Dylan Thomas made history by becoming the first horse to capture consecutive renewals of the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown Sept. 8. In doing so, he led home another one-two-three sweep by trainer Aidan O’Brien in a group I race.
The imposing son of Danehill was reunited with jockey Kieren Fallon for the first time since the pair teamed to capture the 2006 version. That victory came after a thrilling duel with champion mare Ouija Board.
The field for the Champion was small but very select. O’Brien trained three of the six horses entered. Besides Dylan Thomas, the Irish trainer also entered pacemaker Red Rock Canyon and group I-placed Duke of Marmalade.
Dual Guineas winner Finsceal Beo was making her first attempt at farther than a mile for trainer Jim Bolger, and Red Rocks was looking to regain the form he had shown last year, when he captured the John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT). The field was rounded out by multiple group II winner Maraahel, who was seeking his first group I win.
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue took Red Rock Canyon straight to the front after the break, and the pair took the field along at a good clip until they were passed by Duke of Marmalade and Seamus Heffernan turning for home.
Dylan Thomas was under a full head of steam under Fallon at this point, and the duo began to roll on the outside with just over a furlong left. They dueled for a few strides with Duke of Marmalade, but began pulling away as they neared the wire to win by one-and-a-half lengths.
Red Rock Canyon, who has yet to break his maiden, performed admirably to capture third, another two lengths back. Final time for the 10 furlongs was 2:02.27 over the good-to-firm turf.
Fallon was generous with his praise for Dylan Thomas, saying, “I’d have to say he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”
The victory marked the fifth group I success for the Susan Magnier-owned colt. He may now be pointed toward the Prix d l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) along with Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) winner Soldier of Fortune.