Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Minding the star in an O'Brien four-timer

Minding, with Ryan Moore up, on their way to winning the Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Minding, with Ryan Moore up, on their way to winning the Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Minding produced yet another thoroughly professional display to become the first Oaks winner to follow up in the Curragh's Sea The Stars Pretty Polly Stakes.

As a 1/5 favourite, the dual Classic winner was entitled to win.

However, given that yesterday was her fourth outing in two months, the manner in which she reeled in Bocca Baciata before pulling clear on rain-softened ground for Ryan Moore was impressive.

Minding has now won five Group Ones in her last six starts.

She clearly relishes the job, and, while Aidan O'Brien didn't rule out her vying for a third Classic in next month's Irish Oaks, Goodwood's Nassau Stakes might be her next target.

"We also have (Ribblesdale winner) Even Song to consider, and she could go for the Irish Oaks," the Ballydoyle impresario stated.

"I wouldn't rule anything out, but Minding could go for the Nassau. She is a great filly - exceptional - and the amazing thing about her is how much she is thriving on her racing.

"She is getting very relaxed, and I will be begging the lads to keep her in training next year."

In outclassing her four elder rivals in the €250,000 10-furlong contest, Minding was scoring at the highest level over a fourth different trip.

Since 2004, only four three-year-olds have won the Pretty Polly, each of them trained by O'Brien.

Asked if Minding might be a Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe contender, the champion trainer responded: "I suppose the Arc has always been the plan for Found, and US Army Ranger will come back for a trial after a break, so he could end up there, too.

"Order Of St George will come back here for the St Leger trial and then for the St Leger itself, and then we'll think about the Arc for him after that. There is a lot to happen before we get that far, so we'll see."

More immediately, O'Brien, who masterminded a clean sweep of the card's Group races with a 42/1 four-timer, suggested that his French 2,000 Guineas winner and St James's Palace Stakes runner-up The Gurkha could yet get the nod to step up to 10 furlongs in Saturday's Eclipse Stakes.

"The ground might be gone for Deauville, but The Gurkha will do a bit this week, and there is a chance that he will end up there," he said ahead of the Sandown feature. The Gurkha duly halved in price to 3/1 favouritism for Saturday's Group One.

Ger Lyons, whose Medicine Jack had plundered the Group Two Railway Stakes on Saturday, secured his third winner at the three-day festival when the well-backed Sea Wolf landed the seven-furlong handicap.

Bought out of Michael Dods' yard in April for £33,600, the four-year-old was making its debut for Lyons here under Colin Keane, who suffered a heavy fall when brought down in a nasty incident in the final throes of a similar event on Saturday.

Sea Wolf justified 11/4 favouritism in convincing fashion. "I don't know how David Spratt finds them, but he hunts these horses down," Lyons said in reference to the horse's owner.

"English horses come over here every year and win our handicaps, so my theory is if you can't beat them, join them. I was hoping that we might have a winner here each day, and it's nice to have done it, although I thought Chemical Charge might be the one today."

Chemical Charge couldn't repel the inside lunge of the Ryan Moore-ridden Sir Isaac Newton (11/8 fav) in the Finlay Volvo International, and O'Brien suggested that he might consider an American Grade One for the Royal Ascot winner.

Remarkably, three of O'Brien's four winners had run at Ascot between eight and 11 days earlier.

Roly Poly (3/1 fav) knuckled down for Moore to deny Seafront in the Group Three Grangecon Stud Stakes, while the Queen's Vase victor Sword Fighter (11/4) again toughed it out in front to defy its second string status in the Curragh Cup.

"He is a genuine little horse - he really wants it," said O'Brien, adding that Seamie Heffernan's mount could get a break before taking in the Great Voltigeur en route to the St Leger.

Tommy Stack and Wayne Lordan combined to spring a 50/1 surprise with Alexios Komnenos in the juveniles' maiden, while Andy Slattery enjoyed a lucrative pay-day when Sors claimed the €59,000 win prize in the Rockingham.

"I told anyone that would listen to me that the horse would win," said the delighted Tipperary handler after his game 20/1 shot saw off the favourite, Kimberella, under Killian Leonard in the five-furlong dash.

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