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Monday 18 December 2017

Ascot date for sisters

Clemmie is probably bound for Ascot after her run at the Curragh. Pic: Caroline Norris
Clemmie is probably bound for Ascot after her run at the Curragh. Pic: Caroline Norris

Churchill and Winter were the star attractions at the Curragh over the weekend but trainer Aidan O'Brien also unleashed their sisters, Clemmie and Snowflakes, in Saturday's opening maiden at HQ.

Churchill made his debut at the Guineas meeting last year and finished third but has gone on to be unbeaten since and his sister, Clemmie, was also third on Saturday behind the Jim Bolger-trained Gasta and along with Winter's sister, Snowflakes, who was 13th in the same race, O'Brien is likely to send both to Royal Ascot as maidens next month.

"That was the idea behind running them really," O'Brien said. "Ryan (Moore) and Donnacha (O'Brien) were both happy with their fillies and we felt we needed to get them out (if going to Royal Ascot).

"If they go to Ascot and they are a bit green, so be it, but races likes the Chesham and the Albany are definitely possible, even though they'd learn a lot from it. It will be a good experience for them and that's what we'd be looking at."

O'Brien admitted that he was worried during the race that Clemmie might disappoint but given the filly was one of the first to come under pressure in the race but was always closing going to the line, the trainer was left satisfied with the performance.

"To be honest I thought she was going to run badly looking at her early, but Ryan was happy with her and she finished well," continued O'Brien. "Churchill ran a little bit the same here last year.

"Donnacha was very happy as well. He just said it closed up around him but he went to the line on the bridle and she looks a very smart filly."

Interestingly, Snowflakes, was originally entered under the name Chariot and appeared in some early closing races with that name before it was changed to Snowflakes.

O'Brien won the Albany Stakes, a most likely target for Snowflakes, with Brave Anna, who won the same maiden on Saturday, while Churchill put his debut behind him last season to go on to win the Chesham Stakes, the most likely next port of call for Clemmie.

Meanwhile, O'Brien hopes that Minding will be back riding out within eight weeks following the setback that ruled her out of Sunday's Tattersalls Gold Cup.

"Minding needs one month of box rest and hopefully will be back riding out in six to eight weeks. John Halley and Ger Kelly and their team come into Ballydoyle and check on her every day and she should be back in the Autumn."

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