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Aidan O'Brien: The inside track on my Glorious Goodwood team

By Harry Allwood@harry_allwood
Tue 20 Jul 2021

Read what Aidan O'Brien has to say about his leading lights heading to the Qatar Goodwood Festival next week, which will be shown live on Racing TV.

Goodwood is almost upon us, and Aidan O’Brien is putting the finishing touches to his team ahead of the five-day meeting where every race will be shown live on Racing TV.

Speaking on a press conference on Tuesday, the Ballydoyle handler discussed his leading lights running in the key races, including the likes of Amhran Na Bhfiann, Battleground, Lope Y Fernandez and Santiago.

Some of the horses, as mentioned below, won’t be running, but the Ballydoyle handler did provide a brief update on a few of his string who are heading elsewhere.

We also heard from Ed Arkell and the Clerk of the Course at Goodwood would ideally like to start the meeting on good ground in the hope the track does not need as much watering throughout the week.

Aidan O'Brien - all smiles after watching Snowfall cruise to victory in the Irish Oaks on Saturday (Pic: Focusonracing)
Aidan O'Brien - all smiles after watching Snowfall cruise to victory in the Irish Oaks on Saturday (Pic: Focusonracing)

AMHRAN NA BHFIANN

Race: Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (Tuesday).

He ran in the Gold Cup and we made plenty use of him, and maybe, over that trip, we made too much use of him. He has won at the Curragh over 1m6f since. We think going back to two miles will suit him. He’s a horse that we think likes to be ridden forward, but he doesn’t have to make the running. We would be happier if we didn’t make the running and he likes a strong tempo in a race, so we’d be delighted if somebody else led. The tempo he likes to go, though, over this trip, it might not happen, and he might end up leading. He’s a horse that is progressing with every run and, because he had a short season last year, we were expecting that to happen.

BATTLEGROUND

Race: Qatar Sussex Stakes (Wednesday).

He might go for the Sussex Stakes. He ran a very big race at Royal Ascot. He was very disappointing at Deauville last time out, but he was drawn out on the wing and he’s a horse that likes to get cover. We’ve been very happy with him since then and we think Goodwood will suit him. We also think he’ll leave his last run behind him and come right back to his Ascot run, or better, so it’s very possible he could run here.

DIVINELY

Race: Qatar Nassau Stakes (Thursday).

She probably won’t run. She ran in the Irish Oaks, and it might just come a bit too quick for her.

EMPRESS JOSEPHINE

Race: Qatar Nassau Stakes (Thursday)

She won the Irish 1,000 Guineas and could step up to a mile and a quarter. It’s not definite that she will join Joan Of Arc, but it’s possible. She has stamina to prove and, before she won the Guineas, we went over this trip at Gowran, but we might have got a false reading there because of the ground, and it was early in the season. She’s a full sister to Minding, and Minding got a mile and a quarter, and a mile and a half, so it is possible Empress Josephine could leave that run behind her and get the trip, although she is a filly who has plenty of speed.

HIGH HEELS

Race: Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (Saturday).

She is a filly who has run well in Group races but has also disappointed in Group races. We think going the extra distance will help her.

JOAN OF ARC

Race: Qatar Nassau Stakes (Thursday).

She won the Prix Diane and is one of two fillies we are training for this race. She’s been progressing lovely all season and we have been looking at this race for a good while.

KING OF THE CASTLE

Race: Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (Tuesday).

He worked this morning and he worked with Serpentine. He’s a horse that’s going to stay very well and it was in our mind that he will have the allowances. We think that he will get two miles, which is a big advantage. We have it in our head that he could be a St Leger horse, but we haven’t decided whether we will go two miles with him yet. He looks like a horse who is really going to stay, and he looks like he will get two miles.

LOPE Y FERNANDEZ

Race: Qatar Lennox Stakes (Tuesday) or the Qatar Sussex Stakes (Wednesday).

We’re looking forward to him. We think he has come forward again since Ascot. He worked this morning, and we were very happy with him. He’s a very straightforward horse and is progressing as well. We’re very happy with him and we had a choice of this, or the Lennox, but at the moment we’re thinking of going for the Sussex. He’s a horse with plenty of speed and we are very happy with everything he has done since his last run.

LOVE

Race: Qatar Nassau Stakes (Will not run).

The plan is to run in the King George at Ascot on Saturday and whether she will go by herself or not, we haven’t decided yet. Everything has gone well with her since her last run and we were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince Of Wales's. This race (King George) is another two furlongs and obviously she has a few more days to go, but we’re looking forward to running him in the King George.

MOTHER EARTH

Race: Qatar Sussex Stakes (Wednesday).

We will probably go to France for the fillies’ race at Deauville, instead of running here.

ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

Race: Qatar Sussex Stakes (Wednesday).

He came out of his race at the weekend very well. It’s a race that could suit him and he’s a hardy, older horse now. He likes fast ground, and a mile is probably his trip as he gets it very well. He can be ridden forward, and he can make the running, but we would be more delighted to get a lead. Then again, he’s a horse who likes a strong tempo. It’s very possible he could run, but he only ran at the weekend, and we’d like to get him into full work before we make the right decision.

PASSION

Race: Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (Saturday).

We think the trip will suit her very well. She had her first run back at the Curragh over 1m6f and we think she’s come forward plenty from that since, so it is very possible she will run here.

SANTA BARBARA

Race: Qatar Sussex Stakes (will not run).

Santa Barbara is probably going to Belmont for a fillies’ race in America over nine and a half furlongs.

SANTIAGO

Race: Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (Tuesday).

We think coming back to two miles will help him, but we are just not really sure whether he really gets two miles. He could have to go back to 1m6f, or he could have to go back to 1m4f. We are training him for it, and he had a very good run in this race last year. He’s been very well since Royal Ascot and we’re very happy with him, and with his work.

SERPENTINE

Race: Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup (Tuesday).

We could also run Serpentine in the Goodwood Cup, but we haven’t decided which two are going to run in it yet.

ST MARK'S BASILICA

Race: Qatar Sussex Stakes (Wednesday).

He won’t run. We’re just trying to give him a little bit of time and then he has the choice of York, and Leopardstown, or even both.

THE ACROPOLIS

Race: Unibet Vintages Stakes (Tuesday).

He could run on Tuesday. He’s a horse that ran in the Coventry Stakes and ran over six furlongs in Ireland after that. We’re thinking of stepping him up to seven furlongs.

THE ENTERTAINER

Race: Unibet Vintages Stakes (Tuesday).

He ran over six at the weekend and Ryan felt he needed stepping up to seven. He’s only a possible as he ran last weekend.

WEMBLEY

Race: Qatar Lennox Stakes (Tuesday)

We are still deciding whether we go to the Lennox or step him right up in trip, rather than run over seven furlongs or a mile. He’s in good form.

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