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Article 30th September 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Porta Fortuna (9-2) landed today’s Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, handing Donnacha O’Brien the honour of being the first person to ride and train a winner of the prestigious six-furlong Group One prize. In his earlier career as a jockey, O’Brien won the contest aboard Fairyland (2018).     

Partnered today by Oisin Murphy, the two year daughter of Caravaggio went to the front approaching the final furlong and lengthened impressively to take the honours by a length and a half from the staying-on Pearls And Rubies (33-1) with longtime leader Sacred Angel (13-2) another head away in third. 

Donnacha O’Brien said: “She is a smart filly. That is the first time she has had proper quick ground since Ascot, and she seems to be a lot better on it back to six (furlongs). She is a very good filly. I think she is fine at seven, but I think ground is important to her as she seems to be a lot better on better ground as she travels and quickens.

“She hit the line strong, and the plan is to go to the Breeders’ Cup and that is a mile. We think there is every chance she will get that as well.

“Her performance in the Albany was probably one of the best performances of any filly and then she has probably run a little bit below par on slow ground on her last two runs and that is why she was a bit bigger in the betting, but thankfully she came back to her form today.

“She is very uncomplicated and very easy to train and usually the good ones are. She is owned by an American syndicate and the plan was to go to the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year if that was how it turned out so that is what we will do.   

“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then, but I suppose we would start her off in a trial over seven and make a decision then whether we go sprinting or go for the Guineas.

“It is always hard to win Group Ones and anytime you get one it is fantastic.”

Winning rider Oisin Murphy, riding his second Cheveley Park winner after Alcohol Free (2020), told ITV Racing: “She’s a little star. She was bred by Donnacha’s parents Annemarie and Aidan. Donnacha is a young guy who is doing a terrific job as a trainer with a young team of staff.

“I was supposed to ride her in the Albany but Frankie got in my way! I’m over the moon to win on her today.

“She is very relaxed and travelled into it nicely without pulling. She was a little bit disorganised in the dip but she came home well. It’s a very important race and I’m delighted.”

Trainer Charlie Johnston said of third-placed Sacred Angel: “It was a very good run. I thought coming into it if she finished in the first three we would be very happy.

“The only two that achieved more than us on the form book were Relief Rally and Porta Fortuna, and one of those wasn’t here. To finish a very close third behind the Albany winner stacks up as very good two-year-old form. She was a little bit keen.

“She breaks phenomenally fast and just as Ryan (Moore) wanted to go forward on his filly that lit her up for half a furlong and she was maybe just over racing for half a furlong and that is probably what has cost her second in the last couple of strides.

“After Deauville I was certain she will be trained for a Guineas next spring. The speed she showed today might make you think twice about that, but the Guineas is the be all and end all for three-year-old fillies at that time of year and if you need to re-route later on then so be it.  

“I’m sure her main target in the spring will be a Guineas. Obviously her owner (Nurlan Bizakov) has a stud in France and we would have to keep their Guineas on the radar as well but I’d like to see her back here in May.”  


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