FOR one day only, Australia ruled York after Aidan O’Brien’s dual Derby winner produced a career-best performance to win the most valuable horse race ever to be staged in Yorkshire.
This vintage victory by the equine ‘wizard of Aus’ added to the prestige of the £800,000 Juddmonte International which has been won by Sea The Stars and Frankel, two of the all-time greats.
Though Australia’s winning time of two minutes and seven seconds was a fraction slower than the marker posted by the incomparable Frankel two years ago, Australia was returning to action after a considerable lay-off and the trainer’s son Joseph, 21, sweated for days to make the 8st 12lb weight.
Kingfisher, Australia’s pacemaker, set a generous pace but initially it was not quick enough for the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram who raced too keenly for Paul Hanagan and eventually finished fourth.
The race hotted up with three furlongs to run as all six horses spread across the track. Telescope briefly hit the front for Ryan Moore, but the race was over once O’Brien hit the front with The Grey Gatsby, the winner of the French Derby, enhancing his reputation by finishing second for North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan.
“That was very, very good – he’s a brilliant horse,” the winning jockey told The Yorkshire Post afte a rehydrating glass of water.
Asked about his punishing regime to make 8st 12lb for the first time in two years, the pencil-thin jockey said: “There is no sacrifice when you’re getting your leg over Austrailia. The horse thrives on his racing and my only worry was that he hasn’t been racing since winning the Epsom and Irish Derbys. he was awesome.”
Australia is now 5-1 third favourite with William Hill for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe which is likely to be the horse’s final outing before he retires to stud, though he could line up in next month’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
York’s big day and racing news: Pages 3, 20, 21.