Sport Horse Racing

Thursday 24 August 2017

Few foes for Churchill - but Seventh blow for Ballydoyle

Trainer Aidan O'Brien Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Trainer Aidan O'Brien Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Johnny Ward

Churchill's trainer Aidan O'Brien will have a maximum of three other handlers to deal with in Saturday's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas, for which nine were left in at yesterday's five-day stage.

Trading in the ante-post market at long odds-on, the Newmarket Guineas winner is one of five horses trained in Ballydoyle which might still partake. O'Brien could also run Lancaster Bomber, which was fourth at Newmarket, Orderofthegarter, fifth in the French Guineas, Pipes Of Peace, Spirit Of Valor and War Decree.

The main opposition in the wagering to Churchill is the Michael Halford-trained Irish Correspondent, 5/1 with Paddy Power, but perhaps his most intriguing foe is Saeed bin Suroor's Thunder Snow. He will bid to get his career back on the rails after engaging in a bucking dance coming out of the stalls in the Kentucky Derby that mystified connections. Glastonbury Song may also run.

O'Brien is responsible for eight of the 13 remaining fillies in the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, including Newmarket heroine Winter. While Newmarket runner-up Rhododendron has also been left in the race, she is more likely to head for the Oaks.

Stablemates Alluringly, Asking, Elizabeth Browning, Hydrangea, Pocketfullofdreams and Roly Poly have been left in too, with no notable withdrawals yesterday.

The champion trainer seems to hold the key to the Group Two Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes, with Acapulco, Cougar Mountain, Painted Cliffs and Washington DC all entered on Saturday. Washington DC is also entered in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock.

"Acapulco could go to the Curragh and Washington could go to England," O'Brien said last evening.

Stablemate Seventh Heaven, however, faces a spell at home. She was one of the main fancies the Coronation Cup at Epsom next week following her success at Newmarket earlier this month.

Last year's King George and Breeders' Cup Turf hero Highland Reel and his brother Idaho, who was third in the 2016 Derby, are instead likely to run in the Coronation Cup.

O'Brien said: "Seventh Heaven had a little bit of a setback so she probably won't be back out until the autumn. We are thinking that the brothers might go there."

Meanwhile, John Gosden was satisfied with Cracksman as he put the finishing touches to his Investec Derby preparation with a spin around Epsom yesterday morning. Frankie Dettori was also pleased with Cracksman's gallop, emphasising that he had been far from hard on the colt.

Another son of Frankel to strut his stuff at Epsom was Eminent. Trainer Martyn Meade is expecting the step up to a mile-and-a-half to bring out the best in his charge, which was backed in the betting yesterday. He said: "I was absolutely thrilled: he did exactly what we wanted him to do."

Irish Independent

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