Kingsbarns to lead 2013 Classic bid for O'Briens
Kingsbarns went a long way to remedying what had been a frustrating season for Ballydoyle juveniles courtesy of an authoritative Group One triumph at Doncaster.
With the highly regarded Mars roughed off since hosing up on his sole outing at Dundalk in July, on the basis of track form, the much-improved Battle Of Marengo had hitherto looked about as good a two-year-old as Aidan O'Brien had run all year.
Admirable and all as that Galileo colt is, in the shadow of Dawn Approach, the gulf in class was significant. In that context, the late emergence of Kingsbarns is a fillip for the towering Rosegreen establishment.
Yet another son of the most influential sire in the business, he overcame his relative inexperience to prevail without any undue fuss on the Town Moor course. Before the event, it didn't look an especially good renewal of the one-mile contest, and that remains the impression.
Kingsbarns travelled well and pulled away from the field in the manner of a genuinely exciting prospect from over a furlong out, but he didn't appear to possess an especially telling turn of pace and he also has a particularly high knee action.
Joseph O'Brien's suggestion that he would have the gears to start off in the Guineas and would have no trouble on fast ground was not unexpected, but, short of Newmarket coming up quite soft in May, the suspicion is that Kingsbarns is more of a Derby horse than a Guineas one. That said, it was especially noteworthy that he was supplemented for the race on Monday, and ultimately resulted in being the stable's sole representative.
His trainer implied that it was the Coolmore heads' decision to run only him, but he also said that the horse had breezed through a test for the race at home. Either way, Kingsbarns was backed all week to announce himself as a Classic contender for 2013, and he did just that.
Zand was the other real eye-catcher. John Oxx's Aga Khan-owned and bred colt ran as though badly in need of the experience at the Curragh on his debut in the middle of September, eventually settling down to flash home for second behind Pearl Music.
At Leopardstown this time, he was far more grown-up under Declan McDonogh, breaking smartly, making all and stretching away in the manner of a proper horse. Granted, it was only a maiden but, knowing Oxx's modus operandi, he will continue to progress.
The Currabeg handler reported that Zand could start his 2013 campaign in the Ballysax Stakes back at the Foxrock venue. With that in mind, the 25/1 that he is now available at for the Epsom Derby has more appeal than the top-priced 8/1 about Kingsbarns.
Oxx also stated it would be a while before any decision is made on who will succeed Johnny Murtagh as the Aga Khan's number one in Ireland next term. It looks increasingly as though McDonogh is the front-runner, but whoever gets the gig can rest assured that Oxx is just about due another Group One-standard horse for the Aga Khan.
As for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien, this weekend's Breeders' Cup fixture in Santa Anita is next up. Kingsbarns was their 10th Group One success of 2012 together and Excelebration is the most likely to add to that figure in the Mile.
St Nicholas Abbey also has a fighting chance of emulating High Chaparral by securing back-to-back Turfs at the same venue where the 2002 Derby hero did so when dead-heating with Johar in that memorable 2003 thriller.
While St Nick has yet to hit the same performance levels that saw him scorch to such a scintillating triumph 12 months ago, it is worth recalling that being able to compete on Lasix certainly did him no harm last year.
Come Saturday, you would imagine that he will be running on the anti-bleeding agent once again, and presumably one or two more of his stable-mates will too. At the risk of getting our metaphors in a twist, when in Rome, best to compete on a level playing field.
Smullen concedes title despite sparkling treble
Having ridden a treble at Leopardstown to get within three winners of Joseph O'Brien, Pat Smullen revealed that he was conceding defeat in the race for the Flat jockeys' title.
Due to foreign engagements and suspension, 19-year-old O'Brien -- who will now usurp Smullen (by four years) as the youngest champion jockey in recent times -- signed off on the domestic season at Dundalk, seemingly leaving Smullen with three fixtures to bridge the gap. Alas, no.
The Offaly native has instead elected to ride Dermot Weld's Moyglare Stud-owned pair Sense Of Purpose and Speaking Of Which on the Breeders' Cup undercard on Friday night, before making for Australia to partner Galileo's Choice in the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.
For a six-time champion who makes such a staunch effort to top the pile every year, the decision to make for the States to ride two rank outsiders probably wasn't an easy one, but such is his boss' unerring prowess abroad that he will have been loath not to go.
On Saturday, after Weld's Rasmeyaa took the opener, Big Break confirmed herself a quality two-year-old filly by slamming the colts in the Killavullen Stakes. Big Break's redoubtable big brother Famous Name then completed the short-priced treble in the Trigo Stakes.
After scoring for a 20th time at pattern level and an incredible 13th time at his beloved Leopardstown, Khalid Abdullah's ever-dependable seven-year-old was retired to stand at the Irish National Stud. "I'll never ride another like him," Smullen said of a horse he rode in each of his 38 races.
For Non Stop pays Sir Des Champs fine compliment
Paul Nolan's Noble Prince cut little ice on his reappearance in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Saturday, but the Grade Two proved a happy return to Liverpool for Noel Fehily.
Sidelined for six months after breaking his leg in four places in a fall off State Of Play in the Grand National in April, the Champion Hurdle-winning west Cork native was carried to a barnstorming success on Nick Williams' For Non Stop.
The pair had won a Newbury Grade One last term before finishing third to Sir Des Champs at Cheltenham in March, and reaffirmed that promise here by accelerating 23 lengths clear in sensational style up the straight. Next month's Paddy Power Chase back at Prestbury Park could be up next.
3 Trainer-jockey family winners at Wexford yesterday. In the conditional jockeys' hurdle, Martin Brassil supplied his 18-year-old son Conor with a first career triumph on Celestial Project (6/1), before Gillian Ryan saw off all-comers on her father John's Cnoc Na Sioga, the outsider of four at 8/1 in the novice hurdle.
Killyglass easily took the bumper for Larne trainer Stuart Crawford under his brother Steven, having been backed from 7/1 into 10/3.
86,000 Gross profit in euros that Nina Carberry turned over when selling today's Naas runner Ally Cascade to Gigginstown after the four-year-old finished third on its Tipperary bow in April, eight months after she pin-hooked it for €8,200. The gelding quickly began living up to its price tag by hosing up under Carberry on its reappearance at Fairyhouse two weeks ago.