Monday 19 February 2018

O'Brien ready for Guineas after Minding dazzles

O'Brien: “She’s a great filly.” Picture credit: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
O'Brien: “She’s a great filly.” Picture credit: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Aidan O'Brien hailed Minding as "a great filly" after a superb reappearance on a summer's day at Naas.

Last year's English Guineas and Oaks heroine was able to dictate matters under Ryan Moore in a four-runner Mooresbridge and burst away at odds of 1/3, illustrating that she is as hungry for racing as she was at two and three.

"She's a great filly," said her trainer. "To be able to show the form she did at a mile, ten furlongs and a mile and a half was really incredible. Physically she's done well. Some three-year-olds do not grow into four-year-olds but she has - and she is as enthusiastic as ever."

Minding is a general 10/1 chance for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later in the campaign. Her next race is likely to be the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on May 28.

"One at a time - we'd be thinking of the Prince Of Wales at Royal Ascot then," added O'Brien.

O'Brien could have a Coventry hope in Dali, which made all in the two-year-olds' winners' race under Ryan Moore. The 4/6 favourite found plenty to repel promising newcomer Hawaam.

"He came forward from his first run and he'll come forward again," said O'Brien. "I think five or six suits him. He has plenty of speed, when he learns what he's at. He was still swapping and changing a good bit so he still doesn't really know."

A double for the champion trainer did the trick ahead of this weekend's 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas.

There are still 18 in the fillies' race but the males' event on Saturday will attract a relatively small field, with just 12 left in. O'Brien is pleased with Churchill, which remains 7/4 favourite.

"I'm not sure how many we'll run. We'll talk to Ryan about how he sees it shaping up before deciding. Everything has gone well and the small field is fine," said O'Brien, who may also run Lancaster Bomber, Peace Envoy and Spirit Of Valor, with Caravaggio bound for the French Guineas.

"Rhododendron is in good form and will run in the 1,000. Hydrangea and Winter might also run while Roly Poly could wait for the French Guineas. We'll decide in the next few days."

Rehana is bound for the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas (available at 11/2) after a smooth success in the Athasi Stakes.

"She has been training really well and relishes that ground," said trainer Michael Halford of the 6/4 joint-favourite, which sprinted away from market rival Rose De Pierre under Shane Foley.

Another horse which may go to Royal Ascot is Doctor Geoff, which landed a Tetrarch Stakes notable for how unlucky Peace Envoy was. "There's not much of him but he's a nice horse, possibly one for the Jersey Stakes," said Ger Lyons of the 8/1 winner.

Jessica Harrington's incredible run - 11 winners since April 22 - shows no evidence of abating. The strapping daughter of Mastercraftsman, 2/1 favourite Alpha Centauri, made virtually all in the opening maiden and could make into a Classic contender.

Harrington joked: "There must be a mole in my yard: everyone seems to know about her. What was worrying was the size of her. She's the biggest two-year-old I have.

"When she came to me before Christmas she weighed 530kgs, heavier than most of the jumpers.

"I sent them back three times to weigh her because I said 'you must have it wrong'."

This was the eighth two-year-old maiden this year, all won by different owners and trainers.

Another got in on the act in the the older horses' maiden, Virtudes scoring at 10/1 for former Kildare midfielder Willie McCreery.

Jim Bolger took the finale, Admodum holding on at 7/1 under Kevin Manning.

Meanwhile, Danny Mullins has paid tribute to The Tullow Tank, which has died. Barry Connell's charge was a brilliant novice hurdler earlier in his career and was last seen finishing third at Navan in March.

Mullins said: "He was a great horse who gave me two Grade One wins; he'll be sadly missed by all connections."

The Tullow Tank was trained by Philip Fenton, Dessie Hughes, Sandra Hughes and Alan Fleming after running in a point for Sam Curling.

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