Monday 19 February 2018

O'Brien happy with Somehow progress

Aidan O'Brien (Sportsfile)
Aidan O'Brien (Sportsfile)

Thomas Kelly

Somehow bids to book her ticket for the Epsom Oaks when she faces seven rivals in the Arkle Finance Cheshire Oaks at Chester today.

The daughter of 2006 Oaks heroine Alexandrova is around a 20/1 shot for the Epsom Classic in a market dominated by her Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Minding, the English 1,000 Guineas winner.

Somehow, which was placed on her only start as a two-year-old, made no mistake getting off the mark on her seasonal debut at Leopardstown last month where she landed a 10-furlong maiden in good style.

"She's in good form and came out of Leopardstown well. We think she'll learn a lot," said O'Brien.

"We liked her going to Leopardstown and obviously she's out of Alexandrova. The trip shouldn't be a problem to her so we'll see how she gets on."

Charlie Hills is testing the water with Moorside and Doubly Motivated.

"Moorside is a filly we've always liked, and the form of her debut run was franked by So Mi Dar winning the Epsom Derby Trial," the Lambourn trainer said. "Doubly Motivated was too keen at Ascot last week and we're hoping the turning track will help her settle. She has plenty of ability and shouldn't be written off."

Central focus on the card will be directed towards US Army Ranger, a major player for the Investec Derby at Epsom and one of six declared for the MBNA Chester Vase.

Ballydoyle's inmate was the plunge horse of the close season after his Epsom odds contracted with sudden alacrity.

The Galileo colt admittedly won really well on his debut at the Curragh, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the one-off demands of Chester, but it would probably be folly to steam into US Army Ranger until we have seen more of him.

Be that as it may, Aidan O'Brien has won six of the last nine renewals of the Vase, most notably with Epsom hero Ruler Of The World in 2013, which struck in the same Curragh maiden first time out, so it is clearly a race of some substance for the wise men of Coolmore.

Willie Mullins, meanwhile, moved his winners' bandwagon to Ballinrobe yesterday as he struck on the card's opening two races.

Most noteworthy was the stylish success off Fire In Soul (5/2) which Bryan Cooper guided to a smooth success in the Mulholland Bookmakers Rated Hurdle. The first leg of the double came courtesy of Livelovelaugh (8/13), which took the opening maiden hurdle with the minimum of fuss in the hands of Paul Townend.

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