O'Brien's Stars in Good Form for 2021 Campaigns


High Definition | Racingfotos.com

Group 2 winner High Definition (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is doing well in advance of the 2021 Classics, however he is most likely to contest the G1 Epsom Derby instead of the G1 2000 Guineas, his trainer Aidan O'Brien revealed. A winner at The Curragh in August, the bay next took the G2 Beresford S. on Sept. 26 in good style. The decision was made to save him for his 3-year-old year instead of pressing on to juvenile Group 1s.

“He's a big, rangy horse with an unbelievably long stride,” O'Brien said via a Zoom call during the European 2-year-old classification press conference. “He's uncomplicated and has a good mind and has done very well over the winter. In the Beresford it looked like he couldn't win for most of the race as on the round track at The Curragh it's tough to make up ground. It looked like he couldn't win a furlong down, he had a chance half a furlong down and won very easy at the line.

“At the moment he'd probably be a shorter price to go to a Derby trial than the Guineas, but the lads will make a decision and see what they want to do. The Guineas is obviously a great trial for the Derby, but when we have other horses there for the Guineas, it's very possibly that High Definition might go to a Derby trial. He might only have one run before the Derby if he was doing that, I think.”

Freshly anointed European Champion 2-Year-Old St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), who beat Wembley (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 Dewhurst S. and G1 Criterium International victor Van Gogh (American Pharoah) are also all major Ballydoyle contenders for the 2000 Guineas.

“The year was really a mess,” said the Ballydoyle handler. “With St Mark's Basilica, we kind of rushed him out to get a run into him and then rushed him back to run in the Heinz [Phoenix S.]. It was all just happening too quick for him and he was on the back foot. In all fairness to him, he toughed it out and did man up.

“Wembley is another a horse we always liked. We thought he'd win at The Curragh first time and when he got to the front he was very green and babyish–he was like that a good bit. I suppose the form is open to question. Quite a lot of horses finished on top of each other, but Sir Mark's Basilica and Wembley are two solid horses that are tough and learned a lot last season.

“Van Gogh is a big horse who was always going to be a big 3-year-old–he could make an awful lot of improvement.”

Another standout colt for the Coolmore operation is Battleground (War Front), a son of the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Found (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). A winner of the Listed Chesham S. and G2 Vintage S., the bay's final juvenile run was a second in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland.

“He's a Guineas horse as well, like the other three, but it's very possible that if all of them are going to the Guineas, Battleground could go to Ascot and maybe have a run before, rather than them all going to the Guineas,” O'Brien continued.

“He's a lovely horse and Newmarket would suit him. I suppose it depends on how they're all going to fall, and obviously we'll have to look at the Irish Guineas and the French Guineas as well. The English Guineas is the first one, so I'd imagine he will be in the mix for that, along with the two Dewhurst horses and Van Gogh.

“Whether Battleground goes there or goes for an easier race and then goes for the St James's Palace–I suppose it will depend on how the spring is going with them all really.”

Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who won both the G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Oaks before adding the G1 Yorkshire Oaks to her haul, will most likely be seen in action in the summer to early fall. O'Brien noted that the going conditions dictate where the chestnut 4-year-old will appear for the Coolmore partners. She had been pencilled in to clash with Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the Arc before being scratched due to the ground and a trip to the Breeders' Cup was also under consideration before being tabled.

“She's very well and cantering away at the moment,” he said. “She will be ready for all those mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half races. She likes better ground and where she'll start, I suppose, will depend on that.

“There's the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, but we probably wouldn't go unless it was nice ground. She should be there for all those nice middle-distances races during the summer and into the autumn. Physically, she's done very well.”

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