George Duffield has Paddington as the one to beat throughout his future races having shown he has both pace and a will to win in his brilliant victory in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.
The 76-year-old famously partnered Giant’s Causeway to win Sandown’s greatest Flat prize for Paddington’s trainer Aidan O’Brien in 2000, and 23 years on comparisons have been drawn between the ‘Iron Horse’ and Ballydoyle’s latest champion.
Although starting his season in handicap company, Paddington has followed a well-trodden path since striking at Listed level on May 1. He subsequently added the Irish 2,000 Guineas, before following in the footsteps of Giant’s Causeway to claim the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot en route to Esher.
At Sandown the similarities kept on coming and the son of Siyouni’s battling success over an Emily Upjohn who refused to lie down brought back plenty of memories of Duffield’s own Eclipse triumph when Giant’s Causeway held off Sir Michael Stoute’s Kalanisi in a thrilling finish.
“I watched it with Ann (Duffield, wife) and I predicted Paddington would win,” said Duffield.
“I said come and watch this race and I said ‘he will win, whatever he has to find he will find’ and I was chuffed when he proved me right.
“I said ‘that was just like Giant’s Causeway’ with the way the race went. When I rode Giant’s Causeway I jumped and found myself in front because the pacemaker got left and then the race was near enough identical for me.
“Paddington won a bit further than Giant’s Causeway, but the race played out like completely the same scenario. It was great stuff.”
Paddington has undertaken a steep rise to become one of the best three-year-olds in training and it was his Irish Guineas success at the Curragh that first alerted Duffield to his potential.
He has since gone on to prove himself a high-class operator and the two-time Classic winning rider feels Paddington has earned the right to be compared to Giant’s Causeway having shown a similar desire for victory at the business end of the Eclipse.
Duffield said: “The first time I took any notice of him was when he won the Irish Guineas.
“He just looked a bit sloppy and when he went to win his race at the Curragh he half hung fire a bit, got a bit lost and wanted to lay on the other horse. Then all of a sudden the penny dropped and ‘boom’ – away he went. It went from ‘he might win this race’ to ‘he will definitely win this race’ and he went and won quite well.
“He clearly improved from that and went to Ascot and showed you the horse he probably really was.
“In the Eclipse, the John Gosden filly is really good and he had to work hard for it and he was always going to outbattle her. He has that mindset, I think, just like Giant’s Causeway.”
Giant’s Causeway would go on to run a further five times after winning the Eclipse, winning three times at the highest level and being narrowly denied in the other two, most notably in his final start against Tiznow in an unforgettable Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Connections will be hoping Paddington will follow suit to become a fitting wearer of the ‘New Iron Horse’ moniker, something he has a chance of achieving in Duffield’s opinion because of his impeccable mindset.
“Ryan (Moore) said we haven’t seen the best of him yet and the race didn’t go to suit and I could both agree and disagree with that,” continued Duffield.
“I thought you couldn’t ask any more of him when you are taking on a filly as good as Emily Upjohn – she is a very good filly.
“I was watching thinking she was travelling quite well, Paddington was probably there sooner than he wants to be and idled a bit in front and then had to find it. And he found it, he buckled down and he found it.
“If you have that winning mindset, and he appears to have it, then they are always hard to beat because they are proper sporting horses that love the competition. If you put them under pressure they will go and find a bit more for you. Giant’s Causeway was the same, he just loved saying ‘come on have a go then, let’s see how good you are’.
“You don’t actually know what a horse is thinking, but that was the feeling Giant’s Causeway gave me in the Eclipse, ‘come on mate, you’re going to have to try harder than that because I’m not finished yet.”
“Paddington looks to have that mindset and looks a really good horse.”
Paddington appears likely to continue following the Giant’s Causeway route, mixing and matching the best options over a mile and 10 furlongs – something Duffield feels could prove the best option considering the pace he possesses.
“He might now go the Giant’s Causeway route and go for the Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte and I think he will always be the one to beat wherever he goes,” continued Duffield.
“He’s got pace. Any race you put him in he has the pace to deal with it, whether that is a mile or a mile and a quarter.
“I wouldn’t be looking at a mile and a half right now, I would just concentrate on a mile and a mile and a quarter. If you want to bring him back to a mile then fine, he will have no problem with that. Which way you go doesn’t matter. He has that natural speed.
“Aidan is the man for that though, he’ll know exactly where he will want to be sending him and I reckon he will always be one you have to be frightened of.
“The man is an absolute genius of a trainer and if he thinks he’s a good horse, then he knows the score, he knows his horses inside out and back to front. Ryan is a very good judge of a horse also, and if he thinks there is more to come like he said after the race then this could be a really good horse.
“I think he’ll be hard to beat wherever he goes.”