War Command wins Dewhurst for Aidan O’Brien
‘There is only one Dewhurst and we had to get him out. I’d say he’s done for the year now'
Aidan O’Brien ‘delighted’ after War Command’s Dewhurst Stakes win at Newmarket. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Aidan O’Brien finally laid his hands on a first juvenile Group One of the season as War Command just defied adverse conditions in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
There is certainly no emergency at Ballydoyle looking ahead to next year, with Derby favourite Australia and 1000 Guineas market leader Tapestry to name but two in the stable, but their runners in the elite events had fallen slightly short to date.
O’Brien was spotted pacing up the Rowley Mile turf before racing, promptly pulling Darwin out of the opener, and while admitting the official going of good to soft, good in places was far from the ideal requirement for the American-bred War Command, it was too important an assignment to refuse.
So impressive when flying six lengths clear in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, War Command’s first Group One test had resulted in an indifferent third in the Phoenix Stakes but he had salvaged his reputation more recently in the Futurity.
As 10-11 favourite he was made to work very hard for his length-and-a-quarter victory as Joseph O’Brien pushed him into the lead with a furlong left, but the colt was pressed most strongly by Charlie Hills’ experienced 20-1 shot Cable Bay rather than market rival Outstrip (15-8).
“I’m delighted with the horse as I was very worried about the ground,” said O’Brien senior. “He’s a good-actioned horse and when it was very quick at Ascot, that was what he wanted.
“There is only one Dewhurst and we had to get him out. I’d say he’s done for the year now and I think he’ll get a mile next season.”
Joseph O’Brien said: “The ground was plenty slow for him. When he got to the front he was idling like mad.
“He was waiting for a horse to come to him but did enough. I think he’s getting more professional with each race.
“He’s definitely a Guineas type. I think he will have no trouble getting a mile and I think the faster the ground, the better he will be.”
The Godolphin runner Outstrip, who coped with an easier surface when taking the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, did not respond with much vigour for Mickael Barzalona and was a length-and-a-half further back in third.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “We’re a bit disappointed as he didn’t pick up like he did at Doncaster. Maybe it’s just the year getting to him now. But at least he hasn’t finished last. I think we’ll put him away and if he can furnish and develop, hopefully we can see him as a Guineas horse.”
Cable Bay, having his seventh start, had been beaten exactly the same distance by the unsung Miracle Of Medinah in a Group Three over course and distance a fortnight earlier.
Hills said: “He ran another great race and he’s been very consistent. How he hasn’t won a Group race, I don’t know.
“We’ve been beaten just over a length by a good horse and hopefully he can keep progressing next year. At least he won’t have a penalty!”