Tag Archives: Aiden O’Brien

Preview: Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial

Joseph O'Brien

Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes (Group 3)

The weather played havoc with the field for the Derby Trial and that means only four will go to post today. Ballysax winner Success Days is the favouite to land the race in these conditions. The Jeremy son has two impressive victories to his name, both achieved in similar conditions and the form of those races looks really strong as it has produced some good NTO winners.

Closest pursuer should be Dermot Weld’s Summaya who beat Hans Holbein in a 10f maiden on heavy ground earlier this year. He was also only half a lengths behind Diamondsandrubies last month when fourth in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.

While Carbon Dating looks out of his depth in this field, the only remaining Aiden O’Brien inmate Cradle Mountain can’t be that easily discounted. He won a Navan maiden over 1m a fortnight ago, showing guts while crying our for further. He beat the clear favourite who showed smart form in the past when runner-up behind Hans Holbein.

Cradle Mountain doesn’t enjoy the benefit of the 7lb allowance of jockey Donnacha O’Brien today, but with the step up to 10f sure to suit and the ground probably not much of an issue, he’s bound to improve. He looks a mad price in this four runner affair in my book.

Cradle Mountain @ 16/1 William Hill – 5 pts Win

Guineas Weekend Review

The flat season is well and truly alive! Not only that, but time moves quickly and we now have also the first Classic of the new season behind us! So let’s quickly recap on what happened over the last weekend….

Gleneagles’s a proper miler…..

Isn’t he? You couldn’t say anything else after an impressive display over the Rowley Mile on Saturday. Yes, he had pretty much everything going for himself. Perfect draw, ground to suit and gaps opened when you would have wanted them to open for him.

Says he got an inch perfect ride from Ryan Moore and had the class to take advantage of the gaps when it was most needed. He romped home, stayed strongly the new trip and the 2¼ lengths winning margin is a fair reflection of how much better he is than the rest. For the moment at least.

Gleneagles


No excuses for…..

Estidhkaar! Yes, it probably was an advantage to be in the stand side group, but no, that isn’t an excuse for his flat performance. Hanagan hard at work from over three furlongs out – Estidhkaar was simply not good enough.

My assumption proved right that the Greenham result was a rather freakish one, and I find it amusing that connections now try to blame the quick Newmarket ground on his poor Guineas performance, when he performed so well in blistering quick conditions at Newbury before.


Ivawood and The Brave One….

Ivawood - 2000 Guineas

There were plenty of horses a bit unlucky of not getting the best of runs in the 2.000 Guineas. But two individuals do stand out for me in terms of proving a point:

Ivawood clearly stayed the trip and his third place is a very strong result given the fact that he didn’t have the benefit of travelling in the favoured stand side group. Only two horses from single figure stalls finished in the top eight eventually – he was the best of them.

Ivawood was gutsy and showed loads of talent, while not having quite a smooth ride as he had to angle out and fight for his gap. The Irish 2.000 Guineas is next on the agenda for him where he’s going to take on Gleneagles again. He may be able to finish closer then.

Home Of The Brave is an unlikely eye-catcher but in fact he was a strong one for me. He set a true pace for the stand side group and was there till the final furlong marker but didn’t quite see out the trip in the end.

He still finished a good sixth for all of that and he may can win a less demanding pattern race over a mile with an easy lead, or probably preferably, would be dropped back to 7f. He clearly confirmed that his fine victory in the Free Handicap (Listed) was no fluke.


Telescope finds a way to get beaten… again!

Telescope

He was the short priced favourite in a four runner affair and looked certain to win the Jockey Club Stakes. But he got beaten – once again. Probably Ryan Moore let him loose a bit too early, yet he should have been good enough to fend off Second Step.

In his last seven starts Telescope was either short favourite or joint favourite. He won only one of these and becomes an expensive commodity to follow. Bookies on the other hand are likely to erect a statue for him.


Twilight Son is Pattern Class….

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It was only a Handicap, but it’s also been only his third career start. Twilight Express was impressive to win the 6f sprint for three year old’s. Particularly in the way he did it.

This race resulted in the fastest finish on the card and Twilight Son ran just 12.18s for the concluding uphill furlong.  There is clearly much more to come from this Kyllachy son.


Legatissimo a legitimate Oaks favourite!

David Wachman’s filly stormed home to land the 1.000 Guineas in some style. Though this may be a slightly disappointing result for the fillies’ mile division – as she is clearly not a miler but very much a middle-distance horse.

Many of the better fancied fillies didn’t handle ground or trip or track or all of that combined. But you can’t make excuses for everything and personally I’m slightly disappointed with the race. Lucida is potentially the one to take out of it, though. She got hampered at the start and ran out a nice second place.

Legatissimo on the other hand came into this race on the back of a Listed success over 9.5 furlongs. So to see her romping home in the way she did, dropping back to a mile, was impressive and says allot about her individual class, but also about the lack of class of most of her rivals in the field.

Anyway, she is obviously a very legitimate Oaks favourite now. On pedigree she is entitled to stay thus far, no problem. Out of a Montjeu mare, you would hope that there is more to come once she steps up in trip again.


False Rail is a positive move….

Newmarket Rowley Mile False Rail

Admittedly, the newly introduced false rail didn’t prevent the field from splitting into two groups in the 2.000 Guineas, nonetheless it is a positive move and I would hope this experiment will continue. More tracks should follow suit.

Why? Because it helps to prevent horses from finding themselves short of room on the inside rail when coming from off the pace. It works at Dundalk rather well for example, where this was a huge problem for many years before the introduction of a false rail.

It also works well in other racing jurisdictions. I In this context I always like to point to South Africa where false rails are a common theme at every track. It makes for fair and exciting racing more often than not. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be in place over here as well.


Tiggy Wiggy….

Impressed me in the 1000 Guineas. She performed much better than I would have thought. Positive tactics and fast ground helped her to get home rather well over a trip that stretches her stamina to a maximum.

She’ll be reverted back to sprinting now and will be a force in that particular division this season I’d reckon.


Personal Experience….

National Stud

It’s been the second year running that I went over to Newmarket to witness the 2.000 Guineas. Becomes a bit of a tradition now?! I really like the Rowley Mile. It’s a nice track, good facilities, good viewing (if binoculars on hand) and despite a huge crowd on Saturday, it never felt uncomfortable at all. Perfect!

Took in this time also some proper sightseeing as I already arrived on Friday. Walking up the legendary Warren Hill was quite an experience. Knew this place only from the comfort of my couch and TV. It’s really steep, isn’t it?!

Next stop was the National Stud. Said hello to Toronado and Dick Turpin and rounded up the day with a beautiful walk along the July Course and the Rowley Mile in splendid sunshine. Saturday followed the Guineas – it’s been fantastic I have to say.

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All Photos Credit: Florian Christoph

Friday Night at Dundalk: Report + Photos

Dundalk last night has been great! As always – I have to say. It never disappoints. Of course it helps if your 10/1 selection goes in, though! It was my third visit to Ireland’s only All-Weather track. The course is often hailed by trainers for its consistently excellent surface. Well maintained, not much kick-back, and with the false rail installed it is a fair track to race on these days.

Punters alike favour the track because the form stands up and most importantly you can see some good horses in action as well, usually in the feature race on the night. So happened yesterday, as outlined in my preview. The Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Race saw some really nice sorts going to post and it promised to be a real cracker. It didn’t disappoint! A three runner photo finish – exciting stuff!

Postulation held on to win it for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen. He finished a good runner-up behind subsequent John F Kennedy conqueror Success Days – so no surprise to see him going close here. Favourite Queen Nefertiti finished only third – but she should come on for the run and looked well in the parade ring before, like a filly that has clearly trained on.

Postulation
Postulation

Runner-up The Happy Prince for Aiden O’Brien in hands of his son Joseph travelled like the winner until the furlong marker, but didn’t quite find enough in the end. Yet he followed-up with a good performance on his recent Limerick success and is a nice type for the future.

Shannon Soul was beaten in fourth but was clearly the most impressive individual in the parade ring. Put him in your tracker, he may be able to win a nice race soon.

Kilimanjaro was a nice winner for the O’Brien team in the last race on the card. He contested in two hot maidens last season, showed himself much improved on his second start back then, but really made visually a good impression here at Dundalk in the parade ring. He won the maiden over the extended 10f trip in good fashion, really seemed to get rolling in the closing stages. He has a Derby entry. You wouldn’t expect him to be good enough. But the first time hood helped and sometimes these O’Brien horses can improve explosively, as we all know.

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

Personal highlight on the card was undoubtedly the win of Iron Major. If you read my preview yesterday, you know I tipped him to win at 10/1 – and he obliged duly. Inexperienced 10lb claimer Oisin Orr delivered a confident ride from the back of the field and went through an open gape 2f out. Iron Major found plenty when asked for an effort and was clearly well handicapped, as imagined beforehand.

Iron Major
Iron Major

Dundalk All-Weather

Photos – Gladness Stakes

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All Photos: Credit Florian Christoph

Preview: Gladness Stakes

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Cracking renewal of the Gladness Stakes with some strong entries from the UK. This is really good to see and one can only applaud the Curragh to be able to attract such a classy field.

That says you could easily make a case for plenty of runners n this field – like Sovereign Debt for example, who was unlucky on the All-Weather recently not win and should go well. Versatile Brendan Brackan is usually solid on this level and runs his race. Sruthan is a multiple Group 3 winner over course and distance and his record as a fresh horse gives him a big chance. Lightly raced That Is The Spirit is a 7f Listed winner and may improve as a four year old.

The one individual that really catches my eye, though, is clearly Aiden O’Brien’s Due Diligence. He’s had only six races on the clock so far and developed into an up and coming sprint star last season. A close second behind Slade Power in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is clearly the outstanding piece of form here. Question marks are obviously race fitness and the trip.

The stable form is on the upward recently. After a slow start, Aiden O’Brien’s horses start to run a lot better, which was most notably confirmed by a bit winner at the Craven meeting earlier the week. Surely there are be bigger targets ahead for Due Diligence this year, so one would assume that the Gladness Stakes are more like a stepping stone. But it would be a surprise to see him not race fit. It looks that race has been chosen as a starting point with clear intentions.

Yes, it is a prep, but it also should prove Due Diligence’s stamina. For that he has to be fit. I believe connections are eyeing the Lockinge Stakes as his big target, as he has an entry and quote for that race. That brings me to the other big question mark: the trip. He was beaten at this only try over 7f last season on seasonal reappearance as well as when still trained over in the US in a Graded race over 8.5f – but on pedigree he should actually be fine, in fact probably improve!

He is also a year older now, hopefully more matured. That should help as well. The ground won’t be an issue. He has won in similar conditions last season. On balance I feel 7/2 is an outstanding price and I’m rather be on it than against it in this race, despite it’s competitive nature. Anything close to last seasons form will see him winning this race.

3.50 Curragh: Gladness Stakes (Group 3)
Due Diligence @ 7/2 Coral – 5pts win 

Flat Horses To Follow

The start of the flat season is looming…… the ‘real’ start I mean! Yes, the Doncaster Lincoln is the traditional kick-off, but let’s be honest, the focus is still very much on the jumps – thanks to the all overshadowing Grand National. However you’ll see, time is flying.  A blink of an eye later and horses are already thundering down the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Guineas weekend!

That is reason enough for me to write down my personal “Flat Horses To Follow List”! I have worked myself through a large list of horses in recent weeks – to be more specific: I’ve been actually assessing the more or less promising two year old colts and geldings of the 2014 season. Based on that, I’ve come up with a 12 To Follow list…..

I know, everyone is coming up with ten to follow these days – that’s why I have twelve horses on my list! … Well, no. To be honest, I just couldn’t endure the pain to cut down the list to ten.

Archangel Raphael – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

This lightly races son of Montjeu was unlucky not to win on debut but made amends at the Galway Festival. He looked pretty green on both starts and was outpaced halfway through but was particularly impressive on his second outing when he had many negative factors to overcome but won in the manner of a talented individual. There’s bit lack of stamina on his dam side, but 1m 2f should be possible for him. Much further looks unlikely.

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Christophermarlowe – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Big, powerful, galloping sort with plenty of scope. Was still very much learning the game in both career starts, but looks to have some raw ability that could propel him into a top class performer. He handled Epsom well enough when winning a Conditions race on his second outing. Looks sure to get 1m 2f, could potentially get the Derby trip as well.

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Chemical Charge – 2 Starts, Ralf Beckett

Made a belated debut in October. Was visually impressive and followed up with minor win on the All-Weather weeks later. Showed a nice  turn of foot on Lingfield’s polytrack. He has a lovely middle-distance pedigree which should ensure he gets better with age and distance.

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Consort – 1 Start, Sir Michael Stoute

Impressive runaway winner of a hot Newmarket maiden last autumn. Produced strong turn of foot from the front but should be suited by stiffer test. Step up in trip should suit. He’s very likely to enjoy a mile and may even develop with time into a top class runner over a bit further. Out off the Guineas though as trainer said he need a bit more time.

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Endless Drama – 1 Start, Ger Lyons

Astonishing debut run late in the season when producing serious change of gear. Very well bred out of a Listed winning mare. Looks to have loads of speed and not sure if he would get a mile, but he has potential to do loads of damage over sprint trips if he fails to show enough stamina for further.

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Fannaan – 2 Starts, John Gosden

Utterly impressive in two career outings. Beat 104 rated individual under hands and heels in soft conditions at Newmarket over 7f on second start. Bred to be top class miler who should be even more suited by quick underfoot conditions. Exciting prospect.

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Full Mast – 3 Starts, Head-Maarek

Already a multiple Group winner in France over seven furlongs  in his short career, including the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere (actual winner Gleneagles demoted). Lovely bred and sure to improve with age and distance. Exciting middle-distance prospect.

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Golden Horn – 1 Start, John Gosden

Was slowly away and trailing on debut but produced great run to win in the end. Beat smart runner-up (was 2nd on debut behind subsequent Racingpost Trophy runner-up). He is a half-brother to a 10f Listed winner and is bound to excel over middle-distance trips this season once stepping up in trip.

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Giovanni Canaletto – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

A full-brother to Ruler Of The World, he is obviously very well bred. He has been quite green in his two career starts but finished strongly on debut behind a potentially smart winner. He produced a blistering turn of foot on his 2nd start, despite an awkward head carriage. He will improve with experience and distance.

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Mohaayed – 2 Starts, Kevin Prendergast

Very green on both starts. Completely unaware of what his job is supposed to be on debut. Very impressive winner on second start, beating smart Ballydoyle horse in third. Was looking- and wandering around in closing stages but showed some class. Future seems to be over middle-distance on pedigree.

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Highland Reel – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien

Very Green and raw and first two starts. Yet run out impressive 12l winner stepping up to one mile on second outing. Third of that race beat exciting prospect JFK subsequently. He went on to win Group 2 over seven furlongs at Goodwood on his last start in 2014. In a rather slowly run race he produced a blistering turn of foot. He should relish a stiffer test over further on pedigree. To my eyes he looks the real deal if he trains on. Serious Guineas prospect.

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Zawraq – 1 Start, Dermot Weld

Gutsy debut winner against potentially smart Sir Isaac Newton. Showed great attitude to fight back when under pressure. Trainer is very upbeat and rates him as best 3yo in the yard. More to come once stepping up in trip. He should get up to 1m 2f but looks to have enough speed for a crack at the Guineas as well.

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It would have been easy to put a list together with all the super sexy Aiden O’Brien prospects. And boy, he has aplenty on his hands! Equally John Gosden, who seems to have some very strong individuals at his disposal. Now, three horses each have made it into my list nonetheless. But I tried to provide a bit of variety and left out the obvious ones like John F Kennedy or Sir Isaac Newton & Gleneagles.

I suppose, if you nail me down to the ONE horse to follow for 2015 – It would be undoubtedly Highland Reel. I was so impressed with his maiden win, where he was more interested in anything else around him, than the actual job he had to do, yet he pulled clear by 12 lengths…. easily….. effortless.

This speaks volumes. He is a hugely talented individual. Mind you, the third of the mentioned maiden race won subsequently a maiden where he beat none less than John F Kennedy. Okay, it’s fair to say JFK needed the run and was green and of course will be better over further. Yet, it is still telling that such an exciting Ballydoyle prospect was a good deal beaten by a horse that was simply demolished by Highland Reel weeks before. Keep the winning margin always in mind: 12l+!

The son of Galileo stepped up in class almost as effortless weeks later at Glorious Goodwood. He dropped down to seven furlongs, right into a race where the pace wasn’t really on, he pulled hard early on, yet when asked for everything, he produced a blistering turn of foot and the race was over.

Highland Reel is the real deal! Yes, there are extremely positive vibes about Gleneagles, who is a short favourite for the 2.000 Guineas. But no doubt, the value lies with his stable mate. Aiden O’Brien confirmed already that HR will go down the Guineas route. And that make sense. From there he may can step up in trip. Coral Eclipse as the most likeliest next target?

But step by step. He’s 12/1 for the Guineas at the moment, and if he starts on the day indeed, he’ll have a much better chance to win. So I backed him ante-post and nominate him as my selection for the race. Highland Reel will win the Guineas.