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Blues bids for victorious swansong in Breeders’ Cup Mile

Space Blues bids to add his name to an illustrious list of European-trained winners of the Breeders’ Cup Mile when he leads a two-pronged attack from Charlie Appleby on the Del Mar showpiece.

The Prix de la Foret victor is joined by stablemate Master Of The Seas, who was runner-up to Poetic Flare in the 2000 Guineas but has been restricted to just two outings since that effort on the Rowley Mile.

Having won his maiden over a mile as a two-year-old, Saturday’s distance is not quite an unknown for Space Blues – but he has not run over it since his third career start, and has made his name as a crack six and seven-furlong performer.

Appleby said: “We’ve been delighted with his last two starts when winning both the (City Of) York Stakes and then the Foret. This will be the last run of his career; I’d imagine we’ll be retiring him after this. He’s done us proud.

“I feel a sharp mile round Del Mar will suit him. As we’ve all seen, he’s a great traveller. It’ll be quicker ground than he’s run on in his last two starts, but it doesn’t worry me becaue he won in Saudi Arabia on quick ground, and at Deauville. He’s a very versatile horse.

“He’ll travel for fun around there – and if the gaps appear he’s got the acceleration.”

Master Of The Seas returned to action with a creditable third place in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket in September, before finishing seventh in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot – where the ground was not in his favour.

With William Buick aboard Space Blues, James Doyle takes the mount on Master Of The Seas.

Appleby said: “We probably saw him at his best when he was just touched off in the Guineas on quick ground. He won the Craven Stakes before that Guineas second, then met with a setback.

“I was delighted with his comeback run in the Joel Stakes. He’s most definitely come forward from it fitness-wise. On Champions Day the ground was just too soft for him. I was keen, though, to get another run into him because he’d missed a large chunk of the summer.

“He’s come out of that race well, and I think back at a mile on quick ground will suit him.”

Aidan O’Brien won the race for the first time last year, when Order Of Australia led home a one-two-three for Ballydoyle.

His representative this time is 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth, a filly who has barely put a foot wrong but has not always enjoyed the best of luck – as witnessed by the trouble in running she suffered in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth (Mike Egerton/PA)

O’Brien said: “She’s been unlucky probably her last twice. The horses who beat her at Leopardstown she beat four or five lengths the next time, but when that happens (trouble in running) you lose Group Ones – and you never like that.

“I thought her last run at Ascot (fifth in the QEII) could be her best, because she clocked the final two furlongs better than any other horse’s time in the race.

“She seems well so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing her run. If there is a decent pace, she will run well.”

O’Brien added of the Breeders’ Cup in general: “It’s a special event at the end of our season. It’s great that the horses can come together and be compared across the world, at various distances and ages.

“It’s great prize-money; the racing is competitive, and everybody is looked after very well. I think at this time of year it’s where everybody likes to be with a horse good enough to compete in those championship races.”

The Paddy Twomey-trained Pearls Galore is another contender for Europe with strong credentials, after finishing second in the Matron and occupying the same spot in the Foret.

Dangers abound among the home squad, notably Mo Forza (Peter Miller/Flavien Prat), Smooth Like Strait (Mike McCarthy/Umberto Rispoli) and In Love (Paulo Lobo/Alexis Achard).

Of Smooth Like Strait, Rispoli said in his blog for XB Net: “Although his front-running style will always leave him potentially vulnerable to a fast finisher, a win in this super competitive heat will make up for a season where he’s only been a whisker shy of greatness.

“His work sectionals have been sharp, and this race has been the plan all year. Hopefully, we can pull it off together from the front end. It will take a Herculean effort against the likes of Space Blues and In Love, but I couldn’t ask for a more willing or talented partner.”

Bolshoi Ballet makes Breeders’ Cup Turf field

Bolshoi Ballet is set to be a third contender for Aidan O’Brien in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf after the late scratching of Domestic Spending.

The latter, trained by Chad Brown, was second-favourite behind Dermot Weld’s defending champion Tarnawa in Saturday’s coveted Grade One at Del Mar.

In the absence of Domestic Spending, Bolshoi Ballet is promoted to run after initially being listed as a reserve.

Already a Grade One winner in America, in the Belmont Derby four months ago, this year’s beaten Epsom Derby favourite will join stablemates Japan and Broome in the 14-runner field.

Also elevated to take part is another reserve, Channel Maker, after United was another late scratching.

Mother Earth ‘in great form’ for Breeders’ Cup Mile bid

Aidan O’Brien is expecting Mother Earth to put up a bold bid for Breeders’ Cup Mile glory at Del Mar on Saturday.

The 1000 Guineas winner has not always enjoyed the best of luck this season – most notably in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

But she has also claimed Group One honours in the Prix Rothschild and was far from disgraced against Baaeed and company when fifth in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day.

“Mother Earth has been unlucky and I thought her last run at Ascot could be her best as she clocked the final two furlongs better than any other horse’s time in the race,” the Ballydoyle trainer said.

“She can on the other hand be at the mercy of a slow pace sometimes, but though in an ideal world maybe a little lower (drawn) would have helped her, I still think she’s not drawn badly (in stall nine). She travels well and quickens well and she’s in great form.”

It is a small but select team for O’Brien this year, and he remains open-minded on his prospects in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, where Japan and Broome are his two representatives.

Should either not be 100 per cent at the weekend or runners from other stables come out, the Ballydoyle handler has back-up with Bolshoi Ballet as first reserve and Mogul third reserve to take their place.

“In the Turf we have two that got in, but things can change. Bolshoi Ballet is first reserve and we shall keep checking the temperatures of Broome and Japan up to the 8am deadline (for scratches) on Saturday,” said O’Brien, who 12 months ago saw Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez make the Mile as reserves.

Broome is one of two Aidan O'Brien contenders guaranteed a run in the Breeders' Cup Turf
Broome is one of two Aidan O’Brien contenders guaranteed a run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (PA)

“Broome gets a mile and a half well and is a relentless galloper with good form. The plan is for him and Japan to go on to the Japan Cup (after the Breeders’ Cup). They both have Japanese owners.

“Japan has run some very good races, but he’s got chopped the last twice. He was chopped with Wayne (Lordan) on board and again when he ran at Saratoga.

“We were surprised the Turf was so over-subscribed, but we have horses that could still end up getting in and things can change. Look at Order Of Australia, who was third reserve before he won in Keeneland.”

Love was switched to the Filly & Mare Turf to accommodate her stablemates in the Turf, and O’Brien reports the multiple Group One-winning filly to be at the top of her game.

Love is reported to be in good form ahead of the Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf
Love is reported to be in good form ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf (David Davies/PA)

“In the Filly & Mare I’m really looking forward to saddling Love. She is in good order. Yes we trained her for the Turf, but with what happened in that we had to rehash,” he said.

“I always thought the ground out here would be perfect for her, and there’s a possibility she will go to Hong Kong (Vase or Cup) afterwards.

O’Brien believes Glounthaune will be suited by the track and the distance when he lines up for the Juvenile Turf.

The Kodiac colt made a wining debut in April, but did not reappear until last month when he contested the Dewhurst Stakes before landing a Group Three at Leopardstown a week later.

“Our only juvenile runner Glounthaune took a long time to be ready to run and the Middle Park came a bit soon. So we ran him in the Dewhurst before backing him up very quickly when he won, but he doesn’t do much when he gets there.

“He’s only had three races and a mile round here ought to suit him,” O’Brien added.

Wide draw for Tarnawa ahead of Breeders’ Cup Turf defence

Tarnawa has been handed a wide draw in stall 13 for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar on Saturday.

Dermot Weld’s mare is seeking to defend the crown she won at Keeneland 12 months ago, and will again be ridden by Colin Keane.

Aidan O’Brien has two contenders in the shape of Japan and Broome, after electing to run Love in the Filly & Mare Turf.

Japan has been drawn in 14 under Ryan Moore, with Broome and Frankie Dettori in eight.

Further strong European representation comes in the shape of Roger Varian’s Prix Vermeille heroine Teona, drawn in 12 and to be ridden by David Egan.

Charlie Appleby also has two chances – Yibir (William Buick) in 10 and Walton Street (James Doyle) in seven.

In the Filly & Mare Turf, Love has been handed stall six, with last year’s winner Audarya widest of all in 12 as she seeks to repeat her famous victory for James Fanshawe, this time with Buick aboard.

Ocean Road is a runner for Hugo Palmer and Oisin Murphy in stall 10.

Appleby has Master Of The Seas (Doyle, stall one) and Space Blues (Buick, stall three) in the Mile, where Mother Earth is in nine for O’Brien and Moore. Pearls Galore is in 12 for Paddy Twomey and Billy Lee.

In the Classic, Knicks Go is in stall five and his Brad Cox-trained stablemate Essential Quality is on his inside in four. Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has stall eight.

Double for Keane on day champions crowned at Naas

Colin Keane capped his record-breaking campaign with a double in the final two races of the season at Naas – kickstarted by a memorable victory on 33-1 shot Yaxeni in the Colm White Bookmaker November Handicap.

Ireland’s champion jockey had his third title wrapped up long ago, and broke Joseph O’Brien’s previous all-time record for the number of winners in a season with three weeks to spare.

It was hugely fitting therefore that he added not just another feature-race success on the last Flat turf card of the year but then immediately steered a winning favourite home, too, as the appropriately-named Team Of Firsts completed the double for him and trainer Ger Lyons.

Keane, who therefore finished with 141 winners, had to be at his best on Yaxeni.

The four-year-old filly, trying the marathon two-mile trip for the first time, helped to force the pace along with Torcello for much of the race.

But she was collared by eventual runner-up Powerful Aggie and appeared set for second at best until she rallied in the final furlong to hit the front again and win by half a length.

Keane then scored by an emphatic seven lengths as 7-2 favourite Team Of Firsts dominated the Congratulations To The 2021 Flat Champions Handicap.

All smiles for Colin Keane and his family
All smiles for Colin Keane and his family (Healy Racing)

“It’s been an unbelievable year. From the very start to the last day, we ride for some great people – there are great people around us,” he said

Paying his tribute to Keane, Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother, said: “It was a brilliant ride and it encapsulated Colin’s whole season in a few minutes there.”

He added of the winner: “To be fair to the filly she’s an absolute model of consistency. It’s the first time she’s stepped up to two miles and we knew she’d get it no problem. She thrives on that ground, she’s so one-paced but a good one-paced.

“She stays in training next year and it will be all about getting black type. Getting that trip on that ground she can step up in class as well, she might have to travel to the likes of France.”

Aidan O'Brien was crowned champion trainer once more
Aidan O’Brien was crowned champion trainer once more (Healy Racing)

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien’s King Of Bavaria earlier retained his unbeaten record with an impressive victory in the Tally-Ho Stud Irish EBF Birdcatcher Premier Nursery Handicap.

The son of No Nay Never was saddled with joint top-weight in this valuable event, on the basis of his win in a strong maiden over five furlongs on debut at this course back in May.

The 11-2 second-favourite had not been seen since, but defied both his absence and his burden to take control in the final furlong under Seamie Heffernan for a decisive length-and-a-half victory from outsider Past Time.

O’Brien will give King Of Bavaria – co-owned by champion owner Sue Magnier – an opportunity next spring to prove whether he can move up to a mile and become a Classic contender.

“We’re delighted with him – it’s a long time since he ran, and we were very worried about the ground,” said O’Brien.

“We thought he was a nice horse and thought he was an Ascot horse when we ran him here – but he just had a little bit of a setback and didn’t get back.

“We missed going to Leopardstown with him (for the Killavullan Stakes) – Mrs Stockwell’s horse (Glounthaune) went there instead.

“He has plenty of speed and obviously handles that ground – but handles good ground very well too.

“We’ll look forward to him next year, train him for one of the Guineas trials – and if we think he’s not going to get a mile come back to five or six with him, because he has plenty of speed.”

Champion apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle with father John, mother Caroline and sister Orlaith
Champion apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle with father John, mother Caroline and sister Orlaith (Healy Racing)

Noel Meade’s Joe Masseria broke his duck, in first-time cheekpieces, keeping on strongly in the final furlong to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden by almost two lengths under champion apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle.

The gelded son of Fast Company, last seen finishing midfield over a furlong shorter here two weeks ago in a very valuable auction series final, appeared to improve for the move up to a mile – mastering Ruler Legend.

After the juvenile’s 10-1 success, at the sixth attempt, Meade – who enjoyed his first Group One triumph on the level this year with the Keane-ridden Helvic Dream in the Tattersalls Gold Cup – said: “It’s a lovely way to finish the season. The season was good to us on the Flat, so we’ll be sorry to see the end of it.”

McMonagle has every reason to have similar feelings.

He said: “That was great. I’m delighted to get a winner for Noel today, because he has given me loads of opportunities throughout the year.

“It’s been an unbelievable year – what dreams are made of. To ride so many winners in the year has been amazing.

“I’m looking forward to next year already and I hope it’s as good. I owe a massive thanks to everyone who has helped and given me opportunities. It wouldn’t be possible without them.”

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1454832327377526784

Henry de Bromhead might have designs on the champion jumps trainer crown this term – but demonstrated once again that he is universally adept across the codes when his Grade Two and Three-winning hurdler added a Listed prize in the Finale Stakes.

The seven-year-old, having just his second start on the Flat after a maiden win at Fairyhouse last autumn, was half a length too good for Azallya – staying on well under Billy Lee to justify his status at the 100-30 favourite.

De Bromhead said: “They are his conditions – he loves that ground.

“He’s in the Morgiana (Hurdle, at Punchestown next month) – so that would be a nice piece of work for that!”

Aidan O’Brien still fine-tuning Breeders’ Cup plans

Aidan O’Brien reports his Breeders’ Cup contenders to have taken the journey to Del Mar in their stride – although the exact make-up of his challenge has yet to be decided.

The Ballydoyle handler finds himself in the slightly unusual situation of having four Group One winners as reserves to get a run in the Longines-sponsored Turf – with a fifth contender, Love, the only one guaranteed a start in the mile-and-a-half showpiece.

She could yet switch to the Filly & Mare Turf, which would mean first reserve Japan gets in the Turf. Broome and Bolshoi Ballet are third and fourth reserve respectively, with Mogul a little further down.

Bolshoi Ballet must wait to see if he gets a run in the Breeders' Cup Turf
Bolshoi Ballet must wait to see if he gets a run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (Brian Lawless/PA)

O’Brien said on Sunday: “Love is in the Turf, but she might come out and go into the Filly & Mares to let in the likes of Japan, Bolshoi Ballet and Broome. They are all in good form.

“Glounthaune is in good shape for the Juvenile Turf, and we’re very happy with Mother Earth for the Mile. We have chances.

“They flew out yesterday and arrived there this morning about 8am, and all seemed to go well.

“They’ll stay in the barn for the next two days and then they’ll be out on the track for a couple of canters after that.

Mother Earth is on target for the Breeders' Cup Mile
Mother Earth is on target for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“There are seven gone over, and it depends what gets in now. Mogul is another who is a reserve.

“It will probably depend on whether the Japanese filly (Loves Only You) and Roger Varian’s filly (Teona) go for the Filly & Mares instead of the Turf.

“If they do, and Love goes there as well, they all have chances of getting in. We’ll probably know on Monday or Tuesday.”

Order Of Australia ruled out of Breeders’ Cup defence

Order Of Australia will be unable to defend his crown in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile after suffering a career-ending injury.

The four-year-old sustained a small fracture that required an operation on Wednesday morning, trainer Aidan O’Brien revealed at a Breeders’ Cup pre-entry media teleconference.

Order Of Australia sprang a 40-1 surprise in the race run at Keeneland last year, when he had stable companions Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez in second and third places.

He added to his tally in a Group Two at the Curragh, but was beaten back at Keeneland earlier this month in what has turned out to be his last race as he now goes to stud.

“He ran some very good races this year. At Keeneland he was a bit slowly away and it didn’t work for him, but he’s had a bit of a setback,” said O’Brien.

“He won’t get to race again. He had a small fracture and had a pin put in it this morning, but the operation and everything went well. He will go off to stud now.”

O’Brien will still be represented in the Mile by Mother Earth, winner of the 1000 Guineas and the Prix Rothschild.

As it stands Love is O’Brien’s only definite runner in the Breeders’ Cup Turf – but he may switch her to the Filly & Mare Turf to allow first reserve Japan to get in the race. He also has Broome, Bolshoi Ballet and Mogul as reserves for the Turf.

“It is very possible that could happen. I think the American handicap system is a little bit different to ours,” said the Ballydoyle trainer.

Love could switch to the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup
Love could switch to the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup (David Davies/PA)

“It wasn’t on ratings horses were getting in. We have four Group One winners who are all reserves so it is possible we might have to take Love out of it and run her in the Filly & Mares to give the other horses a chance to get into the Turf.

“The horses are due to fly on Saturday. We’ll have an idea by then what chance they have of getting in or not.”

O’Brien also has Glounthaune in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He has recovered from the slight setback that prevented him from running in France last weekend.

“He steps up to a mile for the first time, but we always thought that was within his compass of distances” he added of the Dewhurst sixth.

Luxembourg underlines Derby claims with cosy Futurity verdict

Luxembourg cemented his position at the head of the ante-post lists for next year’s Derby with a clear-cut victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien had saddled nine previous winners of the final Group One of the British Flat season – one short of the record by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil.

Among that number were a pair of Derby winners in High Chaparral and Camelot, a St Leger hero in Brian Boru and two subsequent 2000 Guineas winners in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.

Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, was the 4-6 favourite to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour, having looked every inch a top-class colt in the making in two previous starts.

Previously successful on his Killarney debut and in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, Ryan Moore’s mount travelled like a dream up the straight mile on Town Moor before readily extending clear.

Sissoko, trained by O’Brien’s son Donnacha, did his best to make a race of it, while Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst third Bayside Boy finished strongly after a slightly troubled run.

But Luxembourg left nobody in any doubt he was much the best horse in the race as he passed the post with almost two lengths in hand.

Paddy Power swiftly trimmed the winner’s odds for next year’s Derby at Epsom to 4-1 from 8-1, while he is 6-1 from 8-1 for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Ryan Moore was delighted to strike aboard Luxembourg
Ryan Moore was delighted to strike aboard Luxembourg (Tim Goode/PA)

Moore said: “I’m delighted with him. He’s a really smart horse, very scopey. He travelled easy. I lost my cover at halfway and I had to keep going. He took me to the front. When I asked him the question, he just waited a bit.

“I grabbed hold of the him the last 100 yards and he found a bit more.

“That’s three races and three wins. We’re delighted with what he’s done and he’s an exciting horse to look forward. It couldn’t have gone smoother and there’s more improvement to come.”

O’Brien raised the possibility of Luxembourg running in both the Guineas and the Derby next season.

He said: “He would have preferred a stronger gallop, but he’s a high cruiser and he got there a little bit after halfway. He was very babyish in front, but he’s a lovely horse. You’d have to be delighted.

“The lads will decide, but what he’s able to do over four furlongs at home says that he probably wouldn’t have any problems starting in the Guineas if that’s what the lads wanted to do.

“He’s been coming along slowly an he’s got a lot of class. Ryan was impressed with him.

“He’s always been very exciting. The work he’s been doing he shouldn’t have been able to do over four furlongs, but that is what good horses usually do.

“He has a big, open stride, but that’s what good horses have. Like human beings – the good athletes cover the most ground, don’t they?”

Aidan O’Brien talks with Ryan Moore following Luxembourg's victory
Aidan O’Brien talks with Ryan Moore following Luxembourg’s victory (Tim Goode/PA)

Reflecting on the season as a whole, the trainer added: “We’re very happy with the year. Someone told me that was our 18th Group One and we have won seven Classics.

“We lost loads of races, we won a few – that’s the way it is. It has to go around and everyone has to live, everyone has to get a bit of it and we’re delighted when we do get a bit of it.

“I might have made mistakes with horses this year. Maybe we ran them in the wrong races, sometimes horses were disappointing and sometimes they surprise you. There are a lot of different variables.”

Asked for his highlight of the season, O’Brien said “The filly (Snowfall) was very special at Epsom, but it has to be St Mark’s Basilica. We haven’t had the like of him since Galileo, and we might never have the like of him again. We were so lucky to find him.”

Roger Varian remains keen on a tilt at the 2000 Guineas with Bayside Boy
Roger Varian remains keen on a tilt at the 2000 Guineas with Bayside Boy (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Wayne Lordan was delighted with the performance of runner-up Sissoko, saying: “Donnacha has always thought he was a very nice colt.

“He only won his maiden a week and a bit ago. It was huge step up, but he looked like he could run very well and Donnacha was duly right.

“He feels like he’s going to be a better three-year-old. It was a very good run going into the winter with prospects for next season.”

Roger Varian said of the third placed Bayside Boy: “He’s a smart colt and ran a good race.

“He was a touch unlucky. When he needed room he didn’t have any. I don’t think it stopped him winning, but he’d have been a good second with a clear run.

“We’ll winter him and aim him at a Newmarket Guineas because I think he deserves that.”

O’Brien relies on Aikhal in Criterium International

Aidan O’Brien will rely on just Aikhal in his bid for a record sixth victory in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud with Glounthaune non a non-runner.

Mount Nelson was the Ballydoyle handler’s first winner of the French Group One in 2006 – and he has since added to his tally with Jan Vermeer (2009), Roderic O’Connor (2010), Johannes Vermeer (2015) and last year’s winner Van Gogh.

Glounthaune was set to have his third run in three weeks having had an outing in the Dewhurst and won the Killavullan last week but he was taken out on Saturday morning.

Ioritz Mendizabal takes the ride on Aikhal – who was fourth in Newmarket’s Autumn Stakes on his latest appearance.

Ralph Beckett’s Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Angel Bleu and George Boughey’s tough-as-teak filly Oscula also feature in a seven-strong field.

Top-level honours are also up for grabs on the same card in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, in which the Charlie Appleby-trained Goldspur will be expected to play a starring role.

So impressive on his introduction at Sandown, the Dubawi colt followed up with a narrow victory in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket – proving his stamina for the 10 furlongs he faces again.

“We were pleased with how Goldspur won his race at Newmarket, when his stamina came to the fore,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He broke his maiden on soft ground, so conditions in France shouldn’t be an issue.

“This is another step up, but it looks the right race for him, and he brings a nice profile into it.”

O’Brien, who has won the race on four occasions, is this year represented by Stone Age.

The Galileo colt appears to have his work cut out as a four-race maiden, most recently finishing sixth behind Angel Bleu on Arc day at ParisLongchamp.

O’Brien said: “He stayed on nicely on his last run on Arc weekend, and that was only over seven furlongs.

“We always thought he was going to be a horse who would stay further. He seems to have been in good form since the last day.

“Hopefully the ground won’t be as heavy as it was in Longchamp.”

Unconquerable (Donnacha O’Brien), Dillian (Michael Bell), El Bodegon (James Ferguson) and Buckaroo (Joseph O’Brien) complete a strong British and Irish challenge.

Luxembourg seeks 10th Futurity victory for Ballydoyle

Luxembourg bids to follow in some illustrious hoofprints with victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Aidan O’Brien has saddled nine previous winners of the final Group One of the British Flat season – one short of the record by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil.

Among that number are a pair of Derby winners in High Chaparral and Luxembourg’s sire Camelot, a St Leger hero in Brian Boru and two subsequent 2000 Guineas winners in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.

Throw multiple Group One winner St Nicholas Abbey into the mix, and the roll of honour for Saturday’s Town Moor contest reads like a ‘who’s who’ of former Ballydoyle superstars.

Luxembourg has certainly looked the part in his two starts so far – impressing on his racecourse debut at Killarney before continuing O’Brien’s domination of the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

Saratoga Springs, St Nicholas Abbey and Saxon Warrior all won the same Group Two before triumphing at Doncaster – and O’Brien hopes his latest star juvenile can follow suit.

“We’re looking forward to running Luxembourg – he seems in good form,” he said.

“He won nicely first time and then he won nicely last time at the Curragh. Everything has gone well since then.

“He quickens up well, has a lot of class and travels well – and in his two runs so far, he showed a good turn of foot.”

Royal Patronage after winning the Royal Lodge at Newmarket
Royal Patronage after winning the Royal Lodge at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

One of the big dangers to Luxembourg is Royal Patronage, who has won his last three starts for Mark Johnston and Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

The Wootton Bassett colt finished strongly to deny subsequent Autumn Stakes scorer Coroebus when completing his hat-trick in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket, earning him a step up to the top level.

Highclere’s managing director Harry Herbert said: “Any time you chuck your hat into the Group One ring you know you’re going to have to run like the wind, but he deserves to be there.

“He’s improved with every run, and I’m sure he’s not stopped improving, so we’re very excited and we hope he can be very competitive.

“He’s in very good form, and in time we hope he’ll step up beyond a mile. But he’s not short of speed either, as we saw in the Royal Lodge.”

Bayside Boy (left) won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month
Bayside Boy (left) won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bayside Boy also brings strong form to the table, having won Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes before finishing third in the Dewhurst at Newmarket a fortnight ago.

Trainer Roger Varian said: “He ran very well in the Dewhurst and he looks like he’s going to be suited by stepping up a furlong.

“He should be OK with a cut in the ground – it was good to soft when he won the Champagne Stakes – and he brings a high level of form to the race, so we’re looking forward to running him.

“He’s got a solid line from his Newbury Listed, to the Champagne, to the Dewhurst.

“He’s a top-level juvenile and he looks like he might improve for going the mile. If you watch the Dewhurst back, he was doing his best work late on.”

Imperial Fighter, trained by Andrew Balding, was second to Royal Patronage in the Acomb Stakes at York two months ago before chasing home Coroebus in the Autumn Stakes.

“He won well first time out at Goodwood on soft ground and ran a good race in the Acomb,” Balding told Sky Sports Racing.

“I hadn’t been happy with him after the Acomb for a while. I think he was just going through a growing spurt – I think he’d grown about an inch between York and Newmarket.

“I thought the Newmarket run was excellent – I think Coroebus is probably as good a two-year-old as there is out there.

“He beat us fair and square, but we were clear second best and he’s certainly entitled to run in the Vertem Futurity – I’d hope he’ll be very competitive.”

Two further challengers from Ireland, Jim Bolger’s Mctigue and Donnacha O’Brien’s Sissoko, also feature.

Derby favourite Luxembourg heads Trophy field

Hot favourite Luxembourg is set to face seven rivals in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday.

Impressive on his racecourse debut at Killarney in July, the Camelot colt successfully stepped up in class at the Curragh last month when dominating his rivals in the Group Two Beresford Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien has already saddled nine winners of the final Group One of the British Flat season, with two Derby winners in High Chaparral and Camelot among those on the roll of honour for Ballydoyle.

Luxembourg is already at the top of ante-post lists for next year’s running of the premier Classic and his odds for Epsom can be expected to contract further if he can complete his hat-trick on Town Moor.

“We were delighted with him when he won the first time,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.

“He was a very green baby when he won, he looked very nice and he’s had a little bit of time.

“He’s a big, rangy horse, he travels very easily usually through his races. He finds things very easy, he’s very easy to train and very natural really.

“I suppose he’s a big, scopey horse really with a lot of quality and a lot of quality to him to look at.”

Aidan O'Brien is looking forward to running Luxembourg at Doncaster
Aidan O’Brien is looking forward to running Luxembourg at Doncaster (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

He added: “I think when (his sire) Camelot won the Racing Post Trophy he’d only run once, this fella has had a run in between.

“The Doncaster race is a very prestigious race, it’s a flat mile so they have to have quick feet and they have to stay as well.

“At the same time it’s a tough race but they come out of it well, it’s not a slog, you have to travel, it’s a flat track and you would learn a lot about horse.

“This year’s race is no different, it’s a very strong, competitive race. There are horses with plenty of form in it, horses with plenty of experience really. ”

Bayside Boy (left) winning Doncaster's Champagne Stakes
Bayside Boy (left) winning Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes (Mike Egerton/PA)

One of the big dangers to the market leader is the Mark Johnston-trained Royal Patronage, who was last seen charging home to beat subsequent Autumn Stakes scorer Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.

Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy also brings a high level of form to the table, having won Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes before finishing third in the Dewhurst a fortnight ago.

Imperial Fighter, trained by Andrew Balding, bids to make it third time lucky at Pattern level after finishing second to Royal Patronage in York’s Acomb Stakes and second to Coroebus in the Autumn Stakes.

Jim Bolger won last season’s Vertem Futurity Trophy with Mac Swiney and is this year represented by Leopardstown maiden winner McTigue.

Bullet Force (Karl Burke), Hannibal Barca (Brian Meehan) and Sissoko (Donnacha O’Brien) complete the octet.

Luxembourg heads Ballydoyle team for Vertem Futurity

Aidan O’Brien’s Derby favourite Luxembourg is one of five juveniles the Ballydoyle handler has left in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

The Camelot colt was impressive on his debut at Killarney and then really caught the eye when coming from last to first to win the Beresford Stakes by almost five lengths last month.

That Group Two has launched the careers of some equine greats down the years, including Sea The Stars.

O’Brien first won Saturday’s race with Saratoga Springs back in 1997, and his most recent victory with subsequent Guineas hero Magna Grecia in 2018 was his ninth, taking him one behind Sir Henry Cecil’s record of 10.

He may also run Aikhal, Killavullen Stakes winner Glounthaune, Howth and Stone Age.

O’Brien’s sons could also be represented – with Joseph leaving in Buckaroo and Donnacha’s Sissoko among the confirmations too.

Jim Bolger won last year’s race with Mac Swiney, who went on to win the Irish Guineas and be third in the Champion Stakes this season, and McTigue could represent him this weekend.

Bayside Boy (left) beat Reach For The Moon in the Champagne Stakes
Bayside Boy (left) beat Reach For The Moon in the Champagne Stakes (Mike Egerton/PA)

Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy brings rock solid form – having won the Champagne Stakes and finished third in the Dewhurst – with Acomb and Autumn Stakes second Imperial Fighter left in by Andrew Balding, who could also run Hoo Ya Mal.

Mark Johnston’s Royal Patronage may be the best home hope, having beaten Charlie Appleby’s highly regarded Coroebus last time out in the Royal Lodge.

Ralph Becket’s Angel Bleu was a Group One winner in France last time out, however, and could aim to double his top-level tally.

Karl Burke’s Bullet Force and Brian Meehan’s Hanibal Barca complete the 15-strong list.

Glounthaune gives immediate boost to Dewhurst form

Glounthaune showed great resilience to win the Group Three Richmond Homes Killavullen Stakes at Leopardstown just seven days after running in the Dewhurst Stakes.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained youngster chased the leaders in the early stages and was delivered by Seamie Heffernan to hit the front in the final furlong.

The 5-1 winner took the spoils by half a length from Pennine Hills, with I Am Magic the same distance away in third.

Glounthaune was not disgraced in sixth place in the Newmarket Group One last weekend, on his first start since making a winning debut at the Curragh in April, and connections were delighted with his performance.

Heffernan said: “He’s a very big colt by Kodiac who was an impressive winner but then went a bit weak and missed a lot of time.

“His work was nice going to the Dewhurst and he ran well without being placed. He came out of it fresh and Aidan was happy enough to let him take his chance today. He said that he’d improved and I was delighted to put on these colours which have been very lucky for me.

“I’ve been a little bit disappointed with some of ours lately so I’d say this fella has loads to come and probably did well to win today. He showed a strong will and won well at the line.

“He has a bit of class and I think a mile is his trip.”

Georgeville won for the first time since joining the Ger Lyons stable when taking the Listed honours in the Manguard Plus Trigo Stakes.

The four-year-old was slowly out of the stalls and was towards the rear in the early stages. He then made headway entering the straight, and soon moved into contention in the hands of Colin Keane.

Georgeville is expected to win plenty of races
Georgeville is expected to win plenty of races (Niall Carson/PA)

Ridden to lead a furlong out, Georgeville (4-1 joint-favourite) stayed on strongly to score by two and a half lengths from Wuqood, with Leo De Fury a neck away in third.

“He’s never run a bad race for us over a mile or a mile and two. Colin has the key to him and rides him cold. He said he just loved it sitting in behind waiting for a gap, said Shane Lyons, assistant to his brother.

“He’s going to be a real fun horse for us next year in that grade. He reminds us a lot of Brendan Bracken.

“He’s done us proud all year and next year is a big year for him.”

Keane completed a double on Lunar Power (4-1) for Noel Meade in the Carmanhall Handicap.

Snowfall seeking to regain winning thread on Champions Day

A late decision to reroute Snowfall from the Champion Stakes to the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes appears to offer Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic heroine a fine opportunity to return to winning ways at Ascot.

Love’s defection from the mile-and-a-half contest prompted a change of plan from Ballydoyle, while La Petite Coco, who beat Love at the Curragh, is another who will not be in action.

So brilliant in the Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks, Snowfall has since suffered defeats in the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, finishing sixth in the latter. She does, however, set a stiff standard if running up to her brilliant best.

O’Brien said: “Snowfall ran well in the Arc. The ground was very soft and there wasn’t much pace. We took our time on her, but we probably expected there to be more pace in the race.”

Snowfall is joined by La Joconde, a daughter of Frankel who ran her best race of the season two starts ago when third in the Vermeille.

“She was just beaten in the Vermeille and was a bit disappointing the last day over a mile and a quarter,” said O’Brien of Hollie Doyle’s mount.

“She obviously prefers a mile and a half on good ground and has been in good form since.”

Albaflora got closest to Snowfall at York, running a fine race to be beaten by four lengths.

Suited by cut in the ground, the Ralph Beckett-trained four-year-old has not run since that effort on the Knavesmire in August.

Beckett said: “She put in a terrific effort to finish second behind Snowfall in the Yorkshire Oaks.

“She has run well at Ascot in the past, which is a positive. She is in really good shape so I am hopeful of a good show.”

La Petite Coco’s connections are still represented, by the Andrew Balding-trained Invite.

A Listed winner at Chester last month, the Team Valor-owned three-year-old is another well suited by easier underfoot conditions.

Balding said of the ex Marco Botti runner: “She’s not exactly an extravagant worker, but I liked what I saw when she won at Chester on her only start for us.

“That was nice to see and she’s obviously a filly with plenty of ability.”

Eshaada, who was narrowly beaten in the Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal meeting, takes her chance for Roger Varian, with Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel in action for George Boughey.

O’Brien not concerned by prospect of soft ground in Arc for Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be using soft ground as an excuse should Snowfall fail to add to her already illustrious record in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Deep Impact filly has looked head and shoulders above her generation this season – until last time out when she met with a shock first defeat of the campaign in the Prix Vermeille over the same course and distance she faces at the weekend.

Since a 16-length demolition of her rivals in the Oaks she has been among the favourites for the Arc, with an eight-length triumph in the Irish version coupled with a four-length success at York cementing her position.

However, she lost her spot at the head of the betting with a rather lacklustre showing in the Vermeille when she failed to catch Roger Varian’s improving Teona.

With the ground softening up in Paris it could turn into more of a stamina test – and O’Brien thinks that would suit Snowfall.

“I was worried about going to Epsom on soft ground, but obviously we saw what she did there. I think she’s a filly who stays very well and gets the trip well,” he said.

“Soft ground catches out some horses, but it doesn’t catch her out. Obviously she acts on it given what she did at Epsom. I don’t think she’s ground dependent, I don’t think it really matters too much.”

He went on: “We know that she handles soft ground and we know that she handles fast ground. On her Epsom run you’d say she might be better with a bit of ease.

“Looking ahead, it might be on the soft side, but I couldn’t see that it was going to be heavy or anything. I don’t think it’s to her advantage if it’s soft, but I don’t think it would be a disadvantage either.”

And of her eclipse last time out he said: “We were delighted with her run and we were delighted that we ran her because we saw how she behaved on better ground on a track like Longchamp and that is always an advantage before a big race.”

O’Brien is also planning to run Love, who was strongly fancied for last year’s race only to be ruled out when the ground went heavy.

Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes
Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (David Davies/PA)

“I think she’ll be fine on soft, but she’s a very good mover so the better the ground the better it would suit her,” said O’Brien.

“She’s a year older now. We’d planned on running her unless the ground was going to get very bad and hopefully I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Love was also surprisingly beaten on her most recent outing, albeit attempting to give 10lb to the 110-rated La Petite Coco and only going down by a short head, meaning she lost little in defeat.

“Everything has been good since, we used it as a prep for the Arc, she went around a right-handed bend like Longchamp and she seems to have come out of the race very well,” said O’Brien.

Broome is O’Brien’s third-string, but a high-class one as the winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and second in the Prix Foy last time out.

“He was kept in training at five specifically for the Arc. We kept him at a mile and a quarter earlier this season, then went up in trip for the first time at Saint-Cloud and we were delighted with that run, he ran a very good race,” said O’Brien.

“He went to Ascot (King George) and ran well, but missed the kick and ended up a bit further back than we thought. We were then delighted with his run in the Arc trial.

“He gets the trip very well, he’s very uncomplicated and handles all types of ground. He’ll be ridden forwards like always, you can let him bowl along.”

When pressed for his views of the opposition, O’Brien said: “Tarnawa is a very good filly, she’s proven over the trip so you have to have the utmost respect for her.

“The way we go into every race is we totally respect every horse and try to have our own horses as well as we can. The opposition is very good.”