Comer Group International Irish St Leger
|Grade 1, Curragh 16:40
1m 6f, Class 1
1 Sonnyboyliston 4/1
2 Twilight Payment 9/2
3 Baron Samedi 6/1
13 ran NR: Barrington Court Distances: ¾l, 1½l, 2¾l
Time: 3m 2.05s (slow by 0.05s)
The Ebor winner Sonnyboyliston claims the Group 1 @comerhomesgroup International Irish St. Leger!— The Curragh Racecourse (@curraghrace) September 12, 2021
A superb top staying race double landed by @JohnnyMurtagh and @BenCoen2 #LICW21 pic.twitter.com/aNOBQ6gsPY
Just over three weeks on from his Ebor success at York, Johnny Murtagh’s Sonnyboyliston stepped up to Group One level for the first time under Ben Coen.
With Amhran Na Bhfiann and Colin Keane setting a searching gallop from flag-fall, very few threatened to land a telling blow.
Twilight Payment did not give in without a fight, but Coen’s mount kept finding for pressure and was three-quarters of a length to the good passing the post.
Coen said: “I couldn’t have asked it to go any better. We jumped and he got a lovely tow into the race. They turned it into a real staying race and this lad keeps improving and keeps finding a way to win.
“Every day we step him up, he keeps on finding and it’s a day I’ll never forget.
“This is my first proper year as number one jockey to Johnny and we’ve had a few good spins in England, but I really wanted to get this Group One winner.
“For it to be a Classic and for Johnny is unbelievable.”
Murtagh, who won the Irish St Leger as a jockey when dead-heating aboard Jukebox Jury a decade ago, said: “On Friday I was bullish about the weekend and then after yesterday’s runners, I came here thinking we had a little chance.
“He was one of our best runners of the week, he never disappoints and I thought he did very well to win today – it looked like a proper race.
“I was a nervous wreck beforehand, but he had a good position all the way. He comes off the bridle, but I thought from two furlongs down Ben looked confident on him. He got into a bit of a battle, but he never lacks in a battle and I thought Ben was brilliant.
“I want to have runners on Irish Champions Weekend – it’s great to sit down and make entries in these great races.
“This horse has won an Ebor and has now won an Irish St Leger – I can’t say enough about him.”
He added: “Racing is a great game and a great leveller. You can never get too high or too low.
“I’m just the front man to a lot of people who do a lot of hard work. JP Murtagh Racing – I’m so proud of everybody.
“It means a lot to win a Classic at your local track.”
Asked whether the Melbourne Cup could be on the agenda, Murtagh said: “I don’t know. I think it will take a fair offer to take him away from the owners now.
“But it is £2.5million. Maybe not this year as he’s only four, but maybe he could end up down there for us sometime.”
Comer Group International Irish St. Leger
€500,000 added, 3yo plus, 1m 6f
POS. (DRAW) DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1 (12) Sonnyboyliston 4 9-11 J P Murtagh Ben Coen 4/1
2 (13) ¾ Twilight Payment 8 9-11 Joseph O'Brien Declan McDonogh 9/2
3 (14) 1½ Baron Samedi 4 9-11 Joseph O'Brien Dylan Browne McMonagle 6/1
4 (9) 2¾ King Of The Castle 3 9-2 A P O'Brien Seamie Heffernan 12/1
5 (8) 1¾ Emperor Of The Sun 4 9-11 Donnacha O'Brien Gavin Ryan 10/1
6 (1) ½ Search For A Song 5 9-8 D K Weld Oisin Orr 100/30F
7 (10) 9 Carlisle Bay 3 9-2 A P O'Brien Wayne Lordan 80/1
8 (4) 1½ Aircraft Carrier 6 9-11 Luke Comer Gary Carroll 250/1
9 (5) nk Seattle Creek 3 9-2 Luke Comer Chris Hayes 200/1
10 (6) ¾ Barbados 5 9-11 Mrs John Harrington Shane Foley 33/1
11 (2) 2¼ Amhran Na Bhfiann 4 9-11 A P O'Brien Colin Keane 18/1
12 (11) 3¼ Passion 4 9-8 A P O'Brien Ryan Moore 12/1
13 (3) ½ Master Of Reality 6 9-11 Joseph O'Brien Shane Crosse 16/1
NR 9 (7) Barrington Court 7 9-8 Mrs John Harrington NON RUNNER