Bondi Beach on Ascot Gold Cup trail at Navan

Aidan O’Brien is following a tried-and-tested route towards the Ascot Gold Cup with Bondi Beach when he contests the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan tomorrow.

The Galileo colt was briefly the St Leger winner last season.

Having finished just behind Simple Verse at Doncaster he was awarded the race in the stewards’ room after a bit of argy-bargy.

Many were surprised by the decision and connections of Simple Verse appealed and the filly was given the Classic back.

After that run, Bondi Beach travelled to Australia, but failed to cut much ice in the Melbourne Cup, finishing 16th.

He looks set to play a major part in all the staying race this season, though, after winning comfortably on his comeback at Limerick, with a return Down Under already in the trainer’s thoughts.

O’Brien, who was won the Vintage Crop with the likes of Yeats, Fame And Glory and Leading Light, told At The Races: “The Yorkshire Cup was an option, but he goes to the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on Sunday instead.

“He ran in the Melbourne Cup last year and that is a race we’ll have in our minds for this year, too.”

Dermot Weld runs Zannda, a four-year-old filly who was progressive at the end of last season

She was, however, a beaten favourite upon her return at Leopardstown in the Noblesse Stakes.

Weld will also be familiar with Silwana, sold out of his yard for 320,000 euro to the Kawakami Racing Syndicate from Japan to be trained by Kildare-based Takashi Kodama.

“She’s in good form,” said Kodama.

“The ground was too tacky for her the last day and I didn’t know much about her then.

“She’ll be a bit better this time and I’m expecting a good run.

“As she’s owned by people who like to breed my aim is to pick up as much black type as possible.”

The small field is completed by John Kiely’s useful Toe The Line, third behind Bondi Beach last time out.

Meanwhile O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas third Alice Springs journeys to France to contest the French equivalent at Deauville tomorrow.

The daughter of Galileo picked up minor honours behind stable companions Minding and Ballydoyle at Newmarket as O’Brien dominated the Rowley Mile Classic.

Alice Springs is reopposed by the John Gosden-trained Nathra, who won the Nell Gwyn on her seasonal reappearance before finishing fifth in the Guineas.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager for owner Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, said: “Nathra ran a great race at Newmarket. The front three were just better than her on the day.

“We feel she just stays the mile and hopefully she will stay the mile at Deauville.

“She came home from the Guineas very well. Within a couple of days John felt she would be ready to run in the French Guineas.

“He’s very happy with her, but she does have a terrible draw (stall 14) to overcome.”

The only other British challenger is Besharah from William Haggas’ yard.

Last season’s Princess Margaret and Lowther Stakes winner was beaten into third in a hastily-rearranged Fred Darling Stakes on the all-weather at Chelmsford last month.

Raymond also represents Besharah’s owner, Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, and added: “Besharah seems in good shape. She had to come from a long way back at Chelmsford and after that William was keen to miss the Guineas at Newmarket and wait for France.

“She hasn’t run over a mile, but William feels she’ll get the trip, so we’ll see. We’re hopeful rather than confident.”

Heading the home team is Jean-Claude Rouget’s Qemah.

The Danehill Dancer filly was third behind Ballydoyle in the Prix Marcel Boussac last October and made a hugely impressive return in the Prix de la Grotte at Chantilly.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Al Shaqab Racing, said: “She ran a very good race in the Boussac last year and she’s a filly who did particularly well over the winter.

“I think everyone saw how impressive she was in her trial, she’s well forward and forward in her coat.

“I know Jean-Claude really rates her and she has a terrific turn of foot, which is a useful weapon to have in a racehorse.

“I think the straight mile at Deauville will suit, we’re very excited about her and we’re hopeful she’ll be competitive.”

Master trainer Andrew Fabre runs the Godolphin-owned Come Alive, who has won each of her two starts to date.

John Ferguson, racing manager and chief executive for the owners, told www.godolphin.com: “Come Alive is a filly Andre has always held in high regard and the fact that he wants to run her in the Guineas is good enough for me.”

Rouget also runs multiple winner La Cressonniere, while Pascal Bary’s Antonoe and Christophe Ferland’s Kenriya also feature in a 14-strong field.


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