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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.”

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.”

Thunder Moon rockets into Classic picture with National strike

Thunder Moon ran out a hugely impressive winner of the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on just his second start.

Joseph O’Brien’s youngster is now joint-favourite with some bookmakers for next year’s 2000 Guineas, such was the authority of his display.

The Group One contest was robbed of a little of its lustre when Aidan O’Brien’s Royal Ascot winner Battleground was ruled out, but it still had the look of being the best race of its type this season.

There was no doubt Thunder Moon was being asked a big question after just one run – but the way he quickened up suggests he is a colt of the highest order.

Out of luck in the Moyglare half an hour earlier with Pretty Gorgeous, Declan McDonogh was briefly short for room when Master Of The Seas shot clear, but when a gap opened on the rail, Thunder Moon did not need asking twice and he quickly took advantage.

The son of Zoffany, sent of a 15-2 chance, soon put the race to bed and won by a length and a half from the staying-on Wembley, with St Mark’s Basilica third and Master Of The Seas fourth. Lucky Vega endured a troubled passage and was unplaced.

McDonogh said: “He quickened very well. I was just caught on heels a little and had to bite the bullet and sit and suffer, but he showed great heart when he got a bit of room.

Celebration time for Declan McDonogh
Celebration time for Declan McDonogh (PA)

“He was always giving me the feeling that he was going to run them down and he was very impressive. He was impressive the first day, but you never know what you’re beating.

“He’s got a serious will to win because when you are racing and it got tight he just wanted to run by them.”

He added: “The ground was as slow as he wanted, he has a real fast-ground action – fast ground suits him really well. He seemed like he was in third gear all the way.”