New O'Brien - same genius
Monday 26 May 1997
Vincent would have been proud of him, and if he did not say "that's my boy", as the pair are unrelated, he could have announced "that's my yard" as both the filly Classic Park and yesterday's 2,000 Guineas victor at the Curragh, Desert King, are prepared at the Ballydoyle yard that the old man first carved out of Co Tipperary's fertile soil.
Like Vincent before him, Aidan O'Brien has become so overpoweringly successful in the National Hunt sphere that the only threat to his domestic hegemony is boredom. For three years now, he has also occupied his namesake's old Flat yard, and at the weekend the Cashel premises became like some Irish Brigadoon, Ballydoyle once again emerging from the mists to lay down its claim to be the foremost racing establishment in the globe.
The manicured grounds have seen many Classic victors before, but these were the first ones supervised by A P O'Brien. "It's been a great team effort," he said yesterday. "Desert King was still immature when he ran in the Dewhurst last year but we've concentrated on his speed this year and he just got better and better."
Aidan's acceleration on the Flat has been given impetus by support from some of the sport's biggest hitters. John Magnier and Michael Tabor have backed the prodigy and the latter's colours were those borne by Desert King yesterday.
Tabor is not a bad man to have in your corner. He has graduated from small-time London bookmaker with a single shop to becoming a Canute of the turf. He has already won a Kentucky Derby (with Thunder Gulch) and he now has Desert King and his equivalent in Britain, the Newmarket Guineas winner, Entrepreneur. "I would think Desert King will run in the Irish Derby," Tabor said. "Both he and Entrepreneur are in the same partnership with Sue Magnier, so there is no conflict of interest.
"Thunder Gulch's victory in the Kentucky Derby was a great moment, but two Guineas winners has to be equal to that. It doesn't get any better."
Entrepreneur is now 4-6 for the Derby as yesterday's object for the fruit- pelters was Revoque, who had gone into the race as the only serious obstacle between Michael Stoute's colt and Epsom triumph. He let down his billing catastrophically.
It was a searing afternoon on the Curragh and though Revoque did not appear wildly distressed, he had to be blindfolded at the start before his aspirations went the same way as those who are hooded at the top of the scaffold steps.
The big horse emerged proficiently enough as Sharemono went off at a nonsense rush that ensured that first would be last. The Ballydoyle pacemaker did his job, however. Three furlongs out, Romanov inherited the lead, but he was swiftly pressed by his travelling companion from Manton. Revoque had moved more fluently than in the Newmarket Guineas and this Classic looked his as he hit the front without being put under duress. When John Reid's whip was applied to his hide, however, the favourite did not display his signature fortitude. He just plodded on dolefully as the draught of overtaking opponents whistled over him.
"John said he was flat," Revoque's trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam reported. "A few of mine have just started coughing in the last few days and I knew at the start something was wrong when Revoque was black with sweat. He and Romanov have both come back with dirty noses.
"When Revoque went there three out it looked a matter of how far but he just died a death and emptied. Richard [Hughes] said it was the same with the other one. We've been in harder fights before now but we're really up against it and the Derby looks very unlikely for Revoque. We will try to give him a break and come back for Royal Ascot."
Desert King had caused the main breeze, forging clear for a three-length success from Verglas. Romanov hung on for third to post Britain's only placing in the weekend's Irish Classics.
The home clean sweep on Saturday was led by Classic Park, who led home her stablemate Strawberry Roan. The latter was subsequently reduced to 4-1 (from 16-1) by Ladbrokes for the Oaks, in which connections must hope she has better luck in running. During a scrimmage on Saturday the filly was struck around the face as if she was in an interrogation chamber. It will be interesting to see what answer she comes up with on 6 June. Those who ran into Aidan O'Brien over the weekend will know how she feels this morning.
4.10: (Irish 2,000 Guineas) 1. DESERT KING (C Roche) 3-1; 2. Verglas 33-1; 3. Romanov 11-1 . 12 ran. 11-10 fav Revoque (6th). 3, 2. (A P O'Brien). Tote: pounds 3.80; pounds 1.70, pounds 3.90, pounds 3.10. Reverse forecast: pounds 54.40 CSF: pounds 95.51.
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