O’Brien ponders quick return for War Command in Futurity

Dabadiyan goes on Leger trial

In terms of unearthing future classic winners, Saturday’s Galileo Futurity Stakes has an enviable recent record, something to encourage War Command supporters into believing the colt may be able to reboot his own classic ambitions in the Curragh’s Group Two weekend feature.

The brilliant Coventry Stakes winner plummeted from favouritism for next year’s 2,000 Guineas when only third at 2/5 in the Phoenix Stakes nine days ago but Aidan O’Brien has kept open the option of a quick reappearance by War Command back at HQ this Saturday.

The colt is one of five Ballydoyle hopefuls among a dozen entries for the Futurity which was won by O’Brien’s subsequent Irish Derby hero Cape Blanco in 2009, and the subsequent Epsom Derby hero New Approach in 2007. The latter renewal also saw the dual-Guineas winner Henrythenavigator finish third.

War Command is now as long as 16/1 for next year's Guineas and faces a return to the seven furlong trip he won his maiden over if lining up in the Futurity. Wilshere Boulevard and Oklahoma City, the first two in the Anglesey Stakes, are other O'Brien options for a race he has won seven times.


Dermot Weld has left in his impressive Galway winner Mustajeeb while the sole overseas entry for the Futurity is Mark Johnston's Lanark, out of the money in the Group Two Vintage Stakes on his last start at Goodwood. Johnston has an enviable record in the race though with Pearl Of Love scoring in 2003 and Jural and Bijou d'Inde completing back-to-back victories for the Scot in 1994-95.

Saturday’s most valuable pot is the €125,000 Tattersalls Super Auction Sales race which has 41 left in it, including Eddie Lynam’s impressive maiden winner last week, Vallado.

The Gain Leger trial could be crucial in deciding which classic option Mick Halford plumps for next month with Dabadiyan, one of 15 left in the Group Three, along with the former Dewhurst winner Parish Hall, and last year’s Irish Leger hero Royal Diamond.

Another interesting Ballydoyle entry at the Curragh after yesterday's forfeit stage is Cristoforo Colombo, the stable's number one pick for the Newmarket Guineas last May, who has been left in the Group Three Flying Five this weekend.

Big race focus
Before that O'Brien's big-race focus will be on York's Ebor festival which kicks off tomorrow with Declaration Of War joining Jim Bolger's Trading Leather in pursuit of an eighth Irish- trained success in the Juddmonte International.

Just six will line up in tomorrow's highlight, headed by the triple-Group One hero Al Kazeem and the Sussex Staked winner Toronado who steps beyond a mile for the first time in his career, something Al Kazeem's trainer Roger Charlton is all too aware of.

"We are taking on the best miler in Europe and on a new track at York," Charlton said.

"I would be happier if the ground was good, good to soft in places, rather than good, good to firm, but he handles it. He is also bidding to become the first to win the Prince Of Wales's, Eclipse and Juddmonte in the same season."

Sligo preview
No such Group One considerations will be on view at Sligo this evening but the Sudirman team of David Wachman and owner Fitri Hay could score in two very different contests.

Wachman's sole runner today is Pearl Earing in the opening juvenile contest and she should be tough to beat while Tom Taaffe sends the Hay owned Strategic Bid for the two-mile maiden hurdle where Ruby Walsh can help the five-year-old get the better of Donatis Comet.

Some Officer has his first start over hurdles in the finale but he does boast point-to-point experience and winning course form in a bumper.

Since then he has also run well in a good bumper at Galway and can strike first-time over flights for trainer Tom Hogan.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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