Saturday 25 January 2020

It's York or never for Churchill to try ten furlongs - O'Brien

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

Thomas Kelly

Royal Ascot failure Churchill is set for a first attempt at ten furlongs in next week's Juddmonte International at York, according to Aidan O'Brien.

The Ballydoyle maestro was forced to side-stepping an outing in the Sussex Stakes with the dual 2,000 Guineas hero on account of the soft ground and he feels now is the right time to step up the son of Galileo to a mile and a quarter.

Should Churchill take his chances on the Knavesmire it will see him renew his rivalry with Richard Hannon's Barney Roy, which he finished fourth behind in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on his most recent start.

O'Brien explained: "Churchill looks like he is going to go there. We are happy with him and we are looking forward to it.

"If he is going to go there (mile and a quarter) we need to try it now. We always thought it would be well within his compass."

Irish Derby winner Capri could bid to bolster his position at the head of the market for the William Hill St Leger with an outing in the Betway Great Voltigeur.

O'Brien added: "Capri is in it and Venice Beach is in it. That type of horse they are all there. The horse that won at Leopardstown the other night (Spanish Steps) is in it. So we have three or four possibles for that."

Plans are in place to drop Washington DC back down to the minimum trip on the Knavesmire for a second shot at the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes. The son of Zoffany gained his second win of the season after landing a six-furlong Group Three at the Curragh on Sunday.

"That is where he could end up next," O'Brien outlined. "A fast pace and following the other horses will suit him. That's very possible."

O'Brien, meanwhile, has only one possible representative - Spirit Of Valor - in Saturday's Hungerford Stakes at Newbury, while the Ger Lyons-trained Psychedelic Funk is the only other Irish entry.

Elsewhere, Almanzor makes his long-awaited return to action in tomorrow's Prix Gontaut-Biron Hong Kong Jockey Club at Deauville.

Jean-Claude Rouget's brilliant colt won five of his six starts last season including top-level victories in the French Derby at Chantilly, the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Champion Stakes at Ascot. His reappearance has been delayed, with Rouget not 100pc happy with his charge earlier in the campaign, but he returns at Group Three level.

Almanzor - currently second favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe behind Enable - again holds entries in the Irish Champion and the Champion Stakes and faces just five rivals, with Rouget also fielding Zafiro.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Schools rugby special - 'The St Michael’s dream team are the side to beat'

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport