Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 22 July 2018

'Air Force' must answer doubt over stamina, admits O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien (Photo: SPORTSFILE)
Aidan O'Brien (Photo: SPORTSFILE)

Thomas Kelly

Aidan O'Brien has acknowledged that his hot favourite Air Force Blue has to answer a stamina question in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

By far and away the clear form pick, he only met with defeat once in five races as a juvenile, when second in the Coventry Stakes behind the re-opposing Buratino.

However, he turned that form around in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh and stamped himself as the leading two-year-old with a dominant display in the Dewhurst.

That was over seven furlongs, though, and he has another furlong to see out on his return to action. "Obviously this will be the acid test as it's his first run over a mile, we'll probably learn a lot about him," said O'Brien. "Those seven-furlong two-year-old races are like enhanced sprints and it is a tough searching mile at Newmarket, but you'd have to be hopeful that he will get it; however, you can never be sure until they do it on the day."


O'Brien plans to run Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in Newmarket's 1,000 Guineas on Sunday. Both Minding and Ballydoyle won Group Ones last season, with the former prompting some complimentary comments from Ryan Moore.

The trainer expects Moore to side with Minding ahead of Ballydoyle, which booked her place with a pleasing gallop in front of the Channel 4 Morning Line cameras on Saturday. "The plan is to run all three unless anything unforeseen ground-wise happens," said O'Brien, whose Johannes Vermeer is unlikely to be ready in time for the Epsom Derby after sustaining an injury to his hock.

The Ballydoyle supremo will be hoping that his Washington DC can provide the stable with a good omen in today's Group Three contest over six furlongs at Ascot.

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