Air Force Blue and Emotionless to clash at Newmarket

Godolphin’s Emtionless a marginal favourite for the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes on Saturday

The scene is set for an intriguing superpower clash between Air Force Blue and Emotionless at Newmarket this Saturday which could well identify Europe's champion two year for 2015.

Godolphin’s hugely impressive Emotionless has been installed a marginal favourite for the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes by some bookmakers and faces into a potentially mouth-watering set-to with Aidan O’Brien’s dual-Group 1 winner Air Force Blue.

The Coolmore-owned colt beat Godolphin’s Herald The Dawn in last month’s National Stakes at the Curragh, after which Joseph O’Brien was full of praise, admitting: “We think he’s a little bit special.”

Prior to that Air Force Blue had comprehensively turned the tables with another Godolphin star Buratino, who’d beaten him at Royal Ascot in June, in the Phoenix Stakes.


Now the Irish star is set to travel to Newmarket in an attempt to secure his trainer a fourth Dewhurst success and cement his position as favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas.

Air Force Blue is currently a general 5-1 favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and a third top-flight success of this season would make his claims to the two year old championship difficult to dispute.

He is one of a dozen entries left in the Dewhurst, the traditional championship event for two year olds in Britain, and a trio of stable companions, Shogun, Lieutenant General and Waterloo Bridge, also remain in contention.

Buratino is also among the dozen but much interest will focus on Godolphin’s two-year-old standard-bearer, Emotionless, who made it two from two with a Champagne Stakes rout at Doncaster a month ago.

Coolmore have had much the best of things in recent years compared with their old Godolphin rivals. However Sheikh Mohammed's team have made a major impact on this season's two-year-old events, including on Sunday at Longchamp when Ultra had both Shogun and Johannes Vermeer behind him as he landed the Prix Jean Luc Lagadere.

Ballydoyle is a general 5-1 favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas on the back of her Prix Marcel Boussac success at Longchamp on Sunday but her Moyglare Stud Stakes conqueror Minding tops the betting for this Friday's Group 1 Dubai Fillies Mile.

Together Forever won the race for O’Brien last year, to add to previous victories for Ireland’s champion trainer with Listen (2007) and Sunspangled in 1998. O’Brien also has the option of running Coolmore in Friday’s highlight.

Tony Martin can pick from a handful of hopefuls to try and emulate Leg Spinner's 2007 success in Saturday's Cesarewitch but bookmakers appear to rate Quick Jack his most likely candidate.

Winner of the Galway Hurdle during the summer, Quick Jack finished third in last year's Cesarewitch but has to bounce back to form after a below-par effort in August's Ebor at York.

He is a general 10-1 second favourite for Saturday's marathon handicap behind the David Pipe trained market leader, Low Key.

Another Martin horse, Heartbreak City, won at the Ebor festival and is rated third favourite in some lists while Willie Mullins has a couple of likely hopes in Digeanta and Renneti.

A total of 56 horses still remain in contention to run in the Cesarewitch. However Martin has taken out Thomas Edison, prominent in ante-post lists for some time but who disappointed over hurdles at Tipperary on Sunday.

Blazing West can boast a 102 jumps rating going into the opening mares maiden hurdle at Tipperary today but that figure may not be enough to compete with the newcomer Dargon Fei.

Dermot McLoughlin’s five year ran off a mark of 92 in the English Cambridgeshire nine days ago and if the former double-Curragh winner can translate her flat quality to this event she should be hard to beat.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column