Winter is red-hot as O'Brien bags historic double-double
Minding is sidelined, but Aidan O'Brien might, quite incredibly, have one even better than her in the form of Winter, which routed her rivals in the 1,000 Guineas yesterday.
The legendary Ballydoyle trainer has such an arsenal at his disposal that he was visibly disappointed afterwards when a member of the press imparted that he had saddled the first three home - as that meant his son Joseph's Intricately had only come fourth. But it was very much a case of Winter (8/13) first, find the rest, at a warm Curragh.
A victory by four lengths and three parts could have been even more audacious. Ryan Moore rode with sleeves pulled up like a man ready for graft. None was needed.
"She was relentless and kept building all the way to the line. It rode like a piece of work," he said.
If Newmarket was impressive, this was all the more, and with Churchill also completing the Guineas double, O'Brien was over the two days achieving a first. The first ever double-double, predictably, prompted little self-adulation.
"She's a big filly, maturing physically very well. Ryan was impressed, he said she was as easy a Classic winner as you could believe. If everything went well you'd be thinking the Coronation, as she is a strong traveller," said O'Brien.
Asked how she might compare to Minding, he added: "She's progressing very well and who knows? It's very hard to compare at this stage. I'd imagine she'll get a high rating. The only difference is Minding won a Group One at two.
"She might (get a mile and a half). She's out of a fast mare but by Galileo; rarely do his stock lack stamina. It's definitely possible."
An incident involving the Pat Smullen-ridden Rehana and Hydrangea did not work out well for Bean Feasa, whose trainer Jim Bolger was livid after the race. Smullen got a one-day ban.
O'Brien had struck in the Gallinule with Homesman, which pounced late on to deny the gambled-on Born To Play at 5/1, while another War Front-bred, Iron Mountain, took the penultimate race, a maiden, at 2/1.
Decorated Knight maintained Roger Charlton's magnificent record in Group Ones at the Curragh when claiming the Tattersalls Gold Cup, a race that Minding was supposed to run in before she got injured.
The British handler's last four runners at the track have now struck at the top level, following the victory for the son of Galileo. Backed in to 7/2 favourite, he was holding the rather unlucky Somehow at the wire.
"I was very worried yesterday," admitted Charlton. "I knew the forecast was for heavy showers but not like an inch.
"People kept tactfully sending me photographs of flooded car parks."
Fozzy Stack's Commander Grigio (10/3) won easily in the juvenile maiden, while Bolger had reason to cheer when Constant Comment held on gamely in the fillies' handicap at 5/1. Whiteout was an all-the-way winner of the staying handicap, as 2/1 favourite, for Willie Mullins.
Ger Lyons continued a nice run when Sea Wolf took the finale at 5/1 despite top weight.
In the end, though, this warm day was all about Winter.
Afatcat can milk success for Mahon at Ballinrobe
Steve Mahon is based in Kilcolgan, Co Galway and he is evidently a trainer who believes in sparing diesel money.
Mahon has run more horses in the past five seasons at Ballinrobe, Galway, Limerick and Roscommon than all other venues combined. He is particularly fond of Ballinrobe and Afatcat can strike there this evening in the Mulholland Bookmakers Handicap Steeplechase, in which Mahon has three runners.
Afatcat has been placed on three occasions at Ballinrobe, including on his seasonal return, and he again travelled well when second at Tipperary since.
There is a fine pot of €30,000 for the Monroe's Live Mares Handicap Hurdle. Tellthemnuttin drops back dramatically in trip, with each-way preference for Is She Diesel. Rachael Blackore is allowed a 3lb claim and this young filly has run well the last two times, including at Ballinrobe.
Ruby Walsh has six rides and looks a near-certainty for at least one winner. One of them, Knockmaole Boy, was unfortunate to fall last time and looks primed for a big run in the opener, despite his penalty.
Walsh will fancy his chance on Willie Mullins's Dandy Mag, a diminutive type which ought to nip around this tight track and put his excellent jumping to use. Likely he can take the Sheridan Electric Hurdle and this half-brother to Vroum Vroum Mag is accustomed to tougher rivals than these.
Keith Donoghue can have another winner to justify his return to the saddle after weight issues in the form of the rather unfortunate Canny Tom, while Dawn Raider has sound each-way claims under Walsh afterwards for Co Galway trainer Pat Kelly.