Here’s a tip for the remaining few weeks of the flat campaign: Keep Aidan O’Brien very much on your side.
All the indications are that horses from Ballydoyle are poised to finish out the season with a real flourish.
The one we want to see most of all, of course, is Gleneagles, reportedly being organised for a tilt at the Group 1, one-mile Quipco Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on October 17.
O’Brien has shipped some criticism for his failure to allow the son of Galileo to meet a number of engagements, since last seen winning the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot way back in the middle of June.
However, I am completely on O’Brien’s side when it comes to this discussion. Those who moan about the absence of Gleneagles usually base their whinge on the tired old chestnut of ‘what has the horse got to lose?’” Well, plenty actually. All the evidence to date tells us that Gleneagles is a pure miler at his best when the surface is good or better. To run him, for instance, over a mile-and-a-quarter on a soft surface, would simply not be in the best interests of Gleneagles.
O’Brien always sees the bigger picture and plays the long game, and we know that pays rich dividends.
Anyway, the hope now is that the ground come October will favour Gleneagles and he will be allowed to take his chance. If that’s not the case, then the moaners will just have to suck it up and wait for a possible tilt at the Breeders’ Cup.
On October 10, a week before the Queen Elizabeth, is the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. It may feature a clash between O’Brien’s Air Force Blue and the Charlie Appleby-trained Emotionless.
Emotionless made a good start when winning at Newmarket and then, before he ran at Doncaster last time, I was told that this was the best juvenile owned by Godolphin. He didn’t disappoint, either, cruising through the contest and winning in a canter.
However, in Air Force Blue he will face a rival much better than those he beat out of sight at Doncaster. Air Force Blue is three from four and was impressive in Group 1 company on his last two outings, both at the Curragh.
Basically, we want these two horses to take on each other, Coolmore versus Godolphin. It would prove spectacular and informative.
The other O’Brien inmate of great interest is the four-year-old filly Tapestry, who made a belated, but splendid, seasonal debut at the Curragh 13 days ago. She contested the Group 3 Blandford Stakes, producing a cracking display to be beaten only half-a-length into second by James Fanshawe’s Ribbons.
We know Tapestry is top class, as evidenced by her shock defeat of 1-5 shot, Taghrooda, in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks at York in August of last year. She is noted in the ante-post lists for the Prix De l’Opera at Longchamp on tomorrow week. Whether that is the target remains to be seen.
Add in the Breeders’ Cup, Melbourne Cup and plenty of action to come in Britain and Ireland and what it could all add up to is an eventful and lucrative number of weeks ahead for Ballydoyle. Don’t say you weren’t told!
WE know from experience that when mares start to improve, often the first thing that has to be discarded is logic.
Take the case of the relatively moderate Balofilo. She went to Listowel last Sunday for a handicap hurdle, on the back of failing to win in her previous 19 races, including seven in Italy, but, at the 20th attempt, the daughter of Teofilo finally revealed her true identity, scoring unextended by five lengths.
At Ballinrobe on Tuesday, she defied a 6lbs penalty and went in again. She is rated a paltry 44 on the flat.
Then there is Ballychorus, though she differs from Balofilo, in that she has always been decent enough.
That said, however, her recent progress has been impressive, winning her last three races and making it four from five overall. Her latest success came at Ballinrobe on Tuesday when she just kicked the heavily-backed Carriganog out of the park over fences. Ballychorus, you suspect, is definitely going places.
Simple Verse was handed the English Leger on appeal on Wednesday and, given what had gone before, the decision was entirely predictable.
We all know that the horse’s rider, Andrea Atzeni, basically took the law into his own hands at Doncaster when creating his own gap under two furlongs down when hemmed in by Bondi Beach and splendid race-riding on the part of Colm O’Donoghue.
Atzeni manoeuvred out in the near certain knowledge that he would be suspended, but Simple Verse would keep the race.
He was proved right, eventually. The conclusions arrived at by the BHA disciplinary panel merely confirmed that to lose a race in Britain you virtually have to kill some one.
That situation is likely to continue until either rider or beast suffers a serious injury, or worse.
At least the British are consistent.
Yes, indeed, they consistently get it wrong.
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