Dylan Thomas prevailed under an inspired ride by Kieren Fallon to defeat the Ouija Board by a neck in the Baileys Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The race had been billed as a rematch between Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun, after their brilliant battle in the Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) at Goodwood in August. However, it was the Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) winner who spoiled the party.
Dylan Thomas was looking to make amends for his poor showing in the Juddmonte International Stakes (Eng-I) two weeks ago, when he finished a dull fourth to Notnowcato. Despite that poor showing, the son of Danehill was sent off as the 13-8 favorite.
As expected, the early pace was dictated by Coolmore entry mate Ace, under Mick Kinane. Fallon had Dylan Thomas just off the lead in second, with Ouija Board settled in third. Rounding the final bend, Fallon let out a notch on the reins, and the pair passed their stablemate and set sail for home. They were soon joined by Ouija Board under jockey Jamie Spencer, and the champion mare took over the lead with relative ease.
Kieren Fallon is never to be underestimated, however, and he impelled Dylan Thomas to regain the lead from Ouija Board in the dying strides to win by a neck. Alexander Goldrun finished 2½ lengths back in third.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien was understandably delighted with the result. O'Brien told reporters after the race, "What can I say? He is a horse with a big heart and a lot of class."
When asked about future plans for the colt, he replied, "It is quite possible he will go to Churchill Downs and that he might run in the Classic. It looks as if Hurricane Run will be going for the Arc, so he'd be unlikely to go there."
In furthering his case with regards to running the Irish Derby winner in the Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I), O'Brien stated, "They have to grind in the Classic, and this fellow will grind. Giant's Causeway was the same, and he ran a big race in the Classic. They say what you need for the dirt is a horse with speed and stamina who handles fast ground well, and Dylan Thomas has all those qualities."
Ouija Board has had the Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) as her main target all season. Her connections will see how she comes out of this race before finalizing plans.
Lord Derby told reporters, "She has run a brave race and it was no disgrace being beaten by an Irish Derby winner to whom she was giving four pounds. She is truly a loyal horse and always tries her best."