A sense of both joy and relief could be detected in the smile on the face of Aidan O’Brien after Minding destroyed her rivals to confirm superiority over her peers when leading home a remarkable one-two-three for the trainer in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket yesterday.
After suffering the anguish of watching Air Force Blue fail to live up to his odds-on status at the track 24 hours earlier in the 2000 Guineas, O’Brien had no such worries on this occasion.
Long admired by all those involved with her, including jockey Ryan Moore, the daughter of Galileo did not disappoint as she trounced the opposition, just as she did in the Fillies’ Mile on her final run as a two-year-old back in October.
In order for there to be no hard luck story Moore made the decision to position the 11-10 favourite just off the early pace set by Lumiere, with Jet Setting sitting in close proximity to the pair through the opening exchanges.
As Lumiere weakened rapidly approaching the final quarter of a mile, Moore made use of the potent turn of foot - and stamina - possessed by Minding to advance her claims for Classic glory and forge into what was to become an unassailable advantage.
Despite setting sail plenty early enough, there was to be no catching Minding as she drew impressively clear for a three-and-a-half-length victory from Ballydoyle, with Alice Springs a further half a length away as O’Brien bagged his 250th Group One winner.
O’Brien said: “She’s always been very high class and she’s a pure home-bred. We’ve known the family well for a long time, which is great, it’s a massive help.
“She’s exciting, really. Ryan rode her handy and he was happy to do that, she looked relaxed, she wasn’t tense and he was very confident she was going to stay and everyone at home thought she was very fit.”
Although Minding was cut into even-money for the Investec Oaks with William Hill and RaceBets - and 4-5 for the same race with both Ladbrokes and Paddy Power - she was also handed an intriguing quote of 5-2 favourite ‘with a run’ for the Derby by both Hills and Ladbrokes.
O’Brien, who is set to run leading Derby fancy US Army Ranger at Chester on Thursday, said: “She’d have the option of going back to an Irish Guineas and then an Oaks after that, but everyone will talk about it.
“It (Oaks) is very possible, but I don’t want to say it until we get home. We’ve always thought she’d stay.
“She will definitely get a mile and a quarter and usually if they are very high class and they get a mile and a quarter they will get a mile and a half. The next two weeks the gloves are coming off a lot of horses. We will wait and see what happens as a lot of horses are having their first runs.”
Time is a healer and although Air Force Blue’s defeat hit O’Brien and his patrons hard, the trainer found it within himself to share a joke as he discussed where Saturday’s disappointing Classic favourite might go next.
“I suppose I couldn’t destroy them all,” he said through a smile. “It is very possible it was my fault.
“I got a fright after his second last piece of work because the first thing that came in to my head is that this horse can’t get a mile at Newmarket.
“I know he went very early but he travelled very strong for the first four furlongs doing 11 second furlongs. We will be gentle with him next time.”
Meanwhile Minding’s part owner Michael Tabor said.“Yesterday was so disappointing,” “But racing can do that. Today, you come here and it fulfills all expectations. Sometimes it leaves you wondering about the game.
“We found nothing untoward with Air Force Blue – not a thing – which kind of surprised me. His run was too bad to be true, or maybe he is not as good as we thought.”
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