Belmont Park runner-up Thundering Nights wins Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh

June 28, 2021

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Thundering Nights (16/5) won the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday, giving her sire, Darley’s Night Of Thunder his first European success at the highest level. 

The four-year-old Thundering Nights, who went down by a nose to Mean Mary in the Grade 2 $750,000 New York at Belmont Park at the beginning of the month, claimed the fourth victory of her career to date when winning in Ireland. 

Jockey Shane Cross settled the filly behind the front runners before taking the lead at the furlong pole. A determined challenge from Santa Barbara (3/1) and rider Ryan Moore  was not enough to deny Thundering Nights as she won by a neck. The Jessica Harrington-handled favourite Cayenne Pepper (11/4) finished two and a half lengths further back in third.

The winning rider Shane Cross told host broadcaster RTÉ Sport that he was delighted the filly had claimed the Group 1 race:

“She deserves it this filly. She’s been around the block and she has done everything. She deserves to have her day in the sun. She had to do it the hard way. 

“She’s as laid back as they come,” Cross continued. “I had a job getting her across The Curragh – she loves to have a look. It was a quick turnaround from going to America but it’s paid off. It’s a great day. 

“I travelled well but I had to commit a little further out than normal. Thankfully she kept at it well. She’s a filly on the up and once they’re proven it’s very hard to stop them.” 

Joseph O’Brien, who beat his father’s Santa Barbara into second, spoke of his horse’s bravery, having run in the USA only a few weeks ago:

“She’s very talented but had just come back from America – that was the worry. She has an amazing constitution and she comes out and does her job. She took it in her stride.

“She’s very versatile (with regard to) distance and ground but she has always run well here – The Curragh is a good track for her,” added the County Kilkenny-based handler.

The daughter of Cape Cross mare Cape Castle, won twice from five starts last season. She took the scalp of the 2019 Group 1 Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches winner Albigna when taking the Group 3 Snow Fairy Fillies Stakes at The Curragh. She ended her three-year-old season when finishing a credible third behind Cayenne Pepper in the Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes at The Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend last September. 

This year the Shapoor Mistry-owned filly began her campaign in Ireland when finishing half a length second to Broome (a three-time winner this year) in the Group 3 Holden Plant Rentals Alleged Stakes over 1 mile 2 furlongs, before another runner-up place, this time behind Mean Mary at Belmont Park on 4 June.

Joseph O’Brien mentioned races such as the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes at Arlington, the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, England, and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Day 1 of Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September as possible targets for his now Group 1-winning filly for the remainder of this season.

Photo: Thundering Nights, (The Curragh Racecourse Twitter account @curraghrace)

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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