SAINTS legend Mick Channon finally secured his first Classic victory as Samitar sprang a minor surprise in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh today.
The former Dell striker and England international began his training career in 1990 and, while he has enjoyed plenty of big-race success in various countries, the most sacred of racing prizes had eluded him.
Ballydoyle handler Aidan O'Brien is, of course, no stranger to Classic success, and having won both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, he was aiming to keep the run going with three challengers.
Chief candidate was hugely impressive Newmarket heroine Homecoming Queen, but while at Headquarters she blitzed her rivals from the front, on this occasion the 11-8 favourite could never shake off her opponents and weakened tamely in the straight to finish fourth.
Samitar had shown some smart form as a juvenile, but following disappointing efforts in a sales race at Newmarket and in the French 1000 Guineas, she was allowed to go off at 12-1 in the hands of young rider Martin Harley, who was having his first ride in a Classic.
But the filly could have been spotted travelling strongly a long way out and once a confident Harley asked his mount to quicken, she responded impressively to put the race to bed.
O'Brien-trained outsider Ishvana filled the runner-up spot, a length and a half away, with Princess Sinead filling the minor places.
A trip to Royal Ascot now beckons for Samitar, but Channon is already resigned to the fact the filly will be heading across the Atlantic before the end of the year to run for her American owner, Martin Schwartz.
Channon said: "I'm delighted she's found her form.
"She didn't run badly in France, but she made the running and she should have been held up.
"It was my fault for running her in a sales race at Newmarket before that - I was trying to be clever dropping her back to six furlongs.
"She needed some decent ground and she's got it now.
"I kept saying she's a good filly and it is hard for people to keep believing in you when things go wrong.
"She'll go for the Coronation Stakes (Royal Ascot) and she was bought by the owner (Martin Schwartz) to go to America. Hopefully after to winning today I'll keep her until September.
"The owner believed in me by putting Martin on and he got it spot-in - she was ridden with confidence.
"Martin's very confident and is a very hard worker."
Harley said: "It was a big opportunity to be given my first ride in a Classic.
"The boss has given me a lot of chances and to give me a ride like this in a Classic is unbelievable.
"She's been working good and I have to say a big thanks to the boss and all the staff back home.
"Two furlongs down she was never going to beat and she travelled like the winner the whole way.
"What an amazing feeling."