Tuesday 27 September 2016

Aidan O'Brien: Gleneagles my best ever miler

Published 16/06/2015 | 17:59

Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall present the trophy to the winning connections of Gleneagles including trainer Aidan O'Brien (right) after victory with Jockey Ryan Moore in the St James's Palace Stakes
Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall present the trophy to the winning connections of Gleneagles including trainer Aidan O'Brien (right) after victory with Jockey Ryan Moore in the St James's Palace Stakes

Gleneagles confirmed his position as the star miler of his generation after handing Aidan O'Brien a record-breaking seventh success in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

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In what was perceived as perhaps his toughest assignment to date, the winner of both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas passed the test in flying colours to score with a genuine air of authority.

Frankie Dettori, riding the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Consort, hatched a plan to try and expose any chinks in the 8-15 favourite's stamina by setting a good early tempo, as Ryan Moore positioned the eventual winner in fourth.

There was little change in the order as the field swung for home, before Dettori pressed the 'go' button aboard Consort in his bid to put the mile showpiece to bed.

Although finding for pressure, his move was not to be a race-winning one as Moore wound his mount up to motor past the long-time leader hitting the furlong pole.

Once in the clear the son of Galileo was not for catching, only needing to pushed out by the three-times champion jockey to register a two-and-a-half-length victory.

It was first for O'Brien since the triumph of Mastercraftsman in 2009.

The Charlie Appleby-trained outsider Latharnach ran the race of his life to snatch second on the line from Consort.

French 2000 Guineas hero Make Believe, having been supplemented at a cost of £35,000, was the major disappointment, trailing home a well-beaten last of the quintet.

O'Brien said: "I don't think I have ever had a miler as good as him. He is a very classy horse.

"He has been vital this year. He is a star horse.

"We're delighted, obviously, the lads and lasses at home all said he was the best he'd been. We trained him hard for Newmarket, were easy on him before the Curragh and they said yesterday this was the best he was.

"He reminds me of Giant's Causeway, but he's got more speed than him, he was a grinder while this lad quickens.

"He's the best in the yard at the minute and the best miler we've ever had.

"I'm surprised he won by two and a half lengths as he usually pulls up in front."

As ever keen to play down his role, O'Brien said: "I'm a very small part of a very big team, I watch more than anything now, which makes it easier.

"I'm getting older now and the younger lads are coming on. I'm watching more and going with the flow. I'm 45 now and it's great to see younger people coming along and taking responsiblity and the pressure. So many people make it happen.

"I only look on - I just stand at the top of the gallops and watch the work, which is good for me and a lot less pressure."

O'Brien indicated the brilliant three-year old is likely to be seen out next in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, which could see him clash with Queen Anne Stakes winner Solow.

He said: "If he gets good, fast ground then he'll go to Goodwood as that was always the plan if he did well today.

"I don't think 10 furlongs would be a problem if that day does come."

Equally complimentary about the performance was Moore, who was celebrating a first St James's Palace success.

Moore said: "He's got a very good turn of foot this horse.

"It was a muddling race, a bit messy early and Frankie got his own way in front but he made up three lengths there.

"He's just a pleasure to ride and I think he's getting better.

"He wasn't stopping there, I wasn't getting serious with him, it was hands and heels, I was delighted with him.

"He's a proper horse, you want to ride the best horses and he's about the best of his generation.

"He could get a little further but he has plenty of pace and there's no real need, I'm sure plans will be made later on."

Appleby feels Latharnach is more than capable of running in more top-level races over the trip in the future after satisfying the Newmarket handler he gets a mile.

He said: "I'm delighted. William's (Buick) given him a great ride.

"We purposely set our stall out to sit out the back door and let the race unfold in front of us.

"Today it was a learning curve about what level we can step up to and also the mile. He saw the mile out well there and he's obviously shown a good level of ability.

"When you're finishing second behind a horse that's won two Guineas I'd be confident to take our chance in a Group One again for sure.

"It will certainly be an easier route if we can miss him (Gleneagles)."

As for third-placed Consort, connections were delighted with his first venture into Group One company on just his third start.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "It's tough to make all.

"For a moment when Frankie kicked I thought we had, but it was a very encouraging run.

"We'll see how he is before we decide where to go from here."

O''Brien said: "We're delighted, obviously, the lads and lasses at home all said he was the best he'd been.

"We trained him hard for Newmarket, were easy on him before the Curragh and they said yesterday this was the best he was.

"He gets warm all the time, that didn't worry me, he's a warm-blooded horse but takes everything in his stride.

"He reminds me of Giant's Causeway, but he's got more speed than him, he was a grinder while this lad quickens.

"He's the best in the yard at the minute and the best miler we've ever had.

"I'm surprised he won by two and a half lengths as he usually pulls up in front.

"I'm a very small part of a very big team, I watch more than anything now, which makes it easier."

Charlie Appleby said of the runner-up: "I'm delighted. William's (Buick) given him a great ride.

"We purposely set our stall out to sit out the back door and let the race unfold in front of us.

"Today it was a learning curve about what level we can step up to and also the mile. He saw the mile out well there and he's obviously shown a good level of ability.

"When you're finishing second behind a horse that's won two Guineas I'd be confident to take our chance in a Group One again for sure.

"It will certainly be an easier route if we can miss him (Gleneagles)."

Harry Herbert, racing manager for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, owners of Consort, said: "It's tough to make all.

"For a moment when Frankie kicked I thought we had, but it was a very encouraging run.

"We'll see how he is before we decide where to go from here."

On immediate plans, O'Brien revealed a mouthwatering clash with Solow is on the cards in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

He said: "If he gets good, fast ground then he'll go to Goodwood as that was always the plan if he did well today.

"I don't think 10 furlongs would be a problem if that day does come."

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