09/15/2012 1:56PM

The Curragh: Irish St. Leger three-horse photo goes to Royal Diamond


Royal Diamond, a 6-year-old who had failed to win a race of consequence in any of his previous 24 starts, came out on the right side of a three-horse photo finish in the Group 1 Irish St. Leger on Saturday at the Curragh.

Massiyn finished a head behind the winner with Brown Panther another nose back in third. Fourth-place Aiken also was in the frame, a neck farther back in fourth.

Two and a half hours earlier, trainer Aidan O’Brien had seen Camelot’s bid for an English Triple Crown fail when he finished second in the English St. Leger, and in the Irish St. Leger, O’Brien looked on as strongly favored Fame and Glory struggled home sixth after setting the pace.

Royal Diamond, ridden by Niall McCullagh for trainer Thomas Carmody, had shown improvement when finishing third last month in the Ebor Handicap at York, but this was the best race of his life. Fourth for much of the 1 ¾-mile race, Royal Diamond stayed on strongly through the homestretch, finishing between horses as Brown Panther came hard on the far outside in the race’s final stages, just missing both runner-up Massiyn and the winner.

Dawn Approach cruises in Vincent O’Brien

In the Group 1 Vincent O’Brien for 2-year-olds, Dawn Approach confirmed his position as one of Europe’s top juveniles with an easy 4 3/4-length win over Designs on Rome.

Trained by Jim Bolger for Godolphin, Dawn Approach has won all five of his starts this year, the last two in group stakes competition. Dawn Approach settled in third as Flying the Flag roared off to a big early lead. The pacesetter stopped abruptly in midstretch, and it was Dawn Approach who came home best, coasting to victory under Kevin Manning in his first try beyond six furlongs. Winning time for the seven furlongs on yielding ground was 1:25.50.