Air Force Blue’s Newmarket win ignites a global campaign

Champion trainer has US and Australian majors in his sights in coming weeks

Air Force Blue ridden by Ryan Moore (right) wins the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA

Air Force Blue ridden by Ryan Moore (right) wins the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA

 

Air Force Blue’s superb Dewhurst Stakes success on Saturday was a 13th Group 1 success in 2015 for Aidan O’Brien and the champion trainer’s reach is set to go global over the coming weeks as he pursues yet more top-flight success.

Gleneagles could make his eagerly-anticipated first start in four months in this Saturday’s QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day, although ground conditions will yet again prove critical to whether or not the dual-Guineas hero lines up.

Nevertheless, O’Brien has said there is “every chance” of Gleneagles lining up in the QEII , where the colt could face a significant French challenge with , Solow and Esoterique, due to appear, as well as the latter’s three-year-old stable companion, Territories.

Unlike his three previous QEII victories, the Champion Stakes has proven notably elusive for O’Brien over the years, but the 10 furlong heat is one of a couple of Ascot options for Found, who finished ninth to Golden Horn in the Arc eight days ago.

Ireland’s leading trainer has twice before reached 23 Group/Grade 1 wins in a year, in 2001 and 2008 , and secured 20 top-class victories in 2011.

Mid-season lull

After Ascot, O’Brien’s focus will switch down under on Saturday week as Highland Reel remains on course to try and emulate Adelaide’s dramatic 2014 success in the Cox Plate, before attention switches to Keeneland at the end of the month for the Breeders’ Cup.

Gleneagles remains prominent in some betting lists for the Classic on dirt, while a strong team of Ballydoyle juveniles could accompany him to Kentucky.

Friday’s impressive Dundalk winner, Hit It A Bomb, also has a dirt target in the Juvenile, a race for which his stable companion Air Vice Marshal is also a possible, while both Washington DC and Waterloo Bridge are towards the top of the Juvenile Turf betting.

Alice Springs is currently a 7-1 shot in betting for the Juvenile Fillies on turf while the O’Brien pair, Bondi Beach and Kingfisher, will represent their trainer in the Melbourne Cup for the first time since 2008, on the first Tuesday in November.

International

Gordon ElliottNew Jersey

Willie Mullins’s Daneking is also a nominee, but the champion jumps trainer has ruled out a trip to the US with the gelding.

Closer to home, Noel Meade is already targeting December’s John Durkan Chase with his Grade 1 winner Apache Stronghold.

“A race like the John Durkan at Punchestown could well be a good, early-season target for him,” Meade said.

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