St Nicholas Abbey took the lead two furlongs from the wire and stormed home an easy winner in the $465,000 Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup (Eng-I) at Epsom June 2.
Ridden confidently by Joseph O’Brien, the 5-year-old horse by Montjeu was sent off the heavy favorite in the six-horse race, in which he was seeking consecutive wins. Also lining up in the field was Masked Marvel, winner of the 2011 Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I) and Red Cadeaux, runner-up in the Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) last season.
Outsider Robin Hood, stablemate of St Nicholas Abbey, went to the front to set the pace. He was tracked by Masked Marvel, as O’Brien settled St Nicholas Abbey toward the rear of the field early on.
Robin Hood continued to lead the way throughout the early stages of the race, opening up a four-to-five-length lead on the rest of the field. As the field rounded the final bend, O’Brien edged St Nicholas Abbey a bit closer to the leaders as Robin Hood began to fade.
As they entered the home straight, St Nicholas Abbey shot past the leaders and took command, drawing off to win easily by 4 1/2 lengths under a hand ride by O’Brien, who had dropped his whip with a furlong left to run.
Red Cadeaux made a late move to take second, with Masked Marvel holding on for third, another 3 1/4 lengths farther back. Final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:34.52 over a good turf course.
Winning rider O’Brien said after the race: “When he goes to sleep early in his races, he’s a very special horse. He has always shown a lot of ability and he’s really coming back to his old form.”
Aidan O’Brien was understandably happy, telling reporters, “We’re delighted; he settled lovely and got into a great rhythm and Joseph didn’t break it when he started to come, so it was great.”
The trainer added, “He has the option of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot and he has the option of the King George, then obviously there is the Arc at the end of the year. He’s a very exciting horse.”
St Nicholas Abbey is owned by the partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier. He was bred in Ireland by Barton Bloodstock and Villiers Syndicate, and is out of the Sure Blade mare Leaping Water. Leaping Water is a half-sister to champion Ballingarry, in addition to group I winners Aristotle and Starborough.