O’Brien Junior Edges Out Dad

Gr1 Coronation Stakes win for Porta Fortuna

Donnacha O’Brien got one over his father Aidan as Porta Fortuna overhauled Opera Singer in the Gr1 Coronation Stakes.

Porta Fortuna (7/2), who was following up victory in last year’s Gr3 Albany Stakes, was asked to make her move by jockey Tom Marquand at the two-furlong pole, but it took another furlong to get her head in front of the eventual runner-up.

There was a length between the pair at the line, with the 15/8 favourite Ramatuelle from Christopher Head’s stable a further length and a half behind.

Porta Fortuna wins the Coronation Stakes (Pic- Megan Coggin)

Four of the runners contested last month’s Gr1 QIPCO 1,000 Guineas – Porta Fortuna finished second in the Classic and confirmed form with third-placed Ramatuelle, while the winner Emalka had to settle for fourth today.

Donnacha O’Brien said: “Porta Fortuna is so uncomplicated. Tom gave her a lovely ride, I was happy the whole way and everything went to plan. It’s not too often you can say that so I’m delighted.

“All along, she hasn’t got the credit she deserves. She has never missed a beat. She had two runs before Royal Ascot last year and has literally never missed a race since. She’s incredibly sound, incredibly tough. It is a testament to all the team at home.

“Newmarket is tough, there are a few ridges, they go a hard gallop and there are no hiding places. I think a mile is probably her maximum because she’s got so much speed. On a turning track like this, Tom was able to sit on her and use that turn of foot that she has.

“Races like the Falmouth might be in the plan; the owners are an American group so I’d say an end-of-year plan would be the Breeders’ Cup.”

Marquand said: “Porta Fortuna made it extremely easy. She is such a cool customer. She had that near miss in the Guineas and didn’t really show much of a turn of foot that day, she looked like a grinder, but on this flatter surface, with something to aim at, she was electric from the two.

“These rides are hard enough to come by, let alone to keep them, and I’m very fortunate to be on board her today. Donnacha and the team’s family are woven into racing history but they are a young team, in reality, so to be on one for them is fantastic.

“I think she is a bit underrated; it’s an amazing training performance from Donnacha to bring a filly to back-to-back Royal Ascots and get her head in front both times so spectacularly. She’s a remarkable filly and her brain is so good and she is so tactical, and has the ability to improve in what she does as well.

On His Majesty The King presenting the trophy, Marquand added: “It’s so special. I have great memories if Royal Ascot last year. We all come to Royal Ascot primarily because of the Royal Family’s presence. It came up on my Facebook memories – Hollie and I were here 11 years ago before I’d even ridden in a race, with my family, and we both looked a bit fresher and baby-faced, but this was the dream. It doesn’t get much better.”

Phillip Shelton of co-owner Medallion Racing said: “It’s just unbelievable. All the credit goes to Donnacha and his team. Porta Fortuna ran a ton as a two-year-old, showed up every time, and ran huge in the Guineas.

“She loves it here, we love it here – it is an unbelievable experience. I think she’s such a kind filly, she’ll just relax and you can do whatever you want, and when it comes time she just lays it down on the line for you, and that’s all you can ever ask. She is the best we’ve got. I wish I had a barnful of horses like her, but they’re hard to come by.”

Oisin Murphy said of Ramatuelle: “She relaxed brilliantly. She was asleep in behind them. We had planned to follow Maxime [Guyon on Rouhiya]. The pace wasn’t that hot, but we didn’t go very steady either. Round the turn, I thought that she would come alive and she did – she gave me a kick. But the last half-furlong, she had no more. A stiff mile here was a proper test [for her].”

Aidan O’Brien said of Opera Singer: “I am so delighted for Donnacha. He has done an incredible job with the filly. We are delighted with Opera Singer – she ran a great race. Ryan [Moore] was over the moon with her.”

Asked whether Opera Singer would prefer a little more juice in the ground, he said: “She wouldn’t mind. She would be very happy to go up in trip as well. She’ll love going a mile and a quarter. I remember when Ryan got off her in Longchamp last year, he said, ‘this is your Arc filly for this year’. When she moves up in trip, she’s going to be really lovely.”

  • Coronation Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)

1 Porta Fortuna (Medallion/S Weston/B Fowler/Reeves) Donnacha O’Brien IRE 3-9-02 Tom Marquand 7/2

2 Opera Singer (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Westerberg) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-02 Ryan Moore 10/3

3 Ramatuelle (Infinity 9 Horses/C Knok) Christopher Head 3-9-02 Oisin Murphy 15/8F

9 ran

 Donnacha O’Brien – 2nd Royal Ascot winner

Tom Marquand – 6th Royal Ascot winner

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