Minding enjoyed a terrific campaign last year and O’Brien is leaning towards France for her reappearance with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe looking like a long term aim for the season
SUPERSTAR Minding could make her eagerly-awaited reappearance in the Prix Ganay before a return to France at the end of the season for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Aidan O’Brien’s filly won five Group 1s last season, including the Queen Elizabeth II against the boys at Ascot on Champions Day.
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O’Brien said: “We’re very happy with her and she has changed physically over the winter. We decided to work her at Leopardstown rather than run her at Naas last weekend. Everything went well there and she might start off in the Prix Ganay in France.
“The Tattersalls Gold Cup and Royal Ascot will be possibilities for her too. Longer-term, we might hold off running her back at a mile and a half until later in the season, with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe being an obvious option. She’s just a remarkably versatile filly in every regard and is really something to look forward to.”
Arc third Order Of St George will have his early season built around retaining the Ascot Gold Cup.
“He’s going to start off in the Vintage Crop at Navan and is likely to have one more run after that before going back to the Ascot Gold Cup,” said O’Brien, speaking in a stable tour for www.attheraces.com.
“He’s happy with an ease in the ground and if last year’s Arc had been run on soft ground, he would have been an even bigger player. He ran a serious race that day and well capable of competing over a mile and a half too.”
Alice Springs was another multiple Group 1 winner last season but she met with a surprise defeat on her comeback last weekend.
“We were all happy with her comeback run at Naas. She went there quite heavy on the scale, but to be fair she did well physically over the winter so she’s probably going to just have a heavier racing weight this year than she did last year,” said O’Brien.
“I think she’s made a big forward move in physical terms, but she has to go and prove that on the racecourse. We’ll have a look at the Lockinge Stakes for her and if the ground is nice, she’ll probably run there before heading to Royal Ascot. She has only raced against colts on a couple of occasions, but on her day, I’d be hopeful she can compete with them.”
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Highland Reel, disappointing in Dubai, looks set to travel the globe once more, while O’Brien has a couple of interesting recruits for the sprinting ranks in Acapulco and Easton Angel, first and second in the Queen Mary back in 2015.
He said: “Acapulco seems to have slotted into her new routine very well here. She’s been away to work a few times and we are looking at starting her off at Navan on April 24.
“The hope is to have her covered by Galileo in the next week or so and the intention would be to race her a couple of times whilst she is in foal. If everything goes well at Navan, she’ll have another run after that and then it will be on to the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“Easton Angel is on a similar programme to Acapulco in that she is being aimed at the same races, but she might only be forward enough to have a racecourse gallop at Navan. She has already been covered by Galileo and I believe she has been confirmed as being in foal. She’s a good mover, has a very good mind, is very clear winded and we’re happy with what we’ve seen of her.”