Twilight Jet still firing on all cylinders for Del Mar venture

Twilight Jet is poised to cap a busy and successful season with a run in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in Del Mar.

The Michael O’Callaghan-trained two-year-old has barely put a foot wrong since making his debut in May, running 10 times and contesting many of the big juvenile sprints in both England and Ireland.

A bay colt by Twilight Son, Twilight Jet has continued to improve throughout the season and hit the frame in a string of high-quality races before triumphing at Newmarket in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes last time out.

The Grade Two Juvenile Turf Sprint in California on Friday is next, with O’Callaghan reporting him to be well following his Newmarket performance.

He said: “He’s come out of the Cornwallis very well, and we’re really looking forward to running him. He’s in the best form he’s been in all year.

“It’s huge for everyone involved – everybody is really looking forward to it.

“He’s a horse that has never let us down, and we’re sure he’ll run a big race again.”

Twilight Jet made his Group-race debut when fifth in the Marble Hill in May, and gradually edged closer to a win in black-type company as the season progressed.

A run in York’s Gimcrack Stakes saw him finish third behind Lusail, a horse he then beat when third again in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

A tilt at Group One level in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket then produced a fifth-placed finish, beaten only a length and a half, after which he returned to the same track to claim the Cornwallis by two lengths.

“He’s a very, very tough horse – he’s very genuine and he has a great constitution,” added O’Callaghan, who also owns Twilight Jet.

“He takes his racing very well and he improves from each run.

“The more racing he has, the better he’s getting – he’s quite an incredible horse in that regard.

“He’s quite a big horse – he’s a nice size and he’s getting physically stronger with every run.

Trainer Michael O'Callaghan (second from right)
Trainer Michael O’Callaghan (second from right) (PA)

“He’s getting more confident in his style of running, especially in his last two starts. In his run in the Middle Park he led them down to the 50-metre pole – it was a huge run.

“Next year, between five and six-furlong races, I’d say he can go close to winning his Group One.”

Del Mar poses a different question to many of Europe’s turf tracks, with even the five-furlong trip run on a left-handed bend as opposed to the straight sprint contests more commonly found this side of the Atlantic.

O’Callaghan has prepared his runner for this style of track, however, and is also confident that he will appreciate the quick surface usually found at Del Mar.

“Twilight Jet and a lot of the horses are running over five or six furlongs in Europe on a straight track – and when you come here (Del Mar) it’s on a tight, turning track, which is something that’s a bit different to them,” he said.

“Experience means a lot. We’ve done plenty of schooling with him at Dundalk, which is Ireland’s closest thing to an American-style track, around the turns and travelling quickly round a bend.

“He took that very well. He’s a very balanced horse and he handled Newmarket very well both times – it’s an undulating sort of a track that tends to get horses unbalanced.

“I think he’d like fast ground. The faster the pace of the race, the better.

“He’s got a very high cruising speed, and I’m really looking forward to running him. He ticks a lot of the boxes.”

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