Luxembourg cemented his position at the head of the ante-post lists for next year’s Derby with a clear-cut victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien had saddled nine previous winners of the final Group One of the British Flat season – one short of the record by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil.
Among that number were a pair of Derby winners in High Chaparral and Camelot, a St Leger hero in Brian Boru and two subsequent 2000 Guineas winners in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.
Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, was the 4-6 favourite to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour, having looked every inch a top-class colt in the making in two previous starts.
Previously successful on his Killarney debut and in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, Ryan Moore’s mount travelled like a dream up the straight mile on Town Moor before readily extending clear.
Sissoko, trained by O’Brien’s son Donnacha, did his best to make a race of it, while Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst third Bayside Boy finished strongly after a slightly troubled run.
But Luxembourg left nobody in any doubt he was much the best horse in the race as he passed the post with almost two lengths in hand.
Paddy Power swiftly trimmed the winner’s odds for next year’s Derby at Epsom to 4-1 from 8-1, while he is 6-1 from 8-1 for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Moore said: “I’m delighted with him. He’s a really smart horse, very scopey. He travelled easy. I lost my cover at halfway and I had to keep going. He took me to the front. When I asked him the question, he just waited a bit.
“I grabbed hold of the him the last 100 yards and he found a bit more.
“That’s three races and three wins. We’re delighted with what he’s done and he’s an exciting horse to look forward. It couldn’t have gone smoother and there’s more improvement to come.”
O’Brien raised the possibility of Luxembourg running in both the Guineas and the Derby next season.
He said: “He would have preferred a stronger gallop, but he’s a high cruiser and he got there a little bit after halfway. He was very babyish in front, but he’s a lovely horse. You’d have to be delighted.
“The lads will decide, but what he’s able to do over four furlongs at home says that he probably wouldn’t have any problems starting in the Guineas if that’s what the lads wanted to do.
“He’s been coming along slowly an he’s got a lot of class. Ryan was impressed with him.
“He’s always been very exciting. The work he’s been doing he shouldn’t have been able to do over four furlongs, but that is what good horses usually do.
“He has a big, open stride, but that’s what good horses have. Like human beings – the good athletes cover the most ground, don’t they?”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, the trainer added: “We’re very happy with the year. Someone told me that was our 18th Group One and we have won seven Classics.
“We lost loads of races, we won a few – that’s the way it is. It has to go around and everyone has to live, everyone has to get a bit of it and we’re delighted when we do get a bit of it.
“I might have made mistakes with horses this year. Maybe we ran them in the wrong races, sometimes horses were disappointing and sometimes they surprise you. There are a lot of different variables.”
Asked for his highlight of the season, O’Brien said “The filly (Snowfall) was very special at Epsom, but it has to be St Mark’s Basilica. We haven’t had the like of him since Galileo, and we might never have the like of him again. We were so lucky to find him.”
Wayne Lordan was delighted with the performance of runner-up Sissoko, saying: “Donnacha has always thought he was a very nice colt.
“He only won his maiden a week and a bit ago. It was huge step up, but he looked like he could run very well and Donnacha was duly right.
“He feels like he’s going to be a better three-year-old. It was a very good run going into the winter with prospects for next season.”
Roger Varian said of the third placed Bayside Boy: “He’s a smart colt and ran a good race.
“He was a touch unlucky. When he needed room he didn’t have any. I don’t think it stopped him winning, but he’d have been a good second with a clear run.
“We’ll winter him and aim him at a Newmarket Guineas because I think he deserves that.”