O'Callaghan Eyes Dubai Riches Before Moving To Purpose-Built Yard

Michael O'Callaghan: set to move to a new yard this season | Goffs


Michael O'Callaghan is eyeing big-race riches in Dubai with half-brothers I Am Superman (Ire) (Footstepsinthesand {GB}) and Fastnet Crown (Ire) (Hallowed Crown {Aus}) before making the move to a new purpose-built yard near the Curragh ahead of the turf season proper. 

However, the leading Irish trainer has said that he remains in the dark over his position with Amo Racing despite sending out Crypto Force (GB) (Time Test {GB}) to secure G2 Beresford S. glory for Kia Joorabchian's major ownership vehicle at the Curragh last season. 

Crypto Force joined the stable of John and Thady Gosden shortly after that triumph and O'Callaghan revealed that none of Amo Racing's horses, including Olivia Maralda (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), Crispy Cat (GB) (Ardad {Ire}) and Indestructible (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), have returned to his yard for the new season.

He explained, “They haven't arrived back yet. I'm not sure what the plans are with Amo. There was chat about Indestructible coming back but, with the way they move the balls around over the winter, I'll know more in the next few weeks.”

I Am Superman, who O'Callaghan sourced as a yearling and retains a share of, showed a high level of form for the trainer initially on home soil before being moved to Australia in search of better prize-money. 

Now in his second stint with O'Callaghan after returning home from Peter and Paul Snowden's, I Am Superman will be targeted at top-level races in Dubai and is reported to have settled in nicely at Meydan along with his stablemate and half-brother Fastnet Crown. 

O'Callaghan said, “I bought I Am Superman as a yearling. He won three races for us and ran well in the 2019 Irish 2,000 Guineas. I actually had him sold to Hong Kong later that year but he failed the vet for something obscure on an x-ray so we decided to keep him. 

“We brought him to Australia for the prize-money and decided to leave him out there with Peter and Paul Snowden. He'd been there for roughly two years where he racked up about a quarter of a million dollars in prize-money. 

“To be fair to the Snowdens, they felt they never really got the rub of the green with him either because, every time they felt they had him ready, the ground went against him. He was only beaten a short head in a Group 1 on his latest start out there and is from a family who progress a lot with age. I wanted to get a bit of mileage out of him myself before his form tapered off, which is why we got him back and are now aiming him at the big prize-money in Dubai.”

He added, “He's in great form. He got a break in Australia after his last run there. When he came back here, it was just a case of building him back up for Dubai. He's been to Dundalk for a racecourse gallop and he's ready to go. His first run will be in the Zabeel Mile and his main target will be the G1 Jebel Hatta on March 4. He may have a run in between but we'll get the Zabeel Mile out of the way first. If he got an invite for Dubai World Cup Night, we'd have to consider that as well.”

“Fastnet Crown is on the up and I've been wanting to step him up in trip for a while. He won his prep race at Dundalk last week and will start out over a-mile-and-a-furlong on Friday 13 and we'll take it from there. Both horses travelled over there well and they are in great form.”

Fastnet Crown will run in the colours of his owner-breeder Michael Smith, whose Fastnet Lady (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) is fast becoming a prolific broodmare. 

O'Callaghan said, “The two of them are out of Fastnet Lady, who Michael also bred. I bought I Am Superman off him and we got to know each other from there. He sent me Fastnet Crown, the half-brother, and we've a full-brother to I Am Superman here as well. The mare has been very lucky for him with her first two foals, I Am Superman rated 114 and Fastnet Crown rated 106, so she's a good mare and I understand that she's now in foal to Australia (GB). Michael has been to Royal Ascot, had a winner on Derby day at the Curragh and he's coming to Dubai as well. He's loving it and I'm delighted because he's a lovely man.”

Domestically, O'Callaghan has high hopes for Gozen (Ire) (Kuroshio {Aus}). A winner on debut at Punchestown last September, Gozen was possibly a shade unlucky not to win the G3 Staffordstown S. at the Curragh when forced to race wide. O'Callaghan has Classic aspirations for the filly who failed to sell at the breeze-ups. 

He said, “Gozen's first intended target will be the Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown over a mile, which we won with Now Or Never (Ire) (Bushranger {Ire}). She's done very well over the winter and, I know it's a cliche but, everything she did last year, she'll improve on it because she's a big, raw filly. She's filled out very well over the winter so I'm really looking forward to her.”

Recalling how Gozen fell through the cracks at the Tattersalls Ireland Goresbridge Breeze-up Sale last year, O'Callaghan added, “To be fair to Eddie Ahern, who consigned her, he always felt she'd need time but he really liked her. He just let her do a nice canter in the breeze and, for people watching on, it probably left more questions than answers. I remember seeing her and I wrote in my catalogue, 'lovely action but she only cantered; is there an issue?' 

“Funnily enough, Michael Shefflin, who is involved with Eddie, rang me a few weeks later to ask if I would have any interest in taking her for a month to try her out. He told me that, if I liked her, I could buy her privately. That's how it all happened.”

Asked if he was tempted to sell Gozen at any stage last season, O'Callaghan said, “There was plenty of interest after she finished second in the Group 3. Her form stacks up very well and you could even say that she was a little unlucky at the Curragh not to win. She will improve for strengthening up and I'd imagine the mile will be her minimum this season. She has a lot of natural speed.”

Seven of O'Callaghan's 15 winners in Ireland last year were recorded with two-year-olds. The figure was 13 from 17 in 2021. Few operators concentrate as heavily on juveniles as O'Callaghan and he has high hopes for the next crop coming through at his new base in Brannoxstown near the Curragh.

He said, “We have a lovely Inns Of Court (Ire) filly-a lovely shape of a filly. She's actually a homebred. I also have a nice Mehmas (Ire) colt and a nice Sioux Nation filly. They look to be nice two-year-old types and I like them. They've done plenty and were all broken in August. “They cantered away and have built their way up as much as they were able for. They'd have quickened up a couple of furlongs just before Christmas before getting a little break and starting back on Monday morning.”

He added, “We'll be fully moved into the new yard by the end of January. It's been a slow process between buying the site, getting planning permission and then the building. The gallops are fully finished over two months now so they will be nicely settled by the time they have horses on them, which is good. We've built the place from scratch and are looking forward to getting going there fully this season.”

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