Aidan O’Brien looking to end European season on a high in France

Glounthaune and Stone Age lined up for big races at Saint Cloud

Séamie Heffernan wins the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes on  Luxembourg at the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Séamie Heffernan wins the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes on Luxembourg at the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Luxembourg will be the headline act in Doncaster’s Vertem Futurity but Aidan O’Brien is set to have two other Group One targets in his sights this Saturday.

Europe’s final top-flight juvenile prizes of 2021 will take place within a short timeframe on Saturday afternoon with Saint Cloud hosting a pair of Group One contests.

The Criterium International over a mile and the Criterium De Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs are each worth €250,000 and have proved useful in the past in identifying future Classic stars for O’Brien.

Ireland’s champion trainer has a record five victories in the Criterium International including last year with Van Gogh.

The outstanding 2008 hero Fame And Glory is one of four wins for O’Brien in the longer race at the Paris track.

Last Saturday’s Killavullan Stakes winner Glounthaune, who had run in the Dewhurst a week previously, may be in line to keep up his busy recent schedule.

“Glounthaune could go for the mile race in France and Stone Age might run in the mile and a quarter race there. It’s not written in stone but that’s the way we’re thinking at the moment.

“Aikhal, the horse that ran in the Group race in Newmarket, and that won in Listowel, he’s a possible to run in one of them as well. He could go to France,” O’Brien indicated on Tuesday.

Ryan Moore on Glounthaune comes home to win the the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Ryan Moore on Glounthaune comes home to win the the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden at the Curragh. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Glounthaune is one of four Ballydoyle entries among a dozen horses left in the International event at Tuesday’s confirmation stage.

The son of Kodiac also holds a Futurity entry alongside Luxermbourg and Tuesday’s acceptance stage reflects how O’Brien isn’t alone in wrestling with a choice of options.

Ralph Beckett’s Lagadere winner Angel Bleu also has a choice between Doncaster and Saint-Cloud as does Mark Johnston with his Royal Lodge winner Royal Patronage.

Joseph O’Brien has left his Galway maiden winner Buckroo in both French races as well as the Futurity.

In other news, the Breeders’ Cup, and a potential clash with the reigning Turf champion Tarnawa, is on the cards for Mishriff.

One of the top-three rated thoroughbreds in the world failed to fire in Saturday’s Champion Stakes at Ascot but plans for a trip to Del Mar next month remain in place.

Mishriff managed only fourth to Sealiway at the weekend but testing ground conditions are being blamed for a performance that bore no comparison to his previous effort when a runaway winner of York’s Juddmonte International.

That display saw Mishriff top world thoroughbred rankings alongside St Mark’s Basilica and Adayar.

The John and Thady Gosden trained star finished in front of Adayar at Ascot and while the latter is finished for the season, Mishriff is set to head to California for US racing’s biggest meeting of the year.

Having landed the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, in the spring, Mishriff has credentials to take part in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt.

However, a spokesman for the colt’s owner, Prince Faisal, suggested on Tuesday that the mile and a half Turf event is the more likely option.

“John [Gosden] wants everything to be right for us to go but that [Breeders’ Cup] is his next target,” said racing manager Ted Voute

“It was spoken about on Sunday and the early indications were that he came out of the race okay. At the moment we’ve all been told to act as if we’re going, and the horse will let us know whether he’s ready.

“John and the Prince will decide where to go. I suspect they’ll go for the Turf, although just glancing through the Classic I’d be happy to consider that race as well.

“It’s up to the Prince and John really, and Mishriff and his wellbeing. All the boxes have got to be ticked.”

Gavin Cromwell has a Breeders’ Cup target too for his Queen Mary Stakes winner Quick Suzy and on Tuesday enjoyed a short-odds victory at Gowran with another of his smart two-year-old fillies, Sunset Shiraz.

The Moyglare Stakes third got off the mark at the seventh time of asking when easily justifying 1-7 favouritism in a maiden.

“She’s a good, hardy filly. We’ll put her away now and aim for a Guineas trial in the spring,” Cromwell reported.

Wednesday’s action at Navan sees the Grade One jumps star Jeff Kidder get another chances to exploit an apparently lenient handicap on the Flat.

Last spring, Noel Meade’s four-year-old graduated from Cheltenham festival success to a Grade Two at Fairyhouse over Easter before scoring at the top level in Punchestown.

It’s a profile that theoretically suggests an official Flat rating of 63 is eminently exploitable and Jeff Kidder has started a short-priced favourite in a couple of disappointing efforts since.

That last of those was at Navan last month when only fourth to Dollar Value. The Meade team are in fine form presently though and this time the outcome could match the theory.

Meade’s Jesse Evans has an 85 rating which stands out in the context of an earlier maiden and should make him hard to beat if conditions don’t get too testing.

The Peckhampouncer is up 9lbs for a recent course and distance win in one of the sprint handicaps but could defy the penalty.

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