Joseph O'Brien may have to find room on the plane for two going to Australia in the autumn after saddling the first and second in the feature Group 3 Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes.The stable's new recruit and Melbourne Cup hopeful Cleveland found himself upstaged by stablemate Gear Up but there was only a neck and little disgrace in it.
Dylan Browne McMonagle gave the Teme Valley-owned Gear Up a fine ride, driving him clear over a furlong out once taking it up from the front-running Sandhurst and holding Ryan Moore's late challenge on the runner-up. Three-and-a-half lengths away in third was the hitherto unbeaten and somewhat disappointing favourite Beamish.
The first two could be heading to Australia to take in different cup races, although the participation of the winner is a little less clear-cut.
O'Brien commented: "It was a good tough performance. Gear Up has been improving with each run and I would say that's about as good as he has been all year.
"He ran well over 1m6f in the Curragh Cup last time but I think 1m4f is probably his perfect trip. Dylan gave him a lovely, uncomplicated ride and it was a good tough performance. He's a horse who fights and he certainly did that tonight."
"He has the Kilternan Stakes here on Champions Weekend and he's also in the Caulfield Cup. I'm not sure if we can do both, the quarantine for Australia may start before the Kilternan, so we will see."
As for Cleveland, O'Brien said: "It was a great run. He needed to be placed in a Group race to qualify for the Melbourne Cup, so that was very pleasing."
Gear Up under Dylan McMonagle just holds on to win the Group 3 Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes with Cleveland making it a one two for trainer Jospeh O'Brien. 🏆— Leopardstown RC (@LeopardstownRC) August 4, 2022
@GrantThorntonIE @JosephOBrien2 pic.twitter.com/zPEVtdJOCE