PAUL MULRENNAN was overcome with emotion after recording the first Group One success of his career when Mecca’s Angel streaked clear of the America-trained Acapulco to win the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on day three of the Ebor festival.
After the lightly-weighed USA speedster pulled clear of the pack in a race delayed by Take Cover breaking free from the stalls, Mecca’s Angel – trained at Darlington by Michael Dods – was the only horse with the class to pick up in the rain-softened ground.
She reeled in Acapulco by storming clear to win by two lengths and is now set to line up in the Prix de l’Abbaye, Europe’s premier sprint, at Longchamp in early October.
The horse has always promised to win a big race since landing the Scarbrough Stakes at last year’s Ladbrokes St Leger meeting and the success vindicated the decision of connections to wait for suitable conditions.
“She (Acapulco) gave me a real good run for my money, but this filly is so good when she gets a tow into the race,” said Mulrennan, who lives near Boroughbridge.
“That’s my first Group One winner and to do it at York is special. It’s great for Michael, too. It’s very special to do it here, it’s our local track and we’ve told people all year how good she is.”
Emotional owner David Metcalfe was fulsome in his praise for Mulrennan’s ride, saying: “He gave her such a fantastic ride it was untrue. He didn’t panic and just came through.”
His assessment was echoed by the aforementioned Dods who said: “We’ve been lucky because David is the most patient owner and allowed us to say if the ground isn’t right we won’t run.
“Fair play to everyone involved, we walked the track and we were happy, she’d have preferred even more rain. She’s a serious horse, she’s shown what she can do – it’s been worth the wait.”
Wesley Ward was gracious in defeat after Acapulco failed to replicate her famous success earlier in the season at Royal Ascot.
He said: “She’s a lovely filly and has done everything right. To come over to Britain twice, I think it was an amazing run. I think the ground was a little soft today. It was something she’s not quite used to. We got beat, no excuses.
“I’m very proud of her. She’s got a big future in front of her. She’s got a world of speed and there are big days for her in the future.”
Meanwhile, Max Dynamite entered the reckoning for the Melbourne Cup after flooring a host of top-class stayers with consummate ease in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
Frankie Dettori’s mount, trained by Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins, who saddles Clondaw Warrior and Wicklow Brave in today’s Betfred Ebor, streaked clear of a quality field, with Malton trainer Peter Niven’s course specialist Clever Cookie never closer than fourth.
Next month’s Irish St Leger or the Doncaster Cup are possible targets for Clever Cookie.
“Two-and-a-half out I was happy, but he didn’t pick up like he normally does. I don’t know why,” said a perplexed Niven. “Take the winner away and he’s not been beaten far at all and this was as good a stayers’ race as there is. We’ve beaten the Ascot and Goodwood Cup winners, but only finished fourth.”
On a disappointing day for Yorkshire runners, the only salvation came when Richmond trainer Alan Swinbank’s top-weight Libran dead-heated with Memorial Day in a thrilling finish to the opener. This may have been Libran’s British swansong as the horse, ridden by Ben Curtis, is set to continue his career in Australia after possibly one more race.