Monday 16 October 2017

Happy Aidan O’Brien feels he’s got it right at Ascot

AIDAN O'Brien feels he has finally found the way to get the best out of So You Think after he claimed the 150th Anniversary of Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Bred in New Zealand and a multiple Group One winner in Australia, the six-year-old was expected to take the European middle-distance scene by storm after joining O'Brien at the beginning of last year.

But while he has claimed multiple Group One prizes, he has also suffered five defeats for team Ballydoyle, including in this race 12 months ago.

Reverses in the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup suggested he had perhaps been over-hyped, but he got the show back on track in last month's Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, and he was the 4-5 favourite to secure his fifth top-level prize for O'Brien and his 10th in all.

Always travelling strongly in the hands of the trainer's son, Joseph, So You Think picked up well to fight off the challenge of the Queen's Carlton House.

The official winning margin was two and a quarter lengths, with Farhh a big eyecatcher back in third.

O'Brien senior said: "We expected a big run today, we felt like we had him in a place that he was never in before with us, which is incredible.

"I think we've had him a year and a half and it's taken me that long to learn how to train him.

"I was probably over-working the horse and galloping the speed out of him instead of letting him be natural."

So You Think may just have one more race before heading back Down Under to begin his career at stud.

"We knew we only had a few runs left (before retiring to stud), maybe today and Sandown (Eclipse) to get him back, so we listened to them and Joseph and the lads were confident it was going to come," said O'Brien senior.

"It will be the boys decision when he goes to stud, but Sandown is in our head as a cut-off point. We'll be pleading hard now that we have him in this place but it's a business decision."

Victory in the feature was the second leg of a double for the Ballydoyle trainer as Seamie Heffernan - who picked up a seven-day whip ban and £550 fine - guided 20-1 shot Ishvana to victory in the opening Jersey Stakes.

O'Brien's wife and winning owner and breeder Anne-Marie said: "It's absolutely incredible. We're so happy to be here.

"She was very impressive and showed a great turn of foot."

Joviality (11-1) held off the late lunge of Chachamaidee to get John Gosden off the mark for the week in the Windsor Forest Stakes.

Gosden said: "She wants a mile to a mile and a quarter so there are some nice races for her like the Nassau Stakes and the Prix de l'Opera."

Last year's Cambridgeshire winner Prince Of Johanne (16-1) landed his second major handicap when taking the Royal Hunt Cup under John Fahy, who was another to fall foul of the whip rules, picking up a seven-day ban and a £1,100 fine.

Winning trainer Tom Tate said: "He's a grand horse and he likes the mile and fast ground.

"I read in the newspaper that it was 1949 the last time a horse won the Cambridgeshire and this race, so that was a bit of a dampener for our hopes!"

Ceiling Kitty claimed a fiercely-run Queen Mary Stakes for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote.

Dascombe said: "It's great not just for me but for Andrew Black (owner) who bred her as well. She's as hard as nails."

The closing Sandringham Handicap went to David Wachman and 4-1 favourite Duntle.

Wachman said: "She won her maiden by 18 lengths so we knew she had plenty of ability.

"She'll probably go to America now and I'll speak to Alan Cooper (racing manager) to decide where she goes before then. She's got Group One entries."

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