Havana Grey ensured Karl Burke celebrated a Group One double on Irish Champions Weekend when winning the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.
Hot on the heels of the shock success of Laurens in the Matron Stakes barely 24 hours earlier, Havana Grey’s win was far more easy to find for punters, after running so well in the Nunthorpe last time out.
Ridden by Richard Kingscote with regular rider PJ McDonald on the sidelines injured, the 15-8 favourite was always in the front rank and travelling well.
Whereas habitual front-runner Take Cover was having to work hard to hold his position, Kingscote was able to sit motionless before making his bid for glory.
Hit The Bid looked the big threat with a furlong to run, but as he began to tire it was Son Of Rest who flew from the rear to take second, with Sioux Nation back in third.
Burke said: “It’s what dreams are made of. If someone said at the start of the year that you’ll have two Group One winners on a weekend, you’d think they were dreaming.
“As far as this horse is concerned, he deserved it, as he’s been so consistent. He’s turned up to every gig and he’s only three as well, he’s only a baby.
“There is plenty of interest in him to go to stud, so we’ll have to sit down with the owners and see what we do, whether he stays in training next year or whether he’s sold now.”
He went on: “My career has been a bit of roller coaster and more roller than coaster most of the time. The last five or six years have been fantastic since I came back after the year off with the ban.
“Libertarian to start with, second in the Derby and winning the Dante. Every year we’ve managed to hit lucky with some nice horses at the sales.
“This is a fantastic weekend and we’ve been looked after brilliantly. All credit to the Champions Weekend team, as they couldn’t have done any more for us.
“I was very surprised the way this race broke up, I can’t say I was unhappy about it, but I was surprised.
“He’s in the Abbaye. That was a ‘win and you’re in’ for the Breeders’ Cup and I’d say that will be top of the agenda. I don’t think I’d run him in the Abbaye if it came up very soft.”
Kingscote said: “That was pretty straightforward, he knows his job well, pinged the lids and it was a great spare ride to get.
“I’ve had a couple of nice rides for Karl in the past, it’s unfortunate for PJ, and for Ben Curtis who was originally set to replace PJ but got injured himself, but Karl is one of my boss’ best mates so that might have helped me.
“He’s solid, he’s travelled, he knows what he’s doing and gave me a lovely ride today.”