Young trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Tom Marquand added another line to their burgeoning resumes when Galileo Chrome thrust his neck in front in Saturday’s St Leger (G1) at Doncaster. The streaking son of Australia, whom O’Brien had ridden during his career in the saddle, gave him his first British classic success as a trainer.
But the occasion came amid the pandemic that was striking close to home. Galileo Chrome’s regular rider, Shane Crosse, was set to maintain their partnership, until testing positive for COVID-19 ruled him out. O’Brien, having contact with him as his employer, prudently stayed home, and reached out to Marquand Friday.
Thus Marquand landed the plum pick-up. Not only was the rider winning his first classic, but he also scored a breakthrough Group 1 in Great Britain. Earlier this year, Marquand made headlines on his Australian venture with Addeybb, hero of the Ranvet (G1) and Queen Elizabeth (G1) during The Championships at Randwick.
Galileo Chrome had won his three prior starts this season, but the St Leger represented a proper test of class compared to his impressive stakes debut in the Aug. 29 Yeats Stakes at Navan. O’Brien’s father, Aidan, had the favorite in Irish Derby (G1) winner Santiago, most recently third to superstar Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup (G1). Others with noteworthy form in the book were Pyledriver, resounding in the Great Voltigeur (G2), and Hukum, victorious over elders in the Geoffrey Freer (G3).
Marquand positioned Galileo Chrome just about midpack as a contested pace unfolded between Subjectivist and Ballydoyle’s pacemaker Mythical. The early leaders retreated down the long home straight, and the world’s oldest classic served up a cavalry charge with a host fanning across the course.
Pyledriver played his hand on the far side, with Hukum nearby, while Galileo Chrome delivered in the center. Berkshire Rocco began to stay on the outside, and Santiago cruised into contention widest of all.
But the quintet was soon whittled down. Pyledriver raced a bit erratically, perhaps feeling the extended 1 3/4 miles as he drifted further in. Hukum did not go on, and Santiago found less than expected.
Galileo Chrome and Berkshire Rocco were the two left standing. The pair grappled to the wire with the former willing himself there in 3:01.94.
Pyledriver organized himself to salvage third in a photo with Santiago, and Hukum checked in a further 2 3/4 lengths astern in fifth. Next came Dawn Patrol; Subjectivist, who could not replicate half-brother Sir Ron Priestley’s second in the 2019 St Leger; Sunchart; Tyson Fury; Mythical; and Mohican Heights.
Galileo Chrome, unbeatable since a fifth in his lone juvenile start, has now won four straight. After his maiden score in his reappearance at the Curragh, the bay was entered in the Irish Derby but withdrawn due to a stone bruise. A fever ruled him out of the July 16 Nijinsky Stakes, so his next start came in a more prosaic Leopardstown race, which he won by six lengths. Galileo Chrome rolled by five in the Yeats to earn this crack at classic glory.
A descendant of the prolific matron Alruccaba, Galileo Chrome is out of Curious Mind, a Dansili half-sister to a pair of Cocked Hat winners in Private Secretary (2019) and Michelangelo (2012). Ironically, Michelangelo was third in that year’s St Leger, when Encke denied the O’Brien-ridden Camelot an extraordinary British Triple Crown sweep.
Earlier on the card, the Champagne Stakes (G2) featured a showdown between 2021 classic candidates Chindit and Albasheer. The two unbeatens were content to keep their powder dry early, but once Albasheer advanced through the pack to strike the front, Chindit was unleashed on the outer flank by Pat Dobbs. The match race was on, with Joseph O’Brien’s State of Rest – and Marquand – gamely hanging tough between the principals.
Chindit kept on the strongest of the trio to extend his record to a perfect 3-for-3. The Richard Hannon pupil edged a length clear of Albasheer, who saved second by a short head from the resurgent State of Rest. There was a 7 1/2-length gap back to Mujbar in fourth.
A course-and-distance maiden winner prior to taking Ascot’s Pat Eddery Stakes, Chindit is the latest budding star sired by Wootton Bassett, now settling in his new Coolmore apartment. His dam, the Oasis Dream mare Always a Dream, hails from the immediate family of 2005 Derby (G1) champion Motivator.
Chindit’s time for the 7 furlongs, 1:24.21, compares favorably with the high-class 3-year-old Wichita’s 1:25.12 in the Park Stakes (G2). Trained by Aidan O’Brien and piloted by Frankie Dettori, Wichita just held multiple Group 1 veteran One Master’s late lunge for Marquand. Molatham was third and old stager Limato fifth in a solid renewal.
Wichita had not won since last fall’s Somerville Tattersall (G3), but the No Nay Never colt had missed by a scant neck in the 2000 Guineas (G1) and placed third to Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace (G1) at Royal Ascot.