Sunday 18 March 2018

O'Brien insists Minding is fit for tilt at Epsom Oaks

Minding and Ryan Moore, here getting the better of Ballydoyle in the English 1,000 Guineas, is on track for Epsom. Photo: Getty
Minding and Ryan Moore, here getting the better of Ballydoyle in the English 1,000 Guineas, is on track for Epsom. Photo: Getty

Thomas Kelly

Aidan O'Brien's classy English 1,000 Guineas heroine Minding remains on course for Friday's Oaks at Epsom.

The daughter of Galileo was an impressive winner of the first fillies' Classic of the season at Newmarket, but was narrowly denied by Jet Setting when chasing the Guineas double at the Curragh last weekend.

It later emerged Minding had suffered a minor head injury after an incident in the starting stalls, but O'Brien reports her to have recovered well and she is on course for Epsom.

"Minding will run in the Oaks as long as everyone is happy with her," said O'Brien. "There is no sign of any internal bleeding after the bang she got in the stalls at the Curragh."

As for the Derby, Red Verdon is set to be supplemented for Saturday's colts classic, trainer Ed Dunlop has confirmed.

The American-bred colt was narrowly beaten on his first start of the season at Doncaster.

But he went one better at Chester earlier this month and followed up in spectacular fashion at Haydock.

He faces a big step up in class for the premier Classic, but after a pleasing workout yesterday, Dunlop has been given the green light by owner Ronnie Arculli to add him to the Epsom field today at a cost of £75,000 (€99,000). Silvestre de Sousa will ride the chestnut for the first time.

Meanwhile, Irish 2,000 Guineas third Blue De Vega will be stepped up in distance for a tilt at the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

The German-bred colt became trainer Michael O'Callaghan's first Classic runner at the Curragh last weekend and ran a fantastic race in defeat to pick up minor honours behind the impressive Awtaad and Newmarket Guineas winner Galileo Gold.

Just 24 hours later, the Curragh-based handler saddled another Classic contender in Now Or Never, with the Irish 1,000 Guineas third also now pencilled in for the summer showpiece fixture.

O'Callaghan said: "I was very happy with the two of them. It was just a bit disappointing the ground went against them.

"They've both come out of their races well and the plan with Blue De Vega is to head for the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

"I think he'll appreciate the step up to a mile and a quarter and hopefully he'll get the better ground he likes.

"He ran very well the other day, he's just more of a mile-and-a-quarter horse than the first two.

"Now Or Never is very well and will go for the Coronation Stakes at Ascot.

"We're very excited by the two of them, it was great to have two horses placed in Classics and hopefully they'll both go on and win their Group One somewhere along the line."

Elsewhere, Speedy Boarding claimed the biggest victory of her career with a smart display in the Prix Corrida at Saint-Cloud.

James Fanshawe's filly won twice as a three-year-old last season, including a Listed prize at Newbury, and was far from disgraced when finishing fifth in the Irish Oaks.

Having made a promising return to action in the Middleton Stakes at York earlier this month, the daughter of Shamardal was a 4/1 shot for her Group Two assignment in France and showed thrilling acceleration in the straight to grab the lead.

Siljan's Saga got rolling late, but jockey Frederik Tylicki always looked confident and Speedy Boarding held her at bay by half a length.

Hot favourite Candarliya had to make do with minor honours in third.

"It's great to win for her owner-breeders Meon Valley Stud.

"For her to win a Group Two is a great result for them," Fanshawe said.

"It's also Freddie's biggest winner, so I'm delighted for him.

"She's in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh (June 26), so we'll see how she comes out of this and play it by ear."

Irish Independent

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