Joseph O’Brien reports his Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Thundering Nights in fine form as she seeks to double her Group One tally in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville.
Thundering Nights has had a break since getting the better of subsequent dual Grade One winner Santa Barbara at the Curragh in late June.
But the four-year-old is set to return to action in France on Sunday.
James Fanshawe’s Audarya may defend her Prix Jean Romanet title – while her Goodwood conqueror Lady Bowthorpe, for William Jarvis, and Kildare trainer Willie McCreery’s Insinuendo are others in the reckoning this weekend.
“She’s come out of her last run at the Curragh well, and she’s done really well so far this season.”
The trans-Atlantic success of Santa Barbara – in the Belmont Oaks and Beverly D. Stakes, since her neck defeat to Thundering Nights – raises O’Brien’s hopes.
He added: “Obviously Santa Barbara has really boosted the form since the last run. She’s franked that form really well.
“It looks a very hot race, but we’re looking forward to the weekend with her.”
The Darley Prix Morny is the Group One prize on offer to the two-year-olds on Sunday’s classy card – and among the 17 still in contention is O’Brien’s unbeaten Velocidad, with Gavin Cromwell’s Royal Ascot winner Quick Suzy and Alan King’s Asymmetric also part of a potentially strong British and Irish challenge.
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Joseph O’Brien has his sights set on the Irish St Leger for prolific winner Baron Samedi.
The four-year-old scored seven times on the trot, including the Belmont Gold Cup, before his winning streak was brought to an end when fifth behind Broome in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud this month.
O’Brien is targeting the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh on September 12, with a possible prep run first.
“Baron Samedi has the Irish St Leger as his main target and may have a run before then,” said the County Kilkenny trainer.
“If he does run before it will be in the Irish St Leger Trial.”
O’Brien will take time to consider several options later in the season for his Group One Pretty Polly Stakes winner Thundering Nights.
The form of her Curragh win got a boost when runner-up Santa Barbara subsequently landed the Belmont Oaks – and an international campaign may also be on her agenda.
O’Brien said: “Thundering Nights is on a little rest at the moment, and we have no immediate plans.
“She has some options in France, Ireland and America later on in the year – so we’ll be concentrating on the late summer and autumn.”
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Thundering Nights just edged out Santa Barbara in a tremendous finish to the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh.
In action in America at Belmont just 23 days ago when beaten a nose in a Grade Two by Mean Mary, Thundering Nights was taking her form to a new level.
Santa Barbara, meanwhile, was running in her third Group One of the season and having been the beaten favourite in both the 1000 Guineas and Oaks she displayed the talent that had Aidan O’Brien speaking so highly of her in the spring.
The improving Epona Plays set out to make the running and was only headed on entering the final furlong.
It was there that Shane Crosse decided to commit on Thundering Nights (16-5) and she went over a length clear, but Ryan Moore had been biding his time on Santa Barbara and she gradually hit top gear, drawing level with Thundering Nights.
The two were locked together inside the final 100 yards – but in the final few strides Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old, who was conceding 12lb to her younger rival, just began to pull away and got the verdict by a neck.
The favourite Cayenne Pepper was two and a half lengths away in third, as Crosse claimed the second Group One success of his career following the victory of Pretty Gorgeous in the Fillies’ Mile last season.
“She’s a great mare, she’s very tough and every time you ask her a question she rises to the occasion,” said O’Brien.
“She’s never run a bad race really and I’m delighted for Shapoor Mistry, the owner. I’m very proud of her.
“She always has a bit of a look around when she goes to the front and she did that again today, but when the other one came to her she really fought back.
“Broome just nabbed her here one day on the line, but she had an opportunity to fight back today and she did that.
“In America she would have won in another stride, the tight track caught her out a little bit as it was her first time around the bends over there.
“She had to spend a week after the race over there so she’s only been back a couple of weeks. She trained there for a week, then shipped straight back and came straight here. She has a great constitution.
“She has options back in America, like the Beverly D., and she also has the likes of the Nassau and Matron.
“She’s a Group One winner now so she’s a very exciting broodmare prospect no matter what happens.”
O’Brien added: “Shane deserved that because over the last couple of days a few things didn’t go well for him.
“That’s the way it goes in racing and you just have to remain confident and keep doing what you are doing. That’s what he’s done and he was rewarded.”
Aidan O’Brien was also pleased with the effort of Santa Barbara.
“I’m delighted she ran well, I was very happy with her,” he said.
“After Epsom we were hoping it was the trip and the ground and it looks like she wants a mile or a mile-and-a-quarter as she’s not short of pace.
“She did everything right, Joseph’s filly was very unlucky in America the last day and she’s tough. When she got to her she didn’t surrender and his horses are running well.
“We were thinking of going to the Nassau with Joan Of Arc and maybe to split them up this filly could have the option of going to the Belmont Oaks in a couple of weeks time. That’s one option.
“She’s a big powerful filly and hopefully she’ll be there for next year as well.”
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