Racing news: Feast of top flight racing on offer at York, the Curragh and Deauville

Busy weekend at home and away will reveal key pointers to the future

Trainer Jessica Harrington’s Boca Baciata is aiming for Group 1 glory in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville tomorrow. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

Trainer Jessica Harrington’s Boca Baciata is aiming for Group 1 glory in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville tomorrow. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

 

This weekend’s glut of high class two-year-old racing around Europe means an inevitable shift in focus towards the future, but Colm O’Donoghue is hopeful of the stalwart filly Bocca Baciata securing Group 1 glory very much in the here-and-now at Deauville on Sunday

Fresh from securing the 10th Group 1 success of his career on board Seventh Heaven for Aidan O’Brien at York on Thursday, O’Donoghue will try to give Bocca Baciata’s trainer Jessica Harrington just a second top-flight flat success in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet.

The four-year-old Bocca Baciata is one of 10 lining up in the mile and a quarter Group 1 on a card which also sees O’Donoghue team up with the O’Brien hope Peace Envoy, who takes on the flying American filly Lady Aurelia in the Prix Morny.

Even with York’s Ebor taking place just over an hour after Ireland’s top rated racehorse, Order Of St George, returns to action at the Curragh in the Irish St Leger trial, there is a future theme to the weekend action, which will include the 2017 Derby favourite Churchill lining up in Sunday’s Futurity at the Curragh.

O’Donoghue has been a key figure during the course of Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle reign, but the Cork-born jockey’s link-up with Harrington this season has added another string to his bow, with more than half his winners this term for the Co Kildare trainer.

Should Bocca Baciata win a Group 1 at the fifth time of asking, in a race due off at 3.20pm on Sunday, it will put a hugely popular seal on the new partnership.

“She looks good. The local horses are likely to try and pull things up and turn it into a sprint which wouldn’t suit us, but I’ll have to ride the race as I see it,” O’Donoghue said.

Just 35 minutes prior to that race, Peace Envoy has a major task in a five-runner Morny against the superb Queen Mary winner, Lady Aurelia.

Peace Envoy appears progressive, but the Anglesey winner looks to be in the second-division of Ballydoyle’s juvenile pecking order at the moment, something that can hardly be said about Churchill.

The Royal Ascot and Tyros Stakes winner will have a fourth career start in tomorrow’s Group 2 Futurity, a race that has seen previous Ballydoyle superstars such as Giants Causeway, Hawk Wing and Gleneagles emerge triumphant.

“I haven’t sat on him [Churchill] at home, but he’s been getting better with every run. He might even be on the weak side still, so for him to be doing what he is doing is great,” O’Donoghue said.

“We’re heading for Irish Champions Weekend, so everyone’s trying to sort out what they’ve got for that, especially with the two-year-olds. The Futurity is always a great race for the future and Aidan has a few in the Debutante which might decide who goes for the Moyglare,” he added.

Only the presence of Jim Bolger’s Radio Silence prevents the Futurity being an all-family affair, with Joseph O’Brien saddling the course winner Arcada against a trio representing his father.

With Ryan Moore still on the injury sidelines, Seamus Heffernan rides Churchill for the first time and he also looks a significant booking for the Goodwood winner Rhododendron in the Group 2 Debutante, although Pat Smullen on Rehana can ultimately come out on top.

Heffernan will be in York on Saturday for another smart Ballydoyle juvenile, Intelligence Cross, in the Group 2 Gimcrack, and even if he’s already three, and a Derby runner-up, there is a sense that the best of US Army Ranger is very much in the future.

The hugely-touted colt returns to action for the first time since chasing home Harzand at Epsom when taking on the latter’s stable companion Fascinating Rock in a Group 3 Royal Whip that could be a Group 1 in all but name.

The scale of rainfall forecast for the weekend could be important to the outcome, as could the readiness of Fascinating Rock, who has a history of needing a run before hitting top form. Endless Drama at 10 furlongs is another fascinating element, but it is US Army Ranger who will be a major focus.

Not just his own prospects for the rest of the campaign, but the direction likely to be taken by his brilliant stable companion Minding, is dependent on an encouraging performance this weekend.

Open book

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