Friday 15 December 2017

Air Force Blue looks a bit special

Air Force Blue (centre) leads home his rivals in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh
Air Force Blue (centre) leads home his rivals in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh

Yes, there is often a bit of commercial spiel attached to high-class racehorses from the Coolmore operation that look like potential stallions in the making but you get the feeling when it comes to Air Force Blue he may just be that little bit special.

Saturday's Dewhurst Stakes was billed as something of a renwal of the rivalry between Godolphin and Coolmore and while the confidence early in the week came from the Emotionless camp, it was as though the moment Air Force Blue touched down at Newmarket on Saturday morning, the all clear was given for the Coolmore powers to fill their boots and nail the bookmakers.

Saturday's Group One was a one-horse race and while Emotionless surely wasn't himself, Air Force Blue was definitely in a different league.


O'Brien reported yesterday that the champion two-year-old elect was "happy in himself" back in his residence at Ballydoyle.

Focus now turns to the older horses next weekend where we cross our fingers and hope to see Gleneagles, the colt that O'Brien hailed as the best miler he has ever trained earlier in the year, as Ascot becomes the latest racecourse hoping to stage his reappearance.

Indeed, it was the Royal meeting at the same venue back in June that we last saw the three-year-old who craves fast ground and that will again be a necessity if he is to run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Some bookmakers will even offer 11/4 this morning about Gleneagles winning the QEII with Solow the current favourite. "We are looking at the QEII with Gleneagles providing we are happy with him and the ground is right," said O'Brien yesterday.

Found, who suffered a luckless passage in the closing stages of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the beginning of the month, is a more likely candidate for Ascot at this stage as she looks to be the trainers main hope this year in a bid to land the English Champion Stakes for the first time.

"Found will probably run in the Champion Stakes, and Tapestry could run in the fillies' race," added the trainer.

Meanwhile, it was Ireland's champion jump trainer Willie Mullins who was landing the major spoils at the Curragh yesterday as Digeanta won the Irish Cesarewitch.

Mullins enjoyed a double at Limerick's all jump meeting with Long Dog and Devil's Bride and went on to complete a cross card treble when landing the €100,000 two-miler at the Curragh for the second time in six-years.

Digeanta's 16/1 success was also the second leg of a big race double for jockey Billy Lee who earlier won on the Eddie Lynam trained Fort Del Oro.

Meanwhile, Mullins had to settle for fourth place in the Munster National which went the way of Henry de Bromhead's Sadler's Risk who undoubtedly had his task made easier when Aidan O'Brien's Carriganog took a crashing fall at the last when very much in contention but Sadler's Risk enjoyed an overdue success when digging deepest to deny the challenge of Spring Heeled and Brian O'Connell back in second.

De Bromhead said; "He's got a lot of class and these are tough races so my gut feeling is to give him a break but I'll speak to Roger (Brookhouse, owner) before making plans. His runs at Cheltenham are shocking and he really only goes right-handed."


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