Joseph O’Brien predicting big things from Air Force Blue

Joseph O’Brien is predicting big things from Air Force Blue in 2016.
Joseph O’Brien predicting big things from Air Force Blue

A winner of four of his five starts at two for Aidan O’Brien, with O’Brien jnr in the saddle for two of them, his only defeat came behind Buratino in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He later went on to turn that form around in the Phoenix Stakes and concluded a great first season with a comfortable win in the Dewhurst at Newmarket.

“Air Force Blue is an exceptional horse; he has a lot of speed and class,” said O’Brien.

“He never looked like he was going to be a two-year-old as he’s such a big horse, but he just got better and better all year.

“He always worked well and really improved when he got to the track, every time. He was untouchable as a two-year-old and he’s turned into a huge, big monster of a horse. He’s done really well and he’s a very exciting horse for next season. The 2000 Guineas is the plan.”

Unusually the winter Derby favourite does not hail from Ballydoyle but there could be some nice types lurking.

“With regards to the Derby, we’ve a number of nice Galileos that all ran very well in big races,” said O’Brien.

“We’ve Johannes Vermeer who won the Group One in the France (Criterium International) and we’ve a horse out of Remember When, Beacon Rock, who ran very well a couple of times.

“We also have a couple of nice Galileos that haven’t run and we’ve a nice horse that was just beat in a maiden at Leopardstown towards the end of the season. So we have some nice horses that may be a little bit under the radar hopefully.

“Galileo is probably the best sire ever and you could never have enough of them.

“Air Force Blue is the main one for the mile, mile-and- a-quarter campaign but we have others who might be under the radar.”

  • La Estrella has been retired less than 24 hours after racing into the record books at Southwell.

Just days before officially turning 13, Don Cantillon’s veteran made history at his favourite circuit by becoming the first horse to win 27 races on the all-weather.

The Newmarket-based trainer reports his pride and joy to have taken his exertions in his stride, but feels the time is right to call it a day.

He said: “The horse has been out this morning and was galloping round the paddock. The vet was here to look at another horse, he gave him a thorough examination and I’m delighted to report he’s 100 per cent sound and happy.

“However, after considering it this morning, I’ve decided that he will now be retired. As a gesture to the horse, we won’t ask him to race again.

“He’s achieved so much and achieved the ultimate yesterday in breaking the record. But I want to do what’s right for the horse.”

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