Empress Josephine favourite to follow proven route to glory

The Aidan O’Brien trained Together won the queen Elizabeth II Stakes 10 years ago

Aidan O’Brien’s classic winner Empress Josephine is favourite to follow a proven route to Grade 1 glory in Keeneland on Saturday night.

The Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine finished third at the track a week ago in the First Lady Stakes behind older rivals but takes on three-year-olds only in the $500,000 queen Elizabeth II Stakes due off at 9.44 Irish-time.

The O’Brien trained Together won the QEII 10 years ago having been previously placed in the First Lady.

Top US jockey Johnny Velasquez again takes the ride on Empress Josephine who is a 3-1 morning line favourite in local betting.


She is joined in the race by the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Nicest, third in the Irish Oaks to Snowfall, who will be ridden by Frenchman Julien Leparoux.

Earlier on Saturday, Nicest's half sister, Emily Dickinson, makes her racing debut in the opener on a Leopardstown card that features the Richmond Homes Killavullan Stakes.

Glounthaune attempts to do what Poetic Flare did last year and quickly bounce back to winning form in the Group 3 just a week after finishing out of the money in the Dewhurst.

Little went right for the Ballydoyle colt at Newmarket as he stumbled out of the gate before meeting slight interference in a tactical affair.

New Energy was acclaimed as "something very special" by his trainer Sheila Lavery after a winning debut at the Curragh and also takes his chance.

Sunday’s Naas card features the €120,000 EBF Auction Series Final where Gavin Cromwell’s 25,000 purchase Giselles Ausie takes a shot at a big pot.

Cromwell has confirmed her royal Ascot winning stable companion, the €20,000 buy, Quick Suzy, will target an even bigger pay day at Del Mar in three weeks when lining up for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

“Quick Suzy is all set, in good form and we’re looking forward to it,” Cromwell reported on Friday. “It just shows what you can get at the sales.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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