Wednesday 17 January 2018

O'Brien's Envoy on course for Ascot

Aidan O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien

Thomas Kelly

WAR Envoy lived up to pre-race hype at Naas where he made an impressive debut to trigger doubles for Aidan and Joseph O'Brien.

A son of the in-vogue stallion War Front out of a Listed-winning mare, War Envoy's claims were hardly a secret and he was sent off the 1/3 favourite for the Ballydoyle team.

With the O'Brien's son Joseph in the saddle, War Envoy made smooth progress to take up the running around the furlong marker and his rider had to barely flick the whip to send him to the front.

Given a considerate ride by O'Brien, the strapping War Envoy won by a comfortable length from Packing Go Go to stake an early claim to be part of the Ballydoyle team at Royal Ascot.

O'Brien snr said: "I'm delighted with that for a first run, you could not ask for much more. He'll come on plenty for that as he is still quite babyish. He will probably come back here for a winners' race."

The Ballydoyle supremo sent out another smart-looking War Front colt in The Great War to win at Tipperary last week, and the pair share favouritism with RaceBets at 6/1 for the Coventry Stakes at the royal meeting.

Later, O'Brien's Guerre created a striking impression as he put his elders in their place in the Listed Woodlands Stakes.

Yet another son of War Front, he saw a racecourse just twice as a juvenile, winning at the Curragh before chasing home Shining Emerald in the Blenheim Stakes in September.

Despite opposition of the calibre of last year's winner Maarek, he was backed into 11/4 favouritism and when O'Brien asked him for an effort two furlongs out the response was impressive as he dashed into a clear lead, still having a length and a half in hand of Prix de l'Abbaye winner Maarek (7/2) passing the post.

The winning trainer said: "He's a fast horse, and that wasn't a bad performance for a three-year-old against older horses.

"I'm delighted with him, he could go for something like the Greenland Stakes on Guineas weekend at the Curragh. It's always possible then he could drop back to five furlongs for Royal Ascot."

The O'Briens were earlier denied another two-year-old winner (Timbuktu) when 33/1 outsider Coto made all to win the fillies maiden.

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