The Curragh: O'Brien Prepares Beresford Assault

Chief Little Rock Racingfotos.com


It is the time of year when ideas begin to form about the following season's Classics and with Derbys in mind, Saturday's G2 Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford S. at The Curragh offers food for thought. Aidan O'Brien's record in this mile staging post is plain remarkable, even by his standards, with a tally of 21 winners including St Nicholas Abbey (Ire), Saxon Warrior (Jpn), Japan (GB) and Luxembourg (Ire) and the fact that he has a trio engaged in the race he missed out in 12 months ago for the first time since 2010 suggests he is looking to resume normal procedure.

With Ryan Moore in Australia, Frankie Dettori flies in to partner Navy Seal (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), a son of Athena (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and full-brother to Never Ending Story (Ire) who put a debut fifth at Killarney behind him when scoring over an extended mile on heavy ground at the Galway festival in August. Colin Keane rides Grosvenor Square (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a half-brother to Santiago (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) who also won over that same course and distance this month, while the mile Leopardstown maiden winner Chief Little Rock (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is the mount of Gavin Ryan.

“Chief Little Rock came forward nicely to win at Leopardstown but he only just won, we thought he'd win easier than he did,” O'Brien said. “He's in good form and we think he's a horse who is going to progress more. He's got a stout pedigree and will be staying well next year. Grosvenor Square won nicely at Galway, that was only 11 days ago. He's a lovely, big horse but he was babyish and green there, so we think the experience will do him well. He's another with plenty of stamina in his pedigree. Frankie is riding Navy Seal for us. He won nicely at Galway the last day, but he was a little but green. He ended up winning nicely at the end and we think he's ready to go again. The first day we were a bit disappointed, we expected him to run better but he was very green. He was still green the last day, so we're just hoping that he keeps coming forward.”

Joseph O'Brien attempts to stem the tide of Ballydoyle winners in this with Teme Valley Racing's Stromberg (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}), who steps up from seven furlongs for the first time having a Galway maiden and Roscommon conditions race by a total of 17 lengths, while Vimal Khosla's Deepone (GB) (Study Of Man {Ire}) brings the form of the Leopardstown's G2 Champions Juvenile S. into focus having been four-lengths fourth behind Diego Velazquez (Ire) (Frankel {GB}).

Mister Sketch In Mill Reef Test…

Newbury's G2 Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef S. is the other juvenile feature on Saturday, with speed as the contrast for the six-furlong feature of the card. Wathnan Racing's acquisition Mister Sketch (GB) (Territories {Ire}) won by 9 1/2 lengths over this trip at Salisbury last month and trainer Eve Johnson Houghton is hoping he can cope with this easy ground. “It's not ideal ground for him, but it's the same for everyone and I think he'll run a big race,” she said. “He's a lovely, strong horse, so I hope he'll be able to handle the ground.”

This renewal is dominated by those who have danced a few dances already and with conditions demanding toughness, that could play into the hands of the G3 Sirenia S. second and third Seven Questions (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Array (Ire) (No Nay Never). The latter is a relative of Frankel (GB), so this is a big opportunity for the Juddmonte homebred. “I think the ground won't be an issue for him, Andrew [Balding] always felt he'd go with a bit of ease in the ground and obviously he ran well at Goodwood on desperate ground,” Barry Mahon said. “He's a nice horse who probably hasn't been the luckiest, but he looked good winning his maiden and he's shown a good level of form to partake in such a race.”

Sense Of Duty Returns…

In the five-furlong G3 Dubai International Airport World Trophy at Newbury, St Albans Bloodstock's exciting filly Sense Of Duty (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) is back in action having been absent since her impressive 4 1/2-length success in Newcastle's G3 Chipchase S. last June. This looks an ideal starting point for the William Haggas-trained 4-year-old, who has a class edge over her four rivals if retaining her ability.

“She's never run over five furlongs, but she has to run somewhere with as big a gap as possible between Champions Day,” Haggas said. “She will need the run, but she's pretty useful. She was very good the day she won the Chipchase at Newcastle. I think she'll enjoy the ground.”

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