Joseph O’Brien has Ascot in mind for winning juveniles

There was no surprise that the name O’Brien dominated the opening two races at the Curragh but it was Joseph who unleashed two hugely promising juveniles, beating two trained by his father Aidan in the process.

Midnight Strike made a brilliant start to his career when taking the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race.

The Starspangledbanner colt was a 15-2 chance under Dylan Browne McMonagle but oozed class throughout.

In a field of six Midnight Strike was always travelling strongly and had gained a clear lead by the final furlong marker, going on to cross the line two lengths ahead of Treasure Isle (5-4 favourite), the first two-year-old runner this season for Aidan O’Brien.

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“I thought he was a nice colt but didn’t expect him to win like that,” the winning trainer said.

“He looks an Ascot-type horse and he’s another nice Starspangledbanner for the owners.

“We thought he’d stay six but was certainly quick enough to start at five. He looks very smart.”

The younger O’Brien then struck again in the Keadeen Hotel Irish EBF Maiden with Cowardofthecounty, a 17-2 chance under Browne McMonagle.

Again the market was dominated by a Ballydoyle horse as Whistlejacket, a full brother to former champion two-year-old Little Big Bear, went off the evens favourite.

Whistlejacket took up an early lead and looked the winner at one stage, but Cowardofthecounty loomed up beside him to prevail by two and a half lengths.

“This fella looked like he could be a bit special at home but you’re never really sure with a two-year-old until they go to the races,” O’Brien said.

“He’s a particularly laid back horse and couldn’t have been more impressive. He’s a big horse, well over 500 kilos which for a two-year-old at this stage is a lot.

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“He could go straight for the Coventry now. He’s such a big horse I don’t know does he need to run again but we’ll have to see.

“We knew when the horse ran well in the first that there was a good chance this lad would run well too.

“A lot of people pitch in two-year-olds with an older horse to give them a guide, but we don’t and keep the two-year-olds together.

“They are the first two colts that we have run and it looks like we have a couple of nice ones!

“They have both been away once and today is just the second time they have been on grass. We don’t drill our two-year-olds and like them to progress. It bodes well on what they have done today.”

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