Tom Marquand celebrates on Porta Fortuna

Graham Clark reports from Royal Ascot where Porta Fortuna won the Coronation

Stepping out of the shadows of the training colossus that is Aidan O’Brien has proven a hard thing to do at Royal Ascot for his fellow countrymen at the top level.

But every so often even the great man himself has to settle for second best at his favourite British playground.

Opera Singer was backed to hit all the high notes in the Coronation Stakes for the Ballydoyle maestro, however on this occasion she had no match for the finishing kick of Porta Fortuna to give his son, Donnacha, one over his old man.

At a meeting where overseas winners are particularly welcome, the daughter of Caravaggio appeared to appreciate the switch to running around the bend opposed to the undulations of the at Newmarket in the 1000 Guineas, much to the delight of her jubilant American owners.

Gracious in defeat, as he is in victory, O'Brien senior was one of the first on the scene to congratulate his son on a victory that he hopes will now give the current apple of his eye, who landed the Albany Stakes on the card 12 months ago, the credit she deserves.

O’Brien junior said: “I think she has been overlooked all her career to be honest with you. Hopefully she might get the credit she deserves now. I don’t know why she gets overlooked. You'll have to ask all your friends in the press!

"Obviously Fancy Blue was a very good filly, but I would say she is the best. She is uncomplicated and Tom (Marquand) gave her a lovely ride. She jumps, travels and relaxes and she quickens. I was happy the whole way and everything went to plan and it is not too often you can say that.

“She had two runs before she won at Ascot last year and she has never missed a race since. She is incredibly sound and incredibly tough.”

A return trip to the Breeders’ Cup might be on the long term agenda for Porta Fortuna, which will be music to the ears of her owners, but for O’Brien junior it is a victory he intends to savour at a meeting he ranks above all else.

He added: “We will wait and see what happens, but there are races like the Falmouth Stakes. The owners are an American group so I’d say the end of the year plan would be to train her for the Breeders’ Cup.

“This is very special though as Ascot does an incredible job and it is my favourite meeting in the whole world.”

Family bragging rights might belong to Donnacha on this occasion, but the victory of Fairy Godmother in the Albany Stakes served as a reminder that he still has a way to go to match his dad’s exploits.

Talk of next year's QIPCO 1000 Guineas might seem premature for a filly that is yet to race beyond six furlongs, but the Night Of Thunder filly looked a potential star when supplying the Ballydoyle master his 90th winner at Royal Ascot.

And with victory for Crystal Black, trained by Gerard Keane, and ridden by his son Colin, in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes, there was a feeling of the Irish domination that has swept the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, however the best result belonged to the home team.

Crystal Black ridden by Colin Keane
Crystal Black ridden by Colin Keane

It takes a special performance to snatch the headlines away from Wigan Warriors, but Tom Eaves, who hails from the suburbs of Rugby League-loving town, did exactly that aboard Inisherin in the Commonwealth Cup.

Riding top class sprinters is nothing new to the 43 year old, who has steered the likes of Brando, Glass Slippers and Tangerine Trees to glory in the past, but he is of the belief that the Kevin Ryan-trained colt could top the lot of them.

Eaves said: “The draw in one was not exactly where you wanted to be, but he is a horse with a very good mind and he is very relaxed and very uncomplicated and he showed that through the race.

“It has been a while between drinks as 2008 was my last one here when Big Timer won the Wokingham. It is just great to be here riding a winner. I think it just shows how hard they are to come by winners here, and getting on horses like him.

“We knew we had something special at home, but it isn’t until they come and do it on the track and he has now proved he is a special horse. I've been lucky to ride some good ones like Brando, Glass Slippers, who was a Breeders’ Cup winner, and Tangerine Trees, who won an Abbaye, but this fella is very special.

“Taking nothing away from them, but he does feel exceptional."

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