Katara bounces back to form with Pontefract Listed verdict

Katara claimed a second Listed race when taking the Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes at the Yorkshire track for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute.

The four-year-old raced at the rear of the field and struck late to pass race leader and runner-up Golden Pass just as the two horses approached the post.

The winning distance was recorded as a head, with third-placed Urban Artist (15-8 favourite) a further two and a half lengths back.

The victory follows a previous Listed win in August last year, when the bay took the Chalice Stakes at Newmarket.

“It wasn’t a dream run, I ended up where I didn’t want to be,” Moore told Racing TV.

“She was in good form last year, she was an impressive winner at Newmarket.

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“She’s in good shape, I’m glad she could come back and win today, hopefully she can build on that.

“(She’s a) nice filly, good pedigree, you’d like to think there’d be more to come.”

Karl Burke enjoyed back-to-back successes as horses from his yard took both divisions of the Northern Commercials Iveco “X” Way Tipper EBF Fillies’ Restricted Novice.

Almohandesah was victorious in the first section of the contest when starting as 9-4 favourite under Tom Marquand, with Favourite Child then the winner of the second division at 6-1 for Clifford Lee.

The Flying Ginger took the Volkswagen Van Centre Ltd Fillies’ Handicap as the 6-4 favourite, prevailing by a length and a half ahead of Majestic Tejaan after making all of the running.

“She tried hard, she stays well,” Tudhope said.

“With the other horses in the race, there were stamina doubts for a few of them so I wanted to make sure it was a good test of stamina, she’ll probably suit 10 furlongs.

“It’s very hard to peg them back here so if you can take control, it’s hard to make up ground.

“She’s run into form today, but you can flatter yourself here. I don’t think she’s won with a lot in hand but she’s a grand filly, she’s going places and there’s a lot to look forward to.”

Let Me Be tallied a fifth win this season when triumphing in the Sky Bet Pontefract Cup Handicap for Keith Dalgleish and Callum Rodriguez.

The five-year-old crossed the line a length ahead of his nearest rival after starting as 11-4 favourite.

“He’s a very economical horse, he only does as much as he needs to all the way round and then you see when he hits the front he only does enough as well,” said Rodriguez.

“He just keeps progressing and he’s obviously going the right way.

“We were keen to give him a go over this two-mile-two (furlong trip), we thought he would be tailor-made for these sort of races and he’s proved he is.

“He’s a brilliant horse and if he keeps on progressing, there should be more races to be won with him.”

Mullins and Moore again the perfect combination at Royal Ascot

Ryan Moore teamed up with Willie Mullins to win the Queen Alexandra Stakes yet again – this time with Stratum.

Following on from the victories of Simenon in 2012 and Pique Sous in 2014, Ireland’s champion National Hunt trainer yet again called upon the services of Moore and he delivered on the 4-1 shot.

Stratum had been placed in the 2018 Ascot Stakes as well as winning the 2019 Cesarewitch, and looked well suited by the conditions of the race.

Stratum still looked to have a fair bit of ground to make up when Richard Hughes’ Calling The Wind hit the front, seemingly travelling best.

However, once Moore gets down into the drive position there are few – if any – who do it better, and Stratum came with a run from which he was not to be denied.

He ended up pulling three and a quarter lengths clear and was a ready winner in the end. The Grand Visir was third, while the pace-setting Stag Horn was fourth.

Mullins said: “It’s just a huge advantage having Ryan riding horses for you and I’m delighted.

“I thought Paul Roche had the horse looking in superb order and he subsequently told me he won the best turned out. I’ve never seen the horse look as well and he ran liked he looked.

“Even though the ground wouldn’t have suited him he probably handled it better than most horses.”

Dream Of Dreams comes good in Diamond Jubilee

Dream Of Dreams finally won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes after two previous near-misses in the final day feature of Royal Ascot.

Sir Michael Stoute – who has trained more winners at the meeting than anyone else – was recording his 82nd success at the fixture and having been beaten in two photo-finishes in the past two runnings, he will be delighted to have won with the chestnut.

Blue Point edged him out in 2019, while 12 months ago it was Hello Youmzain, and he was sent off the 3-1 favourite to make amends.

Tim Easterby’s Art Power – a winner 12 months ago in handicap company – set out to make it a real test and by halfway had most of his rivals in trouble.

They included Glen Shiel – successful on Champions Day last season for Hollie Doyle – but to his credit, he battled all the way to the line.

As Art Power’s stride began to shorten Ryan Moore sensed the time was right to attack on Dream Of Dreams, and despite having two lengths to make up when he started his challenge with a furlong to run he was almost on terms.

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Glen Shiel did not go down with a fight, and Art Power stuck on gamely, but with Moore in full cry and a willing partner there was only going to be one outcome as the seven-year-old prevailed by a length, with three-quarters back to the third.

For Glen Shiel’s trainer Archie Watson it was a second agonising reverse of the week having had Dragon Symbol lose the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room on Friday.

Stoute said: “The horse really deserved it. He’s a top-class sprinter and the previous two years one more stride and he wins, but that is not what it’s about. You’ve got to get there first. I’m really happy for him today.

“I was pretty hopeful from two out. He finishes well and he’s very effective at seven furlongs as well.

“He won a Group One last year at Haydock and he’s won Group races, but it has been frustrating because he has been beaten so narrowly in the past.

“He’s such a good racehorse and as he’s got older and mature, he’s relaxed more and got better.

“The team have done a great job, as have the two that ride him out, and he’s not run many below-par races but he is probably a little bit better now. That is because he is more relaxed.

“He was my last chance of the meeting. Group Ones have never been easy and it’s probably a little harder now and experience often gets beaten by these young pups.

“I don’t know where he’ll go next. He’s in the July Cup, but he didn’t go there last year as the ground was too quick. I don’t like running him on fast ground.”

It was thrilling finish to the Diamond Jubilee
It was thrilling finish to the Diamond Jubilee (David Davies/PA)

Moore said: “Any winner here is important, but especially a prestigious race like this.

“(Sir) Michael has been great to me my whole career, but he’s got this horse to perform in this race three times in a row so fair play to him.

“He’s been a great horse, he’s got better every year but a stiff six furlongs with cut in the ground is perfect.”

Doyle was pleased with Glen Shiel, who was returning to his best having been fourth on his reappearance in Ireland.

She said: “That was a pleasing run and shows the horse is back to his best.”

Easterby said of Art Power: “It was a cracking run, he was out on his own and just got a bit tired in the last half a furlong. He ran to the line.

“I wouldn’t be against bringing him back to five for the King George at Goodwood.”

Point made in thrilling Chesham

Point Lonsdale came out on top in a thrilling renewal of the Chesham Stakes to deny the Queen a famous winner on her visit to Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore had only tasted success once this week, with Love in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes – but their supporters latched on to this once-raced Australia colt.

Sent off the well-backed 10-11 favourite, he was given a real race of it by Frankie Dettori on the John and Thady Gosden-trained Reach For The Moon.

Understandably in the conditions, it was only a steady pace set by Sweeping, who was still in front of the main group entering the final furlong while Reach For The Moon led Masekela on the far side.

Point Lonsdale then came through to challenge and with Reach For The Moon pulled clear, with the latter drifting right and the favourite going off to his left.

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It did not stop him going forwards, however, and he won by half a length. Great Max caught Sweeping for third.

Coral make Point Lonsdale a 12-1 chance for next year’s 2000 Guineas. Paddy Power and Betfair go 16-1 about the Derby.

O’Brien said: “Sorry about that (beating the Queen’s horse), but we are delighted with Point Lonsdale.

“We were delighted with his only run at the Curragh. Everyone has always been happy with him and we think a lot about him. He’s very smart. For a horse bred to be a middle-distance horse he’s always shown a lot of speed.

“It’s unusual for an Australia to be so far forward and the great thing is he’s so genuine and when you ask him he digs deep. He’s a very good mover and that’s why I was worried about the ground, because he’s a colt that bends his knee and is very low.

The Queen with Frankie Dettori and gallant Chesham runner-up Reach For The Moon
The Queen with Frankie Dettori and gallant Chesham runner-up Reach For The Moon (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“But he’s a baby still and did wander in the closing stages. He does it very naturally and will have learned a lot today.

“I hope he’s a Classic horse that can go for the Guineas and the Derby. He has a good chance of getting a mile and a quarter and might get further.

“We will look at the Group races in Ireland, something like the National Stakes, but it will depend where the boys want to go as to where he runs next.”

Moore added: “He’s typical of the Galileo family. He’s green still, he’s still learning but he was very efficient in these conditions. He’s doing this through pure class.

“He doesn’t need this ground, he just handles it. He’s got plenty of heart.”

Thady Gosden said of the runner-up: “It was a great run and we’re really happy with him. That was only his second career run, he is still very inexperienced.

“I think Reach For The Moon and the winner Point Lonsdale got lonely in front, but they both ran on well and look two nice prospects.

“Obviously our lad handled the ground, but he would also prefer better ground in the future – he is one to look forward to.”

Love all heart and class in Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Love had to battle hard for a triumphant return in what proved to be an epic renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic heroine was back on a racecourse for the first time in 300 days, since completing a clean sweep of three 2020 victories when she added the Yorkshire Oaks to her 1000 Guineas and Oaks successes.

In the absence of Lord North, who would have been her market rival but was pulled out of his attempt to defend his crown here because of fast ground, 11-10 favourite Love made all – but had a fight on her hands all the way up the straight as James Fanshawe’s Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya launched a persistent challenge.

But Love would not be denied and was on top at the line by three-quarters of a length from Audarya, who was also having her first run since last year, with O’Brien’s second-string Armory third.

Ryan Moore had the winner settled in front, with Audarya and My Oberon pulling hard behind, and Love’s relaxed demeanour – on the fast ground which suits her so well – helped her keep enough in hand when she needed it in the final two furlongs.

O’Brien was full of praise for Love’s tenacity, as a daughter of Galileo – and Moore’s successful tactics.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said.

“We were a little bit worried coming here today, because she was prepared for a few runs and didn’t get to run.

“To come into a race like this without a run was a big disadvantage.

“She has all the attributes of a Galileo. When you really want them – I knew watching Ryan’s body language, the mare was galloping with her head on the ground, and she was only waiting for Ryan to say ‘come on’.

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“I knew when he did that, she would find for him – and that’s exactly (what happened). She gives all, this filly.

“That’s an unbelievable trait, and probably the most important trait in any thoroughbred – and she has it in spades, multiplied by 10.”

Love lived up to all her trainer’s expectations.

He added: “She gives everything. There’s nothing left, nothing spare – whatever you want she’s there to answer all the time.

“She was vulnerable today, at the distance – and making her own running, as the race came together there was no pace in it.

“Ryan did a great job, doing enough for her to win and at the same time not doing (too much) because he knew Armory was going to be coming from the back, and was prepared for the race.

“It was brilliant really. He gave her a great ride, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to have her.”

A return to Ascot for next month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes appears to loom large for Love – although the shorter Eclipse at Sandown is also a possibility.

“The lads (owners Coolmore) will decide what they want to do,” said O’Brien.

“Obviously she has all the options, the King George, an Eclipse, all those kind of races.

“You’d think hard about the King George, see how she is. If the ground was nice, high summer – after being round the track here – they are the type of races to suit her.

“She definitely has to be in the reckoning for a King George – but we’ll see shortly.

O’Brien does not discount a meeting later this year with this year’s Oak winner Snowfall.

“Obviously, come the autumn, if they decided to do that it’d be unbelievable – and we’d be delighted, really,” he said.

Love was O’Brien’s 75th Royal Ascot winner, putting him level with the great Sir Henry Cecil.

Jockey Ryan Moore collects the trophy from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Love at Royal Ascot
Jockey Ryan Moore collects the trophy from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after winning the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Love at Royal Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

He was characteristically humble about the achievement, with a filly who has already reached great heights and has potential for much more.

“We feel very privileged to be in that position – we’re a small part of a big team, and very grateful to everybody for everything,” he said.

As for Love’s possible future status as one of Ballydoyle’s all-time best, he said: “I think she could (be).

“She’s fresh now – and probably to her advantage, she hasn’t had the miles in that bad ground early on in the year, which can often affect them late.

“So she’s probably had an ideal preparation into the summer and autumn – she’s very versatile and genuine. Anything is possible with her now.”

Fanshawe was equally proud of Audarya, who looks set to be major player again this season wherever she goes.

The Newmarket trainer said: “We were absolutely thrilled with the way she ran. It was a very solid run and proves she’s progressed again.

“Love is a very good filly, but it looked at the furlong pole like we were going to give her a race. William (Buick) reported the pace wasn’t that strong. We may head for the Romanet or the Nassau, and keep her to her own sex.”

Highest Ground too good for Leicester rivals

Highest Ground made the most of having his sights lowered with victory in the Sharnford Conditions Stakes at Leicester.

Sir Michael Stoute’s colt looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut at the Midlands venue on his only start as a juvenile – a theory which was given more weight after he put the high-class Waldkonig in his place at Haydock 12 months ago.

He was a narrowly beaten favourite in the rescheduled Dante Stakes on his next appearance, but disappointed on his final start of 2020 in Newmarket’s Darley Stakes and finished a long way behind Waldkonig on his return to action in the Gordon Richards at Sandown in April.

Faced with just four rivals, the son of Frankel was a 10-11 shot for his latest assignment under Ryan Moore.

Odds-on backers would have been sweating with a couple of furlongs to run as the admirable Outbox galloped on in front, but Highest Ground eventually wore him down and passed the post a length to the good.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owner-breeders the Niarchos Family, said: “I should think that was a nice confidence boosting race.

“After his first run of this season, we discovered he had the equivalent of a sore throat afterwards. That was the reason we have given him more time since, to let it all clear up.

“It’s nice to see him back in the winner’s enclosure.”

Highest Ground holds an entry in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday week.

When asked whether that Group Two contest was a potential target, Cooper added: “I think that was one of the ideas behind running today, to consider the Hardwicke.

“Let’s get home and regroup with Sir Michael at the end of the week and take it from there.

“We’ll see what Sir Michael and Ryan recommend and work out the programme.”

‘Not set in stone’ but O’Brien expecting Moore to side with Bolshoi Ballet in Derby

Aidan O’Brien admits it will be “very hard to overlook Bolshoi Ballet” when the time comes for Ryan Moore to choose which of Ballydoyle’s contenders to ride in the Cazoo Derby.

O’Brien, who currently still has eight possible runners among the remaining entries for the Epsom Classic next weekend, has a familiar stranglehold on the top of the ante-post market with favourite Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition.

The latter was to the fore with bookmakers throughout most of the winter, but encountered an interrupted preparation before a delayed first appearance in his three-year-old campaign when an eyecatching third in this month’s Dante Stakes at York – with Moore riding him for the first time.

Bolshoi Ballet has looked the part so far this year
Bolshoi Ballet has looked the part so far this year (PA)

Bolshoi Ballet had by then become the new market leader following his convincing Leopardstown victories under Moore in both the Ballysax and then Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes.

O’Brien told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme: “Bolshoi has won the two most important trials here in Ireland. Then I suppose High Definition went and ran a very good race in the Dante.

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“So we’d like to see what’s going to happen now on Monday or Tuesday (at their final gallops).

“But I suppose at the moment it’s very hard to overlook Bolshoi Ballet.”

High Definition spent the winter as Derby favourite
High Definition spent the winter as Derby favourite (PA)

O’Brien plans to test the credentials of all eight possibles over the next two days, and then begin to finalise his contingent – and their riders – following discussions with principal owners Coolmore.

The eight-time Derby-winning trainer also indicated Frankie Dettori is highly likely to be among his jockeys at Epsom this year, with reports elsewhere suggesting the Italian is the obvious choice to partner whichever of the top hopes stable jockey Moore does not.

“We don’t ever put Ryan under any kind of pressure until obviously he has to make his mind up,” said O’Brien.

“But obviously everything has gone well with Bolshoi Ballet so far from each run to run.

“So obviously, if you were in Ryan’s position, you’re probably thinking that way.

“But that could change very quickly, and nothing is set in stone until he makes that decision really.”

Aidan O'Brien with Frankie Dettori after Mother Earth's 1000 Guineas victory
Aidan O’Brien with Frankie Dettori after Mother Earth’s 1000 Guineas victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

Noting the two colts’ contrasting starts to the season, O’Brien added: “At the moment everything has gone very smooth and well for Bolshoi Ballet.

“Obviously High Definition’s preparation was a little bit interrupted.

“So I suppose Ryan has to make that call.”

As for Dettori’s involvement, the Tipperary trainer – for whom the Italian won the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket with Mother Earth – said: “Absolutely, we’re delighted to always have Frankie.”

Brigadier Gerard Stakes Trends

Run over 1m2f the Group Three Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes is staged at Sandown racecourse each year towards the end of May.

In recent years, the valuable prize has been dominated by the 4 year-olds, with 13 of the last 18 going to that age bracket, while we’ve seen five winning favourites in the last 18 renewals and jockey Ryan Moore has ridden FOUR of the last five winners and six of the last ten!

Here at GeeGeez, we are on-hand to look back at past winners, plus have all the stats ahead of the 2021 race – this year run on Thursday 27th May.

Recent Brigadier Gerard Stakes Winners

2020 – LORD NORTH (3/1)
2019 – REGAL REALITY (9/4)
2018 – POET’S WORD (4/6 fav)
2017 – AUTOCRATIC (8/1)
2016 – TIME TEST (3/1)
2015 – WESTERN HYMN (11/4)
2014 – SHARESTAN (5/6 fav)
2013 – MUKHADRAM (3/1)
2012 – CARLTON HOUSE (10/11 fav)
2011 – WORKFORCE (Evs fav)
2010 – STOTSFOLD (7/1)
2009 – CIMA DE TRIOMPHE (4/1)
2008 – SMOKEY OAKEY (20/1)
2007 – TAKE A BOW (11/1)
2006 – NOTNOWCATO (5/4 fav)
2005 – NEW MORNING (12/1)
2004 – BANDARI (7/2)
2003 – SIGHTS ON GOLD (7/1)

Key Brigadier Gerard Stakes Betting Trends

18/18 – Had won at least twice before
16/18 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
14/18 – Favourites that finished in the top 3
14/18 – Returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
14/18 – Had won a Group or Listed race before
14/18 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
14/18 – Had won between 2-4 times before
13/18 – Winning distance – 1 length or less
13/18 – Aged 4 years-old
13/18 – Rated 111 or higher
10/18 – Had won a Group Race before
10/18 – Raced within the last 7 weeks
8/18 – Drawn in stall 4 or lower
8/18 – Irish bred
6/18 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
6/18 – Ridden by Ryan Moore (6 of last 10)
6/18 – Won last time out
5/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Raced at Newmarket last time out
2/18 – Raced at the Curragh last time out
2/18 – Trained by John Gosden (2 of the last 6)
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 5/1

Note: The 2020 running was staged at Haydock Park.


Snowfall dominates for Musidora victory

Snowfall led her rivals a merry dance to provide Aidan O’Brien with his first victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.

The daughter of Japanese superstar Deep Impact managed just one win in seven outings as a juvenile last season, albeit her final two outings were at Group One level in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile.

She was a generous-looking 14-1 shot on her reappearance, with the market dominated by the impeccably-bred pair of Noon Star – a daughter of Derby winner Galileo and top-class racemare Midday – and Sea The Stars filly Teona.

However, Ryan Moore navigated Snowfall to the lead from an early stage – and having dictated affairs for much of the extended 10-furlong Group Three contest, she passed the post with three and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Noon Star filled the runner-up spot, with Teona doing well to finish as close as she did in third after pulling fiercely for her head for much of the race.

Bookmaker response was immediate, with Snowfall’s odds slashed for the Cazoo Oaks.

O’Brien said: “We always thought the world of her last year, but things just didn’t work for her.

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“On pedigree she was always going to be suited by a step up in trip, (and) Ryan gave her a lovely ride.

“It’s a beautiful pedigree, and we always thought a race like that would suit.

“I would think the Oaks will be the plan, but we’ll all have a chat.

“Things just didn’t work out for her last season – hopefully she goes on and has a good year.”

Kevin Buckley, owners Coolmore’s UK representative, said: “Aidan has always thought a lot of her, and we were fairly hopeful with the step up in trip. Her pedigree suggested that would be to her liking, and those thoughts were vindicated.

“It’s the first time we’ve won the Musidora. We’ve hit the crossbar twice, with Together Forever (2015) and Twirl (2012).

“We were definitely thinking a mile and a half would suit. She’s out of a full-sister to Found by Deep Impact, so there’s everything there to suggest the distance of the Oaks won’t be a problem.

“She showed a really good attitude.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Noon Star’s owners Juddmonte, said: “Obviously the lack of pace was not ideal, to say the least – she’s a filly who does stay and will stay.

“We’ll get her back, make sure she’s ok, make sure Michael (trainer Sir Michael Stoute) and the family are happy – and then we’ll take it from there.

“I don’t think there’s any need for any precipitous decisions at the moment.

“These are trials. This is what they are there for – they are sent to try us.”

Teona’s trainer Roger Varian described himself as more frustrated than disappointed.

He said: “It was a messy race. Unfortunately she reared up in the gates, missed the break – and that meant after 50 yards you sort of knew how the race would be run.

“It’s slightly unsatisfying, but I’ve lost no faith in the filly – I think she’s very nice. Everything that could go wrong today did, but on a positive note she’s had a day out and will come on for the run. She’s been fresh all day today and hopefully she’ll be more professional next time.

“She’s got loads of talent, and I haven’t lost faith because the race was run at a crawl. If we’d broken better maybe we could have done something about it.

“It’s frustrating more than disappointing – judge her more next time. I’ll speak to the owner about the Oaks, but I wouldn’t be discouraged on what happened today. We live to fight another day.”

Bolshoi Ballet powers to Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial demolition

Bolshoi Ballet leapt to the head of the Cazoo Derby ante-post market with an impressive trial victory at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt was far too good for his rivals in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes – a race which has been springboard to a succession of the Ballydoyle trainer’s champions over the years.

Ryan Moore tracked big outsider Wexford Soil in the early stages of the Group Three, before taking over with three furlongs to run and quickly scooting clear with a quarter of a mile to run.

The outcome was instantly beyond doubt, and the even-money favourite crossed the line six lengths clear of his vain pursuers, led by stablemate Lough Derg.

Mac Swiney failed to boost his Derby prospects by managing only a near seven-length fourth.

Bolshoi Ballet, who was following up his course-and-distance victory in the Ballysax Stakes last month, was quickly promoted to outright favouritism for next month’s Derby – at as short as 7-4 with Coral, as he follows a route famously trod by his sire.

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He had previously shared the top of the market at around 5-1 with unbeaten stablemate High Definition, who had to miss his intended prep run in Lingfield’s Derby Trial on Saturday because of a poor blood test but may yet be in action in the Dante Stakes at York this week.

O’Brien was notable among the admirers of Bolshoi Ballet’s performance.

“He’s very uncomplicated, quickens, relaxes,” he said.

“We always loved him. He travelled to France last year (fifth in the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud) in ground that we knew he wouldn’t like – but we wanted to travel him for experience.

“We are delighted with that and we couldn’t have asked for any more from him.

“There was an even pace which was great. He quickened well and he gets it (the trip).”

Moore added: “He’s a very professional horse and was always travelling beautifully through the race. He’s very smooth and ticks a lot of boxes.

“It was a proper test today, and that will stand him in good stead for what comes next.

“It’s very windy, and inexperienced horses are getting knocked around. He has a super attitude and is a straightforward horse.”

O’Brien confirmed High Definition still has a chance of taking part in Thursday’s Derby trial at York, which he reiterated is paramount for his participation at Epsom.

He said: “High Definition will do a bit in the morning, and we are hoping that he might go to York.

“His blood count is still coming down – it’s not 100 per cent yet, but it’s a lot better than it was. It’s nearly there.

“We need to run obviously. He has to get out if he’s going to the Derby.

“He’s not been medicated, because we couldn’t find anything.”

Joan Of Arc enters Irish Guineas picture

Aidan O’Brien’s Joan Of Arc dominated the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

The 11-4 favourite, ridden by Ryan Moore, was in front after a furlong and stayed there without ever having to come under strong pressure.

Joan Of Arc was restating her case for a clutch of high-profile entries in top races over the coming months, having failed to build on her Curragh maiden victory when only sixth in a similar trial over seven furlongs here last month.

Up to a mile in this Group Three, the daughter of Galileo – a full-sister to Classic winners Gleneagles and Marvellous – always appeared in control and had a length and three-quarters in hand at the line.

Her nearest pursuer was 50-1 shot Flirting Bridge, with the same distance back to another outsider Thinking Of You (40-1) in third.

Paddy Power reacted by halving Joan Of Arc’s odds for both Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes (into 8-1) and the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom (into 10-1) next month.

O’Brien said: “The last day was a bit of a non-event for her, but she came out of it lovely.

“The plan was to come back here, and then maybe go to the Irish Guineas.

“Ryan said she might stay a bit further so we’re very happy with that. She’s a very relaxed filly.”

Armory makes it look easy in Huxley Stakes

Armory proved a class above his rivals as he made a successful start to his campaign in the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes at Chester, with a step back up to the highest level next on the agenda.

The Galileo colt brought some top-class form to the table from last season, having finished fourth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Gold Cup, third in the Irish Champion Stakes and second to former stablemate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate in Australia.

He was the 6-5 favourite to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a third victory in this Group Two contest – and after settling at the rear of the four-strong field for much of the race, quickly found top gear under Ryan Moore in the straight to leave his rivals toiling.

Sangarius filled the runner-up spot, beaten three lengths by the impressive winner.

Armory (left) sweeps to the front
Armory (left) sweeps to the front (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

O’Brien said: “We were delighted. He’s really matured.

“I suppose what he has is an unbelievable turn of foot, which is a great thing in a horse because you don’t mind if they go fast or they go slow, as he quickens very well.

“He’s done very well over the winter, he had a lovely run in Australia last year but things didn’t really work out for him so we’re delighted.

“We were thinking after this he might go for the Tattersalls Gold Cup or the Prince of Wales’s, but probably the Prince of Wales’s.

“He has plenty of pace, but we always thought he’d get 10 furlongs – when you have a horse who quickens like that it’s a bonus, and Ryan gave him a lovely ride.”

Moore said: “I was very happy with him. He was a high-class two-year-old.

“He has form on soft ground, but when it’s quicker he can show his turn of foot. It was a steady race today, a messy race but he’s got a really good change of gear.

“He’s very talented. I don’t know what the plan but he’s won a Group Two there and he’s already been second in a Cox Plate, (so) he’s entitled to take his place at a higher level.”

Japan starts season off following the ‘St Nic’ route

Aidan O’Brien has high hopes Japan can follow in the footsteps of St Nicholas Abbey, having got his career back on track with victory in the tote+ Pays You More At Ormonde Stakes.

‘St Nic’s’ best days seemed behind him when he arrived at Chester in 2011 as a four-year-old, having missed the Derby – for which he was favourite – and been well beaten on his return from a lengthy lay off.

He blitzed his rivals that day, though, and never looked back. He won the Coronation Cup on his next outing and added the Breeders’ Cup Turf, another two Coronation Cups and the Sheema Classic to his CV. So should Japan emulate that haul, then O’Brien will be happy.

Japan landed the Grand Prix de Paris and Juddmonte International as a three-year-old, but went winless last season, so a confidence-boosting win over Ascot Gold Cup hopeful Trueshan, who emerged with plenty of credit, was just what the doctor ordered.

“We were delighted. Last year we started him in a very competitive race (Prince of Wales’s), and it just didn’t work out through the year – but obviously nothing was straightforward last year, and his season went into reverse afterwards,” said O’Brien.

“We used this race with St Nic before, and he got into a good place afterwards – so we’re hoping this horse might do the same.

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“Obviously he’s in the Coronation, and that is kind of what we had one eye if everything went well. He ran well in a Derby there (third). It was all about confidence today and getting him started.”

Japan has previously mixed his races over 10 and 12 furlongs – yet despite this victory over almost a mile and three-quarters, he will not be experimenting with Cup races.

“He definitely wouldn’t be running over anything further than today, we’d be going back in trip rather than forwards,” said O’Brien.

“The plan was the Coronation, and then we’ll see. We’ve others to think about as well, and he’s got very good form over a mile and a quarter, but we’ll go over a mile and a half with him next.”

Ryan Moore was on board and insisted he had never doubted Japan’s class.

“He’s a beautiful horse who we’ve always held in high regard, and he’s won a Juddmonte,” he said.

“Hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence. He didn’t really enjoy that dead ground. He’s a lovely looking horse with a great mind and hopefully he can go on from here.

“The Coronation Cup is an option – he ran well in the Derby there, and this should set him up for the bigger races later in the year. I’d expect him to come on from this as well. He’s got some class – I’ve always had a very high opinion of this horse.”

The rider added: “The ground is just sticky enough for him, and the trip probably stretches him, but he has loads of class and it’s good that he’s come back with a win.”

Giving Japan a real race – and a weight concession of 5lb to the 13-8 favourite – was Trueshan, and Alan King was understandably delighted with his Champions Day hero, who will now head for the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with him and I’ve just spoken to (jockey) Hollie (Doyle), and she feels the same.

“It’s great to get him out and get him started, and I think he’s run a terrific race. I’m very pleased.

“He’s a wee bit slow out (of the stalls), and you just have to roust him a little bit, but Hollie got him into a lovely position – and all in all it was a terrific run.

“That (Gold Cup) will be his next stop if the ground is right. We’ll just have to see what the weather does in June.”

Japan prevails from Trueshan in Ormonde Stakes

Japan stamped his class on the tote+ Pays You More At Ormonde Stakes at Chester.

A narrowly-beaten third in the 2019 Derby at Epsom, the Galileo colt went on to win the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp and the Juddmonte International at York, before finishing fifth on his final start of the year in the Arc.

Japan might have failed to add to his tally last season, but was still placed in the Eclipse and the King George, so it was no surprise to see Aidan O’Brien’s charge go off as the clear favourite as he had his sights lowered to Group Three company but up in trip for his seasonal reappearance.

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Always travelling strongly in the hands of Ryan Moore, the 13-8 chance tracked Alan King’s Long Distance Cup winner Trueshan – who was giving 5lb to the winner – into the straight, before displaying a superior change of gear to run him down and ultimately prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Moore said: “”He’s a beautiful horse who we’ve always held in high regard and he’s won a Juddmonte. Hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence, he didn’t really enjoy that dead ground. He’s a lovely looking horse with a great mind and hopefully he can go on from here.

“The Coronation Cup is an option, he ran well in the Derby there and this should set him up for the bigger races later in the year. I’d expect him to come on from this as well. He’s got some class – I’ve always had a very high opinion of this horse.”

The rider added: “The ground is just sticky enough for him and the trip probably stretches him, but he has loads of class and it’s good that he’s come back with a win.”

King was understandably delighted with his Champions Day hero Trueshan, who will now head for the Ascot Gold Cup.

The Barbury Castle trainer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with him and I’ve just spoken to Hollie and she feels the same.

“It’s great to get him out and get him started and I think he’s run a terrific race. I’m very pleased.

“He’s a wee bit slow out (of the stalls) and you just have to roust him a little bit, but Hollie got him into a lovely position and all in all it was a terrific run.

“That (Gold Cup) will be his next stop if the ground is right. We’ll just have to see what the weather does in June.”

Broome sweeps aside Mooresbridge opposition

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome completed a hat trick of victories when taking the Group Two Coolmore Sottsass Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh.

The five-year-old started his season with a Listed win in the Devoy Stakes at Naas in March, following up that victory with a Group Three triumph in the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh in April.

Starting as the 4-9 favourite for Monday’s contest, the entire son of Australia prevailed more comfortably than the two-length winning margin would suggest in the hands of Ryan Moore

“He’s a lovely horse and he’s come back very well this year,” the jockey said.

Broome after winning the Coolmore Sottsass Irish EBF Mooresbridge Stakes (PA)

“There is plenty left in there and he kind of played with them to be honest.

“He’s unbeaten at 10 (furlongs), but I do think he’ll get further.”

On the bay’s chances of holding his own when returned to Group One level, Moore added: “He’s only had a couple of goes and has been fourth on two occasions, so he’s entitled to have another go at it.”

Noel Meade’s Helvic Dream came home in second, with Joseph O’Brien’s Twilight Payment a further four and a half lengths behind in third.