Thursday 22 March 2018

Queen seals Ballydoyle Guineas double

Marcus Armytage

Aidan O'Brien completed his second English Guineas double at Newmarket yesterday but, unlike red-hot favourite Camelot on Saturday, it was the stable second-string Homecoming Queen which sprung a 25/1 surprise when turning the English 1,000 Guineas into a procession.

When the race -- delayed half an hour after Gray Pearl fatally injured herself in the stalls -- finally began, Ryan Moore set off to make the running on the three-parts sister to Dylan Thomas and he never saw another horse.

The rest of the field looked like they might be about to gang up on her two out, but the small filly went right away to win by an astonishing nine lengths.

Starscope was second and Maybe, Ballydoyle's first string, finished third. The time was two seconds quicker than Camelot ran 24 hours earlier.

Moore could not believe his luck.

"I thought she was going a stride too quick," he said. "And that they'd come to me two out, but they never did. When all you can hear is the commentator you know you're a long way clear. She's a little devil -- you never quite know what she is going to do -- but she just kept going."

O'Brien, who landed the same double with Footstepsinthesand and Virginia Waters, his only previous 1,000 Guineas winner, in 2005, said: "Joseph (O'Brien, riding Maybe) said he thought Homecoming Queen was his biggest danger. She's a hardy, tough filly with a very big heart. In the last couple of weeks she's gone into a different zone.

"When Seamus (Heffernan) won on her last year he said she could be very smart. Joseph won a Listed race on her at the Curragh and said she had a massive engine.

"We went to the Breeders' Cup with her after that but she was entitled to be tired there. She ran first time up at the Curragh when she got a little bit tired, but won nicely at Leopardstown.

"It was an incredible performance and Joseph said she was the filly he was most worried about as she would be going off in front and it was Maybe's first run. I was delighted with Maybe, too.

"She (Homecoming Queen) can go to the Irish Guineas or she can go anywhere. The Curragh, Ascot and Epsom are all in the mix. There are lot of options open to her now.

"She's fierce determined. It took eight starts to win with her last year, but she improved no end between her first and second starts this season."

There may be more to come, too, from Maybe, which Joseph O'Brien felt was perhaps lacking in race fitness.

"She travelled into the race well but she just got a bit tired on the ground, which is getting softer all the time," he said.

O'Brien Snr could be on for a clean sweep of the British Classics. His Kissed (3/1), Homecoming Queen (5/1) and Maybe (6/1) are the first three in the Oaks betting while Camelot is a short-priced Derby and St Leger favourite.

Meanwhile, Ballydoyle's Kentucky Derby hope Daddy Long Legs trailed in a long last of the 20 runners on Saturday. Jockey Colm O'Donoghue felt the colt did not act on the dirt surface. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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