Saturday 24 March 2018

O'Brien has no fears over Winter's step-up in trip

Winter, here winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas, is to step up in distance. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Winter, here winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas, is to step up in distance. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Graham Clark

Winter will step up to 10 furlongs for the first time in the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on August 3.

Formerly trained by the now-retired David Wachman, Aidan O'Brien's filly has been one of the success stories of the season, running a promising race on her reappearance and going on to capture the English and Irish 1000 Guineas as well as the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The grey daughter of Galileo has yet to race beyond a mile, but O'Brien is not expecting the trip to be a problem.

Speaking by telephone at a Qatar Goodwood Festival lunch in London, he said: "That is the plan, she has been good since Ascot. She is very straightforward and she does everything very naturally. We're happy with her at the moment.

"Looking at her performances at Newmarket and the Curragh, and even Ascot, you would think it [distance] should be in her compass.

"We are looking forward to seeing her run over a mile and a quarter."

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori admits he is facing a "difficult" decision when it comes to his Nassau mount.

With John Gosden able to call on both Musidora Stakes winner Shutter Speed and returning Group One-placed filly So Mi Dar, the ever-popular Italian - who will sit out this week as he continues his recovery from a troublesome shoulder injury - will have a tough choice to make.

The Khalid Abdullah-owned Shutter Speed was last seen finishing a close fourth in the Prix de Diane, while So Mi Dar is on the comeback trail having not run since her third to Speedy Boarding in the Prix de l'Opera at Chantilly in October.

Dettori said: "It's a very tough choice for me to make, with So Mi Dar in the picture as well. I've not ridden either of them for a while and I'll be putting my legs across them next week.

"It's a very hard choice, as both at their very best are potentially top drawer. It's a nice problem, but it is also a very difficult one as well."

Elsewhere, O'Brien's Churchill - a disappointing fourth in the St Hames's Palace Stake at Royal Ascot - is 9/4 second favourite behind Richard Fahey's Ribchester in the big feature at Goodwood, the Sussex Stakes.

Ribchester has progressed at a rate of knots since winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last year, finishing third in the Sussex 12 months ago to The Gurkha before striking at the top level in the Prix Jacques le Marois.

The Godolphin-owned four-year-old was just beaten by the brilliant Minding in the QEII on his final outing of 2016, returning in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March and showing his class on his latest two starts in winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and the Queen Anne back at the Royal meeting.

However, a rematch between Big Orange and Order Of St George in the Goodwood Cup is off the agenda.

The victory of the Michael Bell-trained Big Orange over defending Gold Cup champion Order Of St George was arguably the highlight of this year's Royal Ascot, and many had been looking forward to round two in a race to be run as a Group One for the first time this year.

O'Brien revealed: "The plan is to go there with US Army Ranger, and Order Of St George will probably not be running in the race.

"He's having a little bit of a mid-summer break and he'll probably have a prep run for the Irish St Leger, then an autumn campaign."

Looking forward to the Qatar-sponsored Goodwood Festival in general, where the Ballydoyle trainer will bring many of his stars, O'Brien added: "Obviously we are really looking forward to it, as it is one of the meetings of the season. We really look forward to it every year, but this year more so than ever."

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