Tough task as Lord Glitters returns to scene of Royal Ascot glory

THE pride is palpable when softly-spoken David O’Meara is asked about what the champion miler Lord Glitters means to him and his training career.

The former Royal Ascot champion Lord Glitters is ridden in a paddock at David O'Meara's Upper Helmsley stables.
The former Royal Ascot champion Lord Glitters is ridden in a paddock at David O'Meara's Upper Helmsley stables.

“Where do I start?” the Upper Helmsley trainer tells The Yorkshire Post. “He is a horse of a lifetime. He’s been brilliant for us.”

They are words that have even more meaning and poignancy because O’Meara, a one-time jump jockey has always preferred to be judged by results, rather than hyperbole, since switching to the training ranks over a decade ago.

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Ambitious, he is also appreciative now hard it is to win the elite races like the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot when Lord Glitters – instantly recognisable as a grey – prevailed in the prestigious Group One contest.

The grey Lord Glitters wins the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Fancied that day when prevailing for the now late Geoff Turnbull and his wife Sandra, the odds are stacked against O’Meara’s stable star in next Tuesday’s renewal because of the favourite Palace Pier’s superlative form.

But Lord Glitters did win a second Group One, the Jebel Hatta, in Meydan in the winter and, whatever the outcome at Royal Ascot, the eight-year-old, famous for his late bursts of speed, owes nothing to connections.

“For us to win the Queen Anne for Geoff was brilliant,” reflected O’Meara this week. “He wanted a horse to win at Royal Ascot. To win a Group One was a dream come true.”

It also vindicated the trainer’s judgement when the horse became available for purchase at the Deauville Sales in 2017 on the back of some eye-catching form.

Connections celebrate the Royal Ascot win of Lord Glitters - trainer David O'Meara is second right.

Though the final 270,000 euros price was beyond their original budget, O’Meara had every confidence in the horse’s pedigree and physique.

“He could have had a very different career – the under-bidder was Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins (Ireland’s champion jumps trainer),” said O’Meara.

“At the sales, he had only taken three steps out of his box when I knew I had to buy him. He was the best individual I had seen at the time.

“How he walked, his shape, his demeanour. He was everything we were after. He walked out of a box like a cheetah – I hadn’t seen anything like him.”

Jockey Danny Tudhope is all smiles after the Queen Anne Stakes success of Lord Glitters in 2019.

The record speaks for itself – 37 runs, nine wins and more than £1.8m of prize money for the Turnbull family who are great supporters of racing through their Elwick Stud.

It was also fortuitous that Ascot’s straight course brought out the best in Lord Glitters while the now retired Mondialiste, who also ran with distinction for O’Meara and Turnbull, excelled on round tracks – two Group One wins in North America proving testament in this.

“We went there with a lot of confidence,” said O’Meara as he described the 2019 Queen Anne and how Lord Glitters surged to victory with a late run.

It will not be the same next week – Lord Glitters was well-beaten by Palace Pier in last month’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury under a nonchalant Frankie Dettori.

“It will be hard with Palace Pier in the race but hopefully we’ll get a bit of prize money,” said O’Meara before reflecting on how Lord Glitters and Mondialiste have helped take his yard to new levels.

Before, the focus was on numerical winners.

Now, O’Meara and his 35-strong team have the quality of horses, and big-race reputation, to do justice to their talents and hard work.

“Geoff was probably the first person to give me a budget to buy good horses,” said the trainer. “You can often go to the sales and not get the horse you want. We were lucky. You can also go to the sales, spend even more money, and have a horse that doesn’t live up to its potential.

“Lord Glitters has also suited Danny’s (Tudhope) style of riding – they have been made for each other. The horse will be very hard to replace when the day comes.”

Tudhope has spoken of his pride after riding the Queen’s Wink of the Eye to victory at Haydock.

“You always feel honoured to ride for Her Majesty and to win for her on what would have been the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday is especially poignant,” he said. “The Queen is a fantastic supporter of horse-racing and to wear the royal silks is always very special.”