Unquestionable and Orne recently gave Al Shaqab Racing a weekend to remember with big-race glory on both sides of the Atlantic and are now fuelling plenty of dreams ahead of next season.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Unquestionable was getting on the scoresheet for the first time at the highest level as he carried the Al Shaqab colours to a maiden Breeders’ Cup victory in the Juvenile Turf.
The dust had barely begun to settle on his Santa Anita triumph when the John and Thady Gosden-trained Orne provided the owners with further reason to cheer, relishing the testing ground at Newmarket in the rearranged Horris Hill to give Al Shaqab a belated first stakes-level victory in Britain for 2023.
Al Shaqab’s Alison Begley said: “To have a Breeders’ Cup winner was absolutely fantastic and the first for Al Shaqab, so it was amazing, and then to follow up with Orne just over 12 hours later made it just a brilliant weekend for the whole team.
“They are both two-year-olds, so it gives us plenty to look forward to next year and it makes the winter a lot shorter when you have nice ones to look forward to.
“It was an amazing weekend and fantastic for Sheikh Joaan to have his first Breeders’ Cup winner.”
It is now feasible that both horses will have Classic aspirations in the early part of the 2024 season, with Unquestionable potentially returning to ParisLongchamp for the French 2,000 Guineas, where he could have the opportunity to go one better than his gallant second at the track in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.
“I think with Unquestionable, Aidan has mentioned the French Guineas because he ran so well at Longchamp in the Lagardere,” added Begley.
“There’s a long way to go but he thinks that will probably be the race for him and that was the first one that was mentioned.
“He said we’ll train him for the Classics and the French Guineas will probably be the race for him.”
Meanwhile, having put himself firmly in the Guineas picture with victory over seven furlongs on the Rowley Mile, Orne could put his Classic credentials to the test in one of the many early-season trials.
Begley said: “We’ll have to sit down with John and discuss where we go with Orne. It may be a Guineas trial but we haven’t thought that far ahead with him yet.
“He’s a lovely horse and still very babyish. Rab (Havlin) rides him all the time at home and said he still doesn’t really realise he is a racehorse and is learning all the time. He can only go forward from where he is.”