Monday 19 March 2018

O'Brien team on song for Del Mar

Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images
Trainer Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Getty Images

Aidan O'Brien expressed his satisfaction after seeing his Breeders' Cup contenders take to the track at Del Mar yesterday.

The Ballydoyle supremo has sent a typically strong team of 14 runners to California and each of them stepped on to either the dirt or turf surfaces for the first time yesterday morning.

Among them were Classic contender Churchill, defending Turf champion Highland Reel and Filly & Mare Turf hope Rhododendron, and O'Brien is generally pleased with their condition.

He said: "They all cantered on the track and they all seem to be fine. I think we've got chances of sorts wherever you look. There are highs and lows, negatives and positives to be gleaned from what happened this morning, and we'll know more about that when I speak to the lads."

O'Brien has enjoyed plenty of success at the Breeders' Cup, particularly in the Turf, which he has claimed a record six times. This is his first visit to Del Mar and he is impressed with what he has seen - describing the track as "a lovely place to be for both people and horses".

Closer to home, it was work as normal yesterday morning for Colin Keane at Ger Lyons' stable after he all but secured the Flat jockeys' title with a treble at Dundalk on Wednesday night.

Keane took his lead over nine-time winner Pat Smullen to 10 and with just two days of the season left, he is almost across the line.

Lyons has been Keane's strongest supporter in his quest to win the title and the 2014 champion apprentice has totally justified that confidence.

"I said congratulations to him this morning and said the way you've won it and the way you carried yourself means more to me, or as much to me, as winning it," said the Co Meath handler.

"He's here riding out this morning. He could be at home lying in bed patting himself on the back. He was first in again this morning, as he always has been from the day I met him.

"I think I've got more of a buzz out of it than he has because Colin is so level-headed. In life you've got to be lucky enough to meet good people, and I'm lucky enough to have met this kid."

Irish Independent

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