Wednesday 20 September 2017

O'Brien eyes Ascot as boys in blue suffer Ferguson blow

Aidan O’Brien. Photo: PA Wire
Aidan O’Brien. Photo: PA Wire

Johnny Ward

While Aidan O'Brien was working on Royal Ascot plans yesterday, Godolphin was eyeing up a new chief executive after the sensational resignation of John Ferguson, with Joe Osborne appointed on an interim basis.

Never has the discrepancy in the success of Coolmore and its Dubai-backed rival seemed so stark. John Magnier won the Derby for the seventh time on Saturday; Goldolphin has never won it and has had no Classic glory in Britain since Dawn Approach's 2013 Guineas win.

In the lead-up to the Derby, in which Godolphin was strongly represented, Saeed bin Suroor had veiled digs at Ferguson, the latter's departure a product of that trainer's decision to talk so pointedly about the operation.

Godolphin's statement read: "After 25 years serving... Sheikh Mohammed in a number of key roles in horse-racing and other sectors, it has been announced... that John Ferguson will step down as (CEO) and racing manager."

Ferguson said: "Given the recent articles in the media, it was clear that my position was untenable... what matters is the future and my stepping down will allow everyone to draw a line under things... this course of action is best for everyone."

Osborne, managing director of Godolphin's breeding wing in Ireland, takes the reins for now.

O'Brien, meanwhile, is still ruminating over horses, and what to do with his six Derby runners. Wings Of Eagles' shock win over Cliffs Of Moher will probably see them go separate ways.

"We think Wings Of Eagles is a very good horse, likely to go Irish Derby. With Cliffs Of Moher, we said before he ran at Chester he might not get ten furlongs but we were always going to give him a chance to stay (at Epsom).

"He quickened very well, ran a very big race and we'll look at the Eclipse. We are delighted with them all, including Capri, and Capri would have an Irish Derby or Royal Ascot option."

Coronation winner Highland Reel and Oaks runner-up Rhododendron had to overcome a delayed flight last Thursday. "They had a busy morning but he is a seasoned, hardened horse and traveller. We'll look at Royal Ascot.

Trained

"With Rhododendron we are not sure. There's the Irish Oaks, French Oaks and Pretty Polly. The race was a full mile and a half and the winner is a very good filly.

"Also for there we have Churchill, Winter and Order Of St George, who may be joined in the Gold Cup by Kingfisher. He's being trained for that."

O'Brien had news of his juveniles, including Churchill's sister Clemmie and Tipperary winner Murillo, which Ladbrokes yesterday introduced at 10/1 for the Coventry Stakes.

"Murillo and Declarationofpeace are considered for the Coventry; Clemmie or another filly who ran in that Curragh maiden in which she was third is a possibility for Royal Ascot too."

Jessica Harrington's Alpha Centauri heads 68 entries, including Clemmie, for the Moyglare on September 10.

Irish Independent

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