Wednesday 26 October 2016

Niall Cronin

Trainer still seeks first French Derby after Highland Reel forced to settle for second

Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien faces a big week as he prepares for the next round of British Classics at Epsom on Friday and Saturday with and this morning it was revealed that neither Gleneagles or Found would run in the Epsom Derby or the Epsom Oaks.

In the lead up to Irish Guineas weekend there was talk that the filly Found may have been supplemented this morning for the Epsom Derby in the absence of a standout candidate for that race from Ballydoyle and on Sunday at Chantilly, O'Brien admitted he had yet to hear that Gleneagles would be taken out at this mornings forefit stage, however it was confirmed at 11.30 this morning that neither would head to Epsom this week.


Gleneagles was described as "the best miler" ever to grace Ballydoyle in O'Brien's tenure by the trainer after his Irish 2,000 Guineas win and like the Irish 1,000 Guineas runner-up Found, they will go straight for Royal Ascot now instead.

O'Brien's three Epsom Derby runners on Saturday are set to be trial winners Kilimanjaro and Hans Holbein and Curragh runner-up Giovanni Canaletto, while in the Oaks he will be represented by Diamondsandrubies, Qualify, Together Forever and Wedding Wow is also a possible runner on Friday.

Meanwhile, at Chantilly yesterday it was Highland Reel who fared best of O'Brien's trio in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly when finishing second behind New Bay.

Ridden by Joseph O'Brien, Highland Reel stayed on strongly in the wind up but was no match for New Bay as he became Andre Fabre's fourth winner of the race and a first for France's leading jump jockey Vincent Cheminaud who was onboard the Khalid Abdullah-owned three-year-old.

Cheminaud, who watched most of the race pan out from the rear of proceedings before making his move on the outside that proved a decisive one, described the winner as an "extraordinary horse" who may be Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe bound later in the season.

O'Brien was naturally pleased with Highland Reel who stepped forward nicely from his encouraging sixth place finish in the French 2,000 Guineas earlier in the season and in what was just his second start in quite a long time, Highland Reel may not be targeted at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh later this month.

O'Brien said: "We were delighted with Highland Reel. When Ryan (Moore) rode him in the French Guineas he just thought he was very rusty. He could be an Irish Derby or an Eclipse horse."

One horse that was supplemented this morning was the Ken Condon trained Success Days who was given the late entry at a fee of €75,000 following his Ballysax and Derrinstown trial wins.

Meanwhile, champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins is also eyeing up a raid on France next week and he confirmed yesterday that 11-year-old Hurricane Fly is on course to spearhead his team on French Champion Hurdle day.

Mullins commented: "He is in good form and at the moment he is heading for Auteuil next Sunday."

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