Aidan O’Brien anticipating ‘close call’ on Gleneagles QEII run

Gleneagles will make the journey to Ascot this morning after trainer Aidan O’Brien confirmed his intention to make a late decision on his participation in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The master of Ballydoyle walked the course yesterday afternoon and was encouraged enough by what he saw to allow his dual 2000 Guineas hero to travel from Ireland on race day morning.

O’Brien said: “The ground’s borderline. Parts of it are good and parts of it are on the soft side of good.

“We’re going to take him racing and see how it rides for the first few races.

“The ground is not far away from where it needs to be for him to run. You would hope it might tighten up a bit before his race tomorrow. A millimetre of rain though would be too much. After Ryan (Moore) has ridden on it tomorrow, he will know what it is like – he will know straight away. The times will tell us a lot as well.

“From the three-furlong pole to the furlong pole is where it is quicker.

“The horse has always come first and we want to be fair to him. If it doesn’t rain, there is no heavy dew and when the lads have ridden on it and say it is good ground or better, especially Ryan, then we might take our chance.

“It’s a close call – if the ground starts shifting and breaking off the top, we are going to be in trouble.”

It has been a frustrating summer for Gleneagles and his supporters, with the three-year-old having missed several engagements on account of unfavourable ground conditions since landing the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, the Juddmonte International at York and Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes were all pencilled in before eventually being ruled out, and this weekend appears the final opportunity for him to showcase his talents in Europe.

O’Brien revealed earlier in the week that should he not take his chance at Ascot, Gleneagles could have a racecourse gallop at Southwell before a potential tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

Ascot’s clerk of the course Chris Stickels , who walked the track with O’Brien, revealed there is still a chance of some rainfall at the Berkshire circuit.

Regarding the decision on whether Gleneagles will run, Stickels said: “I think it’s a very close thing and I wouldn’t like to say which way it will go.

“I think they want to run, but obviously they want the ground to be right. I think they’re happy enough with how the track walks, but they want to see how it rides.

“The forecast is predominantly dry, but we could get a shower of rain any time. There are showers to the east of us and we may be unlucky and get one or we may miss them altogether, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Freddy Head hailed Solow a “real champion” ahead of his bid to extended his Group One-winning sequence to five.

The dashing grey sprang to prominence when winning the Dubai Turf in March, after which he claimed the Prix d’Ispahan in May, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in June and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in July.

“He’s had a few problems in the past – swollen joints and things like this - but nothing serious and that’s why we gelded him,” said the Chantilly handler.

“I always thought he was going to be a good horse, but he let us down a bit at the beginning of his three-year-old career, but I ran him over too far.

“It (Ascot) will be his last start for the year. After the race he will go to the Wertheimers’ stud for a few weeks before we think about Dubai again.

“He’s a versatile, beautiful mover and is very easy to train.

“He’s a real champion – he has everything.”

One horse on a steep upward curve is Clive Cox’s Kodi Bear, winner of three of his four runs this season since a setback in the spring forced him to miss the Guineas.

“He’s a horse we’ve always held in high regard. I’m just delighted with the way he’s progressed every step of the way,” said Cox.

“He’s been very convincing, albeit this is another step up and we’re all respectful of the opposition, but we’re going there with a happy feel.”

Andre Fabre’s Territories was second to Gleneagles at Newmarket and had Kodi Bear behind him when winning the Prix Jean Prat in July.


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