Alan Magee, PA
Luxembourg is back in the big time after landing the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.
Forced to miss the Derby with a setback after finishing third in the 2000 Guineas, the Camelot colt travelled in mid-division in the 10-furlong showpiece after starting at 7-2, allowing stablemate Stone Age to take a clear early lead before clicking into gear two furlongs from home.
After reeling Stone Age in, Luxembourg swept to the front and came out on top in battle with Grand Prix de Paris winner Onesto to prevail by half a length, on his second run back after returning at the Curragh last month.
Fellow French raider Vadeni (7-4 favourite) did not have the clearest of passages in third, ahead of Mishriff in fourth.
A delighted O’Brien said: “It was unbelievable from a lot of people (to get the horse back) and Ryan gave him an incredible ride. We felt going to the Curragh (for the Royal Whip) that he was only ready for a racecourse gallop.
“He couldn’t come here unless he’d had a race, and that’s why we were so happy with him at the Curragh. He had 20 to 30 per cent to improve from the Curragh, and you usually don’t run a race in a Group race like that.
“The plan and the dream was, if we could get him back, we’d mapped out three races for him – if we could get him to the Curragh he could come here and if he came here he could go to the Arc. The pace was solid and it was an even pace. He’s obviously a very good horse.
“Ryan nearly fell off him in the Guineas (after stumbling leaving the stalls) and he was only beaten a couple of lengths. He had to be a bit different to do what he did in the Guineas.
“He wasn’t surrendering at the line today and he could be better over a mile and a half. His head was in the cooker a long way up that straight and he didn’t stop.
“Ryan was very impressed and he’s not an optimist by nature! Usually if he’s a little bit impressed that will do.
“I don’t think we have had an atmosphere at a Flat meeting in Ireland like this in a long time. He got applauded as he went out which is very rare.”
Moore said: “It was a good, fair race. He’s beaten some good three-year-olds, some good older horses, he always felt like he was in control of the race.
“He went a bit green when he first went there and in the last furlong, the Frankel horse, Onesto, he was always there but I always felt I had him.
“It was a very professional, but very likeable performance.”
The colt is now a 6-1 chance for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Coral and, like O’Brien, Moore has few doubts about his ability to see out a mile and a half.
“He was comfortable at 10 (furlongs) today, I always felt that if I had to ask for a bit more, he would have found a bit more,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say a mile and a half would be a problem.”