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Port Fairy rallies bravely to shade Ribblesdale victory

Port Fairy rallies bravely to shade Ribblesdale victory
Port Fairy rallies bravely to shade Ribblesdale victory

Port Fairy knuckled down admirably to provide Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Previously successful with Bracelet (2014), Even Song (2016), Magic Wand (2018) and Warm Heart (2023), the Ballydoyle handler was double-handed in this year’s renewal, with Ryan Moore siding with Port Fairy (12-1) over her stablemate Rubies Are Red.

A winner at Dundalk before being touched off by Forest Fairy in the Cheshire Oaks, Port Fairy was fitted with a visor for her latest assignment and tracked the pacesetting Oaks fourth You Got To Me for much of the mile and a half journey before moving towards the front passing the two-furlong marker.

The daughter of Australia was soon joined by and briefly passed by the strong-travelling Lava Stream, but Port Fairy battled back to claim Group Two honours by a neck under a power-packed Ryan Moore drive, with 9-4 favourite Kalpana beating You Got To Me to third.

With this victory Moore passed Frankie Dettori’s total of 81 winners to be come the most successful currently active jockey at the meeting.

O’Brien said: “In Chester she was a bit green and a baby. We just thought Epsom was going to come too quick for her (after she finished second in the Cheshire Oaks) so we gave her a bit of time.

“Ryan said maybe try a visor on her at home, when she was coming here, so we put a visor on her the last day, and her work really stepped up.

“She looks like she’d be a lovely Irish Oaks filly now, and she gets it well, she stays well. And Ryan was brilliant on her – he didn’t panic even when the second went by her. It was class.”

Ryan Moore eclipsed Frankie Dettori's record as the most successful active Royal Ascot jockey
Ryan Moore eclipsed Frankie Dettori’s record as the most successful active Royal Ascot jockey (David Davies/PA)

He went on: “Ryan knew the horse that made the running in Lingfield (You Got To Me) could be dangerous and he was keeping his eye on her, he was class.

“Anna (O’Brien’s daughter) bred the horse and done everything with her. She stays well, she is tough. If a filly gets a mile and a half, it’s a long way and she is brave isn’t she? She’s tough and hardy. ”

Regarding Moore’s achievement in passing Dettori, O’Brien added: “It’s incredible for Ryan to have achieved what he has, and at his age (40) – he must be 10 years younger than Frankie, isn’t he?”

David O’Meara was proud of Lava Stream’s performance and said: “I’m delighted with that. Danny (Tudhope) said she idled a touch in front and that she might have preferred to have had the winner in her sights rather than hitting the front so soon.

Port Fairy was headed by Lava Stream before battling back
Port Fairy was headed by Lava Stream before battling back (David Davies/PA)

“We were surprised by how well she travelled, she got a perfect trip round and it was a great ride. You can’t be disappointed with that.

“I wasn’t sure about the mile and a half, so there was an option of dropping back for the Nassau but it looks now like a mile and half will be perfect for her. She’s run on all sorts of ground and she seemed very happy on that today.

“We always hoped she was capable of winning a black-type race, but she’s exceeding our expectations.”

Oisin Murphy said of the third home, Kalpana: “Kalpana ran another career-best. She got the mile and a half well. It was a good, even tempo, it was a proper stamina test.”

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