Tag Archive for: Michael O’Callaghan

July Cup in the mix for Twilight Jet

Twilight Jet could bid to bounce back from his disappointing run at Royal Ascot in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket next month.

Following an impressive reappearance in the Lacken Stakes at Naas in May, hopes were high ahead of last week’s Commonwealth Cup, but he finished last of the 20 runners.

Trainer Michael O’Callaghan soon discovered all was not well with his star three-year-old, but hopes he could be back on-song in time to run on the July Course in a fortnight’s time.

“He was quite sick after Ascot. He scoped badly after the race and the next morning he was very, very tired,” said the trainer.

“He obviously had something brewing and it just happened to come to a head on the race. These things can be hard to avoid at times when the horses are travelling and everything.

“He’s back fresh and well in the last couple of days and he may end up going to the July Cup next because he’s very, very good.

“Even after the gates opened the other day, I was watching the racing thinking ‘this is not him’, and that’s the way it panned out – he didn’t run any race.

“If we can get those things ironed out and get him back, he’ll have a crack at a few big races during the rest of the season.”

Crispy Cat hunting Railway compensation after luckless Ascot run

Crispy Cat bids to bank swift compensation for his luckless run at Royal Ascot in the GAIN Railway Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

Following successive runner-up finishes in Listed company in May, the Ardad colt stepped up to Group Two level for last week’s Norfolk Stakes and was beaten two lengths into third place.

The bare result only tells half the story, however, with Crispy Cat suffering trouble in running, most notably being badly impeded by eventual winner The Ridler deep inside the final furlong.

Crispy Cat’s trainer, Michael O’Callaghan, remains in no doubt the interference cost his youngster victory and expects him to prove a tough nut to crack in this weekend’s six-furlong Group Two.

He said: “He’s actually come out of Ascot very well. It sounds a funny thing to say, but when a horse gets stopped like he did, they might not have quite as hard a race as they would have done had they had a clear run.

“He’s bounced out of it really well and I think the way this horse can be ridden now, and the way he ran on over a stiff five at Ascot, suggests six furlongs won’t be a problem.

“We do feel he would have won at Ascot. Let’s not forget before the incident happened he was stopped twice in his run during the race.

“Who knows whether he would have won or not, but we feel he might have and if we’ve got a horse we feel possibly should have won the Norfolk, he should take a bit of beating in the Railway.”

Blackbeard winning the Marble Hill Stakes
Blackbeard winning the Marble Hill Stakes (Brian Lawless/PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Dundalk maiden winner Blackbeard beat Crispy Cat by a short head here at the start of May – and returned to the Curragh to complete his hat-trick in the Group Three Marble Hill Stakes.

The son of No Nay Never finished fourth when favourite for last week’s Coventry Stakes and bids to provide his trainer with a 14th Railway success.

O’Brien, who also saddles Coventry Stakes seventh Age Of Kings, said: “Both of them seem to have come out of the Coventry well.

“Blackbeard has obviously won a couple of times at the Curragh and he seems to be in good form.

“Age Of Kings was green first time, won the second day, and was just green enough the last day in Ascot. We think the experience should have done him good.”

Shartash is a leading contender for Johnny Murtagh, having built on debut promise with a narrow defeat of Age Of Kings at Naas last month.

Joseph O’Brien’s Fairyhouse scorer Apache Outlaw and Andrew Slattery’s outsider Borletti complete the line-up.

Twilight Jet rockets to Lacken Stakes victory

Twilight Jet made a winning reappearance when making every single yard in the Group Three Goffs Lacken Stakes at Naas.

Michael O’Callaghan’s Twilight Son colt finished down the field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in his final start at the end of a busy juvenile campaign, but victory was never in doubt in this six-furlong event.

Sent off a 9-2 chance the three-year-old took an easy lead, with the hat-trick-seeking New York City and Ger Lyons’ Straight Answer tracking behind, but his pursuers had no answer once jockey Leigh Roche cranked up the engine and turned on the afterburners at the business end.

Twilight Jet and connections following victory in the Goffs Lacken Stakes
Twilight Jet and connections following victory in the Goffs Lacken Stakes (Gary Carson/PA)

He pulled three-lengths clear of the Aidan O’Brien-trained 6-5 favourite New York City, who in turn was almost the same distance clear of Saliteh who claimed third at 125-1. Betfair responded by slashing the winner into 14-1 from 40-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

O’Callaghan confirmed he believes the horse has shown enough to justify targeting that Group One contest next and was relieved to see his Cornwallis Stakes winner back to his best.

He said: “It was impressive and a relief as well. He missed six weeks in the spring, we just swam him for six weeks, and if this was three weeks ago he wouldn’t have been ready.

“He’s just come right and that makes it all the more impressive to me, knowing how his prep went during the spring. He always looked like one that could improve with time, he’s a fine big horse. He has a bit of class and has a lot of natural speed.

Naas Races – Sunday May 15th
Michael O’Callaghan hopes Twilight Jet can prove to be a Group One performer this season (Donall Farmer/PA)

“He’s going to improve for the run today, I’ve no doubt Leigh is going to tell me that he had a blow. He took plenty of pulling up and galloped down to the third fence down the back before he got him pulled up.

“I think he has strengthened up enough this year to get six furlongs. In the Middle Park last year he showed his class but just didn’t see out the six furlongs. I think this year he looks strong enough to go to Royal Ascot for the Commonwealth Cup with a big chance.”

O’Callaghan is prepared to put a line through his disappointing showing at Del Mar at the end of 2021 and was delighted that the horse could get back on track in the colours of new owners, who had signed for a share in the horse prior to that trip across the Atlantic.

He continued: “The Cornwallis was his ninth run last year and he went to the Breeders Cup’ after that.

“Michael and Julia Iavarone, whose colours he runs in, used to own Big Brown who won the Kentucky Derby and they bought into 50 per cent of him to go to the Breeders’ Cup.

“I’m just delighted that he’s come out this year as a three-year-old and he’s furnished and he’s gone and done it.

“We always thought he was probably a Group One horse. He’s trained on now over the winter and proved that he justifies being classed as something that’s maybe a Group One horse this year.”

Harry Time switched on for success at Navan

Michael O’Callaghan unleashed a smart prospect as Harry Time ran out an impressive winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at Navan to set up a possible Royal Ascot run.

Always travelling nicely, the son of top sprinter Harry Angel picked up in eyecatching fashion for Leigh Roche when asked, ultimately scoring by a length and a quarter from Broadhurst.

The six-furlong Coventry Stakes at next month’s Royal meeting could now be the next port of call for the 4-1 winner.

O’Callaghan said: “He loved the ground. He’s sort of an uncomplicated horse, a good-moving horse, and very laid-back.

“I’m delighted he went and did it the way he did because if he didn’t, the others are no good at home! We’ve run a yardstick now and we are happy with him, delighted. We obviously have a nice bunch to run. It is no good catching pigeons in the morning if they can’t do it in the afternoon.

“I think he could be a Coventry horse – the stiff six in Ascot for the Coventry.

“He got a bit more idle in front than anything – he won well.”

When asked if he is one of his best juveniles, he replied: “I have some nice ones, but yes he is up there. They have to go and do it.”

Cairde Go Deo was a Listed scorer
Cairde Go Deo was a Listed scorer (PA)

Ger Lyons will step up in class with Cairde Go Deo (5-2) following her victory in the Listed Irish Stallion Farms EBF Yeats Stakes.

The daughter of Camelot was tackling a mile and five furlongs for the first time under Colin Keane – three furlongs further than she had run over before – but she showed no signs of stopping when coming home eight lengths clear of Hotter Than Hades.

The race was marred by an injury to 4-6 favourite Arbutus, who had won his only previous start but was pulled up when he went wrong in the straight.

Lyons said: “She’s all about the trip and loves the ground. We were going to wait for the Munster Oaks (in Cork), but we took a view at the start of the week that this might cut up, and it did.

“We would never be afraid of Aidan (O’Brien) but you’d be afraid of him the way his horses are running at the moment. I don’t like seeing that (Arbutus being injured).

“We watched the Lingfield trials last weekend and part of me thought did I leave one behind me, but I’d rather do it in Navan and take it from there.

“A mile and a half and good ground at the minute would be the Munster Oaks. Time will tell whether she is worth stepping up into the big game.”

Lyons was pleased to see Cairde Go Deo shine on the track and expects her to be Group three calibre at least.

He added: “These type of horses show me nothing at home. We’ve always seen her as a nice two-year-old last year.

“Even So (2020 Irish Oaks winner) was a quality, quality filly. When we won the Oaks, we were running for pieces. Trip horses don’t show me much at home, I have to see it out here.

“It will be another step forward in the Munster Oaks and then we’ll see.

“She’s very straightforward and a gorgeous looking filly, a typical Camelot. A good temperament and Even So had a great temperament. I’ve had a few Camelots that don’t have a good temperament but she does have a good temperament.

“She’s a Group Three horse, what she is after that time will tell. Those Group Twos and Group Ones are hens’ teeth but we are on the right track.”

Harrington seeking winning performance from Showtime

It’s Showtime Baby bids to provide trainer Jessica Harrington with a third victory in the last five runnings of the Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes at Naas on Sunday.

With a total prize fund of €68,000 up for grabs, the six-furlong Group Three is the most valuable contest on Royal Ascot Trials Day in County Kildare.

Having previously struck gold with subsequent multiple Group One winner Alpha Centauri in 2017 and Servalan 12 months later, Harrington hopes to add to her tally with a Showcasing filly who won on her debut at Dundalk last month.

“She won first time in Dundalk and has been great since,” said Harrington.

“She just wouldn’t want too much rain, she likes good ground but she’s in great form and has come on as you would expect from her debut.

“It’s an obvious next step for her and I would hope that Royal Ascot would be next for her definitely, but so is everyone else’s fillies in the race!”

It’s Showtime Baby is one of seven runners declared, with Jim Bolger’s Comhra, Aidan O’Brien’s Meditate and the Kieran Cotter-trained Matilda Picotte all last-time-out winners.

Donnacha O’Brien saddles La Dolce Vita, who steps up in class after finishing a promising third on her introduction at this track three weeks ago.

Donnacha O'Brien at Naas
Donnacha O’Brien at Naas (PA)

He said: “She’s in good form. She’d a good run the first day, she was third first time out over track and trip.

“Obviously, she’s got to improve to be competitive in a Group race but we’re hopeful of a good run from her on Sunday.”

The first Stakes race on the card is the Sole Power Sprint Stakes, which features last year’s winner Logo Hunter and the high-class Make A Challenge.

Harrington’s Bopedro is the highest rated horse in the Listed Owenstown Stud Stakes, making his first competitive appearance since September.

“Bopedro did nothing but improve last year but the problem for him is that at 107, handicaps are out for him, so he will have to compete in Stakes races from now on,” said: Harrington.

“Hopefully he can make that step up, but he hasn’t had a run this season yet and would improve for this.”

A high-class field has assembled for the Group Three Lacken Stakes, with Ger Lyons declaring both the unbeaten Beauty Inspire and recent Navan runner-up Straight Answer.

The latter chased home Aidan O’Brien’s New York City in the Committed Stakes three weeks ago and they will renew rivalry this weekend.

Michael O’Callaghan is looking forward to running Twilight Jet, who was last seen finishing down the field at the Breeders’ Cup.

He said: “He always had a bit of size and a good mind. He’s matured a lot over the winter, both mentally and physically, and he’s a fine belter of a horse now.

“His mind is very good and I expect it will be a long year for him, with Royal Ascot his first major target.”

Donnacha O’Brien turns Elliptic out quickly after finishing third in a Listed race at Cork last week.

“Elliptic ran well in Cork the last day. She was possibly a shade unlucky not to win that day,” said the trainer.

“Blinkers seem to have stepped her up we feel, but she’s got a bit to find on ratings for Sunday’s race. We’re hoping she’ll run a good race and pick up some more black type.”

Olivia Maralda team pondering Group Three debut at Naas

Michael O’Callaghan could pitch newcomer Olivia Maralda in at the deep end on Royal Ascot Trials Day at Naas on Sunday.

A 460,000 guineas purchase at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up sale last month, the daughter of Kodiac is part-owned by Brazilian footballer Philippe Coutinho, who is currently playing in the Premier League for Aston Villa on loan from Barcelona.

Olivia Maralda has reportedly been showing her trainer the right signs ahead of her potential racecourse debut in the Group Three Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes.

O’Callaghan said: “Olivia Maralda is working well and we’re very happy with her. She cost plenty of money but I think she’s a decent filly.

Trainer Michael O’Callaghan
Trainer Michael O’Callaghan (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“Philippe Coutinho owns half of her, they’re trying to get the registration sorted in time so his name appears on the racecard.

“We’ll see how she works during the week, but I wouldn’t be concerned about pitching her in at Group Three level on debut. I think she’s going to end up at that level on her second start anyway, so I wouldn’t be worried at all.

“If everything goes to plan, we would be looking at bringing her to Royal Ascot for the Albany.”

Olivia Maralda is one of 12 entries for Sunday’s six-furlong contest, with Aidan O’Brien responsible for course-and-distance winner Deneuve and impressive Curragh scorer Meditate.

Other contenders include Kieran Cotter’s Matilda Picotte, Jessica Harrington’s It’s Showtime Baby and Karl Burke’s possible British raider Miss Jungle Cat.

In the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes, O’Callaghan is looking forward to saddling Twilight Jet, who is set to make his first appearance since finishing down the field at the Breeders’ Cup.

“He got a good break after the Breeders’ Cup and it was always the plan to start him back here after that,” O’Callaghan added.

“He’s working well and will improve for the run, but we expect him to run well. The plan after that, all going well, is that he will go for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

“We’re very happy with him and Naas is a nice place to start him off and Royal Ascot Trials Day the appropriate day to do it we hope.”

Malex to go on Guineas trial in Tetrarch

Michael O’Callaghan will target the Irish 2,000 Guineas should exciting prospect Malex come though his trial at the Curragh with distinction.

The Kodiac colt won a 20-runner seven-furlong maiden at the Curragh on debut last month and the runner-up has since franked the form with victory at Leopardstown.

After keeping on strongly to score under Leigh Roche, connections are keen to run him in the Tetrarch Stakes at his local track on May 2.

O’Callagham said: “He beat Boundless Ocean first time out and that one has won since. He will go to the Tetrarch, a mile Guineas trial at the Curragh, and he was added into the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the second entry stage.

“Hopefully he will run well and we will go from there if he runs a big race there.

“He has come out of his race at the Curragh very well. He is lovely, big horse and still a big baby.

“He has improved since the Curragh and he will improve for another run as well.”

Awtaad was the last horse to win both the Tetrarch and the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 2016 and O’Callaghan feels he warrants his entry in the Classic.

He added: “To do that first time out against horses rated 100, takes a bit of doing.

Michael O’Callaghan has high hopes for Malex and Crispy Cat
Michael O’Callaghan has high hopes for Malex and Crispy Cat (Lorriane O’Sullivan/PA)

“He figured things out during the race and he came home well and looks like he will stay a mile no problem. I would say he will go further in time, I’d say probably a mile and a quarter.

“The Irish Guineas trip should suit him.

“We’ll get the Guineas out of the way and we’ll know a lot more after that. A lot of what we are doing now is pre-empting things and guessing, but he has to go and do it now. We’ll learn a lot more about him in the Tetrarch and we’ll go from there, but I don’t think he is ground dependant.”

The Curragh handler is also eyeing a possible Royal Ascot tilt for Crispy Cat, who made all to win a five-furlong Cork maiden two weeks ago. Like Malex, he is also owned by Amo Racing Limited, football agent Kia Joorabchian’s operation.

A son of Ardad, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes at the Royal meeting in 2016, Crispy Cat could bid to follow in his father’s footsteps.

O’Callaghan said: “Cripsy Cat is a lovely horse as well. I know talk is cheap, but there was a lot of talk about two or three others in the same race and I’d say it will work out a good maiden, just going on what we heard.

“He has gone and won as well as he could. He didn’t have a hard race and actually won with a bit in hand. He did it from the front and just relaxed.

“Leigh just asked him to quicken up and he quickened up well, and didn’t get too serious on him.

“He is going to go to the five-furlong Listed First Flyer at the Curragh on May 2, the same day Malex runs in the Tetrarch.

“That will tell us where we are going, if he wins there. He’ll obviously be going to Royal Ascot if he does, fingers crossed.

“At the minute I’d say he is a Norfolk horse or a Windsor Castle horse. He is a five-furlong horse at the minute. He has a lot of speed, but I’d say he’ll get six furlongs come the middle of summer because he relaxes so well. He is out of an Azamour mare as well.

“He is quick but six furlongs won’t be a problem in time.”

Twilight Jet still firing on all cylinders for Del Mar venture

Twilight Jet is poised to cap a busy and successful season with a run in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in Del Mar.

The Michael O’Callaghan-trained two-year-old has barely put a foot wrong since making his debut in May, running 10 times and contesting many of the big juvenile sprints in both England and Ireland.

A bay colt by Twilight Son, Twilight Jet has continued to improve throughout the season and hit the frame in a string of high-quality races before triumphing at Newmarket in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes last time out.

The Grade Two Juvenile Turf Sprint in California on Friday is next, with O’Callaghan reporting him to be well following his Newmarket performance.

He said: “He’s come out of the Cornwallis very well, and we’re really looking forward to running him. He’s in the best form he’s been in all year.

“It’s huge for everyone involved – everybody is really looking forward to it.

“He’s a horse that has never let us down, and we’re sure he’ll run a big race again.”

Twilight Jet made his Group-race debut when fifth in the Marble Hill in May, and gradually edged closer to a win in black-type company as the season progressed.

A run in York’s Gimcrack Stakes saw him finish third behind Lusail, a horse he then beat when third again in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

A tilt at Group One level in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket then produced a fifth-placed finish, beaten only a length and a half, after which he returned to the same track to claim the Cornwallis by two lengths.

“He’s a very, very tough horse – he’s very genuine and he has a great constitution,” added O’Callaghan, who also owns Twilight Jet.

“He takes his racing very well and he improves from each run.

“The more racing he has, the better he’s getting – he’s quite an incredible horse in that regard.

“He’s quite a big horse – he’s a nice size and he’s getting physically stronger with every run.

Trainer Michael O'Callaghan (second from right)
Trainer Michael O’Callaghan (second from right) (PA)

“He’s getting more confident in his style of running, especially in his last two starts. In his run in the Middle Park he led them down to the 50-metre pole – it was a huge run.

“Next year, between five and six-furlong races, I’d say he can go close to winning his Group One.”

Del Mar poses a different question to many of Europe’s turf tracks, with even the five-furlong trip run on a left-handed bend as opposed to the straight sprint contests more commonly found this side of the Atlantic.

O’Callaghan has prepared his runner for this style of track, however, and is also confident that he will appreciate the quick surface usually found at Del Mar.

“Twilight Jet and a lot of the horses are running over five or six furlongs in Europe on a straight track – and when you come here (Del Mar) it’s on a tight, turning track, which is something that’s a bit different to them,” he said.

“Experience means a lot. We’ve done plenty of schooling with him at Dundalk, which is Ireland’s closest thing to an American-style track, around the turns and travelling quickly round a bend.

“He took that very well. He’s a very balanced horse and he handled Newmarket very well both times – it’s an undulating sort of a track that tends to get horses unbalanced.

“I think he’d like fast ground. The faster the pace of the race, the better.

“He’s got a very high cruising speed, and I’m really looking forward to running him. He ticks a lot of the boxes.”

O’Callaghan has Breeders’ Cup on the agenda for Twilight Jet

Michael O’Callaghan has his sights set on the Breeders’ Cup with Newmarket winner Twilight Jet.

The tough and consistent colt has barely put a foot wrong in top company all year, and was fully deserving of the Group Three honours he picked up in the Cornwallis Stakes on the Rowley Mile on Friday.

O’Callaghan’s ace is now set to round off his year at Del Mar next month.

“Hopefully he’s going to the Breeders Cup now. It’ll be his 11th start of the year,” the County Kildare trainer said.

“After he won the other day I was saying ‘I’ll give this lad a break’ – but he arrived home the next morning and he told me different.

“He absolutely loves racing, he has a great constitution. He’s just a bit of an animal, he loves his job and he’s a dream to train.

“He’s won the Cornwallis now and he’s danced every dance this year so whatever he does at the Breeders’ Cup will be a bonus.”

He added: “If he goes there in good fettle he’ll run a big race. He runs in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and we’re looking forward to it.”

Twilight jets to Group Three triumph in Cornwallis

Twilight Jet made it fifth time lucky on his excursions to Britain when running out a clear-cut winner of the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes.

Trained by Michael O’Callaghan in Ireland, the Twilight Son colt had run with credit in the Norfolk Stakes, the Gimcrack and the Champagne Stakes – and led the field for a long way in the Middle Park two weeks ago.

Down a furlong in trip, he burst clear inside the final furlong to justify 2-1 favouritism by two lengths. Illustrating made late gains into second, while Guilded was third.

“It’s lovely to win a race like the Cornwallis and he’s danced every dance this year, that was his 10th start. He’s an amazing horse,” said O’Callaghan.

“He’s been getting better with every run, his ratings tell you that, and I imagine if I wanted I could run him again in two weeks – (but) he’s done enough for the year now, I’d say.

“He was only 50 yards off winning the Middle Park and next year he could potentially be a Commonwealth Cup horse. Once he strengthens up six furlongs won’t be a problem.

“He set a good gallop in a good renewal of the Middle Park and put them all to the sword, but I’m just glad he’s got his head in front in a Group race.

“He’s got everything you need to progress into being a Group One horse next year.”

He added: “I’ve had some good two-year-olds, but he’s probably the best I’ve trained just for the fact he’s had so much racing and he just keeps getting better and keeps improving. We don’t know if we’ve got to the bottom of him yet.”

Ribbon Rose (25-1) made a winning debut in the Godolphin Under Starters Orders Maiden Fillies’ Stakes for Marco Botti.

Ridden confidently by Neil Callan, who partnered Botti’s impressive Tatsumaki last week, Botti confirmed the pair would link up more often next season.

“She’s always been a bit backward and has just taken time to come to hand. She’s only been in fast work about a month, but she’s been working nicely,” said Botti.

Ribbon Rose (blue sleeves) made a winning debut under Neil Callan
Ribbon Rose (blue sleeves) made a winning debut under Neil Callan (Tim Goode/PA)

“Neil sat on her a couple of weeks ago and said she gave him a good feel, but in these races you never no what you’ve got to take on.

“I think we’ll probably put her away now, she’s still a little bit weak and hopefully she’s a black-type filly next year.

“Neil is riding well, he’s a very good jockey with plenty of experience, he’s a good asset to the yard. He’ll ride a few more next year as well.”

Ville De Grace narrowly sees off Lilac Road
Ville De Grace narrowly sees off Lilac Road (Tim Goode/PA)

Sir Michael Stoute’s Ville De Grace (4-1) was a Listed winner at Yarmouth last time out, and handled the step up to Group Three company in style in the closing Newmarket Pony Academy Pride Stakes.

Ville De Grace appeared to have put the race to bed a furlong out, only for Lilac Road to emerge from the pack with a persistent challenger – but Richard Kingscote’s mount held on by half a length.

Stoute’s assistant James Savage said: “She seems to have done nothing but improve all year and is very versatile regards ground, but it’s fairly obvious 10 furlongs is her best trip.

“Richard said he got left in front a bit soon – but when the other horse came he knew she’d pick up again, and she’s in great form.

“That will be it this year. She’s ending the season on a good note, and we hope she stays in training, but the owners will discuss that with Sir Michael.

Twilight could Jet into Middle Park picture

Michael O’Callaghan will consider supplementing Twilight Jet for next week’s Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

The promising juvenile has kept smart company since opening his account at Tipperary in early June, performing well on his last couple of starts to finish third in both the Gimcrack Stakes at York and Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

Having decided against running in this weekend’s Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury, the Twilight Son colt now looks set to be return to Group One level on the Rowley Mile on Saturday week.

“Twilight Jet might be supplemented for the Middle Park,” said O’Callaghan.

“He ran a good race at Doncaster, stepping up to seven furlongs. That run proved to us that six is possibly his best trip – he has a lot of tactical speed and a lot of speed.

“We put a line through his run in the Phoenix Stakes as he was proper sick afterwards and he went to the Gimcrack then at probably only 90 per cent and ran a big race.

“He ran an even bigger race the other day and in a competitive race like the Middle Park, I think he’ll run a big race again.”

Another juvenile O’Callaghan is looking forward to stepping up in grade between now and the end of the season is King X J.

The Cotai Glory colt was only seventh on his racecourse debut at the Curragh, but justified strong market support when landing a valuable sales race at the home of Irish Flat racing on Sunday.

O’Callaghan added: “He’s a fine, big horse who probably wants seven furlongs or a mile already, but we just thought he had enough class to drop back to a stiff six at the Curragh when there was such a big prize on offer. Thankfully the plan paid off.

“He might go for a Listed race in Dundalk, or he might even go for the Killavullan Stakes in Leopardstown.”

How a Two Year Old Gets to the Races…

My first ever 2yo interest...

My first ever 2yo interest...

It's Easter, the clocks have gone forward and the nights are getting longer. And, on this second day of April, the first two year old races have already been and gone. Horses don't race before they're two, but how do such young animals develop from weanlings to the track?

A lot of preparation - and a little luck - goes into getting a two year old to the racecourse. In this post, I'll explain how that happens, with some video clips of a juvenile I have (a tail and an ear of) in training with highly promising young handler, Michael O'Callaghan.

Some background on Michael O'Callaghan

First, a bit of background on both horse and trainer. Michael O'Callaghan is young - just 26 - and he's been around horses most of his life, having started his career as a breeze up consignor helping his dad. That means he's used to preparing young horses to look and behave professionally at a very young age. Much like himself in many ways, then; and perfect for taking on juveniles as a trainer and encouraging the best from them.

In his first season, 2012, O'Callaghan sent out four winners from 32 runners. 2013 was a tad disappointing with just a pair of successes from 45 starters, but last year things stepped up a couple of gears. His 15% strike rate on 73 runners was worth eleven winners, including exciting types like Rapid Applause and Aggression as well as Guineas aspirant, Letters Of Note.

The last two named have recently been acquired by Qatar Racing Ltd, which is a very exciting responsibility for O'Callaghan and his team as they move into the turf part of the 2015 season. It's a season in which they've hit the ground running with four winners from 18 runners already (22%), and plenty of promising young'uns to unleash as the spring progresses.

The horse: From Sales Ring to Stable

Our boy is a son of Approve, the dual Group 2-winning two-year-old, out of a Red Ransom mare called Miss Red Ink. Miss Red Ink has already thrown a four-time winner from two foals to make it to the track.

He was acquired in September last year at the Tattersalls Ireland Yearling Sales, having been born exactly two years before the Brocklesby gates opened last Saturday, March 28th 2013.

Before the sales, the vendor, Damastown Stud (John Prunty), had already done a lot of work to present the yearling well. He was able to walk around the ring without too much nervousness, and Michael  scored him as follows in his preliminary checks:

Pre-sale notesWell made, well balanced, W+ (Good Walker). Red Ransom (dam’s sire) quality coming through. Fast looking colt. Very fast family. Guide Value 20k.

Stallion note: As a racehorse, Approve was a high class 2yo, over distances from 5f to 7f. A dual Group 2 winning 2yo, who won both The Norfolk and The Gimcrack Stakes, he is now an exciting young sire, with 24 individual winners in his first crop, including the exciting Listed winner, Accepted.

Pedigree assessment: A sibling to three individual winners, this yearling has an exceptionally appealing pedigree, stacked full of high class stakes performers, including Champion 2yo, Winter Quarters, top sprinter Spirit Quartz and iconic performers such as Kingsclere, Passing Glance and Overbrook. The dam, Miss Red Ink is by a proven broodmare sire in Red Ransom and is herself out of a Mill Reef mare.

The hammer fell at €15,000, a relative bargain for a well balanced good moving baby. Of course, what looks a bargain in the sales ring can be made to look altogether something different on the racecourse! But, for now, a dream was framed...

**

From Breaking to... the track (hopefully!)

And then it began, for us at least. As a young trainer, Michael is well in tune with the latest communication methods, and makes good use of them. He's set up 'whatsapp' (a free messaging application for mobile phones) groups to keep owners in the loop. And he's used it to great effect.

The best thing about this approach - especially for someone like me, who lives far away from his Curragh training base - is that it enables him to send video snippets of our lad developing. Below is a short text and video diary from October last year to now, illustrating our boy's development.

2nd October 2013

"Hi guys, this is yer colt with breaking tack on today. This is the start of him becoming a race horse: whether he wins a seller or a Group 1, it all starts here!"

"This colt has proved very popular. I like him so much I am going to keep 2 shares myself. So if any of you have a friend ye think might want to get involved in him, act fast as there is only 1 share left up for grabs, and I don't think it will be available for much longer."

11th October 2014

"The colt is coming on well. He is almost ready for a rider now. Attached is a video of him long reigning: this is what teaches them to steer"

23rd October 2014

"This is the colt's first ever day riding. As you can see, he is great! It's a long way from the stereotypical breaking of horses we all know from the westerns."

3rd December 2014

"Ye're colt is doing well, the usual snotty nose and girth rash the babies get this time of year. Other than that, he's great!"

24th December 2014

"Happy Xmas everyone!"

chasingtomorrow_december2014

19th January 2015

"Hi, I hope ye are all keeping well! I'm very happy with the colt, he has grown a good two inches since we bought him. He is a nice forward type."

chasingtomorrow_january2015

"He was up the Old Vic [gallop] this morning with the other 2yo's, they haven't done anything serious yet, but are coming along nicely"

27th January 2015

Preparing to head to the gallops...

Cantering across the Curragh...

2nd February 2015

"Approve near side first group"

12th February 2015

"Just a steady canter..."

10th March 2015

"Four name suggestions gone in to HRI for colt are as follows Chasing Tomorrow,  Brinkmanship,  God Only Knows and Calrapid. They will decide which one he gets"

13th March 2015

"The colt got the name, Chasing Tomorrow!"

22nd March 2015

"I'm very happy with the colt. He was at Dundalk today for a racecourse gallop. Fingers crossed he might be running soon, I'll keep you all posted."

2nd April 2015

"A date for the potential début of Chasing Tomorrow is Friday 17th April. The colt is going well, and I hope to start him off at Dundalk on this date".

**

As you can see, the latest entry is the news this morning that Chasing Tomorrow might make his début in as little as two weeks. It's very exciting stuff, though of course who knows how he'll go?

Many horses don't stand the training to get this far, so Michael and his team have already done a great job in getting him close to ready for the track. A lot can happen in a day, let alone a fortnight, meaning there'll be no chicken counting going on this end. But hope springs eternal, and there won't be too many more tomorrow's until Chasing Tomorrow goes to post for the very first time. I can't wait! 😀

Matt