Day Four at Royal Ascot belongs to the Irish as the O’Brien’s and Keane’s keep it in the family

By Peter Moore at Royal Ascot Friday 21st June 2024

Day four at Royal Ascot turned out to be another good day for the Irish with the O’Brien family celebrating a unique double.

With the course bathed in glorious sunshine, Father Aidan and son Donnacha took the honours with Fairy Godmother and Porta Fortuna.

The opening race on the card saw Ryan Moore battle through the field to take the Albany Stakes on Fairy Godmother.

An 84th Royal Ascot success and fifth victory of the meeting looked unlikely for the jockey as he was denied racing room towards the centre of the track when attempting to launch a challenge from the rear of the field. 

Fairy Godmother’s stablemate Heavens Gate struck for home, but the two-year-old filly was switched to the near side to power past Heavens Gate and Simmering to win by three quarters of a length to give Moore his 84th Royal Ascot success and fifth victory of the meeting.

Anything dad can do, son can repeat the same when Donnacha saddled Porta Fortuna to victory in the Coronation Stakes.

The consistent three-year-old filly was beaten a neck in the Qipco 1000 Guineas last month by Elmalka, but today turned the tables on the Roger Varian filly by pulling a length clear on last years champion two-year-old filly Opera Singer to win by a length for the American owners Medallion/S Weston/ B Fowler/ Reeves T’BS.

Porta Fortuna is now her trainer’s first and second winner at the royal meeting and he said: “It’s very special. Ascot’s my favourite meeting in the whole world and it’s very special to have a winner here.”

On a day that belonged to the Irish, it was an emotional day for the Wear A Pink Ribbon Syndicate owned Crystal Black who landed the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes for County Meath trainer Gerard Keane under son Colin.

When Crystal Black went past the post there was raucous and tearful scenes in the winners encloser with Colin Keane hoisted high into the air by the jubilant owners.

Their spokesperson Neville Eager said “We had True Self with Willie Mullins and we had a lovely girl called Breda Miley who would always travel with us,” Eager explained. “She sadly passed away and we’ve since raised money for cancer research, which explains the name of the syndicate. 

“She was a friend to us all, she’s brought us luck and I hope she’s looking down on us today. It’s emotional. I couldn’t even think. I have an aunt at home who isn’t well, she wrote a poem for the horse and we have a song written about him too. 

“The singer is 84 and he’s here – he’ll sing a little tune for us. We have some support and some friends.”

The victory was truly a team effort, with a smiling Colin Keane not only responsible for steering the gelding to a two-and-a-quarter-length success, but also for his purchase at the Tattersalls Autumn horses-in-training sales two years ago. 

On a day that was witnessed by a crowd of 57,743, British success went to trainer Kevin Ryan who saddled Inisherin to land the Commonwealth Cup under Tom Eaves.

Inisherin oozed class in the six furlongs contest to win by two and a quarter lengths from Lake Forest. After the race trainer Ryan said that the three-year-old would head to the July Cup before possibly stepping up in trip to six and a half furlongs to run in France.

Youngster Billy Loughnane excellent Royal Ascot experience continued when Soprano provided him with a second winner of the week with success in the Sandringham Stakes.

The 18-year-old has impressed the racing world having been crowned last years champion apprentice. This week he rode an inspired  ride on Rashabar to win Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes and only had to wait a further three days for his next big win.

Despite suffering disappointment with his other runners this week, French trainer Francis Grafford finally had reason to celebrate when Calandagan was victorious in the King Edward V11 Stakes under Stephane Pasquier.

The three-year-old was heavily backed in the morning from 10-1 into 11-2 and rewarded punters who backed the horse by comfortably pulling clear to win by six lengths.