O’Brien York plans in limbo

AIDAN O’Brien has yet to finalise running plans for the Juddmonte International at York next Tuesday.

With Harbinger now out of the equation after suffering a career-ending leg injury, O’Brien’s Rip Van Winkle is favourite across the boards for the Group One contest.

The Galileo colt was a narrow second to Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last month and his trainer is eyeing up a trip to the Knavesmire.

Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco, a distant second behind Harbinger in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, is another Ballydoyle inmate under consideration for the race.

“We’re looking at the Juddmonte with both Rip Van Winkle and Cape Blanco but it hasn’t been decided whether we will run one or both,” said O’Brien.

“They are both in good form and ready to run, we’re just waiting for everyone to decide.

“It’s not definite by any means – we have the Juddmonte and then the Irish Champion a couple of weeks later.

“We’re looking at the Juddmonte with Rip Van Winkle – we’re hoping he’s going to turn up, we just haven’t confirmed it definitely with everyone yet.”

The main opposition to Rip Van Winkle appears to be the Prince Khalid Abdullah-owned duo of Byword and Twice Over.

Byword was a narrow victor when the pair clashed in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe expects a close contest again.

“Last year we thought Byword was very good but he was affected by a virus and this year he has come on in leaps and bounds,” said Grimthorpe.

“He ran really well against Goldikova in the Prix d’Ispahan. She had put the race to bed, but they were 10 lengths ahead of the third.

“He travelled really well at Ascot. There’s probably not a huge amount between him and Twice Over and it’s going to be fascinating.”

Twice Over’s trainer, Henry Cecil, added: “I’m hoping he’ll run very well. He’s in good form and there’ll be no excuses.”

David Simcock’s Bushman is enjoying a stellar campaign and could test the water at the highest level for the first time.

“I’d like him to run in the Strensall Stakes – nine furlongs would be ideal - but he has a sporting owner and he would probably want to run him in the International,” said the trainer.

O’Brien meanwhile is uncertain when classy colt St Nicholas Abbey will make his racecourse return.

An unbeaten juvenile campaign culminated in a breathtaking victory in the Racing Post Trophy, leading bookmakers to price him up as favourite for the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby.

He was beaten into sixth in the first-named contest at Newmarket, however, and a subsequent setback has seen him sidelined ever since.

“He’s back cantering. He hasn’t worked yet but he’s getting close,” said O’Brien. “Everything is good but we haven’t picked a race because we want him to tell us when he’s ready.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox