War Command resurrected at the Curragh after Phoenix reverse
‘He was a different horse today. He tipped up more like he did at Ascot and quickened up well’
Jockey Joseph O’Brien (right) rides War Command to victory in The Galileo European Breeders Fund Futurity Stakes at the Curragh Racecourse. Photograph: Barry Cronin/PA Wire
Aidan O’Brien was thrilled to see exciting juvenile War Command put a shock reverse behind him with a stylish victory in the Galileo European Breeders Fund Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.
After building on a Leopardstown debut win with a staggering performance in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, the American-bred colt looked set to dominate the juvenile division for the rest of the campaign. However, being beaten into third when odds-on for the Phoenix Stakes was not in the script and he was an 8-11 favourite as he stepped back up to seven furlongs for his latest assignment.
Joseph O’Brien cut a confident figure in the saddle for much of the Group Two contest, but there was a brief moment of worry for odds-on backers as Mustajeeb loomed up as a threat. However, War Command found another gear once popped the question and ran on to score comfortably by three lengths.
“The Ascot horse is back,” O’Brien Snr said. “We gave him a break after Ascot and I think he was maybe asleep the last day. In the middle of the race he was a bit ring-rusty. It was obviously trainer error again. I didn’t have him sharp enough or tight enough. He was a different horse today. He tipped up more like he did at Ascot and quickened up well.
“I’m very happy with him and he got the seven furlongs well. The boys will have a talk about it, but he’ll probably come back here for the National Stakes (September 15).”
War Command was cut to 8-1 from 16-1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas by Stan James, who make Kingman their 6-1 favourite. While it proved to be another good afternoon for the O’Brien father-son combination, with Aidan saddling a double and Joseph riding a three-timer, they suffered a shock reverse in the Gain Irish St Leger Trial.
Ernest Hemingway was a 4-9 favourite to inflict a third straight defeat on 7-2 shot Royal Diamond, but was on this occasion a disappointing third as the latter beat Voleuse De Coeurs by half a length. Royal Diamond will now aim for back-to-back victories in the Irish St Leger itself on September 15th.
Winning trainer-jockey Johnny Murtagh said: “He’s really come on from the last day. I tried to be a bit clever last time by going quick but not too quick in front. He comes good at this time of year. Hopefully in three weeks’ time he’ll come back here and defend his title. He’s a wonderful horse for us to have.”
Team Ballydoyle’s brace was initiated by 5-4 favourite Terrific in the Loder European Breeders Fund Fillies Race, while Joseph produced the Gary Moore-trained Dutch Masterpiece (4-1) with a withering late run to claim the Flying Five Stakes.
“He jumped and he travelled well. It took a bit of time to get comfortable in the race. He got a nice split through and he went to the line well,” said the jockey. “It looked a decent enough race on paper. Mr Moore was very happy with him and he thought he had a massive chance if the ground was safe enough.”
Wachman said: “She’s a nice filly and always showed us a fair bit at home. I hope she’ll be able to step forward again, she’ll need to. We’d like to end up in the Cheveley Park Stakes (Newmarket, Spetember 28), but we’ll have decide whether we run her between now and then.” Vallado justified 7-4 favouritism in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes. Winning trainer Eddie Lynam said:
“She’d had only acouple of runs and we were running her back very quick. I think she’s quite good. We won the Blenheim Stakes last year (with Viztoria) and I think we’ll try to win that again, either that or we’ll give her an entry in the Weld Park Stakes.”
Ron Harris-trained British raider Corporal Maddox was a 10-1 winner of the Dublin Bay Cruises Handicap in the hands of Chris Hayes.