Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Abbey year is in store for St Nicholas

Everyone marvelled at the achievements of Sea The Stars on the Flat last season, and it is believed in many quarters that his equal may never be seen again, in our lifetime.

Well, a year is not a long time and already we have a candidate who might just match the remarkable triumphs of the John Oxx-trained colt who has now been retired to stud duties.

And the one who might just go close, is another Irish-trained contender in St Nicholas Abbey from Aidan O’Brien’s Coolmore base.

The trainer had to suffer the agonies last year of watching his Fame And Glory chase Sea The Star’s tail but fate has now turned in O’Brien’s favour.

Winning the 2,000 Guineas, Derby, Eclipse Stakes and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe will take some matching but if anyone can do it, then it is St Nicholas Abbey judging by his highly impressive display in taking the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a mile at Doncaster back in October.

He began his career — just like Sea The Stars — by taking the Beresford Stakes at the Curragh and being by Montjeu has Classic credentials.

The Racing Post Trophy is a solid pointer to the Derby but by all accounts, Abbey appears to have the pace to also win the 2000 Guineas. If he does so in May, then all things are possible and it’s no shock to see him installed as favourite for both the Guineas and Derby.

Where the fillies are concerned, one always has to be cautious as some don’t train on.

There appears to be no doubt about the French-trained Special Duty who has already been strongly backed for the 1,000 Guineas, the first Classic of the new season.

She can take this coveted prize across the Channel time and should be backed now before she makes her season debut on home soil in a week’s time.

Special Duty and St. Nicholas Abbey are banker bets for the long campaign now underway.

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