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Whelan Grateful for Group 3 win on rare Ballydoyle ride

Grateful and Ronan Whelan Grateful and Ronan Whelan
© Photo Healy Racing

Jockey Ronan Whelan made the most of a rare spare ride for trainer Aidan O'Brien when partnering 12/1 chance Grateful to win the Group 3 Darley Irish EBF Stanerra(Fillies & Mares)Stakes at Fairyhouse.

With a number of the stable jockeys unavailable for one reason or another, the Kildare man stepped in to take the reins on the daughter of Galileo.

Having won her maiden over 12f at the Curragh last month, the three-year-old was possibly unsuited to dropping back two furlongs at Naas on her most recent outing.

Faced with a proper test of the stamina here, the O'Brien filly appeared to relish the conditions as she kept on powerfully.

Tracking the leaders in fourth for much of the contest, Whelan moved up to dispute alongside Lily Hart early in the straight.

Leading over a furlong out, Grateful looked set to go away and win readily but was soon challenged by the staying on duo Magical Zoe and Dancing Tango

To her credit, the eventual winner picked up again inside the final 100 yards, going on to win by half-a-length.

Stable representative Chris Armstrong said: “In fairness in all her races this year she's been coming forward with each run. She ran a lovely race last time.

“Ronan gave her a lovely ride, that's his first winner for Aidan. With Wayne suspended it's best available at the moment, especially for those light weights.

“He gave her a lovely ride, kept it uncomplicated, let her stride into it nicely from the top of the straight. She got a bit lonely in front but she stuck at it well.

“The plan was, if she ran well here, she'd go to Goodwood for the Lillie Langtry. Then we'll look at all those nice staying races in the Autumn.

“She's appreciates that trip, he handles an ease in the ground and she's a filly to look forward to for the backend. She's progressing nicely with each run.

“The other filly ran a cracker to finish fourth.”

Paddy Powers went 10/1(from 16) Grateful for the Lillie Langtry Stakes and 20/1(from 33) Irish Oaks.

Additional reporting by Gary Carson.

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About John O'Riordan
John has worked for the Press Association since 2022. He also writes a weekly column for The Irish Field and is a regular contributor to the Irish Racing Yearbook. He has previously written for the Racing Post, Irish Examiner and Irish Daily Mirror. He has been involved in racing for over three decades; having experience as a syndicate member, sole owner and breeder.