Homecoming Queen gives O'Brien the double
RACING/NEWMARKET:AIDAN O’BRIEN became the first trainer since 1942 to claim the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas in the same season on two occasions as Homecoming Queen was a surprise winner of the fillies’ Classic 24 hours after Camelot’s triumph.
The legendary Fred Darling was the last man to achieve the feat that O’Brien first managed in 2005 with Virginia Waters and Footstepsinthesand.
That O’Brien won the Qipco 1,000 Guineas was no shock, but he was expected to do it with the 13 to 8 favourite Maybe, ridden, like Camelot, by his son Joseph, and not 25 to 1 shot Homecoming Queen, the mount of Ryan Moore.
While Homecoming Queen’s pedigree – she is closely related to Arc winner Dylan Thomas – suggests she should be winning Classics, her claims on the formbook were harder to spot.
Bounced into an early lead by Moore, she never saw another rival and recorded a nine-length victory over John Gosden’s Starscope – the second-biggest winning margin ever in the 1,000 Guineas. Maybe came home third, with Gosden’s other runner, The Fugue, fourth.
When asked if Homecoming Queen was running as a pacemaker, O’Brien answered: “Absolutely not. She was there running on her merits. “She’s a tough, hardy filly with a real pedigree and has been progressive all the way. Perhaps we didn’t expect her to win quite like she did, but it was not a great surprise she did win. Joseph said beforehand that she was the one he feared most.
“Ryan says she’ll stay further. She has a lot of options, but the boys will talk about that later in the week. She can go to the Irish Guineas or she can go anywhere – the Curragh, Ascot and Epsom are all in the mix. There are lot of options open to her now. She’s a very progressive filly.”
Moore, who was securing his first victory in the Newmarket fillies’ Classic, said: “Aidan said she was very fit and very well. I thought I was going a stride too quick, but she just kept going. There’s not much of her, but she tries very hard. She’s very tough.”
Gosden said of his pair: “I was thrilled with both my fillies, who will go further in time and will want a longer trip. They’ve run great but, unfortunately, The Fugue has been struck into on her hind leg and I hope she’ll be okay.Starscope has run well and is a nice prospect.”
Jockey Jimmy Fortune said of Starscope: “My filly ran a great race, but we never saw where the winner had gone.” William Buick said of The Fugue: “I’m very happy with her. She ran really well but it was a rough race in the early stages and the ground was not ideal for her.”
Joseph O’Brien felt Maybe was perhaps lacking in race fitness. He said: “She travelled into the race well but she just got a bit tired on the ground which is getting softer all the time.”
There was a 30-minute delay to the start as the Charlie Hills-trained Gray Pearl got stuck underneath the stalls. Pearl became wedged under the stalls in a freak incident that came one month after two horses were killed in the Aintree Grand National.The other runners were withdrawn from the stalls which had to be removed in a bid to extricate the stricken filly.
Racegoers feared the worst when screens were put up across the centre of the course and Gray Pearl had to be put down after suffering what vets called “an apparent spinal injury.”