O’Brien bid­ding for ninth New­mar­ket 2,000 Guineas win in 20 years

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RACING - BRIAN O’CON­NOR Lit­tle Princess. Maker. Whirling Dervish Jewel

Ai­dan O’Brien will bid for a first Amer­i­can clas­sic vic­tory in the Ken­tucky Derby although it prom­ises to be busi­ness as usual for the Ir­ish­man when Europe’s clas­sic cam­paign opens at New­mar­ket today.

Vic­tory in the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas would be O’Brien’s 30th Bri­tish Clas­sic suc­cess and he is set to sad­dle both the likely favourite Gus­tav Klimt and Saxon War­rior, who will be rid­den by O’Brien’s 19-year-old son, Don­nacha.

The cham­pion trainer is pur­su­ing a ninth win in 20 years in the colts clas­sic. He also has four run­ners in to­mor­row’s 1,000 Guineas in­clud­ing the likely favourite Hap­pily. O’Brien has landed the fil­lies high­light four times in­clud­ing the last two years.

With Ryan Moore in Ken­tucky to ride Men­delssohn, Sea­mus Hef­fer­nan gets a gilt-edged op­por­tu­nity to ride a sec­ond Bri­tish clas­sic win­ner on board Gus­tav Klimt. The Galileo colt won im­pres­sively at Leop­ard­stown three weeks ago and has topped the 2,000 Guineas bet­ting since. How­ever yes­ter­day there was more sup­port in the bet­ting for his sta­ble com­pan­ion Saxon War­rior, a horse bred in Ja­pan who counted a Group One suc­cess as part of an un­beaten ju­ve­nile ca­reer.

“We’ve prob­a­bly never had a horse to change so much over win­ter as he has. He’s turned into a mon­ster of a horse, big, pow­er­ful and strong,” O’Brien said. “We think he will get fur­ther than a mile. It will be a nice place to start him and we can look for­ward to him for the rest of the year,” he added.

Ma­jor chal­lenge

Don­nacha O’Brien will try to em­u­late his brother, Joseph, who won the 2,000 Guineas when he was just 18 on board Camelot. The top two Ir­ish con­tenders are joined by a Bal­ly­doyle third-string in Murillo and their ma­jor chal­lenge is ex­pected to come from Godol­phin’s Masar and the race’s other un­beaten colt Elar­qam.

O’Brien’s four 1,000 Guineas con­tenders are joined in to­mor­row’s 15-run­ner clas­sic by the Wil­lie McCreery-trained Liq­uid Am­ber. The for­mer Kil­dare foot­baller sad­dled a Group One win­ner for her own­ers with Fiesolana in 2014 and, like her, Liq­uid Am­ber, who hasn’t run since a five-length win at the Cur­ragh last Au­gust, will be rid­den by Billy Lee.

Ryan Moore will make it back from Ken­tucky to ride Hap­pily who beat colts in last Au­tumn’s Prix Jean Luc La­gadere in Chan­tilly. Hef­fer­nan is on board the ap­par­ent sec­ond-string I Can Fly.

Godol­phin again look to pose the big­gest threat to the Bal­ly­doyle team with both So­lil­o­quy and Wild Il­lu­sion. The Ger Lyons-Colin Keane team will also be in ac­tion at New­mar­ket to­mor­row. El­e­gant Pose lines up for the Group Two Dahlia Stakes and Medicine Jack runs in a hand­i­cap.

A bumper bank hol­i­day week­end pro­gramme in Ire­land kicks off on the flat in Cork today where will try to live up to some fancy entries on his first start of the year. Jes­sica Har­ring­ton’s im­pres­sive maiden win­ner has entries for both the Ir­ish Derby and the King Ed­ward VII Stakes.

“The ground might be a bit heavy for him and he might get a bit tired on it but he’s got to start some­where,” said Har­ring­ton who also could score at Wex­ford’s jumps card on Satur­day with

Der­mot Weld runs the wide-mar­gin course win­ner Ban­dua against Whirling Dervish but the Cur­ragh trainer’s best chance at Cork may be

Don­nacha O’Brien will try to em­u­late his brother, Joseph, who won the 2,000 Guineas

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