There may be no Classic clean sweep for Aidan O’Brien this season, but on Irish Guineas weekend the Ballydoyle trainer put a troubled spring behind him with the victory of Marvellous at the Curragh yesterday and is set to advance with ominous intent on Epsom.
O’Brien’s string has been held up by coughing in the early weeks of the campaign, as he acknowledged after Marvellous had proved too strong at the finish of the Irish 1,000 Guineas for Lightning Thunder, runner-up in the Newmarket equivalent.
The winner had finished only sixth in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial on her reappearance in March, but the trainer explained: “She handled this sort of ground when she won her maiden at Navan last year. She then had the one run this year at Leopardstown and had a bit of a break after that as, like a lot of mine, she was coughing a bit. The plan was to come here and then on to Epsom. You’d have to say she’d definitely get a mile and a quarter the way she ran to the line. She’s a nice, compact filly and I don’t think she’d have any problems handling Epsom.”
Marvellous, by Galileo out of a full-sister to Giant’s Causeway, is now as short as 6-1 third favourite for the Oaks on Friday week. Her vaunted stablemate Australia heads the market for following day’s Derby at evens, after an uneasy few days’ exchanges which left O’Brien’s Geoffrey Chaucer next in the betting at 7-1, amid rumours of untoward outcomes on the Ballydoyle gallops.
But the Tipperary camp could hardly have derived more encouragement from the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, when Kingman – a head in front of Australia in that desperate finish to the Newmarket original, only for the pair to be trumped by Night Of Thunder – sauntered home by five lengths from the 2,000 Guineas fourth Shifting Power, with the rest of their rivals trailing.
O’Brien’s Adelaide still holds the Derby engagement and would not be one to underestimate after following his Prix Hocquart second with a three-length victory over his stablemate Mekong River in the Gallinule Stakes. But O’Brien seemed ready to steer the winner away from Epsom, saying: “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him so far, and he could go to Ascot for the King Edward [VII Stakes], or there’s a chance he could go for the French Derby next weekend, but that could come too soon.”
Lady Cecil gained a first Group One success in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, fittingly with Frankel’s full-brother Noble Mission, who has been a horse transformed by front-running this season.
In France the Group One Prix d’Ispahan fell to Cirrus Des Aigles. The timeless veteran, fresh from depriving the Arc winner Treve of her unbeaten record, faced little challenge in making all – certainly not from Olympic Glory, who ran a flat race eight days after his Lockinge win.