O'Brien ready to let Rip


HORSE RACING:AIDAN O’BRIEN is gathering the might of his Ballydoyle stable for a concentrated attack on the world’s major Group One prizes over the two next two months, beginning with Rip Van Winkle in Saturday’s QEII at Ascot.

The Sussex Stakes winner is already an even money ante-post favourite for the mile highlight but O’Brien is thinking even further ahead and confirmed yesterday that Santa Anita’s Breeders’ Cup Classic is an end-of-season target for Rip Van Winkle.

“If all goes well on Saturday then we could look at the Classic with Rip,” he said after the Galileo colt pleased jockey Johnny Murtagh in a piece of work yesterday morning. “We’ve always thought he is a very brilliant horse and even though we were happy with him at Goodwood we also felt there was more to come.”

Rip Van Winkle’s participation at Ascot could see Mastercraftsman routed instead to Dundalk for an all-weather warm-up ahead of the Breeders’ Cup.

O’Brien is also looking forward to Fame And Glory’s attempt on Sunday week’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe where the Irish Derby winner could attempt for the third time this season to beat Sea The Stars. Fame And Glory was runner-up in both the Epsom Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes but his trainer is still keen to take on the world’s highest rated racehorse.

“We were very impressed with Fame And Glory at Leopardstown. For a horse that had won an Irish Derby we were impressed with the way he quickened up, especially since our horse was starting back after a break, and knowing he would improve,” O’Brien said.

“Sea The Stars was very fit and well at Leopardstown but we were starting from there with one eye on the Arc,” he added.

“We hope the two of them get there and then a lot of questions will be answered.”

The Prix du Cadran over the Arc weekend may be a career finale for the legendary stayer Yeats while at the other end of the age scale, O’Brien is targeting Cape Blanco and Steinbeck at next month’s Dewhurst Stakes. “We think Cape Blanco is going to be a very exciting horse and the plan is to go straight to the Dewhurst. You would hope and expect to get good ground there,” he said.

Conditions set to suit Whats Up Bob

THE RECENT improvement in ground conditions is likely to be emphasised at Downpatrick this afternoon as track officials were watering parts of the track yesterday, a move that only points up the chance of Whats Up Bob in the Beginners Chase, writes Brian O’Connor. Philip Rothwell’s charge travels from Wicklow for this race but he has been busy on the road during the summer, winning a hurdle at Uttoxeter on quick ground before putting in a decent effort in his first start over fences on fast going at Tramore. Whats Up Bob takes a step back in trip for today’s task and that, along with the experience of his Tramore run, could help secure the third victory of his career. Ruby and Ted Walsh team up in the opening maiden hurdle where Buck Mulligan is another who has been running over longer distances and who should be fine on a quick surface. The four-year-old was out of his depth in last week’s Lartigue at Listowel but this doesn’t look a great race. Freeze Frame twice ran well on this tricky course last month and should have a major shout in the handicap hurdle.