Wednesday 18 October 2017

Stars ready for war as O'Brien closes in on Frankel record

Aidan O’Brien is three shy of the record 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year after four winners at Newmarket and Chantilly Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan O’Brien is three shy of the record 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year after four winners at Newmarket and Chantilly Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Aidan O'Brien makes little issue of his quest or otherwise to beat Bobby Frankel's record but he looks set to finally overcome it in 2017.

The legendary handler is three shy of the record of 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year after four winners at Newmarket and Chantilly last weekend.

He has left Roly Poly and Alluringly in the Group One Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot at Newmarket on Saturday.

Between now and the end of 2017, racegoers could see Winter, Highland Reel, Order Of St George, Churchill, Caravaggio, Clemmie and Happily. While Gustav Klimt will not run in the Dewhurst at Newmarket, O'Brien has other options for it, in which Jim Bolger yesterday confirmed Verbal Dexterity will run.

O'Brien told the Irish Independent: "Gustav Klimt is done for the year and, while we are not sure what we will run, it's possible U S Navy Flag and Threeandfourpence could go there, and perhaps Seahenge. We have The Pentagon and Saxon Warrior, they could go for the Racing Post Trophy.

"Order Of St George ran a fine race in the Arc; we'll look at the two-miler at Ascot. We'll chat to (Coolmore's partners) about Winter, she could go to the Champion Stakes. I'm not sure about the mile and a half, she won't run over it again this season, I'd have thought.

"Highland Reel has options in the Champion and America. With Churchill we're favouring him going over a mile at Ascot but he has the chance of the Champion Stakes too. Likely both he and Caravaggio will be retired at the end of the season but Caravaggio should run in the sprint at Ascot."

Regarding Caravaggio's stud career, O'Brien said he would be "a seriously important horse for us, an out-cross, a horse who has everything", while he also had news of some of his star fillies.

"I'd say September will be a middle-distance horse next season and she is in the mix for the Fillies' Mile. The Juvenile Fillies' race at the Breeders' Cup could suit Happily and Clemmie and we will see about Magical."

Ger Lyons, by contrast, was out of luck at the weekend, but he believes things went against promising maiden winner Lightening Quick when she struggled under Oisin Murphy in the Shadwell Rockfel Stakes.

"I think you can point to a combination of the soft ground and lack of pace in the race," said the Co Meath trainer. "She didn't handle the track, according to Oisin. I assume she is finished and we'll let her grow up but I haven't discussed it with (the owner) yet."

Likely to go off odds-on in the Dewhurst is Expert Eye.

"He's in good form, all roads lead (there)," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.

Meanwhile, Colin Tizzard has raised the notion of teaming up with Bryan Cooper. The 25-year-old, who lost his position as retained rider for Gigginstown this summer, will be a more frequent visitor to Britain after agreeing to ride for owner Andrew Brooks.

Tizzard is linked to Robbie Power through his axis with Alan Potts and teamed up with Power to win the first at Newton Abbot yesterday with Drinks Interval.

"Robbie has some strike-rate for us; you don't want to leave him at home when he's available.

"We don't have a senior jockey 100pc. Robbie will school a few (today), including Finian's Oscar, and Bryan Cooper is coming too. He might ride a few for us, who knows? Things will develop in the next few weeks so we'll see what happens," he told At The Races.

Irish Independent

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