“Would you believe it – it is a hard race to win!” quipped Aidan O’Brien after Brave Anna gave the master trainer his first victory in the Group One Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes.
In a titanic battle, Seamus Heffernan got the better of Ryan Moore who was aboard the winner’s stablemate, Roly Poly, in the six furlong event.
The American runner Lady Aurelia was sonn into her stride and took the field along, extending her advantage and appearing to have her rivals in trouble three furlong from home.
But all of a sudden things got tougher as the Aidan O’Brien pair of Roly Poly – and to her outside Brave Anna, began to close.
The two swept past Lady Aurelia late and became embroiled in an exciting finish.
There was a short-head separating Brave Anna from Roly Poly at the line, the pair having lowered the colours of the American filly, who blazed a trail but was collared inside the final furlong.
Brave Anna had shown her qualities earlier in the year when landing the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, in which she beat Queen Kindly. However, she was off the track for a while afterwards and disappointed a little on her return at the Curragh.
O’Brien said: “She’s a good, hardy filly and we were afraid the seven furlongs was a bit too much for her the last day, but you’d say, looking at her today, she’d get the seven okay.
“She had a good break after Ascot and maybe she got a little bit tired in the Moyglare at the Curragh, but she came home very well.
“The two fillies came home very well. I don’t think any of them were wilting going to the line.
“Lady Aurelia is a very good filly and we knew she was going to make the running, so we knew we would have to lay up. That’s the reality. The lads know the fillies and they work it out, really. We knew Lady Aurelia was going to be in front.
“Until they are past that line, you never really know what is going to happen.
“The two went together and kept going together. When Ryan got joined, it helped. The two of them came together, which was lovely, rather than one being left there. So we are delighted, really.”
Lady Aurelia showed impressive natural speed for Wesley Ward and Frankie Dettori, but ultimately couldn’t quite hold out and was defeated by the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair of Brave Anna and Roly Poly.
American trainer Wesley Ward said: “There weren’t any excuses and she bounced out there with Frankie bounding out from the others but when he called on her, it was not just there.
“She’s had a tough campaign and she’s a special filly and I hope that I can get her home and come back to Ascot next year for the Commonwealth Cup.
“She showed in Ascot that five furlongs is just right but I expected her to win today and I laid her out for this.
“It happens in horseracing and I felt that we were doing good and Frankie was doing everything right in training. Saying that I wish to take nothing away from the winner.
“You could make excuses like the wind and she was a bit too keen early and I would have liked to see her a bit more relaxed and at the end of the day, I probably regret that but I hope that you see her brilliance at Ascot and that could be it for this year.”