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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.”

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.

Doncaster on agenda for Luxembourg

New Derby favourite Luxembourg is in contention for a Group One assignment in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Camelot created a huge impression in the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday, cruising to victory under Seamie Heffernan as he came from last to first to take his record to two from two.

A trip to Town Moor on October 23 now awaits, should all go well – a race his sire won in 2011 en route to landing the following year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby.

O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely horse and was showing loads before he went to Killarney (on debut). He came forward every week after that, and it was a lovely second stage for him.

“The plan was to come here and then he might go for the Futurity if he stays well. Sometimes this time of the year horses can go off, because he is a big horse.

“He has plenty of class and is not short of pace. He goes through his work very well.”

Luxembourg had been co-favourite for Epsom immediately after the Beresford, but by Sunday was the clear 8-1 market leader.

Tenebrism powered up the rail to victory in the Cheveley Park
Tenebrism powered up the rail to victory in the Cheveley Park (Tim Goode/PA)

O’Brien had not been at the Curragh to watch Luxembourg, because just moments earlier Tenebrism was winning the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes in spectacular fashion for him at Newmarket – carrying the same colours of Westerberg.

The Ballydoyle trainer said: “She looked incredibly special in Naas (on her only previous run in March) when she took off in the last furlong, and was just ready to go racing yesterday.

“She’s obviously a good filly. You would like to run her over seven (furlongs) to see what would happen for next year, but it looked like the way she went to the line (at Newmarket) that she could get seven well.”

Luxembourg makes Derby waves in Beresford cruise

Luxembourg moved to the head of the market for next year’s Cazoo Derby after he ran away with the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien and sporting the colours of Westerberg, who own the colt in partnership with the Coolmore team, Luxembourg was completing a big-race double for connections as Tenebrism had landed the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket just moments before.

Much like that filly, Luxembourg came from a seemingly unpromising position at the back of the field in the mile Group Two to win in style.

Tuwaiq, who Luxembourg had beaten on his only previous start at Killarney in July, was in front at the furlong pole for jockey Gary Carroll, but when Seamie Heffernan switched the winner to challenge, the response was instant.

Luxembourg quickly assumed control and stretched away, despite showing a few signs of greenness, to win by four and three-quarters lengths from Manu Et Corde.

A Camelot half-brother to Group Two winner Leo De Fury, Luxembourg is Coral’s new 10-1 co-favourite for the Derby along with stablemate Point Lonsdale and Reach For The Moon, who is owned by the Queen.

Heffernan said: “He’s very smart at home and he’s proven it twice now. I was very impressed – very talented, very smooth.

“The most impressive thing about him is he knows he’s good and he doesn’t show it off. He doesn’t show you until you press the button and say ‘give us a look’.

“When you have that turn of foot a mile is well within his comfort zone.

“His dad was a good staying horse that had the pace and class to win a Guineas. If Aidan wants to run him in the Guineas he’ll change his galloping procedures and if he’s targeting the Derby he’ll go a different route.

“The turn of foot he showed me today was pretty exciting. I’m not sure what he’s going to be targeted at, but he couldn’t have done that any easier.”

Speaking from Newmarket, O’Brien added: “We’ve always thought the world of that horse.”