Aidan O’Brien failed in his bid for a Guineas Grand Slam when he had to be content when one of his horses finished second in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh. With the English first season Classics as well as the Irish equivalent safely tucked away the Ballydoyle maestro arrived at headquarters with what looked like an unbeatable team, which included Newmarket heroine Homecoming Queen.
However, as many suspected the latter was given far too much latitude at Newmarket and the form looked suspect. Joseph O’Brien replaced Ryan Moore aboard Homecoming Queen and she started favourite in what looked like a moderate race. Like she did in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas, the daughter of Holy Roman Emperor set off in front but she never established the same sort of lead as La Collina and Samitar kept her well within her sights.
Entering the final quarter of a mile Homecoming Queen was still in front but under strong driving and stable outsider Ishvana loomed large on the horizon but had no more to offer when Martin Harley produced Samitar with a perfectly timed challenge to lead a furlong out. Samitar sprinted all the way to the line where she had a length and a half to spare over Ishvana with Princess Sinead running the race of her life to fill third place.
Homecoming Queen plugged on to take fourth. In his post race remarks O’Brien cited the changed ground. This may well be true. Only time will tell and it will be interesting to see where she goes from here.
A pretty good day
In spite of this setback it was still a pretty good day for the Ballydoyle yard as So You Think landed the Group1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and Lines Of Battle showed immense promise when taking the opening 2-year-old maiden. The War Front colt Lines Of Battle was easy to back as the big hitters went for the Jim Bolger runner, Leitir Mor. The pair had the race to themselves from the two furlong marker.
Leitir Mor had the running rail to help him and he looked the likely winner until Lines Of Battle arrived on the scene and although the winning margin was only a head the result was never in doubt inside the final furlong. This looked to be a decent contest and it will come as no surprise if it throws up a few winners, Lines of Battle is likely to be on the team for Royal Ascot and Leitir Mor should not be long about shedding his maiden tag either.
So You Think, which is a leading horse in Australia, arrived on this side of the world last season and although he won three Group1 contests he also had a couple of notable failures. He returned to action in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup over an extended 10 furlongs and duly took the honours for the second time with a smooth success over Famous Name.
O’Brien supplied a pacemaker in the shape of Robin Hood, who did his job to perfection, So You Think then took over off the home turn and although Famous Name attempted to make a race of it he was always fighting a losing battle and was six lengths in arrears at the line. An ambitious campagain has been mapped out for the winner, after which he returns to Australia to take up stud duties.
The likely option
The Prince Of Wales’ Stakes at the Royal meeting is the likely option as well as return to Sandown for the Eclipse, although he holds an entry for the Irish Champion Stakes he is unlikely to run as he will be already on way back down under to take up stud duties.
Dermot Weld has a likely Irish Derby challenger on his hands in the shape of Speaking Of Which. The son of Invincible Spirit fairly routed the opposition to land the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes over 10 furlongs. Sporting a visor for the first time, Speaking Of Which was keen enough in the early stages but was well anchored by Pat Smullen.
The rider was clearly sitting with a double handful turning for home and once he kicked on a furlong and a half out the race as a contest was over. The combination drew away to win impressively by nine lengths from Soon. According to Weld his charge is a big idle horse. The visor woke him up in his homework, so he decided to use it in public.
His last Irish Derby success was with Grey Swallow eight years ago. He is more that hopeful that Speaking of Which can give a good account of himself in the race this year.