Sport Horse Racing

Friday 24 November 2017

Injury forces Blanco to retire but show goes on for O'Brien

Thomas Kelly

LAST year's Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco is to be retired to stud after sustaining a knee injury when winning at Belmont Park in America on Saturday.

The four-year-old colt, trained by Aidan O'Brien, just held Dean's Kitten by a nose in the Joe Hirsch Classic Invitational and was completing a hat-trick of Grade One victories in the States, having previously won the Arlington Million and the Man O'War Stakes, and was considered a major player for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

"Cape Blanco is an extremely talented and courageous horse with a tremendous attitude to his racing so we will all be very sad to see him leave Ballydoyle," said O'Brien. "The fact that he never once changed legs in the home straight in spite of his injury just goes to prove what a brave horse he is."

The son of Galileo won nine of his 15 races, winning over £2.5m in prize money, and was ridden by Jamie Spencer in all six starts this year after the jockey's main patrons, Jim and Fitri Hay, bought a share in the horse.

He had not raced in Europe since finishing down the field behind Canford Cliffs over a mile in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

However, his victories over middle-distance did include the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and he defeated subsequent Epsom Derby hero, Workforce, in the Dante Stakes at York last year.

The future of Workforce, meanwhile, will be up for discussion this week after he trailed in 12th of 16 in a very disappointing defence of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday.


"He's fine this morning but it wasn't his day," said owner Khalid Abdulla's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe yesterday. "We'll just see how he is but no decisions have been made yet."

Newmarket hosts Champions Day on Saturday where, despite Cape Blanco's injury, the show goes on for O'Brien who's responsible for the six of the 16 five-day entries in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes as he seeks to win the juvenile contest for a third time.

The Ballydoyle trainer -- successful with Rock of Gibraltar in 2001 and Beethoven in 2009 -- has a strong team headed by National Stakes victor Power and recent Royal Lodge Stakes winner Daddy Long Legs. Reply, David Livingston, Nephrite and Tibet complete his list of possibles.

Jim Bolger landed a hat-trick of successes in this race with Teofilo, New Approach and Intense Focus from 2006 to 2008 and looks to Parish Hall this time. Spiritual Star, trained by Andrew Balding, was the sole supplementary entry at the confirmation stage. The Soviet Star colt looked good when winning a maiden by six lengths over the course and distance last month.

Richard Hannon has never won this race but has two decent prospects in the unbeaten Bronterre and Champagne Stakes winner Trumpet Major.

Elsewhere, Goldikova remains on course to bid for a remarkable fourth straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile next month despite suffering defeat at Longchamp on Sunday.

Freddie Head's 14-time Group One winner went down fighting to Dream Ahead in a thrilling climax to the Prix de la Foret, the six-year-old's final competitive appearance in her homeland. She will sign off a stellar career at Churchill Downs on November 5.

Irish Independent

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