Master Of Reality produced a fine front-running display to cause a major upset in the Sequence Events Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan.
A field of nine runners went to post for a Group Three contest which is this year the sole Irish qualifier for the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million – with a £1million bonus up for grabs for any horse who can win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup at York – as Stradivarius did in 2018.
The 5-4 favourite was Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Derby and St Leger hero of two years ago in Capri, but he was under pressure a long way from home and was ultimately disappointing.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Master Of Reality was a 33-1 shot in the hands of Wayne Lordan and led for much of the one-mile-six-furlong journey.
He looked booked for minor honours when tackled and briefly passed by Mustajeer, but roared back gamely to prevail by a neck.
Capri’s stablemate, Southern France, was third.
“He had good form in France and I thought he would need the run. Wayne (Lordan) kept it nice and simple on him because he is an uncomplicated horse,” said the winning trainer.
“He stays and goes well and is a well-bred horse. He had two ordinary runs for me last year, but it is hard swapping mid-season from France to here.
“We gave him time and I’m delighted for Lloyd and Nick (Williams, owner). They sent him to me with a big reputation and it didn’t work out last year and they gave us another chance with him.”
Considering future targets, the trainer added: “We’ll have to train him for a Gold Cup now. He stays and he is going to come on a bit for the run, I’d say. We’ll see what happens.
“He had been working well, but to be honest, I didn’t think he was fit enough for his first run – I thought he would come on a bit from it.
“It is probably testament to his attitude to tough it out.”
Aidan O’Brien was was not too disappointed with the performance of Capri, saying: “I’m happy with him, he got a little bit tired.
“Ryan (Moore) thought coming to the two (furlong pole) he was going to win, he just tired out of it a little bit. I would be happy enough with that.
“Yeats got beaten in this race. Their main target is high summer and we needed to get the two of them (Capri and Southern France) started.
“Donnacha’s horse (Southern France) jumped and was a bit fresh with him.
“Both of them will go to the Saval Beg (at Leopardstown). Both of them were big and will improve plenty.”