Thursday 18 January 2018

Midday to spoil O'Brien's Dawn raid in Juddmonte

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Fresh from a big-race double in Chicago on Saturday night, the all-conquering Ballydoyle juggernaut this afternoon descends on the northeast of England.

In all, Aidan O'Brien will saddle eight runners across the three Group races on day one of the Ebor Festival at York.

If the market is accurate, Await The Dawn, as short as 8/11 favourite for the Juddmonte International Stakes, should bring the stable's Group One tally for the year to a nice round dozen.

Beaten just once in six starts, the son of Giant's Causeway has impressed greatly in his last three outings, latterly forging clear in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot under Ryan Moore.

Thereafter promoted to favouritism to vanquish the memory of his sire's galling 2000 Churchill Downs defeat in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November, Await The Dawn is now the mount of the trainer's teenage son Joseph.

With Moore sidelined since Goodwood, this is the second time that O'Brien has handed his son a major assignment in England.

On the first occasion, in last month's King George, St Nicholas Abbey simply wasn't up to the task under the 18-year-old.

Now that Await The Dawn tackles top-level opposition for a first time, it will be fascinating to see if he can catapult the youngster into the 'international' spotlight.

Roderic O'Connor, the horse that carried the apprentice to his only previous Group One triumph in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, is also engaged in the day's feature event, while the habitual pacemaker Windsor Palace completes the Rosegreen delegation.

Henry Cecil is responsible for the market leader's two most serious threats, Midday and Twice Over.

The winners of an aggregate nine Group Ones, both horses are fine operators, but it is Midday that appeals as the value option in the race at 5/2.

Right back to her best when sluicing up at Goodwood, Tom Queally's mount has frequently seemed capable of a Group One coup against the colts.

Possibly unlucky when bettered by St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup, this may be her chance, as question marks remain as to just how good Await The Dawn is.

The latter has certainly looked the part of late, but on form alone, he has no business being odds-on for this.

Indeed, you could also argue that he needed most of the mile and a half journey to exert his authority at Ascot, so Midday is taken to deliver for her rejuvenated handler over the 10-furlong trip that suits her so well.

In this correspondent's eyes, it is Seville (5/4), one of two O'Brien runners in the 12-furlong Great Voltigeur Stakes, that should be odds-on.

A game runner-up behind Treasure Beach in this year's Irish Derby before filling the same spot in the Grand Prix de Paris, Seamie Heffernan's partner has a proven touch of class.

Of his seven Group Two rivals today, Mark Johnston's Namibian and Michael Stoute's Sea Moon are potential dangers, but neither has been tested against anything as remotely talented as Seville.

With the trip and slow ground to suit, the Galileo colt is strongly fancied to set himself up for the Voltigeur-St Leger double that O'Brien completed with Milan 10 years ago.

In the day's other Group race, the Acomb Stakes, O'Brien has three representatives in an open renewal of the seven-furlong two-year-old heat.

Furner's Green, which easily landed a gamble under Joseph on its debut at Tipperary last month, could get the festival off to a good start for the father and son combination.


2.0 Kanaf 2.30 Furner's Green 3.05 Seville 3.40 Midday 4.15 On The Hoof 4.50 Naqshabban

Irish Independent

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