Champers Elysees completed her meteoric rise through the ranks as she gave Johnny Murtagh his first Group One success as a trainer with victory in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
The three-year-old won a Curragh handicap on her seasonal bow in June, but after winning a Listed heat at the Galway Festival and a Group Three at Gowran just 10 days ago, Murtagh – who has been enjoying such a fine season – opted to pitch her into top-level company.
Teaming up with Colin Keane for the first time, Champers Elysees was ridden with restraint through the early stages, as Love Locket set the pace and it looked at one point as though the winner’s stablemate Know It All would take the prize before Peaceful took over in the final furlong.
However, Champers Elysees was flying on the outside, sweeping through in the shadow of the post to give Murtagh a memorable triumph.
Peaceful kept on for second, with 9-4 favourite Fancy Blue keeping on for third, just ahead of the Cieren Fallon-ridden Know It All.
Murtagh, who won the race three times in the saddle, said: “It feels great. I’m sick of everyone saying ‘you had such a great career as a jockey’ – that’s in the past and it’s the now I’m worried about.
“It’s been a brilliant year, but to win a Group One on Champions Weekend means everything. That’s why we get up in the morning.
“We believe we have the team to compete in Group Ones and we want to be on this stage.
“I have to say thanks to my wife, my family, as they have been very supportive and to all the staff back at the stables and everybody who supports us, including the owners, through a tricky year.”
He went on: “She was always a good filly and I did think she’d make up into a stakes filly. The amount she has improved is unbelievable.
“She has improved a lot physically and she’s now started to know she’s good. Handicap, Listed, Group Three and now she’s a Group One winner. When those fillies start improving, there is no end to them.
“I was watching both of them and thought Know It All ran a cracker as well, she was there all the way and might have just got outstayed.
“I could see her (Champers Elysees) coming with Fancy Blue and I thought it was going to be a battle, but the way she quickened up in the last 100 yards, Colin said, was very impressive.
“She’s a very good filly.”
Murtagh could now head to Newmarket with Champers Elysees, and a trip to the Breeders’ Cup meeting will also be under consideration.
He added: “I don’t know where next as this was the main plan. I suppose the Sun Chariot in Newmarket is there, it’s fillies only again and I wouldn’t mind staying in with the fillies.
“There is also a chance to go over to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. We’ll sit down, enjoy tonight and then make a plan about where to go next.
“The Breeders’ Cup is an option and a mile around there would suit her down to the ground as she’s quick and has a great turn of foot.
“It’s been a magical season. I’m a very good trainer and I just need better horses!
“When I get them, these are the results. It’s very hard to source horses in Ireland, but when we do I’m not behind the door in telling people that we are able to do the business once we get the right horse.”