Lancaster Bomber lifts O’Brien with Tattersalls Gold Cup win
Champion trainer suffers rare Curragh Guineas blank as Could It Be Love places third
Seamus Heffernan on Lancaster Bomber wins the Tattersalls Gold Cup race at the Curragh. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho
Aidan O’Brien endured a rare Curragh Guineas blank at the weekend but still successfully targeted Group One success through Lancaster Bomber.
The apparent Ballydoyle number two took a first step up to a mile and a quarter in his stride and made all in the Tattersalls Gold Cup to beat his stable companion Cliffs Of Moher by two lengths.
Lancaster Bomber had previously shown high-class form at a mile and deservedly broke his top-flight duck in the five-runner contest under Seamus Heffernan.
“The plan was to go back to Ascot for the mile race (Queen Anne Stakes) again. I’d imagine that’s where he’d go but he’d have an option of the Prince Of Wales now,” O’Brien said. “The Curragh is a tough place to get a mile and a quarter but he didn’t flinch.”
The champion trainer filled the frame in both Guineas contests but for only the third time in a decade failed to land one of the classics.
O’Brien’s son Donnacha had to settle for the runner-up spot in the 1,000 Guineas aboard Could It Be Love. However, the rider got the better of the classic hero Colm O’Donoghue in the final maiden by winning on the 6-5 favourite Lucius Tiberius.
Michael Halford reached the landmark figure of 1,000 winners trained in Ireland when Platinum Warrior earned a ticket to next month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby ticket with a Group Three win.
The 7-2 winner could afford a drift left in the closing stages to land the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes and boosted the Epsom Derby claims of Hazapour who beat him in the Derrinstown Trial earlier this month.
This was a notably satisfying success on its own terms for Halford however who began training in 1985 and was saddling his 1,000th winner in this country.
“It’s a long time coming and I wasn’t sure we’d ever get there but it’s special in its own way. There’s been a lot of hard work from staff and we’ve had a lot of loyal owners,” said the Co Kildare-based trainer.
Halford’s sole Group One winner to date came in Britain when Casamento landed the 2010 Racing Post Trophy. Platinum Warrior, who completed a double for Chinese owner Zhang Yuesheng after Indigo Balance won the opener, will get a chance to fill the domestic gap in the Irish Derby.
“He’s a horse with a big engine and he loves that ground. He got a bit lonely in front and wandered. He’s done it in the past. I’d say the better the race the better he’ll be. I think there’s more to come and we’ll aim at the Irish Derby now. I’d say a mile and a half will be no bother,” said the trainer.
Halford wasted little time reaching 1,001 as Saltonstall later landed the mile handicap under William Buick.
“He’s a big horse and still only furnishing,” the trainer said. “I had the Hunt Cup in mind for him and there’s no need to change after that.”