Tag Archive for: Aidan O’Brien

Ylang Ylang leads 15-strong Oaks field

Ante-post favourite Ylang Ylang heads 15 confirmations for Friday’s Betfred Oaks at Epsom.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Ylang Ylang won the Fillies’ Mile on her final juvenile start and posted a fine effort on her 2024 bow, when beaten a length by Elmalka in finishing fifth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

O’Brien also has Lingfield Oaks Trial second Rubies Are Red in the mix, along with Buttons, Everlasting and Opera Singer, who are all due to run in Sunday’s Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Dermot Weld is set to field leading fancy Ezeliya, winner of the Salsabil Stakes on her return, with fourth-placed Caught U Looking also in contention for Noel Meade.

Forest Fairy (left) is one of four challengers for Ralph Beckett
Forest Fairy (left) is one of four challengers for Ralph Beckett (Mike Egerton/PA)

The home defence is headed by the Ralph Beckett-trained pair of Chester Oaks winner Forest Fairy and Lingfield winner You Got To Me, who had half a length in hand of Rubies Are Red earlier in the month.

Beckett has also left in Lingfield third Treasure, who is owned by the King and Queen, and Seaward, who filled the same position behind Forest Fairy at Chester.

Musidora victor Secret Satire is Andrew Balding’s hope with the possible line up completed by Dance Sequence, Making Dreams and War Chimes.

Emily Upjohn will face a maximum of nine rivals as she tries to defend her Holland Cooper Coronation Cup title.

Emily Upjohn won last year's Coronation Cup
Emily Upjohn won last year’s Coronation Cup (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Fifth behind Rebel’s Romance in the Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, she is a general odds-on favourite to make a winning start in Britain this term.

O’Brien has four to choose from, although Auguste Rodin is due to run in Sunday’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Last year’s St Leger hero Continuous, Luxembourg and Hans Andersen are the other Ballydoyle runners to stand their ground.

The Harry Charlton-trained Time Lock finished second on her return in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket and she is a notable addition to the field, with connections stumping up £25,000 to add her to the Group One event.

William Haggas has both Dubai Honour and Hamish engaged, with French contender Feed The Flame and White Birch rounding out the contenders, but the last-named runner is also declared in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Irish 1000 Guineas Trends 2024

Staged at The Curragh racecourse the Irish 1,000 Guineas is a Group One class race for 3 year-olds fillies. Run over 1m the contest normally takes place each year in May and was first run in 1921.

Horses that contested the English 1,000 Guineas often go onto run in this race, while winners of the Irish 1,000 Guineas tend head to Royal Ascot for the Coronation Stakes.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last 8 runnings, while in total, O’Brien has won the race a staggering 10 times. Veteran handler Dermot Weld has also won the race 6 times in total and for the last two years - both times with jockey Chris Hayes riding.

We take a look back at past winners, plus have all the key trends ahead of the 2024 Irish 1,000 Guineas – run on Sunday 26th May 2024.

Recent Irish 1,000 Guineas Winners

2023 - TAHIYRA (2/5 fav)
2022 - HOMELESS SONGS (11/2)
2021 - EMPRESS JOSEPHINE (14/1)
2020 – PEACEFUL (3/1)
2019 – HERMOSA (5/2 fav)
2018 – ALPHA CENTAURI (12/1)
2017 – WINTER (9/1)
2016 – JET SETTING (9/1)
2015 – PLEASCACH (11/2)
2014 – MARVELLOUS (10/1)
2013 – JUST THE JUDGE (2/1 fav)
2012 – SAMITAR (12/1)

Irish 1,000 Guineas Betting Trends and Stats

12/12 - Irish bred horses
11/12 - Had at least 3 previous runs
11/12 - Had won over at least 7f before
10/12 - Had won between 1-2 times
9/12 - Ran in the last 6 weeks
9/12 - Favourites placed in the top 3
8/12 - Drawn between stalls 6-11 (inc)
8/12 - Ran between 4-8 times before
7/12 - Hadn’t run at the Curragh before
6/12 - Ran at Newmarket last time out
5/12 - Trained by Aidan O’Brien (10 wins in total)
5/12 - Ran in the English 1000 Guineas last time (2 winners: Winter (2017) and Hermosa (2019))
4/12 - Winning favourites
3/12 - Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/12 - Ridden by Chris Hayes (last 2)
2/12 - Trained by Dermot Weld (last 2 and 6 wins in total)
8 of the last 11 winners were placed 1st or 2nd last time out (4 won)
The average winning SP in the last 12 runnings is 7/1

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Henry Longfellow left in Irish Guineas, but Ascot seems more likely

Henry Longfellow remains more likely to wait for Royal Ascot despite standing his ground among 11 contenders for the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

The Dubawi colt enjoyed a flawless juvenile campaign last season, winning each of his three starts at the Curragh including a Group One victory in the National Stakes.

He was beaten on his return to action in the French 2000 Guineas earlier in the month, with trainer Aidan O’Brien blaming himself for what he described as a “tactical error on my behalf” and quickly identifying the St James’s Palace Stakes as an obvious target for potential redemption.

Aidan O'Brien has a strong hand in the Irish 2,000 Guineas
Aidan O’Brien has a strong hand in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Damien Eagers/PA)

However, Henry Longfellow did appear in the list for this weekend’s Irish Classic at the Tuesday confirmation stage, giving him the option of having a second shot at Classic glory just 13 days after his disappointing trip across the Channel.

“He’s possible, but more likely probably for the St James’s Palace,” O’Brien told the PA news agency.

“Obviously the forecast is for plenty of rain over here and we’re just going to see what’s going to happen. It’s more than likely he’ll go for the St James’s Palace, but nothing is written in stone yet.”

Assuming Henry Longfellow does not line up, O’Brien’s two big players look set to be River Tiber and Unquestionable, both of whom would be making their seasonal debuts.

River Tiber has been off the track since finishing third behind Vandeek in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, while Unquestionable was last seen landing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.

The Ballydoyle handler confirmed Mountain Bear, runner-up to Unquestionable in California, could also take his chance. Igor Stravinsky and The Liffey complete his six-strong entry, with Richard Hannon’s pair of Rosallion and Haatem, second and third in the Guineas at Newmarket, chief among the opposition.

O’Brien has strengthened his hand in Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas by supplementing Everlasting to join Buttons, Opera Singer and Pearls And Rubies.

Opera Singer was a brilliant winner in France
Opera Singer was a brilliant winner in France (PA)

Opera Singer is poised for her first competitive outing since her sensational victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac at ParisLongchamp in October after a spring setback delayed her return.

“Everlasting was third in an Oaks trial in Navan on her last run,” O’Brien added

“The plan is to run Opera Singer, too. It’s her first run and she will come forward a lot from it.”

Naas victory sets up Royal run for Aesop’s Fables

The King Charles III Stakes at Royal Ascot is next on the agenda for Aesop’s Fables after he bounced back back to form at Naas on Sunday.

Aidan O’Brien’s speedster was placed twice at Group One level last season, finishing third in both the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp and the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

Ryan Moore’s mount failed to fire on his first start of the year in the Woodlands Stakes at this venue three weeks ago, but raised his game to claim the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes by a neck from Twilight Jet, with 150-1 shot So Majestic just a neck further behind in third.

“He came really good last year and was only just beaten in an Abbaye and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint,” said O’Brien.

“He usually takes a few runs to get right. We ran him the last day in blinkers on soft ground and he ran very keen and just didn’t finish out, so we left them off him today.

“We’re delighted with him. The ground is beautiful here and he’s a big, powerful, fast horse. He’s hardy and a real sprinter. We are thinking of the five-furlong race at Ascot.”

Treasure Isle is also likely to be on O’Brien’s Royal Ascot squad after putting his experience to good use to provide the trainer with a third successive victory in the Coolmore Stud Calyx Race.

Treasure Isle and jockey Ryan Moore after winning at Naas
Treasure Isle and jockey Ryan Moore after winning at Naas (Damien Eagers/PA)

Second on his debut at the Curragh four weeks ago, the No Nay Never colt was an 8-13 favourite to go one better and follow in the hoofprints of the previous two winners, The Antarctic and River Tiber.

Sent straight to the lead by Moore, Treasure Isle was given a thorough test by Jessica Harrington’s newcomer Saratoga Special once challenged, but dug deep to see her off by half a length.

“Ryan said he was very green and was surprised how green he was as he was swapping and changing his legs and looking. He felt that he had plenty still to learn but has a lot of speed,” said O’Brien.

“We thought he was going to be one for Royal Ascot and hopefully he knows enough. He certainly has the speed for it. We’ll see how he takes the run and how much he comes on from it.

“River Tiber won this last year and went on to win the Coventry, but this horse will be very happy staying at five furlongs.”

The Ger Lyons-trained Mutasarref claimed top honours in the Owenstown Stud Stakes under a confident ride from champion jockey Colin Keane.

The well-backed 13-8 shot looked all dressed up with nowhere to go when pinned against the rail, but Keane did not panic and once the daylight came, his mount was well able to reel in the leaders and score by three-quarters of a length without being asked for maximum effort.

Lyons said: “The more trouble he gets into in a race, the more he seems to like it. He came back from an injury and as Colin said he’s back to himself.

“That’s his grade and seven furlongs. A mile is just a tad beyond him.”

Chicago Critic and Ben Coen return to the Naas winner's enclosure
Chicago Critic and Ben Coen return to the Naas winner’s enclosure (Damien Eagers/PA)

Chicago Critic was a 7-1 winner of the Royal Ascot Trials At Naas Handicap for jockey Ben Coen and trainer Johnny Murtagh, who said: “I always thought he might be a soft ground horse, but we worked him on the grass last week and Ben was very impressed with him.

“He’s been gelded since his last run as well so maybe it’s a bit of both. I’m delighted the way he’s done it today and he might be a horse to go for the Britannia in Ascot.”

Brian Duffy’s Plume Noire was a 9-1 winner of the Tote Guarantee Available On Course & Tote.ie Handicap under Joey Sheridan, while the concluding Twydil/Clovelly Irish EBF Fillies Maiden went the way of Jessica Harrington’s Serialise (8-1).

Opera Singer in line for Irish Guineas return

Opera Singer is on course to reappear in this weekend’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Last year’s leading juvenile filly ended her campaign with a five-length win in the Prix Marcel Boussac and she was ante-post favourite for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

However, she met with a setback which delayed her return but she is now all set to lead Aidan O’Brien’s team on Classic weekend.

“At the moment for the 1,000 Guineas it’s the two Kingman fillies, Buttons and Everlasting, who will need to be supplemented, and Opera Singer. Pearls And Rubies could also start there,” said O’Brien.

“In the 2,000 Guineas we have River Tiber, Unquestionable and Mountain Bear might run, but he’s only starting back. River Tiber is the most forward of the three at the moment.

“The ones that haven’t run will improve from their races.”

O’Brien has also decided to stay closer to home with the well-travelled Auguste Rodin, who will bypass the Coronation Cup at Epsom in favour of the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

He said: “Auguste Rodin will go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup, that is the plan and we’re very happy with him. He’s doing everything good so far.

“Hopefully we will run something along with him to make it an even pace.”

Fairy Godmother swoops late for Sprint success

Fairy Godmother came from last to first to book her ticket to Royal Ascot in the Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes at Naas.

Odds-on backers had their fingers burnt after the Night Of Thunder filly was beaten into second place by the reopposing Sparkling Sea on her racecourse debut three weeks ago and she was a 6-5 favourite to take her revenge in the rematch.

Given a patient ride by Ryan Moore, Fairy Godmother quickened up smartly from the rear of the six-strong field to throw down her challenge fast and late and this time she proved a neck too strong for Sparkling Sea, with California Dreamer close up behind in third.

Paddy Power cut the winner to 5-1 from 10-1 for the Albany Stakes and O’Brien confirmed the meeting as her intended next port of call.

He said: “We thought that she would win the first day, but she was very green and obviously with a first time out two-year-old, anything can happen. The filly that beat her is obviously a very good filly.

“Even though they went slow today, the plan was to drop her in and teach her and we needed to find out what way to ride her in Ascot. Ryan said she’s very classy, gets six furlongs very well, as we saw, and will get seven.

“I’d say she’s an Albany filly, that’s the way she looks. She will have learned a lot from today.”

O’Brien all set to unleash staying big guns on Friday

Aidan O’Brien’s Gold Cup plans will become clearer on Friday with both Kyprios and Tower Of London in action.

Kyprios is favourite for the Ascot showpiece, having missed the chance to add to his 2022 victory in the race through injury last year.

He has returned to action as good as ever, going down gallantly in defeat in both the Irish St Leger and Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at the end of last season, before a straightforward success at prohibitive odds in last month’s Vintage Crop Stakes.

Tower Of London, meanwhile, is the new kid on the block in the staying division.

Fourth to stablemate Continuous in the St Leger, he was a beaten favourite in the Irish Cesarewitch but has looked an improved performer in winning twice overseas.

Tower Of London stretches clear to win the Dubai Gold Cup
Tower Of London stretches clear to win the Dubai Gold Cup (Dubai Racing Club/Liesl King)

First he came from an uncompromising position to win the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Saudi Arabia and then won the Dubai Gold Cup like a very good horse, quickening up stylishly.

Kyprios follows O’Brien’s tried and tested route going from the Vintage Crop to the Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown, while Tower Of London takes in the Boodles Yorkshire Cup on the Knavesmire.

“We’ve been very happy with Tower Of London really,” said O’Brien.

“He’s progressing well. He ran a nice race in the St Leger, but has shown in his last two races that he’s improving quickly.

“He did well to win in Saudi when he met some trouble, but then in Dubai what he did was really pleasing.”

Tower Of London faces Willie Mullins’ Vauban, having his first run since disappointing in the Melbourne Cup, Royal Ascot winner Gregory, Giavellotto, winner of the race 12 months ago, the William Haggas pair of Hamish and Naqeeb and Al Qareem from Karl Burke’s yard.

Kyprios clashes with stablemate Queenstown, who chased him home in the Vintage Crop, Dawn Rising, Sunchart, Serious Challenge and Yashin.

“As for Kyprios he’s going to the Saval Beg and then to the Gold Cup at Ascot. It’s a route we like to take.

“I’ve been very happy with him so far this year. He did really well to come back at all last year after his injury and to get two runs into him was a credit to the team.

“He won nicely first time out and we’re looking forward to him again.”

Boylesports currently have Kyprios as their 5-4 favourite for the Gold Cup, with Tower of London 7-1 co-second favourite with Vauban and last year’s victor Courage Mon Ami.

Henry Longfellow expected to bounce back at Royal Ascot

Aidan O’Brien has blamed himself for a “tactical error” that he believes contributed to Henry Longfellow’s defeat in the French 2000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Bred to be a superstar as a son of Dubawi out of the brilliant racemare Minding, the three-year-old enjoyed a faultless juvenile campaign, winning each of his three starts including the Group One National Stakes.

With his stablemate City Of Troy the stable’s chosen representative in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Henry Longfellow instead crossed the Channel for the French equivalent, but was unable to land a blow in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, passing the post eighth of 13 runners.

“That was a tactical error on my behalf. I said to Ryan (Moore) to take his time on him because it was his first run and he hadn’t been away and he’d never been on that type of track,” said O’Brien.

“Ryan took his time but then found himself in a way that he couldn’t get out, and to get out he had to keep coming back to get out, but as he kept coming back they kept going by him and the next thing he ended up too far back in a slowly-run race.

“He’s come in like he didn’t have any kind of race, but with Ryan he’s obviously very experienced and he knows when his chance has gone and he doesn’t go to the end of a horse then. Henry came in and he was very happy in himself so we just put that down to a lovely experience, he went right-handed and I’d say he felt it was only a piece of work.”

Henry Longfellow and Ryan Moore at the Curragh
Henry Longfellow and Ryan Moore at the Curragh (Damien Eagers/PA)

O’Brien is confident his charge will show his true colours in due course, with the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot an obvious target for potential redemption.

He added: “The plan with him was, if everything went well, was to go to the St James’s Palace so we’re going to stick to that plan. I’ll probably have more confidence in him the next day to tell Ryan to go forward with him in the St James’s Palace.

“Ryan will listen to every word you say and carry it out but the way that it worked, the race didn’t fall for us. In France, around Longchamp, if it’s a steady pace it’s very hard to make a length.”

Ylang Ylang to spearhead O’Brien’s Oaks challenge

A crack at the Betfred Oaks is the “natural progression” for Ylang Ylang, according to Aidan O’Brien.

The Frankel filly only ran one below-par race in her juvenile season, a campaign she ended with victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

She returned to the Rowley Mile for the 1000 Guineas, finishing a staying-on fifth and looking every inch made for the Oaks in the process.

She will be joined at Epsom next month by Rubies Are Red, who really took the eye in coming from way back to take second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial at the weekend.

“We’ve been very happy with Ylang Ylang,” said O’Brien.

“She’s always looked an Oaks filly more than a Guineas filly, but we let her run in the Guineas and she ran very well. Ryan let her find her feet and she was coming home very well.

“She won the first two times ridden forwards, but that was just the way it happened. Then she was a little bit keen and got beaten twice. She ran a shocker in the Moyglare, but then got back in the right mindset and she turned all that form around in the Guineas, they were a good bit behind her so it’s amazing how things can swing around.

“Ryan (Moore) is confident that 10 furlongs will be no problem at all to her and if they stay 10 furlongs, there’s usually a good chance of staying 12 furlongs at Epsom.

“Going from the Guineas to the Oaks is just a natural progression and what we’ve always thought she would do.

“She’s by Frankel and he speaks for himself.”

In contrast to her more decorated stablemate, Rubies Are Red is still a maiden after three starts. She is, however, bred to be good and the daughter of Galileo promises to be much wiser for the experience of Lingfield.

“Rubies Are Red is unusual, she’s a sister to Found. She had a run last year and surprised us,” explained O’Brien.

“She’s just a baby, when we took her to Leopardstown for her maiden we thought she’d still win, but one of Joseph’s (O’Brien, Galileo Dame) beat her easily.

“The plan was always to go to Lingfield and we said we’d stick to it rather than go back for a maiden, but unfortunately she was a bit green coming down the hill and that meant because he was nursing her, she got back a long way and got caught a bit far out of her ground. She’s definitely an Oaks type.

“Ryan said that when he got her levelled she absolutely flew home and she would have won in another couple of strides. Unfortunately she was just all at sea coming down the hill.

“Found was a bit bigger, but this one is a bit stronger. Her run style is very much like Found though, as she wants to take her time and come late. Found didn’t like being in front too long, she’d always think she’d done enough.”

Auguste Rodin and Luxembourg to chart separate routes

Auguste Rodin and Luxembourg are likely to be split up for their next outings, with both having a similar programme that will take in either the Coronation Cup at Epsom or Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Although like City Of Troy this year Auguste Rodin was disappointing 12 months ago in the 2000 Guineas, the Deep Impact colt bounced back to win the Derby, Irish Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf. Sandwiched in between was another blip, this time in the King George at Ascot, where he ran no sort of race.

The decision to keep him in training at four was roundly applauded, but he failed to fire in the Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup meeting in March.

“At the moment he’s doing super and it’s between the Coronation at Epsom and the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Him and Luxembourg are on that programme and we’ll split them up,” O’Brien said.

“We’re happy with him, we’ve made changes and adjusted a few things and we think that run in Dubai will be gone.

“When a horse runs like that it’s usually the trainer’s fault, I would have made a wrong decision somewhere or given the wrong instructions. I said to Ryan (Moore) to take his time on him in Dubai.

“Ryan took his time, there was no pace, William (Buick, on Rebel’s Romance) got sat in second and he controlled the race and before you knew it those in the second pack were cut off and the rest is history.”

O’Brien is adamant the runs where Auguste Rodin has come unstuck is not down to the travelling.

“It’s not the travel, he’s won at the Breeders’ Cup, you can say things like an air-conditioned box. The thing about him is he is the most alert in the box. All of them are on camera and just the slightest thing disturbs him,” he said.

“Ultimately we made the wrong decision tactically because it was his first run back, there was no pace, we had Point Lonsdale to make the running but William Buick got in a position to control it. Ryan senses halfway through a race if he can’t win so he gave him an easy time. He knows he’s valuable. That’s my opinion, anyway.”

Derby dream well and truly alive for City Of Troy

Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore partners are “back dreaming again” with City Of Troy ahead of the Betfred Derby.

The Justify colt has reclaimed his position at the head of the betting for the premier Classic, despite running a most lacklustre race in the 2000 Guineas on his first start at three.

O’Brien has raised several theories for his eclipse at Newmarket, but his faith in last year’s champion juvenile has never remotely wavered.

In fact, in time spent with the Ballydoyle supremo it is hard not to get carried along with his enthusiasm and given the superstars to have passed through his hands, some of his statements regarding City Of Troy’s ability are startling.

Derby favourite City Of Troy goes through his paces at Ballydoyle
Derby favourite City Of Troy goes through his paces at Ballydoyle (John Hoy/The Jockey Club)

“Everything has been good since (the Guineas) and we just accepted that all these things just happened and went wrong on the day and we’ve decided to stay with the plan. He’s done nothing since to make us change the plan. The plan was always to start with the Guineas and go on to the Derby and then go wherever after that and that’s where we still are,” he said.

“Sometimes it happens and obviously it happened in the Guineas and it happened again last weekend (in the French Guineas, with Henry Longfellow). Sometimes things don’t work and really I would always say that it’s my responsibility to make sure it works and when it doesn’t work, well we’ve done our homework but maybe we didn’t do it all properly. That’s the way I would look at the Guineas.

“When he went down to the start he should have been relaxed, but he went into the stalls and he was revved up. He wasn’t flustered, but obviously his mind wasn’t in the right place, because he’s a very good natured horse as you can see – unusually good for a colt. He’s very calm and relaxed, but it all just happened at the wrong few seconds.

“It will make it very interesting the next day. For us, I’m not sure we’ve ever sent a horse to the Derby with as much ability as this. If we can get him to come out of those gates and everything to work properly for him then we can have him in the right place.”

By an American Triple Crown winner and out of a Galileo mare, what City Of Troy did over seven furlongs last year caught many by surprise. Usually you would be expecting him to improve for stepping up in trip and O’Brien seems to have no question marks over his stamina.

“I don’t think so. I don’t think I ever did (doubt his stamina). I never thought any trip was a problem for him. You’re never sure until you do it, but he has a big, long stride and he’s usually very chilled and relaxed. But it will be a very interesting race now,” said O’Brien.

“I suppose what he did last year – everything he was doing last year, the statistics were adding up. His times, everything. He never disappointed us in any way.

“But we all know horse racing and we all know life – no one knows what’s going to happen in the next half hour. Listen, the Guineas just wasn’t meant to be. I feel like, myself, I hadn’t got him prepared properly, so what we would have learned in the Guineas will hopefully help us to prepare him properly for the Derby.

“He’s obviously by Justify, who was an unbeaten Triple Crown winner, and out of a Group One-winning Galileo mare, so one thing you cannot stop coming out in anything is pedigree and his is as blue as it gets, so hopefully he’s well and we can have him in the right place.”

Asked whether he had to pick the Coolmore team up after the Guineas or if they raised his spirits, O’Brien replied: “The lads are unbelievable because they take disappointment on the chin, that’s the truth. I suppose we’ve been doing it for 30 years now and, as you all know, an awful lot of stuff doesn’t happen.

“Obviously when you get there sometimes it doesn’t happen, and we all think there’s a reason why it didn’t happen, we delved into what we thought the reason was. At the moment we’re back dreaming again.”

Last year, Auguste Rodin disappointed badly in the Guineas before winning the Derby. But O’Brien sees the situations as different.

“The circumstances there were that he (Auguste Rodin) came out of the gates at Newmarket and he got sandwiched both sides and it was over straight away, because here was a horse running in the Guineas that we knew was way short of his best so you know when you’re running in a race everything has to fall for you for it to happen and it just didn’t fall for him either,” said O’Brien.

“It was a bit like that this year with this horse (City Of Troy), nothing fell (right) and it all went against us, but we probably always knew that even though he’d won a Dewhurst and he’d only run over seven furlongs, we always knew he was going to be a middle-distance horse.”

Los Angeles remains unbeaten
Los Angeles remains unbeaten (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

City Of Troy is likely to be joined by a stablemate or two at Epsom, although which ones are still to be decided. In Los Angeles, though, an unbeaten Group One winner of Ireland’s best Derby trial, he has a high-quality contender in his own right.

O’Brien said: “I loved the way Los Angeles won at Leopardstown and the beauty about him is that he’s a horse who we’ve always thought can only get better the further he goes. So the fact he has already won a Group One in France and Ireland’s best Derby trial can only bode well.

“Illinois came forward a good bit from the Ballysax, but it looks very much like he met a good horse (Ambiente Friendly) at Lingfield. He didn’t look in love with the track, but other than not winning I was very happy with him.

“We thought Capulet had a very good chance of reversing the form from Chelmsford (at Chester) with the winner (Bracken’s Laugh) and that’s what happened. He came forward a good bit from that run and is a very straightforward type. We’ve had plenty of interest from Hong Kong for him, but he could still go to Epsom at this stage.”

Asked about Diego Velazquez, O’Brien confirmed the French Derby remains his most likely destination following his fine run to be fourth in the French 2000 Guineas.

“The reason for going to France was the lads were thinking of going to the French Derby and that’s right-handed. We could have gone to the Dante with him, but we felt he wouldn’t have the experience if we decided to go to France so that was his reason,” O’Brien said.

“We thought if we finished in the first four in France then he would run a massive race in the French Derby, but he has an option because he’s still in the Derby at Epsom as well. The lads will make that call as well.

“Christophe (Soumillon) rode him and he said he’s going to win a Group race very quickly, this horse, so he was very impressed with him.”

Cherry Blossom looks the part with classy Cork display

Cherry Blossom put herself in the Royal Ascot picture with a taking display in the Goffs Irish EBF Polonia Stakes at Cork.

The daughter of No Nay Never was an above-average operator as a two-year-old and although only finding the scoresheet once, finished second in the Lowther Stakes, fourth in the Group One Cheveley Park and made her way into trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders’ Cup team.

Dropped to Listed company for her return to the track, she was sent off the 5-2 favourite in the hands of Wayne Lordan and barely missed a beat as she blazed a trail on the front-end.

She had too much class for Jack Davison’s likeable She’s Quality at the finish as she surged to a length and a half success, with Paddy Power trimming the Ballydoyle inmate to 25-1 from 40s for the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting next month.

O’Brien was represented by Chris Armstrong, who said: “She had a high rating, had good runs at two and with today’s conditions, and the track, everything worked out.

“She is a very quick filly, wants quick ground and five (furlongs).

“It is great to get the Listed win and with the sprint programme in Ireland being tricky, she might have to travel for Group Threes for fillies.

“It’s onwards and upwards and that will be a nice confidence booster for her.”

Point Lonsdale proves far too strong in Ormonde Stakes

Point Lonsdale secured his second career victory at Chester’s May Festival with a dominant display in the tote.co.uk Supporting Racing Ormonde Stakes.

Winner of the Huxley Stakes over a mile and a quarter 12 months ago, Aidan O’Brien’s charge went on to run with credit in a series of Group One races, including when third in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and fourth in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Having struggled over a mile and a half in Qatar and Dubai earlier in the year, the five-year-old was stepped up to almost a mile and three-quarters for a Group Three contest his trainer had already won on five occasions and the increased stamina test appeared to do the trick.

The 13-8 favourite looked to be moving as fast he could for much of the the race, with Melbourne Cup fourth Deauville Legend going a solid gallop in front in first-time blinkers.

However, he was a spent force from the home turn and Point Lonsdale soon took over and asserted, pulling six and a half lengths clear of a keeping-on Arrest at the line to complete a treble on the card for jockey Ryan Moore.

Alsakib was another to make late gains in third, with Deauville Legend weakening into fourth.

Coolmore’s Paul Smith said of the winner: “We’re delighted with him, as he’s such a versatile horse. You could step him up for a Gold Cup or run him in something like the Coronation at Epsom or go to Ascot with him, you can do anything.

“He’s a pleasure to have anything to do with. He relished that step up in trip today so he could run in something like the Gold Cup, he’s enthusiastic and just does what you tell him to do. I think he enjoyed that today, it’s lovely good ground. We’ll make a plan in a couple of weeks.”

John Gosden felt conditions had proved the undoing of St Leger runner-up Arrest, who impressed here last year in the taking Vase in very different weather.

“He ran great, but the ground has dried up too much for him,” said Gosden.

“He just wasn’t in love with the ground, unfortunately.”

Aidan O'Brien was watching on from Ballydoyle
Aidan O’Brien was watching on from Ballydoyle (Bradley Collyer/PA)

O’Brien was not at Chester, but speaking from his Ballydoyle yard he said of the winner: “He’s such a lovely horse, so honest and genuine.

“You can run him over all sorts of trips, he’s comfortable at 10 furlongs, today was the furthest he’s gone but he could even get further.

“What today has done is open up all sorts of options. He could drop back to 10 for a Tattersalls Gold Cup, go to the Coronation at Epsom over a mile and a half, the Hardwicke at Ascot or even the Gold Cup, all those sorts of races.

“Horses like him are great to have around, he’s tough, genuine and versatile.”

Capulet captures Dee Stakes to join those in Derby mix for O’Brien

Capulet strengthened Aidan O’Brien’s Derby hand with a front-running victory in the Boodles Raindance Dee Stakes at Chester.

The Ballydoyle handler will have plenty to choose from in a bid for a 10th victory in the premier Classic at Epsom on June 1, with City Of Troy seemingly still the stable’s first string despite his disappointing run in the 2000 Guineas last weekend.

Henry Longfellow, Diego Velazquez and Los Angeles are others in the mix at this stage – and Capulet threw his hat into the ring by providing his trainer with a joint-record 11th win in this trial on the Roodee.

Given a typically well-executed ride from the front by Ryan Moore, the 7-2 shot steadily raised the tempo and took a couple of lengths out of the chasing 7-4 favourite Jayarebe from the home turn.

The Richard Hughes-trained Bracken’s Laugh, who had beaten the winner in a valuable conditions race on the all-weather at Chelmsford last month, came from further back to throw down a major challenge, but Capulet was not for passing on this occasion and was half a length in front at the line.

Paul Smith, son of co-owner Derrick Smith, said: “That was very pleasing and I thought Ryan gave him a lovely ride.

“He appreciated the step up in trip, no doubt, he’s an uncomplicated horse, he travels well so I suppose it will be the French Derby or the English Derby.

“We know he gets 10 furlongs well and he’d probably get a mile and a half the way he runs so we’re delighted with him.

“We have the trials at the weekend and next week and Aidan will sit down with the lads and discuss the plan from there.

Capulet did everything asked
Capulet did everything asked (Martin Rickett/PA)

“He’s a Justify so it’s nice to see, we’re very pleased. Ryan was delighted, he said it was very uncomplicated, he got him into a nice rhythm, he’s a kind horse and stepping up in trip wouldn’t be a problem.

“He turned the form around with the second, but I think he really appreciated the step up in trip there. That (Chelmsford) was a qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, but whether that was ever on the cards for him is a question for the trainer.”

Capulet is now as short as 14-1 for Epsom – but support continues to come in for City Of Troy, who is back as favourite with some firms.

Smith said: “Aidan is happy with him and all roads now lead to the Derby with him.”

Back to Capulet, Moore said: “He was nicely drawn, there were only the four runners and he got into a nice rhythm and was able to build away. I was very happy with him, he came forward nicely from Chelmsford and the step up in trip has helped him.

“He’s a horse who had good form last year and with a bit of luck he’ll go on from here and improve again. I think the nicer ground and 10 furlongs suited him well, so there’ll be plenty of options for him now.”

Speaking from his Ballydoyle base, O’Brien said: “All the options are open to him now and we’ll see how he is, it will be one of the Derbys that weekend, in England or France, I’d have thought.

“There’s obviously the Irish Derby in the mix, too, so all things are open now.

“He’s a lovely, honest horse. He was a little bit free in front today, but did it nicely in the end.

“We took him to Chelmsford to see if he was going to go to Kentucky so that was on the cards, but he was green there and he’d come on for that run.”

City Of Troy staying on Derby path, says O’Brien

City Of Troy remains on course for the Betfred Derby, with his trainer Aidan O’Brien eager to draw a line through his disappointing 2000 Guineas effort.

Part-owner Michael Tabor referred to the son of Justify as “our Frankel” after finishing his two-year-old season unbeaten, with the early part of 2024 filled with Triple Crown dreams and thoughts of matching the achievements of some of the best to ever set foot on a racecourse.

He was sent off the 4-6 favourite in front of an expectant Newmarket crowd for leg one of his three-year-old campaign, with those who flocked to the Rowley Mile ultimately left deflated as City Of Troy trailed home ninth of the 11 starters in the opening Classic of the summer.

O’Brien suggested his star colt was upset in the stalls in the immediate aftermath and went further to explain what happened on Monday, pondering whether he had the three-year-old at concert pitch for his seasonal return.

City Of Troy going to post at Newmarket
City Of Troy going to post at Newmarket (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

He said: “Maybe I left him too fresh, because he went into the stalls and reared up and when he hit the ground they let him go straight away.

“Usually what would happen when they’d rear up like that their heart rate would rise, but they’d usually get a second when they let them go back before they set off. But he went in, got upset and then ‘bang’, out straight away.

“His heart was probably very high, what happens usually those horses usually get into the red zone a lot quicker than they should. So probably he was in the red zone before halfway, so I’d say that’s what happened. But because I’d left him too fresh, I was probably too easy on him and left him too fresh.”

City Of Troy was eased in the Derby market and replaced as favourite by Charlie Appleby’s Arabian Crown following his Guineas reversal, but the master of Ballydoyle has confirmed Epsom remains plan A, where he will attempt to repeat the Derby redemption heroics of Auguste Rodin 12 months ago.

Aidan O’Brien has Epsom in mind for both City Of Troy and Ylang Ylang
Aidan O’Brien has Epsom in mind for both City Of Troy and Ylang Ylang (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“He’ll stay on the same path, you often miss the first one but we’ll just put a line through it,” continued O’Brien.

“He’ll go for the Derby, that’s the pattern he was going and that’s the way he’ll go.”

O’Brien also has Epsom in mind for Ylang Ylang after the Fillies’ Mile winner caught the eye when finishing fifth – beaten only a length – in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas.

She currently heads the betting for the Betfred Oaks with O’Brien saying: “She was working like an Oaks filly, and that’s what she looked like. She’ll go straight to the Oaks. She ran well.”