Ryan Moore showed nerves of steel as he capped an exceptional week by giving Aidan O’Brien a first victory in the tote+ Chester Cup with Cleveland.
The red-hot rider was partnering his eighth winner of the May Festival as he guided the lightly-raced four-year-old to a narrow success on what was the Camelot colt’s first try beyond 10 furlongs and just his fifth career start.
Moore took a brave route in the two-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece, sticking to the inside rail on the notoriously tight track, content to sit in the pack for the majority of the two circuits before angling out at the top of the finishing straight in search of a run.
Coltrane (9-2 favourite) had already set sail for home, but when Cleveland (6-1) found space he accelerated in fine style for Moore, moving upsides with half a furlong to run before shading it by a neck on the line – a fifth win in as many Chester runners for O’Brien this week.
Rajinsky was third, with another Irish raider Arcadian Sunrise fourth. Last year’s winner Falcon Eight kept on from the back to finish fifth under top-weight.
Moore said: “He made a nice enough comeback over 10 furlongs, but the quicker ground today would have helped him.
“He was still a little bit of a baby going around there, but he hasn’t had many runs. We didn’t have a lot of room, but he was able to pick his way through.
“I always felt like I was going to win if I could find the right gaps and got enough space.
“Maybe it wasn’t the best Chester Cup ever run, but I’m delighted to have won.”
On his unstoppable run on the Roodee, which has included all three Classic trials on O’Brien-trained horses, Moore added: “It’s been a good week, the horses have been running great, they have been all year in fairness and there’s a lot to look forward to, hopefully.”
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK representative, said: “It’s been an incredible week, that tops it all. I’m stuck for words.
“It’s incredible, isn’t it? It’s unreal, I’m kind of lost for words.
“We weren’t fully sure whether he’d be able to last out that trip, which clearly he did. He’s a fine-looking horse and the fact he was kept in training was indicative that he (O’Brien) had seen something early on.
“I always love coming to Chester in any case, but this week has been simply stunning. To win both Derby trials, the Oaks trial and to top it off with the Chester Cup is simply sensational.
“What Aidan has done with this horse is incredible, he hadn’t run for over 500 days before he ran at Naas and now he’s just won the Chester Cup on just the fifth run of his life.”
Bookmakers were impressed, with Betfair slashing the winner’s odds to 10-1 from 66-1 for the Ascot Gold Cup.
Speaking from his Ballydoyle base, a modest O’Brien said: “We’re delighted.
“We liked him a lot at two but then he got a little setback which kept him off the track for a while.
“We were thrilled with his first run back at Naas and we were always sure he’d make up into a middle-distance horse, if not further.
“The decision we had to make was whether he ran in this or the Ormonde, but we just thought he would learn more if he ran in the Chester Cup and we weren’t sure he was ready for a race like the Ormonde. Ryan gave him a beautiful ride.
“He’s in a lot of big races as we were still learning about him when we had to make the entries. We’ll decide nearer the time which one suits him best.”