Sunday 19 November 2017

'George' to bypass Melbourne in favour of another tilt at Arc

Bamako Moriviere (Ruby Walsh) comes down at the last with the John F McGuire Beginners Chase at his mercy in Listowel. Photo: Racing Post
Bamako Moriviere (Ruby Walsh) comes down at the last with the John F McGuire Beginners Chase at his mercy in Listowel. Photo: Racing Post

Johnny Ward

The Aussies may be hoping that the steadier of top weight will not prevent Order Of St George going for the Melbourne Cup but Aidan O'Brien is set to swerve the race and target Chantilly with last year's Arc third.

Sunday's Irish Leger winner Order Of St George has been given top weight in the Cup for the second straight year and the handicapper says he will be bitterly disappointed if the horse doesn't take up the challenge on November 7.

However, the race that stops a nation does not seem to excite Aidan O'Brien quite like other Irish trainers, Dermot Weld having won it twice and both Tony Martin and Willie Mullins saddling runners-up in recent years.

"Order Of St George galloped very strongly in the Leger, like when Joseph (son) rode him to win the race two years ago. He just kept coming and we've never questioned his attitude.

Leaning

"We would not rule out the Melbourne Cup but we are leaning towards the Arc," said the champion trainer.

Order Of St George was third in an incredible 1-2-3 for O'Brien in last year's contest, run at Longchamp, but he is available at 16/1 for the 2017 edition, in which O'Brien rates the participation of brilliant filly Winter as "possible".

Order Of St George will carry 58kg if he does run at Flemington. Johannes Vermeer is the next of O'Brien's entrants in the weights, on 54.5kg. The Willie Mullins-trained pair of Max Dynamite, runner-up in 2015, and Wicklow Brave are both on 54kg.

Another of O'Brien's stars, the brilliant juvenile filly Clemmie, may have missed the Moyglare on Sunday but is all set for the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket later this month, when her biggest threat could be a compatriot.

"We think Clemmie will have no problems over further but so far she's been at six furlongs and we just had to avoid that bad ground," O'Brien said.

Ger Lyons is also conscious that the race would mean a drop back in distance for Lightening Quick, a first-time-out winner on Saturday at Leopardstown. Her next race is set to be in Group One company.

Lyons' only Group One win so far was achieved with Lightening Pearl, mother of this filly which won the same race in 2011.

He said: "She may go to the Cheveley Park, all going well. Hopefully it will be a case of Lightening striking twice in the race! She came out of Leopardstown well."

John Murtagh rode Lightening Pearl six years ago and is one of those who has advised him to target the race, as did rider Colin Keane, Lyons added.

The Dewhurst is still on the agenda for O'Brien's Gustav Klimt, which was scratched on Sunday morning when trading at odds-on for a National Stakes that went to the Jim Bolger-trained Verbal Dexterity, which Bolger has not sold and is set to hold on to.

"It's only a small thing and we hope to have Gustav Klimt in full work in the next week to ten days," the trainer said.

Meanwhile, the British Horseracing Authority has announced that all races at next year's Cheltenham Festival will declare at the 48-hour stage. Previously, only the non-novice Grade Ones declared two days in advance.

Perhaps more controversial is that with the exception of the non-novice Grade Ones, no horse will be able to declare for more than one race unless it has been eliminated from another contest or declared as a reserve.

Irish Independent

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