By Simon Jackson.
The Grey Gatsby came from last to first to beat Australia in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, the victory rewarding connections who had paid a £75,000 supplementary entry fee.
The son of Mastercraftsman has been in superb form this season, winning the Dante and French Derby before finishing second to Australia in the Juddmonte International at York.
With the dry forecast last week, owner Frank Gillespie opted to supplement the Kevin Ryan-trained colt for the 10 furlong QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes that carried total prize money of more than £750,000.
Yet The Grey Gatsby appeared to have it all to do at Leopardstown on Saturday when pushed along at the rear of the field by jockey Ryan Moore, but improved steadily up the straight to close in on Australia and snatch victory on the line.
Connections later revealed that the winner may race once more this season, in the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot, and that he will stay in training as a four-year-old.
“He’s a great racehorse and I’m very proud of him,” Kevin Ryan said. “I’ve felt all along that he’s never had the credit he deserves. The horse has done his own talking.
“Turning in I was thinking ‘Oh God, he’s got a lot of ground to make up’, but in fairness to Ryan he was saving ground while Australia had to go wide.
“He made up the ground well and when he passed one and picked up, I thought he would go very close.
“He’s a horse that has taken us on a great journey, both me and the owner.
“He’ll stay in training next year and will get stronger and better. We’ll hopefully have another great year.
“He won’t go to the Arc. There’s a chance he could go to Ascot on QIPCO Champions Day [for the Champion Stakes] and if he did that would be his last run.
“We’ll start off next year in the Dubai Duty Free.
“He’s still young, he’s still improving and we want him for next year.”
The Grey Gatsby is best priced at 6-1 (Coral) for the Champion Stakes at Ascot where the betting is headed by Australia at 5-2.
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