Thunder Moon firmly on course for 2000 Guineas

Joseph O’Brien is one trainer who does not want the current dry spell to end as he believes it will aid Thunder Moon’s chances in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

An impressive winner of the National Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend on just his second start – where recent Craven victor Master Of The Seas was fourth – the Zoffany colt finished third in the Dewhurst on his final outing.

While he was not disgraced behind St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley, both trained by his father Aidan O’Brien, the former champion jockey feels faster ground could help him turn the tables.

“He’s wintered very well. Obviously we put him away after the Dewhurst, but I was very pleased with that run. The ground went a bit slow on us and we probably weren’t drawn in the perfect position, but it was a very good run,” O’Brien told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“The plan all winter has been to go straight to the Guineas and not have a prep. He’s in good shape.

“His National Stakes win was a very good performance. It was a very messy race, but he got himself out of trouble and showed a fantastic turn of foot.

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“Turn of foot and speed are probably his two attributes, he’d love a bit of firm ground as he’s a strong traveller with a turn of foot, which he showed a couple of times last season. It would be pretty important to us that the ground is good or better.”

Thunder Moon is currently fourth-favourite for the Newmarket Classic, with the two who beat him in the Dewhurst ahead of him in the betting.

Declan McDonogh (with groom Kyle Shelly) is set to ride Thunder Moon in the Guineas
Declan McDonogh (with groom Kyle Shelly) is set to ride Thunder Moon in the Guineas (PA Wire)

“I don’t know if he’s classier (than the two who beat him in the Dewhurst), but I probably feel that we are the quickest horse,” said O’Brien.

“We travelled very well through the Dewhurst and looked the winner, but on the day there was a severe bias to the rail, we were drawn on the other side and also the ground was on the slow side so I thought it was a fantastic run.

“When we broke down the race afterwards we were very proud of his run, we’re looking forward to taking them on again on what we hope will be quicker going.

“His pedigree suggests he’ll stay further, I’m quite confident about the mile but after that I’m not sure how much further he’d go as he’s quite a pacey horse.

“I’d say Declan McDonagh is most likely to ride at Newmarket and we’ll go from there, but it hasn’t really been discussed yet. I’d imagine it will be Declan as he has a good relationship with him.”

O’Brien also has a live chance in the 1000 Guineas with Pretty Gorgeous, the Fillies’ Mile winner.

“She’s in good shape too, I’m pleased with how she’s wintered. She’s a big, powerful mare and the plan is to go straight there,” he said.

Mutasaabeq looked potentially smart in victory at Newmarket
Mutasaabeq looked potentially smart in victory at Newmarket (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A total of 25 colts remain in the Guineas following the latest forfeit stage, a number that could be boosted should connections opt to supplement Mutasaabeq.

Home-bred by the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud, the son of Invincible Spirit was a six-length winner of a conditions event on the Rowley Mile earlier this month.

Trainer Charlie Hills said: “He’s in great form after his run at Newmarket, he didn’t lose much weight and seems to have taken the race very well.

“We haven’t spoken (about supplementing yet, it’s something we probably need to talk about for the rest of the week and decide by the end of the week really.

“We’ll certainly see him in Pattern company next time, but I’m not sure where yet – we’ll discuss it with the family and go from there.”

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