O’Brien team set for Curragh gallop

The Curragh is gearing up for Aidan O’Brien bringing a team of top horses to the track for a racecourse gallop after racing on Sunday.

O’Brien team set for Curragh gallop

The Ballydoyle trainer has made an annual event of giving some of his star names and Classic prospects a day out as preparation for the season ahead.

This year will be no exception with his string exercising after Irish Flat racing has kicked-off the new campaign with a quality card featuring the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes and the Irish Lincolnshire.

“Aidan has booked in his horses to gallop after racing and that’s always a great spectacle here at the first meeting. Aidan has done that for a good number of years,” racecourse manager Paul Hensey said.

“He generally brings a lot of his Classic contenders and all the big-name horses for a day away at the first meeting, which means there are a lot of people coming to see those horses.

“It’s something we are really looking forward to, seeing maybe Australia and some of the other high-profile horses.

“I’m not sure exactly what is going to come but once we do know, we will let everybody know who is going to gallop.

“They don’t do anything too serious on the track. They generally do a good half-speed or a good swinging canter on the track, but I think the objective is to get the horses away for a day and get them focused on racing again at the start of the season.

“We’ve been very lucky and seen all the good horses over the years from Camelot to So You Think.”

Hensey reports the course to be in good shape after a winter that was not as challenging as in the past.

“We’ve not had that tough a winter. We had quite a dry spell through to Christmas and on Sunday we will be racing on ground which has not been raced on since September,” he said.

“We didn’t get a lot of cold weather or really a lot of very wet weather through the winter.

“It was a good winter on the track and we’ve got a good cover of grass. Fingers crossed, we could start on a lot worse.”

Meanwhile Kingston Hill, the brilliant winner of last season’s Racing Post Trophy, will head to Newmarket for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on May 3, trainer Roger Varian has confirmed.

Varian had been mulling over whether to run the son of Mastercraftsman in the Guineas or a Derby trial but said on Thursday morning that the opening Classic of the season is the target for the Paul Smith-owned colt.

“He is being trained with the Guineas in mind and all being well that is route we’ll take,” the trainer said.

“He’s spot on where I want him at the moment and he hasn’t missed a beat. He wouldn’t be ready for a race tomorrow and I want to see a zip in his work come April but he’s doing plenty now.

“The horse deserves a crack at the Guineas and then we can step him up in trip. He will stay a mile and a half.

Kingston Hill won all of his three starts as a two-year-old and with ease in the ground on all three occasions questions had been raised as to how he would cope with a quicker surface.

That prospect though, holds little concern for Varian, who added: “His work at home on fast ground has excited us so I don’t think that is going to be a problem.

“Last year we started him over seven furlongs and then he ran twice over a mile including in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on pretty awful ground. People are saying that he’s a soft ground horse, but I am convinced that he will be as effective if not more effective on good ground.”

Kingston Hill’s odds for the Guineas range between 8-1 and 10-1 and he also figures prominently in the betting for the Investec Derby at Epsom in June.

More in this section


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

Sign up

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