Nistelrooy to strike for O'Brien


RACING: Bach has been re-routed from the King George to try to fill in a rare blank for Aidan O'Brien in today's Meld Stakes at the Curragh, but the trainer's focus will surely be on Van Nistelrooy.

The world's most expensive yearling last year at $6.4 million, Van Nistelrooy's debut success was enough to have him favourite with some bookmakers for next season's 2,000 Guineas.

If he can add to that in the Flame of Tara Tyros Stakes over the same course and distance, then he could help the bookies towards unanimity.

The form of Van Nistlerooy's sole run to date was boosted by Dromadoir at Tipperary on Thursday night, and the Storm Cat colt has pleased O'Brien since.

The Ballydoyle trainer said yesterday: "He hasn't done a lot but he has been in good form and we hope he has learned from that first run. It was good to see the form getting a boost too."

The opposition in the Listed contest is hardly overly-stiff, and if Van Nistelrooy can't win, the wince will be felt in every pocket on the Curragh.

The Group Three Meld remains a blank in O'Brien's pattern race haul, but, even conceding weight, Bach looks good enough to fill it in. The consistent five-year-old finished stone last behind Grandera in the Prince Of Wales, but his trainer is not concerned with that.

"If you look at the race again, everything that was handy early on finished out the back. There was a lot of pace and the first and second came from well off it," O'Brien said.

The two English raiders are proven Group Three performers, but Chancellor thrives in the muck and Imperial Dancer won a weak race at Ayr.

Dermot Weld and John Oxx have farmed this race between them. Both local trainers have won it five times, and Oxx this time relies on Ahsanabad, who has a first start since the 2,000 Guineas.

Over this trip he ran a fine third to High Chaparral in the Derby Trial and he could emerge as a bigger threat than either of the Weld pair.

The O'Brien report on the Danzig newcomer, Miguel Cervantes, in the opener is: "A nice colt, but all of our two-year-olds seem more green than ever first time out."

Osterhase only just failed to the English raider Awake in the Rockingham and was put up 4lb in the ratings afterwards. It might not stop the Mulhern runner getting compensation in the sprint handicap, where Final Exam tops the weights.

Solid Approach has had a break and comes out best on the ratings in the last, and Assigh Lady looks well drawn in the six-furlong handicap.