O'Brien eyes Goodwood glory

 

THE COUNTDOWN may be on with a vengeance to next week's Galway festival, but the focus of Aidan O'Brien and John Murtagh will be firmly on Goodwood's Group One action, and Henrythenavigator will lead the Ballydoyle raiding party in Wednesday's Sussex Stakes.

Henrythenavigator is pursuing a Group One four-timer in the mile highlight after wins in the English and Irish Guineas and Royal Ascot's St James's Palace Stakes.

"Everything has gone very smoothly and we've been very happy with him since Ascot," O'Brien said yesterday.

"He's a very classy horse. He likes his work and takes it well."

The champion trainer's Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Halfway To Heaven is due to reappear in the Nassau Stakes and O'Brien said: "She needed a break after the Curragh and she's had one. Obviously it's a first time over a mile-and-a- quarter so you never know what is going to happen. We're happy with her."

Yeats now looks set to miss out on the Goodwood Cup in favour of his fellow Royal Ascot winner Honolulu.

The leading jumps rider, Davy Russell, could miss the Galway festival after a heavy fall at Ballinrobe on Tuesday evening damaged the wrist that caused him to miss a vital stage of last season's title run-in.

"He'll be out for a few days definitely, at least a week or so," Russell's agent said. "At the moment Galway is on hold, but he said himself it doesn't look good."

Russell's fellow jockey Andrew Lynch was more seriously injured in the same fall at Ballinrobe and faces a prolonged spell on the sidelines after breaking his jaw and nose, as well as fracturing an arm.

A total of 37 entries were left in Monday's GPT Handicap, the Day One highlight of the Galway festival, at yesterday's forfeit stage.

They include the Pat Flynn-trained pair of Galistic and Bahrain at the top end of the weights, as well as three British entries from Richard Fahey's stable: Greenwich Meantime, Halla San and Mighty Moon.

Tony Martin has left his Northumberland Plate winner Arc Bleu in the race. Arc Bleu beat Halla San by a head at Newcastle earlier this month.

Kevin Prendergast's Shimah takes on the opposite sex for the first time this Sunday in the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

"We'll see how she goes against the colts on Sunday," said Prendergast. "She's working really well and she's in great shape."

Shimah is trading at a best-priced 16 to 1 second-favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas behind Cuis Ghaire, at 8 to 1.