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Eldar Eldarov too strong for returning Kyprios in Irish St Leger
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Jockey David Egan with Eldar Eldarov is lead into the winners enclosure after winning the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare. Picture date: Sunday September 10, 2023.
Jockey David Egan with Eldar Eldarov is lead into the winners enclosure after winning the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at Curragh Racecourse, County Kildare. Picture date: Sunday September 10, 2023.

Eldar Eldarov made a successful raid on the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh, as Kyprios finished a brave second in his eagerly-awaited return to the track.

Aidan O’Brien’s five-year-old dominated the staying scene last season, but had been off since his staggering 20-length success in last year’s Prix du Cadran.

But despite Kyprios being sent off the 4-6 favourite in his quest for back-to-back Irish St Leger victories, the afternoon belonged to Eldar Eldarov as Roger Varian’s charge served a reminder of his own class.

David Egan’s mount was bidding to add the Irish equivalent to the Doncaster Classic he secured 12 months ago and having travelled powerfully throughout, he ran on strongly for a three-and-a-half-length triumph.

It was a welcome upturn in fortunes for Varian who saddled King Of Steel to finish fourth in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes, while Eldar Eldarov was back in front for the first time since his finest hour on Town Moor.

Betfair shortened Eldar Eldarov to 7-1 from 14s for the Long Distance Cup on Qipco British Champions Day, with Kyprios unchanged at 6-1.

Varian said: “It’s a big thrill to win a race like the Irish St Leger and I’m delighted to get Eldar Eldarov winning again. He’s run some great races in defeat this year and it’s nice to win two Legers.

“He’s entered up in France on Arc weekend and there is the two-mile race at Ascot. We might consider Ascot.

“He seems to be really best at a mile and six furlongs, but there aren’t too many of those races around. He deserves to run one more time this year and it’s most likely Ascot.”

He added of the winning rider: “David has been with us since he was 15 or 16 and he’s done really well. He’s come up through the ranks and he’s taken his opportunities. I’m delighted for him and he gave him a very straightforward, uncomplicated ride today.”

Varian also provided an update on King Of Steel, who is faring well following his Leopardstown exertions.

The trainer said: “He’s fine this morning and we thought he ran a great race. He’s still very lightly raced and inexperienced. Hopefully we’ll have some big days ahead with him.

“I’m not sure where he’ll go next. He has various options and we’ll take our time to decide. We’ll get him home and see how he is, not rush into anything.

“Hopefully one more race this year and look forward to next year with him.”

Egan is a Curragh local and was delighted that Eldar Eldarov could land him another Classic on his home turf.

He said: “I had my first Classic winner last year, but to do it where I grew up at Osborne Lodge, which is at the five-furlong pole, means a lot. It’s what dreams are made of and for all the team connected with the horse.

“He had a setback coming here for the St Leger Trial so the boss played it safe and took him home to make sure he’d be all right and it was a blessing in disguise.

“My first main job was riding out for Willie McCreery, who I saw today, and he was a great man to learn from and gave me a lot of experience and taught me a lot. I was probably spoiled riding out of my granddad’s (Dessie Hughes) on the yard’s hack but he taught me so much and this win means so much.

“He has a tendency to miss the break, but the race went so smooth, he was a race-fit horse today and was as tough as nails. I’m delighted he got his day.”

Meanwhile, Champions Day appears on the agenda for Kyprios having thrilled his handler on his return.

O’Brien told Racing TV: “I was delighted. A lot of people have done a lot of work to get him to here.

“All of the vets have done incredible work to get him back. We didn’t think we would ever see this day so to have him back and be happy and for Ryan (Moore) to be happy is something to really look forward to .

“He’s going to come on a lot and I can’t believe he’s here. He got here three weeks ago for a canter and we thought there was a chance and then every day he has progressed.

“Ascot looks lovely for him and he will have a nice bit of time before now and then. He will love going round Ascot and it would be great to see him come back to what he was. It was a great comeback run.”

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