“I have to be careful what I say now, don’t I?’’, are the words Aidan O’Brien reportedly muttered in the wake of his Caravaggio enjoying no more than a leisurely stroll on the way to winning the Group 1 Phoenix stakes at the Curragh last Sunday.
But Aidan was only joking, presumably, as he proceeded to be anything but careful, heaping praise on the newest sensation to emerge from the green fields of Ballydoyle.
Apparently, Caravaggio may be the latest “best’’ Aidan has trained. He was quoted as saying: “On his last piece of work he did a top speed of 45 mph. Since I’ve been at Ballydoyle we’ve never had a horse to hit that speed, I think the previous best was around 42!’’ Well, if that’s Aidan being careful then I’d love to be around when he cuts loose.
But, of course, there’s no harm at all in such comments and, hostage to fortune or not, they merely add to one’s interest in what right now is no more than a highly promising two-year-old.
Obviously, you would just love to see Caravaggio taking on Wesley Ward’s American flying machine, Lady Aurelia, in tomorrow week’s Prix Morny at Deauville.
Lady Aurelia was simply brilliant when winning the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot by an astonishing seven lengths and this pair going head-to-head would, by a long way, be the best juvenile contest of the campaign.
Ballydoyle are always up for a real challenge, but O’Brien will have to do what is best for Caravaggio and whether running him again just two weeks after the Curragh is the right way to go is the question he will have to answer. You’d imagine the final decision will be in the negative.
In many ways the racing over the last ten days or so has been very much about horses trained by O’Brien.
Take his two-year-old filly, Hydrangea for instance, who was second behind Dermot Weld’s Eziyra in a maiden at Galway.
Hydrangea had a very good draw in four at Galway, with Eziyra far less favoured out wide in 11 of 14.
But a combination of greenness and a lack of early pace were no help to Hydrangea and she was soon locked away on the inside.
Then Pat Smullen, on Eziyra, produced some excellent race riding up hill to the home straight, ensuring that Hydrangea could never get any sort of run.
By the time the O’Brien filly escaped it was all too late and she was two lengths adrift of the tail- swishing Eziyra at the line.
At the Curragh, however, Hydrangea made every yard of the running to score with lots to spare. What was particularly significant, though, was how much money was wagered on the daughter of Galileo.
As well as the best of horses, Ballydoyle also seems to house some of the biggest hitters in the game when it comes to punting.
Hydrangea was odds against for much of the day, but as the race neared the exchanges, rather spectacularly, went into freefall and she was a 4-9 shot at the off. When the odds on a Ballydoyle-trained horse collapse to this extent those playing rarely leave the money behind.
Then there is the case of the Ballydoyle Galileo colt, Utah, who won a maiden at the Curragh. Why is he so interesting, well I’ll tell you?
Utah, who didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs in the straight, made his debut at Leopardstown on July 21, finishing sixth of eight behind stable companion, Douglas Macarthur.
In fourth spot, a length and a quarter in front of Utah, was Tommy Stack’s fellow first-timer, Gino Severini.
Now the bould Gino renewed rivalry with Utah at the Curragh, but you would be hard pressed to find a punter anywhere who thought he had a prayer of confirming the Leopardstown placings.
Utah was returned the 11-10 favourite, with Gino Severini available at over 20-1 at one stage on Betfair. Gino didn’t perform at all badly, but was still almost five lengths behind Utah in fourth. Ah yes, there are occasions when you just cannot believe what you read in that form book!
A Ballydoyle horse you would have to love is Capri, successful of late at the Galway festival and then at Tipperary.
Yet another Galileo, he seems to have a good attitude and a grand uncomplicated way of doing things
Seamie Heffernan has ridden him to both successes and the way the man who doesn’t say much has been animated in interviews after the races has to be more than worth noting.
We said here some weeks ago that if O’Brien ever got Air Force Blue back to anything approaching Group 1 level it would be a miracle.
In the light of a dismal effort at the Curragh on Sunday that’s certainly never going to happen and surely we will be hearing about the horse’s retirement, sooner rather than later.
I THOUGHT Willie Mullins’ Laws Of Spin might turn up in the McEnery Cup Handicap over a mile and a half at Gowran Park on Wednesday night, but sidestepped the engagement.
Laws Of Spin didn’t really look much good in five outings as a juvenile last season and was hardly on many lists as a horse to follow.
But gelding him seems to have concentrated the mind and he made a winning reappearance over ten furlongs at Ballinrobe last month.
Then stepping up another five furlongs in trip nine days ago at Leopardstown saw Laws Of Spin go in again.
He’s now a total of 14lbs higher for his audacity, but still has to be worth a second glance off a mark of 89. Mullins is a dangerous man when he gets one rolling!
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