Shelir springs 80/1 shock to give trainer David O’Meara another Balmoral Handicap success
David O’Meara saddled his third winner of the Balmoral Handicap since 2017 when 80/1 complete outsider Shelir burst through late on to win Europe’s richest mile handicap by a length and a half.
Shelir, whose success brings up a century of winners for his trainer this season, had never won off a mark this high but he travelled powerfully amongst horses before clicking into overdrive in the final furlong. The six-year-old provided jockey Jason Watson with his first winner on QIPCO British Champions Day.
Sweet Believer fared best of the William Haggas-trained pair in second, with well-backed stablemate Bashkirova failing to threaten. Tacarib Bay ran a big race in the first-time blinkers to take third, with nine-year-old Safe Voyage fourth.
Watson said: “David O’Meara is an unbelievable trainer. He had five horses in the Balmoral and he said ‘look I couldn’t tell you which one is going to run better, but they all have a squeak.
“We had a citation bridle on this horse for the first time today as he had been over-racing in his last couple of races. David said to ride him cold and for a bit of prize money. Shelir took me into the race really nicely and I was one of the last ones off the bridle.
“I can’t believe how well he picked up. It was a career best performance and an amazing training performance.
“Shelir has been running in big-field handicaps and won a big race at York. He was rated 103 at the back-end of last season. He had been running OK in these sort of races, but today the market didn’t fancy him and David somehow manages to keep these horses in the form that he does. That is 100 winners for the season for him now.”
4.40pm Balmoral Handicap (sponsored by QIPCO)
1 Shelir (Akela Thoroughbreds Limited) David O’Meara 6-9-05 Jason Watson 80/1
2 Sweet Believer (Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum) William Haggas 4-9-05 8/1
3 Tacarib Bay (J R Shannon) Richard Hannon 3-9-01 Pat Dobbs 16/1
4 Safe Voyage (Ross Harmon) John Quinn 9-9-03 Hollie Doyle 28/1
20 ran 9/2 fav Bashkirova (12th)
David O’Meara – 3rd winner on QIPCO British Champions Day
Jason Watson – 1st winner on QIPCO British Champions Day