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O'Brien bullish about Churchill chance


Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien professed himself "very happy" with Saturday's 2,000 Guineas favourite Churchill yesterday, saying it was a case of so far so good with the Galileo colt.

Unlike his principal rivals - the trial winners Eminent, Barney Roy and Al Wukair - Churchill will not arrive at Newmarket with the benefit of a run. However, he has been very well backed lately and clearly carries a good deal of Ballydoyle confidence.

"He seems to be fine," said the trainer of the 6/4 ante-post favourite. "Everything has gone well. He was a very mature two-year-old, big and strong with plenty of scope. I've been very happy with him over the winter."

O'Brien shares the record for most 2,000 Guineas winners, seven, with John Scott, who dominated the race in the middle of the 19th century. He expects Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valor to join Churchill in the race with Peace Envoy, unlikely to make the journey after his outing at Naas on Monday.

All of O'Brien's Guineas winners were having their first start of the season in the Classic so if you are planning to oppose the favourite it would be unwise to do so on fitness grounds. "We think he is well ready to start. I'm very happy with him at the moment," said O'Brien.

Out of a very speedy dam line - Meow only ever ran over five furlongs while Airwave, his grand-dam was a six-furlong filly - he is by Galileo, a great influence on stamina, and while the Guineas should be fine, the Derby, for which he is also favourite, would appear to be beyond his reach.

As to what will be the champion two-year-old's best trip at three, O'Brien said: "I'm not sure. The Guineas should be no problem. He travels very smoothly through his races and has a lot of pace." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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