Tag Archive for: Wembley

Frankie Dettori rooting for Italy in Euro final

Frankie Dettori will be “hiding somewhere” as he watches on when his beloved Italy clash with England in the Euro 2020 final.

The hugely popular Italian rider was at Wembley on Tuesday to see the Azzurri knock out Spain on penalties in their semi-final, but will not be there in person on Sunday night.

Looking back on England’s victory against Denmark – sealed by Harry Kane’s swift rebound from his own saved penalty, given after a contentious foul on Raheem Sterling – Dettori is expecting a tight affair.

He said: “I watched most of the match until you (England) got the phantom penalty and I decided to go to bed!

“I went to the Italy semi-final – I took Andrea (Atzeni, fellow jockey) with me, and my daughter. I was given tickets, so I thought it was a good opportunity, and it was a rollercoaster to be honest with you – I felt like I’d had seven rides at Royal Ascot afterwards!

“I’m not going to the final. I’m taking my wife away for a couple of days and didn’t realise it was on the same day as the final, but maybe it’s a good thing, in case we get beat! I’ll be hiding somewhere, and watch it by myself.

“I don’t think anyone could wish for a better final, and I think it will be close.

“I’m Italian and obviously I’ll be rooting for my country. But you are at home, you’ll have 60,000 people behind you as the 12th man – and that could swing it your way.”

Ballydoyle trio set for 2000 Guineas

Aidan O’Brien’s trio of Battleground, Van Gogh and Wembley are among 15 colts declared for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The Ballydoyle handler has saddled a record 10 winners of the Rowley Mile Classic and launches another formidable assault on Saturday.

Wembley is officially the highest-rated of his three runners on what will be his first appearance since being touched off by stable companion St Mark’s Basilica in the Dewhurst at Newmarket in October.

Battleground was last seen filling the runner-up spot at the Breeders’ Cup, while Van Gogh has been off the track since landing Group One honours in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

St Mark’s Basilica does not head to Newmarket, with O’Brien confirming on Thursday he is instead being aimed at the French equivalent.

Speaking on a Qipco British Champions Series Zoom call, the trainer said: “We’re just splitting them up. The plan is to train St Mark’s Basilica for the French Guineas, with a view to maybe going to the French Derby after that.”

Assessing the chances of his three 2000 Guineas runners, O’Brien added: “Battleground had very good form last year and finished off with a very good run in America.

“Van Gogh’s form progressed as the season went on and he finished off with a lovely run in France.

Battleground winning the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood
Battleground winning the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Wembley’s last run was in the Dewhurst, which we were delighted with really.

“They all seem to be in good form. It’s only their first run of the year and it’s a great place to start.

“It’s lovely to be getting good ground and we felt they all deserved to take their chance.”

Joseph O’Brien, Aidan’s son, has a leading contender in Thunder Moon. The son of Zoffany beat Wembley when winning last season’s National Stakes at the Curragh, but was behind the same rival when third in the Dewhurst.

Thunder Moon represents Joseph O'Brien
Thunder Moon represents Joseph O’Brien (PA)

Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega and Poetic Flare, from Jim Bolger’s yard, complete the Irish contingent.

Bolger did not, however, declare Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Mac Swiney.

“They are both very well. It was a tight question as to which would go as I only want to run one, in which case Mac Swiney will go to either the French Guineas or the Derrinstown at Leopardstown,” Bolger told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“It was nothing to do with the ground, but having said that I always favour good ground because it’s safe for horse and rider.

“Poetic Flare always looked very smart and won the first two-year-old race of the year, but then he decided he wasn’t big enough and he began to grow, which didn’t stop until July.

“I didn’t have him cherry-ripe for the Dewhurst and it transpired he needed the race.

“I wouldn’t be that good a trainer that I could tell you how fit he was first time out, but what I can tell you is he has improved massively since then. A mile will be no problem.

“Dawn Approach winning (in 2013) was very satisfying and I have the same confidence in this horse.”

The home team includes three Charlie Appleby-trained hopefuls in One Ruler, Master Of The Seas and Naval Crown.

Master Of The Seas winning the Craven Stakes
Master Of The Seas winning the Craven Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Naval Crown inflicted a shock defeat on Master Of The Seas in Dubai earlier in the year, but the latter bounced back to winning ways in the Craven Stakes over the Guineas course and distance a couple of weeks ago.

With William Buick deciding to stick with Master Of The Seas this weekend, James Doyle partners One Ruler, who rounded off his two-year-old campaign by finishing second in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

The Charlie Hills-trained Mutasaabeq was mightily impressive when winning a conditions race at the Craven meeting, which ultimately led to connections supplementing for the Guineas earlier this week.

Richard Hannon’s Greenham Stakes winner Chindit, Ralph Beckett’s Devilwala, the Roger Varian-trained Legion Of Honour, Mystery Smiles from Andrew Balding’s yard and Jane Chapple-Hyam’s rank outsider Albadri are the other hopefuls.

Classic plans still fluid as O’Brien prepares to unleash mighty squad

Aidan O’Brien is trying to juggle his army of three-year-old colts as the Classics get under way at Newmarket this weekend.

With fast ground looking assured at Headquarters, O’Brien has an embarrassment of riches in the Qipco 2000 Guineas with four colts who all boast strong form.

St Mark’s Basilica beat stablemate Wembley in the Dewhurst, but O’Brien feels the latter may be suited by conditions on Saturday.

There is also Breeders’ Cup runner-up Battleground to add to the Ballydoyle mix and another Group One-winning juvenile in Van Gogh.

“It looks like the ground is going to be very fast in Newmarket, and we are trying to work out where to go with Battleground, Van Gogh, Wembley and St Mark’s Basilica,” said O’Brien on Monday.

“We have two weeks from Newmarket to France and another week to the Curragh, so the same type of horse could do Newmarket and the Curragh.

“They will do a little bit tomorrow and Wednesday, and we’ll have a discussion with the boys (owners Coolmore) to see what we do.

“Battleground has form on easy ground and he’s a War Front, so he should go on fast ground no problem.

“Van Gogh has form on nice ground but good form on soft ground as well, so I think it’s not an issue.

“Wembley has form on both but would love fast ground, and it was on the easy side most of last year when St Mark’s Basilica ran.”

It is not just the milers in which O’Brien looks to have a strong hand but also in the Cazoo Derby too, with Beresford winner High Definition heading the market and Ballysax scorer Bolshoi Ballet not far behind.

The latter seems likely to take O’Brien’s tried-and-tested route by heading for the Derrinstown Derby Trial, with High Definition likely to travel to England – but for which race the trainer is still unsure.

“We are thinking of sending Bolshoi Ballet back to Leopardstown for the Derrinstown, and that would leave High Definition with the option of Chester, Lingfield or York,” said the Ballydoyle handler.

“He’s a big galloping horse, and York would suit him well, but our only worry is that it is closer to the Derby than the other trials. We often need a bit more time than that.

“It could be the Dante, but it’s not decided yet.

“He needs one run, and he’s ready for it now. We could have left him in the Guineas, but we have four others.”

Wembley is O’Brien’s sole Futurity contender

Aidan O’Brien has cut his assault on the Vertem Futurity to just Wembley in his bid for a record-equalling 10th victory as nine horses were declared for the Group One at Doncaster.

O’Brien had seven entries at the confirmation stage but has decided to rely on Wembley on Saturday as he seeks to join the late Sir Henry Cecil as the most successful trainer in one of the calendar’s highest-profile two-year-old races.

The last three winners have gone on to win the following year’s 2000 Guineas, two of them trained by O’Brien – Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.

Wembley has won only a Roscommon maiden from six races but has finished second in the National Stakes and the Dewhurst on his last two starts.

State Of Rest, third to Chindit in the Champagne Stakes over seven furlongs at Doncaster last month, represents O’Brien’s son Joseph – while Jim Bolger’s Mac Swiney, winner of the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh, completes the Irish raid.

Andrew Balding, who lifted the prize last year with Kameko when it was re-routed to Newcastle, saddles King Vega. The son of Lope de Vega has finished second on both his starts, the latest in the Solario Stakes at Sandown.

Roger Varian, who was successful with Kingston Hill in 2013, supplemented Baradar for £17,500 at Monday’s confirmation stage.

One Ruler, a smooth winner of the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, will try to give Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby a first win in this race.

Cobh, Emperor Supreme and Megallan complete the nine contenders.