The Lenebane Stakes, a popular mid-week listed race in Ireland which is often seen as a test for UK horses heading down under, has been won by Floyd Williams’ Pondus.
Trained by Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, Pondus showed great determination in front of his rivals, winning the 1m 4f Stakes level race at Roscommon on Tuesday.
It is the same race that O’Brien and Williams won last year with Downdraft, who went on to run in the Melbourne Cup during the Melbourne spring racing carnival.
While the pair’s charge cold only manage 22nd place in ‘the race that stops the nation’, Downdraft successfully took out the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Derby Day to round out a successful Australian trip.
Having his second start for O’Brien after beginning his career with James Fanshawe, the four-year-old gelding pulled clear in the final stages to beat the OTI Racing-owned Camphor (Camelot) by two and a quarter lengths.
The son of Sea The Moon won two races last season before going on to be placed at Listed and Group Three level.
The victory in the Lenebane Stakes comes off the back of a narrow loss in the Listed Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick three weeks ago.
👏🏻 Gutsy performance— Racing TV (@RacingTV) July 7, 2020
Placed in Group company for James Fanshawe, Pondus stays on strongly to record a first success for @JosephOBrien2 in the feature Listed Lenebane Stakes at @RoscommonRaces under @waynemlordan
Results ➡ https://t.co/sBcsavHpYf pic.twitter.com/gHuNqLlTrm
The soft ground played into the hands of Pondus, who under Wayne Lordan got the better of the field on the day.
O’Brien’s assistant, Brendan Powell, said “It was nice to get his head in front. Wayne said he coped with the ground, but wouldn’t say he was in love with it.
“They didn’t go any sort of gallop – and Wayne thinks, in a better race with a stronger gallop, he’ll be a better horse.
“At two (furlongs) out you wouldn’t have given him a lot of a chance, but he stays well and toughed it out.
“At least we know he’s tough and he’s coped with every sort of ground. On today, you would say he could get further, and he might be an Australian horse for Mr (Lloyd) Williams (owner). We’ll see what Joseph says.”