Sport Horse Racing

Monday 20 February 2017

O'Brien relishing Curragh conditions

Published 07/08/2016 | 02:30

O'Brien is hopeful he can show his very best away from the soft ground he has encountered on his last two runs. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
O'Brien is hopeful he can show his very best away from the soft ground he has encountered on his last two runs. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien is relishing the prospect of a sound racing surface at the Curragh for Caravaggio and Air Force Blue.

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Caravaggio is the hot favourite to claim his first Group One in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and O'Brien is hopeful he can show his very best away from the soft ground he has encountered on his last two runs.

"He's always been very impressive at home, this will be his first run on nice ground and he is a very fast horse," said O'Brien. "He's always shown an awful lot of pace in his work and it can't be a disadvantage to us, anyway."

Caravaggio will be without the assistance of the sidelined Ryan Moore, but O'Brien says Seamus Heffernan knows the horse inside out. "He won on him first time and he rides him in all his work. Everything seems to be good so far."

Air Force Blue was odds-on for the Guineas at Newmarket in May, but beat just one home, as he did in the Irish equivalent. He returned to sprinting in the Darley July Cup back at Newmarket and O'Brien felt he ran better than his placing of 12th suggests.

The War Front colt faces six rivals in the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint Stakes.

"We were looking forward to going to France (Prix Maurice de Gheest) with him, but the ground wasn't there," he said. "We're very happy with him at home and looking forward to seeing him run on nice ground."

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