Tag Archive for: Stone Age

O’Brien points to Stone Age as Moore’s likely Derby mount

Aidan O’Brien expects Ryan Moore to choose impressive Leopardstown winner Stone Age as his Cazoo Derby ride.

Despite having long-time ante-post favourite Luxembourg ruled out due to a muscular problem, O’Brien still holds plenty of aces in the Epsom Classic.

He won both Derby trials at Chester through Changingoftheguard in the Vase and Star Of India in the Dee Stakes and continued his dominance when United Nations beat Charlie Appleby’s well-touted Walk Of Stars at Lingfield.

Arguably the deepest trial took place closer to home, however, and as Stone Age crossed the line five and a half lengths clear in the Leopardstown contest, he was installed as the new favourite.

“I think Ryan would find it hard not to ride the horse from yesterday,” O’Brien said during a press morning at his Ballydoyle stables.

“We know the way they’ll be ridden – Changingoftheguard will go forward and that would suit the horse that won yesterday.

“The one that won at Chester over a mile and a quarter (Star Of India) will also go forward but he’s a little bit lazy, so he might end up tucking in a little bit. The horse that won at Lingfield will go forward as he stays well, Charlie’s horse (Natural World) went a good gallop there.

“I’d imagine Ryan will find it hard not to ride Stone Age, but I don’t know.

“You’d have had to be impressed with him. You’d have liked something to have led him. There was one that ran at Cork (French Claim) we thought would lead but he didn’t, so there was no point in messing him about so we let him bowl along.

“The good thing about him is that he got a lot of experience at two, he was always happy to be dropped in and he learned a lot but we weren’t running him to teach him.”

Changingoftheguard was an easy winner at Chester last week
Changingoftheguard was an easy winner at Chester last week (Tim Goode/PA)

He went on: “In all the trials we were very happy to make the running and set a good pace to see whether they were going to stay the trip or not and that’s what Ryan did, he bounced them all out and if someone else wanted to lead then great, if not he’d go.

“I’ve no idea which is the best horse, this is how we find out – they are all bred and reared to be in the Derby. It’s very hard to not give a horse a chance.

“I was never worried they (Stone Age and Changingoftheguard) never won at two, not at all. If we wanted them to win at two we could have, but we always treat two as an indication for three.

“That is why Stone Age was contesting all those big races, he even ran in a Group One over seven (furlongs). He had Group form at two, so that was exposing him enough for breeders to see that he was a very good two-year-old.

“He didn’t surprise us yesterday, I was delighted with him but we’ve always liked him and thought he was a very high-class horse. If you go back and look at his two-year-old form, he got beat in a Group race at Leopardstown and was running through the line and it was the same in France over a mile and a quarter in soft ground.

“If you went back through that form, you could see there was always going to be better to come.

“I would never be amazed if any horse wins (the Derby) as there are so many variables and there are so many things that can happen.

“Obviously I’m delighted to have horses that can be competitive, especially with Luxembourg on the sidelines. They’ve done their trials now and the three-year-olds need to keep improving.

“It’s never cut and dried that we know what will happen. We try to have them ready for their races, talk to their riders about trip and track and then everyone has a chat with detail and data and everything.

“We learn at the same time as everyone else. The only time we really find out is when they are put together.”

Point Lonsdale is still in the Derby picture
Point Lonsdale is still in the Derby picture (Niall Carson/PA)

One O’Brien three-year-old who did not quite live up to expectations first time out is Point Lonsdale, but he still remains in the Derby frame despite finishing down the field in the Guineas.

“We always thought last year that he wanted to go a mile but we never went a mile, because we were keeping him at seven because he was the best horse we had at that distance at the time. Looking at him though, you’d always say that he was going to be a middle distance horse this year,” O’Brien said.

“He’s a very good horse and I’d expect him to step forward a lot from the Guineas and we’re giving him the time to help him do that, rather than rushing him back into the Dante – there’d be no reason for doing that. Obviously we thought he’d run a bit better than he did at Newmarket and he was a bit disappointing, but he’s still very much in our Derby plans.”

Stone Age rockets to Derby favouritism

Stone Age rocketed to the head of ante-post lists for the Cazoo Derby following a scintillating display in the Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.

It has been quite a week for trainer Aidan O’Brien, who saw Changingoftheguard, Star Of India and United Nations enter the reckoning for Epsom with victories at Chester and Lingfield respectively, but had to rule out previous Derby favourite Luxembourg on Sunday afternoon following a setback.

Less than an hour later, however, he retightened his grip on the Epsom Classic as Stone Age pummelled his rivals on the outskirts of Dublin.

Runner-up in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in the autumn, the Galileo colt won by nine lengths on his return at Navan to earn himself a place in Ireland’s key Epsom trial.

Sent straight to the lead by Ryan Moore, the 10-11 favourite steadily raised the tempo before stamping his class on the Group Three contest early in the home straight.

The further Stone Age went the better he looked and the winning margin of five and a half lengths emphasises his superiority.

O’Brien was winning the race for the 15th time, with subsequent Epsom heroes Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) both claiming this prize on their way to Epsom glory.

Coral make Stone Age their new Derby favourite at 7-2 (from 12-1), while Paddy Power and Sky Bet go a shade shorter at 3-1.

Stone Age after winning at Leopardstown
Stone Age after winning at Leopardstown (Gary Carson/PA)

O’Brien said: “He’s lovely, he’s a high cruiser, he’s tactical and he keeps going – he keeps pushing it out.

“He came forward lovely and we thought he’d come forward a bit more from today. The plan was to give him two runs and because he was a maiden he started in Navan and then came here.

“We always felt he was very good and we weren’t really worrying about winning a maiden (last year).

“He ran over seven furlongs in a Group One – he’s a high tempo horse.”

The Ballydoyle handler does not expect the demands of Epsom or the step up to a mile and a half to trouble Stone Age.

He added: “We didn’t think it (Epsom) would be a problem. His two runs this year were left-handed. He usually steps quick out of the gate, he’s a high cruiser and he’s very happy to get a lead, which he was going to do today if someone was going to take him.

“He has that class, he’s able to pick up and then he pushes it out all the way to the line. He never looks, in any of his races, to be getting weak at the line.

“He’s a big hardy horse, he’s not a wimp now.”

When asked about assessing the pecking order of his Derby trial winners, he said: “It’s impossible really. They were running in their trials individually to see what was going to happen.

Aidan O'Brien with Stone Age
Aidan O’Brien with Stone Age (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Because all the races were at different times they were all on different work schedules.

“Ryan will talk to the lads (owners) and hopefully they’ll come up with a solution to the whole thing. That’s usually what happens.

“You’d have to be very happy, any of the ones that had two runs they came forward from their first to their second. We thought this fella would come forward again.

“This horse has plenty of pace. Every day he has run he’s always going to the line. He never seems to be stopping, he keeps pushing it out to the line.”

Stone Age and Wexford Native star on informative afternoon at Navan

Stone Age impressed when claiming a first career success in the Tote Win Never Beaten By SP Maiden at Navan.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Galileo colt acquitted himself well at Group level last season, and while he ended the campaign without a win to his name he was second in both the Group Two KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes and the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Those defeats were by a neck and a length and a half respectively and saw him start as the 1-3 favourite for his three-year-old bow under Ryan Moore.

Quickest away when the stalls opened, he made all the running and was never challenged as he cruised to a nine-length victory from Ger Lyons’ Active Duty.

“He was very smooth today and it was nice for him to come out and do things nicely and comfortably,” Moore said.

“Hopefully he can gain a bit of confidence from this. I think he is a smart horse.

“The last time I rode him was in the Lagardere (in October) on soft ground and he didn’t like it. It was nice to get him on some good ground.”

Paddy Power cut Stone Age to 33-1 for the Cazoo Derby, and asked if he saw him as more of an Epsom or Curragh horse, Moore replied: “He’s a good-moving horse and he doesn’t have to go a mile and a half.”

O’Brien and Moore had started the card in winning form, with New York City having little trouble in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden on his sixth career start.

The Invincible Spirit colt was placed four times from five runs last term but failed to get his head in front before the close of the year.

The 2-9 favourite for his first run of the new campaign, he was a dominant seven-length winner.

Moore said: “He’s a beautiful, big, strong horse and he was entitled to win like that.

“It’s a nice day to win his race and hopefully he can go on from here.

“It’s good ground and he’s quite a straightforward horse – I wouldn’t say the ground is massively important.

“He was running on soft ground towards the end of the year and maybe that wasn’t ideal for him.”

O’Brien and Moore were denied a treble when Sun King was beaten by Jim Bolger’s highly promising newcomer Wexford Native in the Your New Tote Maiden.

After finishing immediately behind subsequent Vertem Futurity Trophy runner-up Sissoko on his final two-year-old start, Sun King was the 7-4 market leader but Bolger’s son of Teofilo was a comfortable two-and-a-half-length winner in the hands of Kevin Manning.

Wexford Native looks a top-notch prospect
Wexford Native looks a top-notch prospect (Michael Graham/PA)

Wexford Native holds entries for a range of top-class contests including the English and Irish Guineas and the Irish Derby.

Manning said of the 5-1 scorer: “It was a good start. It was a tough call to overcome 21 draw and get across. I think he has got a big future.

“He was always travelling and getting a tow (off Sun King). When I went to the front, he was just having a look and when I joined Ryan (Moore, on Sun King) he was just running away a bit from him. He was just very, very green.”

On his Classic entries, Manning said: “He has been showing us some nice work at home, and he was last year as well but he was just a big backward horse. We will just see where he goes from here.

“Most likely I’d say (a marked step up in class) – I think a mile to a mile and a quarter, he’s pretty versatile because he showed plenty of pace to get across from 21. He’s a horse for the future.”