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Sapphire makes it three out of three for Ireland

20 Oct 2012

The Irish have taken QIPCO British Champions day by storm with Sapphire making it three-out-of-three for Ireland on Britain's richest raceday and scoring a double for trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Pat Smullen.

Sapphire and Pat Smullen win the QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Sapphire ran out an impressive winner of the QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes, race three on QIPCO British Champions Day and the third race that has gone to Ireland.

For trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Pat Smullen it crowned a memorable day after the pair had landed the first race, the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, with Rote Of Passage.

Dancing Rain, last year’s winner who had been sidelined with injury all season, made a brave bid to lift the race for a second time, leading until two furlongs out when the Investec Oaks runner-up, Shirocco Star, took it up.

She briefly looked as thoiugh she might finally get her head in front after a series of fine placed efforts, but it wasn’t to be.

Sapphire took it up a furlong from home and stayed on strongly to win by two and a quarter lengths from Shirocco Star with dancing rain third and Great Heavens in fourth.

Weld said: "It was either going to be Princess Highway, who won the Ribblesdale for us, or this filly, but with the weather forecast it looked like dry ground in Canada and a good cut in the ground here and this filly always appreciates nice ease in the ground. Hence we decided to come here.

"I was confident she would take a lot of beating. She appreciates some ease in the ground and is unbeaten over a mile and a half.

"I wasn’t happy with her just before the Irish Leger, so we decided to concentrate on this and Ascot has always been a lucky track for me.

"I trained a double at the Royal meeting and we’ve been fortunate to have 17 Group winners here.

"I’ll have to speak to the owner, but I would say it is unquestionable she will stay in training next year and in the back of my mind she might be a filly for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe."

Smullen said: "I was very confident of a big run.

"They went a good pace, I just had to get her to settle and she travelled extremely well through the race.