Footstepsinthesand Makes His Classic Mark
Kieren Fallon made an immediate impact in his new job as stable jockey to John Magnier’s Ballydoyle empire when winning the UltimatePoker.com 2000 Guineas for Aidan O’Brien on 13/2 chance Footstepsinthesand.
With 11-8 favourite Dubawi all at sea on the fast ground and fading up the hill to finish fifth, Fallon bounded away on Footstepsinthesand, who stretched a length and a quarter clear of two 100-1 shots in Rebel Rebel and Kandidate.
Fallon, surrounded by his family around the victor’s rostrum, confessed that it was not an easy choice between the O’Brien-trained pair, preferring Footstepsinthesand over Oratorio, who was a creditable fourth under Johnny Murtagh.
Admitting that with Oratorio working better of late it became a last-minute decision, Fallon said: “Oratorio is lazy and just eats and sleeps, whereas Footstepsinthesand is a big, athletic colt who loves his work and is always so enthusiastic, but I have always loved him and if he can improve on what he has achieved today we have a serious horse.
“This is not an easy track to ride and you need to time your challenge just right, and I thought I might have made my move too early, but he has proved beyond doubt that he was the best horse in the race.”
Fallon conceded that it had been a difficult decision leaving Sir Michael Stoute to ride for Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, the power behind the throne at Ballydoyle.
He added: “I have had some great jobs, and it is important to get a good start. I did just that when winning the 1000 Guineas for Henry Cecil on Sleepytime, and now we have done it again.
“This is a magical day. There are some fabulous horses at Ballydoyle, and my job is to get the best out of the ammunition. This is just the start, and let us hope that we can build on this and enjoy a terrific season.”
Footstepsinthesand is a short as 7-2 favourite with Cashmans for the Derby, though Corals offer 5-1, and O’Brien stressed that “all options will be considered.”
He said: “The team back home have done a magnificent job with Footstepsinthesand. He is a big colt who had just the two runs last back-end, but we have all worked really hard during the winter getting him ready.
“Kieren has always had tremendous faith in this horse and, from the moment he joined us, he was the only one that he wanted to ride out in the mornings.
“We always felt that Footstepsinthesand was a fast ground horse, but we have been working on a bog in Tipperary and you never know how they will react when they suddenly come up against contrasting ground conditions.
“The one thing about Giant’s Causeway’s progeny is that they have all inherited his determination to win. This fellow is a superb mover, but he also has natural speed, and we will have to sit down with the boys and decided which route we take.”
O’Brien was also full of praise for Oratorio, who ran his customary solid race to finish fourth. “He is a very tough horse and he never lets us down. We would definitely consider the Irish 2000 Guineas for him.”
Rebel Rebel was unable to deal with the might of Ballydoyle but he defied his starting price of 100/1 to finish the one and a quarter length runner-up to Footstepsinthesand.
Simon Callaghan, assistant and son of trainer Neville Callaghan, said: “That was a great run - fantastic - and you can’t argue with that, he has run a great race.
“I can’t explain his last run [when fourth in the Feilden Stakes] - that was well below par after his win in the Easter Stakes but since then we thought that he had progressed well.
“He scoped clean after the Feilden and nothing came to light. This was his true form. He’s by Revoque who was a miler but his mother was a mile and a quarter horse.
“He’s proved himself in a true run mile and I should think
a mile and a quarter will be in his compass.
Clive Brittain, trainer of third-placed Kandidate, a further three-quarters of a length away, commented: “I wanted them to stop the clock two furlongs out when I’d got a one-two-three and it was the stuff of dreams [he also saddled Tony James to finish 8th and Party Boss to finish 12th].
“We were going to run Kandidate in the Dante but then they started to write up everything else bar our fellow who ran in the Craven.
“We thought how can he not have a chance.
“He probably won’t go to York now and it will be straight to the Derby. All mine have run well and Party Boss ran a blinder - he is a nice horse.”
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