Thundering Nights has just beaten Santa Barbara in a great final at the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
In action in America at Belmont just 23 days ago when she was hit with a nose in a Grade Two by Mean Mary, Thundering Nights was taking its form to a new level.
Santa Barbara, meanwhile, was making her third Group 1 of the season and after being the favorite beaten in both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks, she showed the talent that made Aidan O’Brien so much about her in the spring.
The improved Epona Plays started racing and was only heading towards the entrance to the last stadium.
This is where Shane Crosse decided to engage in Thundering Nights (16-5) and she went on a clear length, but Ryan Moore had bided his time on Santa Barbara and she gradually picked up speed, at the level of Thundering Nights.
The two were locked together in the final 100 yards – but in the final strides, the four-year-old Joseph O’Brien, who was conceding 12 pounds to his younger rival, just started to pull away and secured the verdict by a neck.
Favorite Cayenne Pepper was two and a half lengths behind third place as Crosse claimed the second Group 1 victory of their career following Pretty Gorgeous ‘victory in the Fillies’ Mile last season.
“She’s a great mare, she’s very tough and every time you ask her a question she steps up to the task,” said O’Brien.
“She’s never really had a bad race and I’m delighted for Shapoor Mistry, the owner. I’m very proud of her.
“She always looks around a bit when she goes to the front and she did again today, but when the other one came up to her she really hit back.
“Broome just caught her here one day on the line, but she had a chance to fight today and she did.
“In America she would have won in another stride, the tight track caught up to her a bit as it was her first time around the corners there.
“She must have spent a week there after the race, so she only came back a few weeks. She trained there for a week, then came straight back and came straight here. She has a great build. .
“She has options in America, like the Beverly D., and she also has Nassau and Matrons.
“She’s a Group 1 winner now, so it’s a very exciting prospect for a mare no matter what.”
O’Brien added, “Shane deserved it because over the past two days some things haven’t gone well for him.
“That’s the way it is in racing and you just have to stay confident and keep doing what you’re doing. That’s what he did and he was rewarded.”