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O'Brien sends trio for Phoenix


Air Force Blue

Air Force Blue

Air Force Blue

Air Force Blue, second Behind Buratino in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, bids for revenge over the British raider in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

He is one of a strong triumvirate for Aidan O'Brien, alongside Painted Cliffs and Washington DC.

Jockey Joseph O'Brien said of the War Front colt: "He's a lovely, big horse and he's improving all the time - w hatever he does this year is going to be a bonus.

"I think he's the classiest horse (of the O'Brien three) and there's no doubt in a year's time he's going to be the best horse.

"My only worry is if the race is coming a bit early in his career, he's a bit of progression to come yet.

"He had a good run at Ascot and I'm hoping he can at least a lot closer to Mr Johnston's horse (Buratino).

Of the other Ballydoyle runners, Joseph O'Brien added: "It looks a really hot race. Painted Cliffs and Washington DC are both very well and are also entitled to take their chance."

Mark Johnston feels he could not have Buratino in better shape for the Group One contest.

"It is the best two-year-old race of the season so far," said Johnston.

"Buratino won the Coventry, which is arguably the best two-year-old race before August.

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"He has been exceptionally well and this has been his target since Ascot.

"He is quite an experienced horse for a two-year-old, having had six runs, and he is coming back off what for him has been a long break. "

William Buick has partnered the Godolphin-owned Buratino on his last three starts and expects the son of Exceed And Excel to continue to progress.

He said: "Buratino has done nothing wrong and if the ground is quick he has got a great chance as he is one of the best juveniles around.

"He was impressive at Epsom and he was impressive at Ascot. He has improved every time he has run.

"He has had a break now so it will be interesting to see how he comes out of that.

"He is an exciting horse and, touch-wood, he has improved again.

"The track will be no problem for him."

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