Belmont raid sees Irish duo chasing taste of Big Apple
Dermot Weld and Aidan O'Brien will vie to add to their fantastic international exploits in different Grade One events at Belmont Park tomorrow night.
Weld, whose stunning 1990 Belmont Stakes triumph with the Mick Kinane-ridden Go And Go remains the sole European-based success in an American Triple Crown event, will be represented by Postulation at the New York track in the Belmont Derby.
Pat Smullen partners Postulation in the $1.25m 10-furlong three-year-olds' event , while O'Brien has booked Colm O'Donoghue for Outstanding in the $1m Belmont Oaks over the same trip.
O'Donoghue has a fantastic Grade One record for O'Brien abroad. On the North American continent, he has won the 2010 Canadian International aboard Joshua Tree, the 2011 Secretariat Stakes on Treasure Beach and QE II Challenge Cup on Together.
A year ago, he and O'Brien (below) nearly conquered the Belmont Derby, with Adelaide denied a neck by Mr Speaker. Outstanding has been installed a 6/1 third favourite by Paddy Power to go one better in the Oaks, with Chad Brown's Lady Eli, unbeaten in four starts, including last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf, the 6/4 market leader.
In 2014, O'Brien's Wonderfully and Weld's Flying Jib finished down the field in the Oaks, which was won by Brown's Coolmore-owned Minorette, a winner on its 2013 Naas debut for O'Brien before being transferred to the States. Adopting his usual 'when in Rome' policy, O'Brien has chosen to run Outstanding on Lasix, the highly controversial anti-bleeding race-day medication that is banned in almost all other major racing nations.
Weld has opted not to administer Lasix to Postulation in the colts' race.
Whereas Outstanding faces 13 rivals, Postulation must overcome just eight others, with Paddy Power rating him a 4/1 second-favourite behind 3/1 shot Bolo, a short-odds Santa Anita conditions race winner after being beaten 13 lengths by Triple Crown hero American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby.
Bolo was also twice placed behind the Kentucky Derby third Dortmund.
He is hardly a formidable market leader, though his standard of form is more striking than Postulation, which famously overcame the savage intentions of rival Parish Hall to score for a third time in eight starts in Listed company at the Curragh on June 7.
Postulation and Outstanding are stepping up notably in class, then, but their respective trainers aren't in the habit of orchestrating transatlantic forays just make up the numbers. O'Brien himself will likely be on duty closer to home, having declared Cougar Mountain for the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. Successful in just one of six starts in largely high-class company prior to heading to Royal Ascot, the Fastnet Rock colt earned a tilt at tomorrow's Group One by getting to within a length-and-a-quarter of Solow over a mile in the Queen Anne Stakes.
That was the first time that Ryan Moore rode Cougar Mountain and he is back on board tomorrow, with blinkers being tried for a first time in a bid to thwart the brilliant Derby victor Golden Horn. John Gosden's classy colt is dropping back to 10 furlongs for his first clash with his elders in the £450,000 Group One, but he is 4/11 across the board to stretch his unbeaten record to five under Frankie Dettori.
Kevin Ryan's 2014 Irish Champion Stakes victor The Grey Gatsby is a 7/2 shot to spoil the party under Jamie Spencer after going so gallingly close against Free Eagle in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Ascot. Cougar Mountain, Gosden's Western Hymn and Andrew Balding's Oisin Murphy-ridden Tullius are 12/1 or bigger to cause a major upset.
At Perth yesterday, Gordon Elliott bettered his Wednesday double with a well-backed four-timer at his beloved Scottish hunting ground. The trainer later made it a superb 474/1 seven-timer for the day with a treble at Bellewstown. Richard Johnson did the steering at Perth aboard The Absent Mare (9/4f), Broughtons Bandit (7/2) and Russian Regent (1/1f), with Kevin Sexton guiding Bank Bonus (6/4f) home to complete the 72/1 four-timer. Be Seeing You (1/1), Moonmeister (3/10f) and Mustadrik (6/4f) scored for Elliott at Bellewstown.
Meanwhile, Irish rider Eddie Creighton has made a remarkable recovery in Australia. Having been placed in an induced coma after a fall on Saturday, the 31-year-old was yesterday discharged from hospital.