Friday 17 November 2017

O'Brien and Wachman target rich pickings at Newmarket

O’Brien: High hopes for Newmarket
O’Brien: High hopes for Newmarket
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Sir John Hawkins will be the sole Irish raider on tomorrow's opening leg of Newmarket's three-day July Festival when the smart Aidan O'Brien-trained colt tackles the July Stakes.

The offspring of a dream mating between Coolmore's Henrythenavigator and Peeping Fawn – winners of an aggregate eight Group Ones – Sir John Hawkins had the recent Curragh Group Two winner Sudirman back in third when landing a maiden at headquarters in May. He was then no match for his precocious stablemate War Command when third in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but he remains highly regarded in Rosegreen.

A 6/4 favourite to dispose of his 11 rivals in for tomorrow's Group Two, Ryan Moore's mount is a 20/1 shot in the ante-post market for next year's 2,000 Guineas, with market leader War Command the only Irish-trained horse ahead of him on that list.

Victory in this six-furlong contest would further bolster the reputation of the Irish juvenile contingent.

Irish interest should increase over the following two days at Newmarket, with Duntle engaged in Friday's Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes, a fillies' mile event that hasn't crossed the water since Willie Carson rode Michael Cunningham's Rose Above to victory in 1979, long before it earned its current Group One status. David Wachman's prolific four-year-old's only reversal from five starts in over a year came when she was thrown out by the Leopardstown stewards after being first past the post in the Matron Stakes.

She bagged a second successive triumph at the Royal fixture when answering Wayne Lordan's every call in a Group Two last month, but success at the top level remains the chief goal for a filly with such rich breeding potential. There are just four others in the Falmouth, with Sky Lantern the market leader.

Last year's winner and runner-up Giofra and Elusive Kate are also engaged, so Duntle (4/1) could face a daunting task if Wachman elects to declare her this morning. On Saturday, Eddie Lynam's brilliant King's Stand victor Sole Power is expected to be joined by progressive stablemate Slade Power as he tries for a first win over six furlongs in the Darley July Cup, with fellow Ascot winner Gale Force Ten and Reply the Ballydoyle contenders.

However, Roca Tumu, the last of the eight raiders to achieve glory at the Berkshire venue in June, is unlikely to be seen in action again in these parts after Joanna Morgan revealed that a deal is close to being finalised for her progressive three-year-old.

"I think he's sold," Morgan said of the colt, which was winning for a third time in five starts when landing the Britannia Handicap under Billy Lee. "He's getting vetted anyway, I think to go to Hong Kong – hopefully I'll get another one as good as him one day."

Ken Condon is hoping for better things from his Albany Stakes flop Sacred Aspect when she drops to five furlongs for a first time in Saturday's Listed Danehill Dancer Stakes at Tipperary.

"She was drawn one over there and the race developed on the stands side, but in the circumstances we were pleased," Condon said of the Leopardstown winner's Ascot defeat. "The plan is to run on Saturday; we feel coming back a furlong with her will suit."

Meanwhile, Sligo handler Niall Moran has suggested that Dont Bother Me, seventh behind Gale Force Ten in the Jersey Stakes, will get a break before being aimed at the Group Three Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown next month.

George Kent also moved to rule out his stable star Custom Cut of Saturday's Summer Mile at Ascot, suggesting that he would be prepared for the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday week.

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