Monday 19 February 2018

O'Brien's Cook Islands to leave Leopardstown loss behind him

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

Richard Forristal

Aidan O'Brien's Classic hopefuls are led by Cook Islands on the Roodee this afternoon as Chester's three-day festival concludes with a card that is well populated by the raiders.

The in-form Ballydoyle luminary saddles three in all, with Housesofparliament joining Cook Islands in the Dee Stakes and Father Christmas reappearing in the Ormonde Stakes.

O'Brien's jumps counterpart Willie Mullins will be represented by Wicklow Brave in the Ormonde, while Ross O'Sullivan sends over Zeb's Fantasy for a tilt at a maiden.

In the apprentices' race that brings proceedings to a close, Gordon Elliott runs Racing's Dream, and Amanda Mooney's Repeater is also on duty there, so there is plenty of Irish interest.

Cook Islands, though, will be the main attraction.

A son of Fastnet Rock, he was a taking winner at Navan on his second start last autumn, having flashed home to be a close fourth to the subsequent Breeders' Cup winner Hit It a Bomb on his Curragh bow.

He clearly possesses a considerable amount of ability, so it was disappointing that he failed to pick up when a well beaten fourth on his Leopardstown return, though he may simply have got stuck in the mud behind Harzand. Chances are that Cook Islands will leave that display behind him now.

He remains a smart prospect and, while he might not be winning the Derby next month, he could still have a bright future.

Today's opposition is solid without being spectacular.

His stablemate Housesof-parliament didn't appeal as being the most progressive type when lugging across the track in winning at Dundalk, and John Gosden's Linguistic might be the threat. He got off the mark at the third time of asking at Newmarket, and while he beat little, he has scope to improve.

Elliott's Racing's Dream might be worth an each-way poke in the last under Megan de Souza-Wearen, but Wicklow Brave could be the best chance of another Irish winner on the card.

Twice successful in his first season on the Flat last term, William Buick's mount was second in the Ebor and third in the Irish St Leger and the Long Distance Cup at Ascot.

If he strips fit in a first-time hood here, he is the one to beat at the weights.

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