Order Of St George cruises to Curragh victory
Order Of St George ran out a comfortable winner of the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Trial Stakes for the second year running at the Curragh.
Aidan O'Brien's four-year-old took the Group Three contest 12 months ago before landing the Irish St Leger itself and was sent off at odds of 2-11 to repeat the dose following his impressive Gold Cup triumph at Royal Ascot.
Settled in the rear as Arya Tara blazed a trail, the favourite cruised into contention under Donnacha O'Brien early in the home straight and was pushed out for a length-and-a-half verdict over Twilight Payment (6-1), who emerged with plenty of credit.
O'Brien indicated it would be a similar plan to last year as regards the immediate target for the winner.
The winning trainer said: "I'm delighted with that – it was lovely. He was just ready to start back so I was a bit worried but he settled lovely and you'd have to be delighted.
"He'll come back here (Irish Leger) first and we'll take it a step at a time with him."
Hit The Bid left the form of his opening two efforts well behind to spring a 50-1 surprise in the Jimmy O'Neill Irish Racing Excellence Curragh Stakes.
Soundly beaten on both previous starts, the Darren Bunyan-trained outsider was always up with the pace in the Group Three sprint and worked his way into the lead a furlong out.
Leigh Roche was able to grab the rail and in the process box in Yulong Baobei (9-4), which left Mur Hiba (10-1) as the main danger but Kevin Manning's mount could only close the gap to half a length at the line, with Yulong Baobei back in third.
Bunyan said: "We thought this lad was very good from day one. His first two runs were disappointing but we knew what was wrong, he had a slight wind issue and we corrected that after the Marble Hill.
"Everything is ahead of him and we think he'll be a hell of a horse next year. That's as soft as he wants it. For a big horse he likes to flow along on good ground."
He added: "I put him in the Mill Reef at Newbury and anybody who had a look at the entries would have a fair idea what we thought of him. I'm delighted to win our first Group race.
"We'll see how he comes out of this and the ground will be a big factor. If he comes out of it well he could go for the Round Tower or could wait for the Mill Reef."