Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1)
THE brilliant and metronomic La Petite Coco credited Paddy Twomey with his first success at the top level as she bagged the race of the weekend although the result was tinged with considerable regret for Twomey as his third-placed finisher Rosscarbery was disqualified for weighing in light under bizarre circumstances.
Beforehand, this looked a top-class edition of the Pretty Polly with a strong home defence taking on a powerful three-strong challenge from across the Irish Sea which was headed by Group 1-winning Dreamloper.
All this made this an exacting starting point for La Petite Coco’s season as she reappeared for the first time since defeating Love and Thundering Nights in the Blandford Stakes here last September.
However, Twomey produced the Team Valor-owned four-year-old in rare order for the start of a campaign which could be geared around an Arc de Triomphe assault in October.
This was a Pretty Polly with no hiding places whatsoever and the manner in which La Petite Coco (9/1) passed the biggest test of her career suggested she is more than ready to cope with any and every challenge that the second half of the season will hold in store for her.
The emergence of Paddy Twomey as one of the most eminent flat trainers in the country has been one of the stories of the last couple of seasons and such is the strength of his string that he could field two legitimate contenders for this prize in the winner and Rosscarbery.
That both fillies were closely involved at the business end of the race says much about a yard that just goes from strengt to strength.
The rain that fell the previous night and at various points during the day meant that this 10-furlong contest was going to take plenty of getting and the race turned into an even bigger test when Lyrical Poetry and Tranquil Lady set a strong gallop.
This pair remained at the head of the field inside the final half mile and it was at this point that La Petite Coco was asked by Billy Lee to move forward.
The 9/1 chance duly raised her effort and inside the last couple of furlongs she moved to the front. She was soon trying to fight off Rosscarbery and had that rival held entering the last furlong.
Her work wasn’t done yet as My Astra arrived with a potent late charge but, as is the wont of good horses, La Petite Coco found more to score by half a length. There was a further length and a quarter back to Rosscarbery whose subsequent disqualification handed third to Thunder Kiss.
“To be honest I couldn’t see her being beaten coming here on the level she showed last year to beat Love and Thundering Nights. I didn’t enter her in the Arc for fun. I think she’s top class,” said Twomey. “We decided, Barry (Irwin) and I, that we’d start her campaign in the middle of the year with a view to the second half. We planned to start it here.
“The Yorkshire Oaks is something we’ll consider, the Fillies and Mare at Ascot, the Arc, the Breeders’ Cup and maybe Hong Kong. Those are the races we can look at and we were keen to start at home, we didn’t really want to travel for her first run.
“William Haggas is a good friend of mine and we pre-trained for him. Then I decided three or four years ago to really give training a go. We did it first in my own colours with a permit. If I had to be beaten it would have been okay to be beaten by William but I would rather have won.”
As he reflected on his third Group 1 triumph Billy Lee stated: “We went a good gallop all the way and she stays well. We went very hard and it turned into a war of attrition out there with the ground having eased but she battled hard when they got to her girth she went again. The rain and the showers today meant the stars aligned for her.
“She’s very straight forward and stays well and I wanted to be as handy as I could. She’s all heart and she dug very deep for me. She’s everything you’d look for in a top-class filly”.
Unfortunately for Twomey his spectacular one-three was overshadowed by the subsequent disqualification of Rosscarbery for weighing in 5lb light which came about as a result of an apparent technical glitch.
A bemused Twomey later commented: “I was getting the two saddles. Billy (Lee) weighed out first and he weighed out fine. He gave me the saddle. Wayne was inside and he got on the scales and the clerk of the scales told him that he was 5lb too heavy.
“He made him take down the saddle and take out the weights and then get back on the scales. So he did that and the clerk of the scales then cleared him. He weighed him out with the correct weight and sent him out to the race.
“Then when he came back the clerk of the scales told him he was 5lb light. I brought the saddle from the weighing room to the filly and put it on. I was under pressure for time as I had two runners and they took a lot of time messing around, putting in weight and taking out weight.
“Wayne weighed out and was given the okay by the clerk of the scales, who said he had the correct weight. Then, when he weighed back in, he was told he was 5lb light. The same saddle that went out came back in and I guess we will have to appeal it. It’s a glitch with the clerk of the scales, it’s an issue with the IHRB and I’d say my owner won’t be impressed.
“I’m just telling you what I saw, I wasn’t happy because we were delayed,” concluded the trainer.
The decision to disqualify the amazing improver was outlined by IHRB commnications manager Niall Cronin.
“Wayne Lordan weighed out at 138.1lb and weighed back in at 133.5lb. As a result, there was an enquiry into the weighing in procedures of the third placed horse. As per Rule 231, section 1, the horse had to be disqualified. The stewards have referred the matter on for further investigation,” stated Cronin.
The details of the enquiry into the incident outlined that clerk of the scales Hugh Hynes confirmed that Wayne Lordan had weighed in at 133.5lb having weighed out at 138.1b. He further confirmed that the rider had originally presented to weigh out at 5lb overweight and having been instructed to remove 5lb, was recorded as carrying the correct weight on the computerised scales. This was confirmed by Mr Lordan and assistant clerk of the scales Tony Mulraney.
Paddy Twomey confirmed that he was at the door of the weigh room to collect the saddle as he had two runners in the race and was satisfied that his charge had carried the full contents of what the rider was weighed out with. The matter was referred to the CEO of the IHRB for further investigation.