Friday 20 April 2018

O'Brien hoping Air Force can banish Newmarket blues in Irish Guineas

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Tattersalls Irish Guineas weekend could host two of Ballydoyle's most exciting talents as Aidan O'Brien considers sending both Minding and Air Force Blue to the Curragh.

The market leaders for the equivalent Classics at Newmarket experienced differing fortunes last week.

Minding ran out a dazzling winner of the fillies' Group One, after Air Force Blue failed to raise a gallop in the colts' version.

O'Brien feels that he may have overworked Air Force Blue, and he has reviewed every aspect of his training as he seeks to prepare him for the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday week.

"I'm hoping that we will see a different horse the next day," O'Brien said yesterday. "There was nothing wrong after Newmarket; he was healthy and everything was perfect. It was just maybe that he was a little bit tired.

"If the ground is good, we'd love to go for the Irish Guineas, and then we'll know if he was overtrained or if he doesn't stay. If that's the case, he will go back to Ascot for the Commonwealth Cup; I still won't believe he gets a mile until I see it. He travels so strongly.

"We are just taking things a bit gentler with him and I don't think he will wear the tongue tie or the cross noseband that he did at Newmarket, because anything that I did there won't be done again - it was a dramatic failure!

"I'd always rather try something in good faith if you think it will help, but until you do it, you don't know. The important thing is to make those calls.

"We've won the Irish Guineas with horses like Roderic O'Connor and Power that have disappointed at Newmarket, so hopefully he can do it, too."

Some have called for Minding to be considered for the Epsom Derby. However, that isn't on the cards as far as O'Brien is aware.

"Nothing is written in stone, but I'd say the Curragh and the Oaks are the possibilities for her," he said. "You can't be sure that she would get a mile-and-a-half, so running in the Derby would be like taking two steps, whereas the Oaks would be just one step."

Of his 1,000 Guineas second and third, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs, he added: "We will try and keep Minding and Ballydoyle apart, so, if Minding goes for the Oaks, Ballydoyle might go to the Curragh, and there is the French Oaks as well. Alice Springs will run in Sunday's French 1,000 Guineas and The Gurkha in the French 2,000 Guineas.

"Somehow struggled a bit at Chester, as did Seventh Heaven at Lingfield, so they might find Epsom quite tough."

Best In The World and Deauville will have their Epsom credentials tested at York this week, while the highly-regarded Australian import Vancouver will run in the Greenlands Stakes on Guineas weekend ahead of a possible tilt at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"He might only be ready for a racecourse gallop really, but, if I don't run him, I'll have no idea about how to ride him and so on," he said of Vancouver, which is being aimed at the July Cup.

Irish Independent

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