for the 16th time. It was also his 16th Group 1 win this year.

"It's amazing the way things happen, isn't it?" agreed a slightly bemused O'Brien when discussing his son's slice of good fortune.

"You couldn't write it, could you? Donnacha gave her a great ride. He was delighted to be on Magical initially, but, in all fairness to them, they all fall into line and never question anything. When Clemmie didn't run, Ryan got on the other filly. It's strange the way it goes."

A sister to Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous, the winner was generally cut to 8-1 (from 10) for next year's Qipco 1,000 Guineas, which leaves her vying for market leadership in the Newmarket Classic with Clemmie and Magical. She was also cut for the Investec Oaks, to 10-1 (from 20).

"She toughed it out," O'Brien added of Happily. "Ryan's filly ran a stormer as well, as did Seamie's. They will all step up when they go over further."

The Prix Marcel Boussac and Fillies' Mile are races for which the Moyglare protagonists will now be considered, with Clemmie expected to take in the Cheveley Park Stud Stakes on September 30.

"I wanted to run Clemmie, but if 'heavy' came into the description we weren't going to run," O'Brien explained. "She might go for the Cheveley Park now." 

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