Friday 18 January 2019

Clemmie to get fourth shot at superstar 'Alpha'

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Alan Crowhurst
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Alan Crowhurst
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Aidan O'Brien is warming up one-time English 1,000 Guineas favourite Clemmie for another crack at Alpha Centauri in next month's Group One Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on the first day of Irish Champions weekend (September 15-16).

Clemmie has always been held in high regard by the Ballydoyle maestro, but suffered a setback in preparation for the Newmarket Guineas and hasn't yet recovered her best form.

The daughter of Galileo has been steadily improving with each of her three runs behind Jessica Harrington's superstar filly this season - the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Falmouth Stakes - and O'Brien hopes to close the gap further when they collide for a fourth time at the Foxrock track.

Veteran stayer Order Of St George is on course to run on the second day - which will take place at the Curragh - as the six-year-old goes for a third Irish St Leger, which would leave him one behind four-time champion Vinnie Roe.

"He ran in Ascot and he was a little bit laboured (fourth in the Gold Cup), maybe he was just minding himself on the fast ground a little bit," O'Brien (right) said.

"He seems to be in good form since. We don't like to ever lean on him too hard until the autumn and obviously we're coming into that now."

Another of O'Brien's stars Kew Gardens, winner of the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot and the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp already this season, will be aimed at the Great Voltigeur Stakes next Wednesday at York.

Kew Gardens is a general 7/2 favourite for next month's English St Leger at Doncaster but will have his Classic credentials further examined in the Group Two on the Knavesmire with Charlie Appleby's King Edward VII Stakes winner Old Persian - a 16/1 chance for the St Leger - also expected to take his chance.

O'Brien's son Joseph landed a 7.5/1 handicap double last night including the victory of Facethepuckout - owned by daughter Sarah with youngest son Donnacha in the saddle - but the major prize of the night went to English raider Snowy Winter (25/1).

Trained in Lambourn by Archie Watson, Snowy Winter hit the front two furlongs from the home pole and just held off the late surge of Aidan O'Brien's Hence by a nose to take the Listed Hurry Harriet Stakes under the in-form Gary Carroll.

"I have to thank my agent, Kevin O'Ryan, as he got me the ride. It's great. I was talking to Archie this morning and he was quite confident and told me to ride her plenty positive and be confident," the Kildare jockey said.

"Archie has a great strike-rate in England at the minute and I hope he sends more over and lets me ride them! Since Galway, things have been going very well and it would be great if I could keep it going to the end of the season."

Eyes will be drawn to Leopardstown tonight for the Group Three Desmond Stakes (7.20) as English trainer Roger Varian looks to take another lucrative pot across the Irish Sea with Masaarr.

Fresh from a 29/1 Gowran double last night, champion jockey Colin Keane again lands the plum ride - although O'Brien's St Patrick's Day is one of many noteworthy contenders in an intriguing renewal.

Irish Independent

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