Aidan O'Brien: Derby favourite Luxembourg is "very special"

By Harry Allwood@harry_allwood
Tue 28 Sep 2021

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On The Wire video podcast: Aidan O'Brien discusses Luxembourg plus also provides an update on his Arc weekend contenders, including Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien provided some bullish comments on Racing TV’s On The Wire podcast when discussing Derby favourite Luxembourg, who enhanced his Classic claims with a smooth victory in the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

The youngster is now the general 8-1 favourite for the Epsom Classic having cruised to success with ease in the Group Two contest, and is now on target for a tilt at the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on October 23.

O’Brien said his son of Camelot, who created a big impression at Killarney on debut, has always looked “very special” in his work, but expects him to strengthen up over the winter as he is "still very much a baby."

Full replay: Watch how Luxembourg cruised to victory in the Beresford

“He was working like an exceptional horse before he went to Killarney, and he went there having never been to a racecourse,” O’Brien said.

“Killarney is often not a straightforward place and Michael (Hussey) relaxed him and rode him like he couldn’t get beat. He came forward lovely and Seamie (Heffernan) did the same thing at the Curragh. He just sat him in there and it didn’t matter what they wanted to do as he has a very easy way of going through a race, and he’s very relaxed.

“When you ask him, he’s able to quicken and he looks very exciting. The good thing about him is that he always showed us that he was very special in his work, so it’s great to see him do that at the races.

“I think he got a little flick to straighten him up (at the Curragh), so he would have learned a little bit more than his first run, but he’s probably not a horse that needs to learn a lot, anyway.

“He’s a big, scopey horse who has beautiful quality, but is still very much a baby. You would imagine, looking at him, that he’s a horse who will get stronger over the winter.

“He has a lot of scope, and a lot of quality. He’s probably a bigger horse than his dad (Camelot) and is probably more like his Grandad (Montjeu). Camelot wasn’t as big a horse and was more of a two-year-old, but this fellow probably has more scope than Camelot. Camelot has unbelievable quality and was the only Montjeu to ever win a Guineas, and he was able to win a Derby. They’re very unique things to do.

“We find the Curragh is a lovely place to teach a horse. It’s on a right-handed bend, so if Luxembourg was going to be a Derby horse, he probably wouldn’t be going around a right-handed bend again until after, but it’s a great education.

“When you ride them patiently, they have to pick up and have a bit of class to win a Beresford, and we’ve been lucky to win the Beresford with some very good horses.”

Arc Weekend contenders, including Snowfall

O’Brien believes it may be a blessing in disguise that things did not go to plan for Snowfall when the dual Oaks winner suffered a shock victory in the Prix Vermeille this month.

Sent off the 1-5 favourite, O’Brien’s star filly failed to reel in Teona, although never looked like catching Roger Varian’s charge in the closing stages.

However, speaking on Racing TV’s On The Wire video podcast, the Ballydoyle handler said the team learnt plenty about Snowfall, who is expected to be added to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe field this week, and she has been pleasing at home since.

“She’s good. Everything has been fine with her,” said O’Brien.

“The plan going to Longchamp was to get a look at the track and see how she would act and behave on the track, and we wouldn’t have to train her too hard for the Arc if the ground got very bad in this part of the world, which can happen sometimes ahead of the Arc.

“The plan was to give her an easy time and prime her for the Arc, rather than train her hard.

“She got beat, but we were very happy with the run and I think she ran the last six furlongs the fastest, so that was serious clocking. The pace was slow and Frankie (Dettori) just let her relax. It was great, really, and we found out a lot about her.

“Obviously, you always want to win, but often it cannot be a disadvantage if you get beat and learn, rather than win and learn nothing. It was an Arc trial, and that’s the way we were treating it. We hadn’t been over hard on her and the plan was to travel, go around the track and let her have a day at the races before coming back and priming her. So far, everything looks right with her.

O’Brien also plans to run Love in the Arc, and is finalising plans for his runners at ParisLongchamp on Saturday and Sunday. He said:

“The plan is to run Love at the moment, if the ground is not bad, and the plan is to also run Broome (in the Arc).

“The filly that won the Prix Diane (Joan Of Arc) might also run in the 1m2f fillies’ race (Prix de l’Opera).

“We need to pick a two-year-old for the two two-year-old races in the next few days. A filly that won at Gowran Park, a Galileo filly, might go for the Prix Marcel Boussac, and we then need to pick a colt for the colt’s race. That’s what we’re thinking at the moment.

“We will have a couple of runners on the Saturday. The horse that was fourth in the St Leger (Interpretation) might go for the staying three-year-old race, Willow might go for the staying fillies’ race, and Passion might also go for the staying fillies’ race on the Saturday as well.

Tenebrism “has an exceptional amount of ability”

Tenebrism flew home from an unpromising position to cause a minor upset in the Cheveley Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday on just her second start.

The daughter of Caravaggio was successful on her debut at Naas in March and O’Brien says his exciting youngster “has an exceptional amount of ability.”

Reflecting on the success, the Ballydoyle maestro believes there is every chance Tenebrism, who is a best-priced 8-1 for next year's 1000 Guineas, will run over a mile at the Breeders' Cup in November.

Tenebrism stormed home to win the Cheveley Park

“It was impossible really to win from where she was, but she did it in her maiden,” O’Brien said.

“People have to understand, for two months after her first run, she was stood in a box. I thought it was an impossible task for her.

“Obviously, there’s only one Cheveley Park, and we just felt we had to let her take her chance and see what she was going to do. Her work was exceptional at home, and she was a lot heavier than she was at Naas, so that would suggest she had a good bit to come.

“Everything we asked her to do, she had done it at total ease, so that was a worry that she had never got tired at home.

“She just has an exceptional amount of ability to be able to do what she did. All the last furlongs of the races at Newmarket were all slowing down, but she slowed down less in the last furlong, and by a long way, than any other horse on the day. That is a very unusual thing and that would suggest that there’s every chance she’s going to get seven, and if she gets seven, then there’s every chance she will get a mile next year.

“We had to give her a chance for the first half of the race as we were worried whether she would be fit enough to take part in a Group One like that, so when Ryan (Moore) started to ask her, she really motored from halfway.

“I think he only gave her one flick, and it was unbelievable. There’s every chance that she could go to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf as it’s an easy mile in America and we would learn a lot about her for next year, and she would learn a lot.

“We will wait and see if she gets back into full work and see how she is, but she seemed to be in good form this morning and David, who rides her every day, seemed very happy with her.

“When Caravaggio was right on his day – like when he won the Coventry and Commonwealth – he used to relax, and he used to quicken, and that’s what Tenebrism can do.”

River Thames – remember the name

Watch how River Thames scored on debut at Punchestown

River Thames narrowly made a successful debut at Punchestown this month, and O’Brien believes the Churchill colt is a horse for next year.

O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely, big horse. He’s massive and has got a big, long stride. We went there (Punchestown) to educate him and he ended up getting it together in the second-half to come home and win.

“We will probably put him away and look forward to him next year. The second horse is a decent horse and he ran him down.”

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