Been there, done that - Lance has last laugh

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 May, 2008, 12:00am

O'Sullivan lands back-to-back Queen Mother Cups, but finds his brother got there first

Paul O'Sullivan conquered the Queen Mother Memorial Cup for a second year with favourite Ever Bright, but had some of the wind taken from his sails minutes later by a text message from his brother in New Zealand.

Lance O'Sullivan, now a successful trainer but formerly that country's 12-times champion jockey, rode back-to-back winners of this race in 1994-95, with Fortune Duke for Geoff Lane and Cricket Lord for Lawrie Fownes.

So not only was Paul O'Sullivan not the first trainer to prepare successive Queen Mother Memorial Cups - David Oughton did that with Mazal in 1996-97 - he couldn't even claim to be the first member of his family to have won them year to year.

'None of that matters, I'm just delighted to see the horse come through the way he has,' O'Sullivan said, collecting himself. 'He won this last year and it was a struggling win with a light weight, and I didn't dare go on with him - he was really at the end of a long preparation and was getting tired, he didn't have another race in him.

'But this year, it's very different. He's carried 12 pounds more weight this time and won it with much more authority. He's still on the way up, I feel, and for that reason we'll have to have a good look at the Champions & Chater Cup with him.

'I wouldn't think he'd be bothering Viva Pataca at weight-for-age, but there aren't many options here for a horse that needs 2,400 metres, so I guess that's the way we'll have to head.'

Winning jockey Brett Prebble said the victory over Go Johnny Go (Mark du Plessis) and Growl (Eric Saint-Martin) was much better than it looked. 'I had control of the race all the way,' Prebble said. 'I let some of them go early and I made a move mid-race when I wanted to. In the end, I really only let him go for 250 metres and he's still won it easily.'

Prebble later advised O'Sullivan to think seriously about Ever Bright's future, describing the gelding as 'a real stayer'.

'In fact, I think he feels like a horse that will run 3,200 metres and there are no options at that distance here,' Prebble said.

'He's done a good job here, winning five races but realistically there is only one race a year for him - he's a handicapper and even though he ran well in the Hong Kong Vase at 2,400 metres in December, he's not quite up to those top European stayers.

'One of the big 3,200m handicaps in Australia or New Zealand would be right up his alley.'

While Prebble had a saloon passage and ultimately landed the Cup by 23/4 lengths in the excellent time of 2:26.8, at least two rival jockeys believed they should have been fighting the race out.

An incident at the 600m that saw Win Practitioner blunder badly and lose about eight lengths put paid to his chances, and jockey Brent Stanley said later: 'He was going to be right in the finish'.

In the same incident, Go Johnnie Go was badly checked, losing all momentum, but rushed home late when the race was basically over.

'I believe that without that interference, my horse would have won,' Du Plessis said.

It was the second leg of a double for Prebble, who earlier won the Class Five over 1,800 metres on Daneprint, while O'Sullivan completed a double of his own in race nine when Douglas Whyte landed his 1,000th winner on Bejeweled.