Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Master run delights O'Brien

THERE was an English success in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday as the Graham Motion-trained Animal Kingdom landed the Churchill Downs showpiece in the hands of John Velazquez.

Originally from Cambridge, but now based in Maryland, the 46-year-old Motion has been training for almost 20 years and this was easily his biggest success.

Aidan O'Brien's Master Of Hounds ran a fine race, staying on to be fifth, albeit about five and a half lengths off an emphatic winner. "It was a great race for his first time on dirt -- we're delighted," said the Ballydoyle supremo afterwards.

Animal Kingdom carried the colours of high-profile syndicate international ownership group Team Valor, best known in England for former Marco Botti-trained Gitano Hernando.

Animal Kingdom took charge of the $2m contest with a powerful charge down the stretch to score by two and three-quarter lengths over well-fancied Nehro, with Mucho Macho Man taking third ahead of pacemaker Shackleford.

Closer to home, Lingfield staged their traditional Classic trials early on Saturday afternoon and while no colt has gone on to Epsom glory since High Rise in 1998, the fillies' version has a better record in recent years.

This year's Oaks Trial could well have thrown up a smart performer in Mick Channon's Zain Al Boldan, which showed an impressive turn of foot for Sam Hitchcott to win by six lengths.

She is now as low as 10/1 for next month's Oaks, with Hitchcott poised to have his first ride in a Classic.

There were no significant Epsom clues after the Derby Trial, but trainer Mark Johnston knows he has two nice colts after Dordogne beat better-fancied stablemate Hurricane Higgins. It was only the third run of Hurricane Higgins' career and his greenness showed late on as Joe Fanning struggled to keep him straight.

Neither are entered in the Derby, and Johnston said he was keen to target the unlucky runner-up at the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Hawkeyethenoo (15/2) landed the big pot his consistent efforts have deserved when lifting the totesport Victoria Cup at Ascot. It was the biggest day of young jockey Gary Bartley's career.

"I probably ride him in 90pc of his work and I'm so grateful to Jim for having faith in me," said Bartley. The Royal party in June will be the target for the Jim Goldie-trained Hawkeyethenoo -- not to mention a number of other winners on the card.

Alainmaar has the Hardwicke Stakes as an option after his win, while Rock A Doodle Do overcame trouble in running in the D'Arenberg Handicap and may head for the Duke of Edinburgh.

Irish Independent

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