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Pretty Gorgeous to miss 1000 Guineas

Pretty Gorgeous will miss the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday following an unsatisfactory scope.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained daughter of Lawman was a major contender for the Rowley Mile Classic, having won three of her five starts as a juvenile including the Group One Fillies’ Mile over the Guineas course and distance in October.

However, Pretty Gorgeous was officially scratched on Friday morning, with O’Brien posting an explanation for her absence on social media.

O’Brien said on Twitter: “Unfortunately due to an unsatisfactory scope Pretty Gorgeous will not be declared for the 1000 Guineas this weekend.”

In her absence a field of 12 were declared for the Classic, headed by the much-vaunted Santa Barbara, trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Despite having just a maiden win to her name, Santa Barbara is set to go off a red-hot favourite due to some bullish comments emanating out of Ballydoyle this spring. Stablemate Mother Earth also runs.

Andrew Balding’s Alcohol Free, winner of the Cheveley Park last season and the Fred Darling on her return two weeks ago, arguably heads the home defence.

Alcohol Free (purple) just held off Statement
Alcohol Free (purple) just held off Statement (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

She just held on from Statement and Vadream at Newbury and the three meet again.

Nell Gwyn winner Sacred represents Cheveley Park Stud and William Haggas, while Saffron Beach, who lost her unbeaten record when runner-up to Sacred in her trial, also takes her chance.

Richard Fahey is sweet on the claims of Fev Rover, a Group Two winner in France last season in the Prix du Calvados.

Thunder Beauty, Lullaby Moon, Seattle Rock and Star Of Emaraaty complete the field.

Thunder Moon firmly on course for 2000 Guineas

Joseph O’Brien is one trainer who does not want the current dry spell to end as he believes it will aid Thunder Moon’s chances in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

An impressive winner of the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend on just his second start – where recent Craven victor Master Of The Seas was fourth – the Zoffany colt finished third in the Dewhurst on his final outing.

While he was not disgraced behind St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley, both trained by his father Aidan O’Brien, the former champion jockey feels faster ground could help him turn the tables.

“He’s wintered very well. Obviously we put him away after the Dewhurst, but I was very pleased with that run. The ground went a bit slow on us and we probably weren’t drawn in the perfect position, but it was a very good run,” O’Brien told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“The plan all winter has been to go straight to the Guineas and not have a prep. He’s in good shape.

“His National Stakes win was a very good performance. It was a very messy race, but he got himself out of trouble and showed a fantastic turn of foot.

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“Turn of foot and speed are probably his two attributes, he’d love a bit of firm ground as he’s a strong traveller with a turn of foot, which he showed a couple of times last season. It would be pretty important to us that the ground is good or better.”

Thunder Moon is currently fourth-favourite for the Newmarket Classic, with the two who beat him in the Dewhurst ahead of him in the betting.

Declan McDonogh (with groom Kyle Shelly) is set to ride Thunder Moon in the Guineas
Declan McDonogh (with groom Kyle Shelly) is set to ride Thunder Moon in the Guineas (PA Wire)

“I don’t know if he’s classier (than the two who beat him in the Dewhurst), but I probably feel that we are the quickest horse,” said O’Brien.

“We travelled very well through the Dewhurst and looked the winner, but on the day there was a severe bias to the rail, we were drawn on the other side and also the ground was on the slow side so I thought it was a fantastic run.

“When we broke down the race afterwards we were very proud of his run, we’re looking forward to taking them on again on what we hope will be quicker going.

“His pedigree suggests he’ll stay further, I’m quite confident about the mile but after that I’m not sure how much further he’d go as he’s quite a pacey horse.

“I’d say Declan McDonagh is most likely to ride at Newmarket and we’ll go from there, but it hasn’t really been discussed yet. I’d imagine it will be Declan as he has a good relationship with him.”

O’Brien also has a live chance in the 1000 Guineas with Pretty Gorgeous, the Fillies’ Mile winner.

“She’s in good shape too, I’m pleased with how she’s wintered. She’s a big, powerful mare and the plan is to go straight there,” he said.

Mutasaabeq looked potentially smart in victory at Newmarket
Mutasaabeq looked potentially smart in victory at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A total of 25 colts remain in the Guineas following the latest forfeit stage, a number that could be boosted should connections opt to supplement Mutasaabeq.

Home-bred by the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud, the son of Invincible Spirit was a six-length winner of a conditions event on the Rowley Mile earlier this month.

Trainer Charlie Hills said: “He’s in great form after his run at Newmarket, he didn’t lose much weight and seems to have taken the race very well.

“We haven’t spoken (about supplementing yet, it’s something we probably need to talk about for the rest of the week and decide by the end of the week really.

“We’ll certainly see him in Pattern company next time, but I’m not sure where yet – we’ll discuss it with the family and go from there.”

Pretty Gorgeous given Leopardstown weekend option

Leading Classic contender Pretty Gorgeous could make her seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained filly is one of 26 entries for the Group Three Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes over seven furlongs.

A daughter of Lawman, she is behind only Aidan O’Brien’s Santa Barbara in the ante-post market for the Qipco 1000 Guineas following her victory in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.

There are a number of smart performers among the potential opposition – including O’Brien senior’s Joan Of Arc, Empress Josephine and Mother Earth, who was third at Newmarket and ran a fine race when runner-up to Aunt Pearl in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.

Also featuring is Donnacha O’Brien’s Shale, twice a conqueror of Pretty Gorgeous last season, most recently in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Poetic Flare could put his big-race credentials on the line in the Listed Ballylinch Stud ‘Red Rocks’ 2,000 Guineas Trial Stakes.

Jim Bolger’s Dawn Approach colt won two of his three juvenile outings, with the highlight being the Group Three Killavullan Stakes over this course and distance.

Thirteen possibles have been assembled for the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes.

The Group Three contest has been a real Derby pointer over the years, famously won by O’Brien with Galileo 20 years ago and High Chaparral 12 months later.

Harzand won the Ballysax for Dermot Weld in 2016
Harzand won the Ballysax for Dermot Weld in 2016 (Niall Carson/PA)

The shortest in the Epsom betting of O’Brien’s contenders for this year’s renewal is Cleveland – and he could also call on the unexposed Arturo Toscanini and Lough Derg.

Dermot Weld last won the Ballysax in 2016 with Harzand, who went on to Derby glory on his next start. The master of Rosewell House has two in the mix this weekend, in the shape of Wuqood and Blue For You.

Wuqood was just touched off by Bolger’s Flying Visit in the Eyrefield Stakes and could re-oppose, while Blue For You beat subsequent dual Group One runner-up Wembley at Galway in July but has not been seen since.

Guineas contender Pretty Gorgeous ‘looks fantastic’

Joseph O’Brien believes the experience Pretty Gorgeous gained in winning the Fillies’ Mile will stand her in good stead when she returns to Newmarket for the Qipco 1000 Guineas.

Having had three battles with the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Shale before the Fillies’ Mile, winning only once, Pretty Gorgeous took advantage of a below-par run from her old rival to win the Group One last October.

“We are very pleased with her. She came through the winter really well and looks fantastic,” O’Brien said of Pretty Gorgeous, in a stable tour for Attheraces.com.

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“We haven’t decided yet whether we will run her in a Guineas trial or go straight to the Guineas. We saw last year that she handles soft ground well, but I think she’ll prove quite versatile on that front.

“The experience that she got at Newmarket in the Fillies Mile can do her no harm, with a view to going back there for the 1000 Guineas. I could see her getting a mile-and-a-quarter in due course, for sure.”

O’Brien has a similar quandary for Thunder Moon, who lost his unbeaten record in the Dewhurst when third – having won the National Stakes on just his second outing.

“He was brilliant for us last year. He was deadly in the National Stakes, and I thought he ran very well in the Dewhurst,” said O’Brien

Thunder Moon was a good winner of the National Stakes
Thunder Moon was a good winner of the National Stakes (PA Wire)

“He was drawn in the wrong part of the track that day – and the ground was softer than ideal – so it was a very good run in the circumstances, I thought.

“He came through the winter very well and is in great shape. We haven’t made a final decision on whether to run him in a trial or go straight to the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, but that’s what his target is.

“It looks as though a mile will be his trip. We are excited to see how far he can go this season.”

Twilight Payment took his form to a new level on joining O’Brien from Jim Bolger, and won the trainer a second Melbourne Cup in November.

“He had an incredible season last year, and his win in the Melbourne Cup was very special. He had a break when he came home and looks great,” said O’Brien.

“We’re looking forward to what will hopefully be another good season for him. The Gold Cup at Royal Ascot will be considered along the way. We’ll take it race by race with him.”

Joseph O’Brien excited at things to come from Pretty Gorgeous and Thunder Moon

Joseph O’Brien is lining up a twin assault on next year’s Guineas meeting with Fillies’ Mile winner Pretty Gorgeous and Dewhurst third Thunder Moon.

While it is not set in stone that neither will run again this year, O’Brien appears to be thinking that way at the moment, as he reflect on two big performances.

What made the victory of Pretty Gorgeous more special for O’Brien was that she was ridden by Shane Crosse, who missed the win on Galileo Chrome in the St Leger having tested positive for Covid-19.

“They both ran great, I was very proud of them and they are two exciting horses going forward,” O’Brien told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

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“It was a fantastic performance from Pretty Gorgeous, Shane gave her a confident ride, she was tough when she had to be and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

“It gave me a lot of satisfaction to see Shane win a Group One. Obviously what happened before was unfortunate missing the Leger, but that is the way things go and it was out of everyone’s control.

“It was great for him to get a Group One win and I’m sure he’ll have plenty more in the future.

“It looks like she’s finished for the year, I’d say we’ll put her away and train her for the Guineas.”

Thunder Moon had finished in front of Dewhurst one-two St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley when winning the National Stakes, but the form turned around at Newmarket on a softer surface.

Thunder Moon (in red) was third in the Dewhurst behind St Mark's Basilica
Thunder Moon (in red) was third in the Dewhurst behind St Mark’s Basilica (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’d say, I might be biased, but the ground was far from ideal,” said O’Brien.

“He travelled extremely well. We didn’t have an ideal draw given how the races had been run all day and he was just found out in the last half a furlong in the tough going. He’s exciting going forward.

“The Curragh race probably wasn’t as strongly run as the Dewhurst, but the ground was the biggest variation from the Curragh. I think they are three very good colts and I’m not suggesting for any minute we’re going to beat them the next time we meet, but I think we’d prefer better ground.

“I don’t know if he’s necessarily going to be a sprinter, but it suggests he’ll be a quick miler who’ll appreciate top of the ground.

“He’s out of a Sadler’s Wells mare from a middle-distance family and I’d be very hopeful of him staying a mile next season.

“It’s very unlikely he’ll go to America (Breeders’ Cup). We’ll keep options open but at the moment we’re looking at the Guineas, like with Pretty Gorgeous.”

Shane Crosse thrilled to get Group One on the board with Pretty Gorgeous

Feelings of frustration turned to ones of joy for jockey Shane Crosse, who celebrated the first Group One success of his career aboard Pretty Gorgeous in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

Having been forced to miss the winning ride on Galileo Chrome in last month’s St Leger following a positive test for Covid-19 before travelling from Ireland, the 19-year-old enjoyed a deserved change of fortune thanks to the Joseph O’Brien-trained daughter of Lawman.

Though Crosse will now be dreaming of glory in next year’s 1000 Guineas back over course and distance aboard Pretty Gorgeous, he admits that watching Galileo Chrome triumph on Town Moor from the comfort of his own home was tough to take.

Crosse said: “Of course it hurt and I had a great partnership with the horse. To be sat at home on your own watching it on the television with no one around you was a bit of a head wrecker.

“I’m delighted the horse won though and for Tom (Marquand) who is a lovely guy. Hopefully I can look forward to him next year.

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“This takes a lot of the edge off what happened. I suppose no one would wish it on their worst enemy, but I was the unfortunate one.

“Luckily there wasn’t a hair turned on me which was probably the main thing, but I missed out on the Leger. Hopefully there are more big days ahead and this has topped things off.

“She has loads of speed and I wouldn’t be going past the mile so hopefully that (1000 Guineas) is the aim.”

While the winning margin may have only been half a length, Crosse was confident that Pretty Gorgeous was always doing enough, despite not being totally at ease on the track.

He added: “Coming down the hill she probably didn’t handle it as well as most fillies do, but she is just so big and plenty green still.

“I found myself in a pocket between Ryan (Moore), but once I got down out of the dip and met the rising ground she just levelled off and she was very game. I think the best filly won.

“I felt I was there plenty soon and it is a lonely half-furlong there, but I felt if I wasn’t going to go when I did something might have flashed by. She had her ears back though and she was all over them.”

With racing continuing to take place behind closed doors, being greeted by near empty grandstands following such victories is now accepted as normal – but the moment was not lost on Crosse.

He said: “It’s unbelievable, it has just flashed by there. I can’t believe it has just happened.

“There is no crowd or atmosphere, but that doesn’t make a difference once you are on the horse’s back. I’m going to take it in like a normal day.”

To succeed at the highest level requires backing from the best, and Crosse is thankful to have exactly that from former Classic-winning rider turned trainer O’Brien.

He said: “Without Joseph and the team of horses we have I couldn’t do it. Especially this filly today as she has already given me a few great days and she has now just made this the biggest one of my life.

“She will be a three-year-old and her best days are ahead of her, I hope.”

Pretty Gorgeous sitting pretty in Fillies’ Mile

Pretty Gorgeous toughed it out at Newmarket to give Joseph O’Brien his second victory in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile as a trainer.

Ridden by Shane Crosse – who should have been aboard the yard’s St Leger winner Galileo Chrome last month, only to miss the ride after a positive test for Covid-19 – the Lawman filly got the better of Indigo Girl by half a length.

Pretty Gorgeous had missed her own intended target last weekend, as she was caught up in the contaminated feed issue that led to the O’Brien family runners being withdrawn at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

The chief threat came from John Gosden’s Indigo Girl, winner of both her previous outings including an impressive success in the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster.

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Indigo Girl made ground seamlessly from the rear – but Pretty Gorgeous, who had been closer to the pace, then quickened away.

It was to Indigo Girl’s credit that she made a second challenge, but she could only get to within half a length of the 5-2 favourite, with 50-1 chance Snowfall in third.

O’Brien had previously taken the race in 2018 with Iridessa.

He said: “It’s fantastic and I thought Shane gave the filly a great ride.

“He was patient on her and committed when he had to. Shane is a young man, but he is a very good rider – strong and cool in a finish, and he doesn’t panic. She was fighting them off at the line.

“She has got a great constitution. She went to France last weekend and came back. The lad that rides her out at home said she had taken the journey well and was in good shape, and all credit goes to them as they said she would come here with every chance.

“I was quite worried myself and I had a good conversation with Mr (John) Oxley during the week and he was keen enough that if she was in good shape that we would take the chance and let her run.

“The way it worked out the French race looked a tough race and the ground was nicer here. She has won her Group One and whether that was here or France, I wouldn’t be fussy. It has worked out well in the end.”

Pretty Gorgeous (second left) saw off all-comers at Newmarket
Pretty Gorgeous (second left) saw off all-comers at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He went on: “She is an exciting filly going forwards. I would think (the 1000 Guineas) is the obvious target now. She has the options of the Breeders’ Cup, but we will probably decide to put her away for the season.

“She is a Lawman, so she would not be bred to go very far. I think Lawman’s can get 10 furlongs and I see her more as an eight to 10-furlong filly rather than an Oaks-type filly at this stage.”

Of Indigo Girl, Gosden said: “It was a great run and I’m very happy with her.

“Her mother won the French St Leger and her sister won a Group One over a mile and a half. She will be trained more for a mile and a quarter and middle-distance races. She won’t be trained as a Guineas filly.”

Shale bidding for more Group One glory

Shale, winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes, is one of 11 declared for the Group One bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on Friday.

The daughter of Galileo, trained by Donnacha O’Brien, landed the Curragh Group One by three-quarters of a length from Pretty Gorgeous.

The latter, trained by his brother, Joseph, renews rivalry as the pair will meet for a fourth time. The score is two-one in Shale’s favour.

Their father Aidan runs two, Mother Earth and Snowfall, who were both down the field in the Moyglare. Ryan Moore rides Shale.

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Heading a strong home contingent are John Gosden’s unbeaten May Hill Stakes scorer Indigo Girl and the Clive Cox-trained Isabella Giles, winner of the Prestige and Rockfel Stakes.

Also for two-year-old fillies, is the Group Three Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes.

Joseph O’Brien’s Thinking Of You is the sole Irish raider in the seven-furlong contest, also to be ridden by Moore.

Roger Varian has declared both Nazuna, who was second to Isabella Giles, in the Rockfel over this course and distance, and Setarhe.

Saffron Beach was impressive on debut for Jane Chapple-Hyam
Saffron Beach was impressive on debut for Jane Chapple-Hyam (PA Wire)

Richard Hannon is responsible for both Shine For You and Thank You Next while Jane Chapple-Hyam pitches her in her New Bay filly, Saffron Beach, who made a pleasing winning debut over this course and distance two weeks ago.

Zakouski, last seen winning a Group Two at Meydan in February, is among nine horses declared for the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes.

His trainer Charlie Appleby also has Glorious Journey while Andrew Balding has Foxtrot Lady and Happy Power, who both won Group Three prizes on their latest start.

Method gets the opportunity to redeem himself for a luckless run in the Middle Park Stakes when he lines up for the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes.

Method won his first two but then his saddle slipped in the Middle Park
Method won his first two but then his saddle slipped in the Middle Park (Hugh Routledge/PA)

Impressive winner of his first two races, Martyn Meade’s juvenile ran too free in the six-furlong Group One and his saddle slipped giving Frankie Dettori no chance to ride a race.

Method is among 11 in the Group Three as the Mehmas colt has his first run over the minimum trip.

William Haggas is triple handed with Angel Fairy, Award Scheme and Oti Ma Boati in the Darley Pride Stakes.

John Gosden has two interesting contenders in Franconia and Majestic Noor as 14 are set to go to post for the Group Three over a mile and a quarter.

Dewhurst option for National hero Thunder Moon

The Dewhurst Stakes is a possible next port of call for Joseph O’Brien’s Thunder Moon following his impressive display at the Curragh on Sunday.

An emphatic winner on his racecourse debut over the course and distance little over a month ago, the son of Zoffany faced a big step up in class for the Group One National Stakes.

However, O’Brien’s youngster vindicated his trainer’s decision to supplement for the race – displaying a devastating change of gear to leave his rivals trailing in his wake and rocket to the head of ante-post lists for next year’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Piltown handler watched the action at the Curragh unfold from home as a precaution following jockey Shane Crosse’s positive test for Covid-19 on Friday.

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Speaking on Monday morning, O’Brien said of Thunder Moon: “We were very happy with him. It was a bit of a messy race, but he showed a great turn of foot to go away and win well.

“We did supplement him, so we were hopeful he’d run a nice race, but I suppose I was surprised by the manner of his victory.”

Considering future plans, he added: “If he was to run again this year, the Dewhurst would probably be the race for him, but we’ll see how he comes out of the race on Sunday and a lot will depend on the ground as well.

“The Breeders’ Cup is there as an option as well, but that wouldn’t be on my radar at the moment.

“He’s an exciting colt.”

O’Brien was widely expected to land top-level honours in the preceding Moyglare Stud Stakes with Pretty Gorgeous, who was a hot favourite to supplement her course and distance win in the Debutante.

Pretty Gorgeous (left) chases home Shale in the Moyglare Stud Stakes
Pretty Gorgeous (left) chases home Shale in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (PA)

However, Debutante runner-up Shale – trained by Joseph’s brother Donnacha – reversed the form with a narrow success.

O’Brien said: “Pretty Gorgeous ran a great race. I think the two of them are very good fillies and whichever one of them gets the rub of the green on the day might come out on top.

“We’ll see how our filly comes out of it, but we have the option of the Fillies’ Mile or the Prix Marcel Boussac and there’s also the Breeders’ Cup.

“We’ll see how we go, but I’d say she probably just wants one more run this year, with Newmarket and France being the likeliest options.”