Racing: O'Brien finds new superpower in Washington
Monday 08 August 2005
George Washington, named after the first president of the United States, confirmed himself as the new superpower among the two-year-old battalions with an eight-length annihilation of his rivals led by his 33-1 stablemate Amadeus Mozart.
In so doing he was following in the footsteps of Lavery, Fasliyev, Minardi, Johannesburg, Spartacus and One Cool Cat, while atoning for the defeat of the O'Brien-trained Oratorio and Russian Blue in last year's renewal of the Group One showpiece.
Investors who usually prefer the building society to the betting ring for boosting their savings may be tempted by the idea of lumping their hard-earned on Ballydoyle's main Phoenix representative each year. The returns make for impressive reading, even if George Washington's 8-13 starting price was on the prohibitive side.
Caution is advised when it comes to assessing the colt's prospects for next year's 2,000 Guineas, however. None of O'Brien's previous Phoenix winners lived up to expectations in their second season and Ballydoyle followers still grimace at the memory of One Cool Cat, considered unbeatable on Guineas day last year by his trainer only to prove a massive flop as he trailed in last but one.
Nobody seemed to be paying much attention to those statistics in the fervour that followed yesterday's race, though. George Washington, backed down to 12-1 Guineas favouritsm prior to the off, was last night as low as 9-2 for the Newmarket Classic with the Tote, whose spokesman Damian Walker said: "The money we saw for him this morning suggested we were going to see something special today and so it proved. Afterwards we went 6-1 and held it for as long as we could, but punters have piled into him and he's now a serious ante-post loser."
O'Brien, renowned for his reticence before a race, also did little to deflate the hype. "He's always been a special horse and is an unusual beast as he shows so much speed but is bred for a mile. Everything is open to him but he's now had four runs, so we'll just see how he is and there's a possibility that could be it for the season."
Kieren Fallon reckons there is plenty more to come from this half-brother to top-class mile-and-a-quarter performer Grandera.
"He felt great and everything went so well," said Fallon, whose job was made easier when Seamus Heffernan on Amadeus Mozart, the early leader, picked up his whip in his left hand over a furlong out - a move that resulted in his mount drifting right, thereby conveniently leaving a gap on the rails for his stablemate.
"It's nice not to have to hit them as they are still babies and he is still a big baby," added Fallon. "He is some horse and that was the best juvenile performance by far this season."
Despite his understandable enthusiasm, it is worth noting that in a recent interview the jockey, when asked about the Ballydoyle youngsters, made special mention of Ivan Denisovich, currently 16-1 for the Guineas, saying "I've never known a two-year-old improve so much from race to race."
According to O'Brien, Ivan Denisovich will appear next in the Prix Morny at Deauville this month, with Horatio Nelson, another of the yard's top two-year-old prospects, heading for the Group Two Curragh Futurity in September.
Yesterday's other big race, the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, resulted in a home win for Whipper, who could now meet his all-conquering younger half-sister Divine Proportions in the Prix Jacques le Marois next Sunday.
One man who will not be in action in the near future, is Robert Winston, whose hopes of securing a first jockeys' title were knocked out when he suffered multiple fractures of his jaw in a fall at Ayr on Saturday. Winston had only recently deposed Jamie Spencer as championship leader, but now looks certain to miss the rest of the season.
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