Another chapter was added to the remarkable story of The Mean Queen when she fended off the boys to win one of the most prestigious races in the American Steeplechase calendar, the American Grand National at Far Hills on Saturday evening.
Never too far from the pace in the $150,000 contest, the five-year-old was sent to the front by Cork jockey Richie Condon with two to jump, and whilst Grade 1 Iroquis Hurdle winner Snap Decision loomed at the last, The Mean Queen put in a big leap at the last to seal victory.
Fellow pointing graduate Chosen Mate was never a factor for the raiding Irish party of Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott, trailing in last of the four runners.
Remarkably the success comes just one week shy of the one-year anniversary of her debut success, when she made a winning debut by taking a four-year-old mares’ maiden at Loughanmore for the Baltimore Stables team of siblings Ellen and James Doyle.
In the subsequent 12 months, the Doyen mare has won a point-to-point bumper at Fairyhouse, a maiden hurdle at Wexford before heading stateside where she has gone from strength to strength under Brion’s handling with her American National success a third Grade 1 victory on the bounce having beaten stablemate Baltimore Bucko in the Jonathan Sheppard Hurdle before adding the Lonesome Glory Hurdle to her haul at Belmont.
This latest success means she is now the owner of three of the five Grade 1 prizes available and her trainer Keri Brion, a familiar face in the point-to-point fields in Ireland in recent years, now has her sights on Cheltenham with the star mare.
“There was nothing in it at the last, but she just got up and she was so brave at the last. She knew she was upsides and she needed that jump and she gave it to him,” said Brion.
“I knew that she was not going to let him past. He waited to come to her and I knew if he did that he wouldn’t get past her – she will not let a horse get past her. She proved how tough she was today.
“She is an incredible animal, what an impressive horse, she is just something else, she is everything.
“It is for my owners Mr & Mrs Moorhead who unfortunately couldn’t be here today, but they have stayed so loyal to me through everything and when I took over training, they stayed with me and took my advice to buy this mare.
It means so much to me, she should be an Eclipse award winner, it’s a thing to dream of.
“If she is good after this she goes to Cheltenham.