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All is grand for O'Brien's hopes

As Tommy Stack stole all the plaudits on the opening day of the turf season at the Curragh yesterday, there was plenty of attention on the after-racing gallops that included 20 of Aidan O'Brien's Classic hopefuls of 2010 and a selection of his older horses.

O'Brien reported that "everything seemed grand" as the selection including this year's current Epsom Derby favourite St Nicholas Abbey were put through their paces for their first public appearance of the season.


"It went according to plan and everybody seems happy," said O'Brien. "We are happy enough where they are at the moment," he said regarding how forward his squad are. And he concluded: "They are ready to go racing -- the weather wasn't a help."

Of St Nicholas Abbey, who was ridden by regular rider Sam Curling and who worked well with Curling switching him to the rail and changing his hands to have him quicken to the line, O'Brien admitted that his Guineas participation is undecided.

"Everything seems to be grand and Sam was happy. We will have a look at it (2000 Guineas) and a lot will depend on what happens at home; we will study it and talk to everybody -- the Guineas is still a long way away," revealed the trainer.

St Nicholas Abbey worked in a group which included Mikhail Glinka, who led home the group of 10, but Joseph O'Brien was more hard at work than most around him. Stable jockey Johnny Murtagh rode Age Of Aquarius, who seemed very well in himself.

Regarding Age Of Aquarius and last year's Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory, who was also on show and was ridden by Seamie Heffernan, O'Brien targeted a couple of options for both.

"Both will be considered for the Prix Ganay in France and the Moorsebridge back here, and Fame And Glory could be one maybe for the Tattersalls Gold Cup."

Cape Blanco was ridden by Murtagh in the second group and was workmanlike, while Alfred Nobel looked to enjoy the excursion under Brian O'Neill.

"Alfred Nobel has lots of speed and he worked very well but you just can't be sure if he stays."

Rip Van Winkle was another to do a light piece of work. "Rip just hacked up and he didn't have shoes on. His feet are fine, we are delighted with him but we just want to give him as much time as possible beforehand. We will look at the Lockinge with him."

Not everything has gone according to plan over the winter months though, and the master of Ballydoyle revealed that Lily Langtry and Steinbeck will both miss the English Guineas, while Jan Vermeer is in a race against time.

"Jan Vermeer had a stone bruise and is swimming for a week, and hopefully he will catch up. He is in the Guineas picture but only just; he would have been more in it if he was here today.

"Steinbeck had a setback and missed two weeks and will not go for the English 2000 Guineas and we will have a look at the Irish Guineas.

"Lily Langtry is good but won't make the English Guineas but we will look at the Irish 1000 Guineas back here."