Luxembourg back with win in Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes

Luxemburg had to work hard to win when he returned to action in the Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh.

The colt by Aidan O’Brien won Group 1 at two and finished third at the Guineas 2000 at Newmarket in his only start of the season. A muscle problem thwarted a scheduled Derby run and saw him sidelined for most of the summer.

Confidence was high in his Group 3 comeback at the Curragh, however, as Luxembourg sent off the 2-9 favorite in the hands of Ryan Moore.

Luxemburg took on five contenders and got shoved around at the top of the straight and while it eventually made its way to the front, Insinuendo was ready to challenge it after switching to get a run. At 10m the mare seemed to be gaining the upper hand but Luxemburg really stuck his head out and was rewarded with a neck judgment for his efforts.

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Betfair and Paddy Power put the winner on 5/1 (from 4 seconds) for the Bahrain Turf Club Irish Champion Stakes.

When asked if he was relieved, O’Brien said: “Very, we didn’t think he would ever come here. We thought he had no chance to follow what happened to him. Everyone did a great job getting him over his first mishap, he was gone a long time.

“Then he came back and things didn’t go well with him. Jamie who is taking care of him did an incredible job. I didn’t think he was going to get here, our eye was on the Irish Champion Stakes and of course we knew you couldn’t go to a Champion Stakes without a run and this was the only place we could run. “

O’Brien was pleased with how the race went and how Luxemburg rose to the challenge.

He added: “The first time we didn’t want a Grueller because he was just ready to go. It was really brilliant because they weren’t going too fast and he had to accelerate and run hard for the last two (relays) which is what he wanted to do before he was going to go into a big championship race. We were overjoyed. We knew Willie’s (McCreery) filly was a good filly (Insinuendo) because we had competed against her earlier in the year. They ran hard the last two and Ryan gave him a nice ride and taught him how. He had to sprint the last two stadiums and I couldn’t be happier.

“Ryan said he climbed up, got there and just shut down. He’s used to that from his work, simply arriving and coming with horses. Obviously he wouldn’t have been scratched in any way. Much of his work would be core physical work rather than sharpening because he wasn’t ready to start sharpening just yet. We only had one race to sharpen him up and then we could bring him home and get the rest.

“I can’t tell you how delighted we would be with him. He is a horse that can run at a very high pace and deviate from it quickly. Ryan was very good to him. He had to wake him up, let him come down and do it without taking him too seriously. He was brilliant at that and he found when he had to find. When he went back to the line where he was idling.”

O’Brien said: “The plan was to go to the Champion Stakes. We’ve been here before with High Chaparral and he handled it very well. This horse still had a lot to do because he had a big setback, but we couldn’t be happier about it. I thought it would be 20 to 30 percent better than today. Hopefully he comes out well now.”

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