Monday 24 June 2019

In-tune Mendelssohn set for Kentucky

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

All roads lead to Churchill Downs for Mendelssohn after he passed a crucial test with flying colours in the UAE Derby at Meydan.

Aidan O'Brien has been keen on a tilt at Kentucky Derby glory ever since the Scat Daddy colt claimed the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last November and he kept the dream alive with a comeback success at Dundalk in early March.

Mendelssohn stepped up beyond a mile to test his powers on dirt for the first time on World Cup night and it proved a resounding success.

The 13/8 favourite dominated proceedings from start to finish under Ryan Moore, making much of the running and powering clear for a jaw-dropping 18-length success in a course-record time.

O'Brien said: "I' m over the moon and it was the way he did it, going forward from the start and doing it the hard way.

"He galloped out and saw every yard of the distance. We knew it was very important how he handled the dirt, but he loved the surface.

"Ryan was happy he had a good draw and if he broke well he was happy to let him travel in front, he gave him a great ride - we couldn't be happier.

"He came forward lovely from his first run and that was good experience for him on that surface first time."

Moore declared: "He's a very fast horse. He could have led a Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf if I'd wanted to do so. It's the first time he's been in front and he's still a horse that's learning, so he was still a bit green in places.

"It was his first run on dirt, so that was huge for him, and it was his first time at this trip, so that was another question mark. He's a high-quality horse who has got better with every start."

Thunder Snow benefited from a well-judged front-running ride from Christophe Soumillon to claim a surprise victory in the Dubai World Cup in a course-record time.

Soumillon allowed Thunder Snow to roll along in front from the outset, with Bob Baffert's red-hot favourite West Coast always in his slipstream.

The American challenger looked poised to attack rounding the home turn, but it was soon obvious Thunder Snow had far more in the locker and he powered clear to score readily.

Irish Independent

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