Letterkenny jockey Martin Harley stole the show at the Curragh on Sunday when he guided home Samitar to lift the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas in scintillating style and record his first Classic win.
Trained by former England international footballer Mick Channon, Harley was aboard the 12-1 outsider for the very first time, but filly came home a very comfortable winner by a length-and-a-half.
A delighted Harley, who was having his biggest career win today, said afterwards: “She came here on song today and was always travelling for me,” he said. “Two furlongs down, I was never going to get beat and when I asked her she just picked up and ran. It was an amazing feeling.”
The winning trainer, Mick Channon, was even more confident: “At half way I turned and said ‘she pisses it’. I knew if the real Samitar turned up she’d be right there, and she did and she was.”
The Aidan O’Brien race favourite Homecoming Queen led until Samitar cruised past to take the honours ahead of another O’Brien horse Ishvana and Princess Sinead was third.
Samitar, the only British challenger in the field, gave Berkshire-based Channon his 17th top-level success, 10 of which have come with fillies. Perhaps surprisingly, it was a first Classic for him, too, though not at his first attempt. Again typically, he blamed himself for his charge’s earlier defeats. “First time out I dropped her back to six furlongs for one of those valuable sales races,” he said, “trying to be far too clever. Then in France it was all a bit of a mess; she should have been held up, not made the running.”
Yesterday was the first time Harley had ridden Samitar, owned by US-based Martin Schwartz, in public. “Dead chuffed for the lad,” added Channon. “He works hard and he had the confidence to grab his chance and get it spot on today.”
Samitar is now bound for Royal Ascot, he for the St James’s Palace Stakes and she for the filly equivalent, the Coronation Stakes.