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Colm O'Donoghue lands Blanco coup

Aidan O'Brien yesterday expanded his policy of rewarding his stable stalwarts for their industry, reliability and improvement by naming Colm O'Donoghue as Cape Blanco's rider in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Johnny Murtagh, the stable jockey, is suspended following an abrupt manoeuvre to the rail when winning the July Cup on Starspangledbanner.

O'Donoghue, however, has evidently impressed with the way he has taken his opportunities in recent seasons, and is now approaching parity with Seamus Heffernan, long the first reserve and another daily presence on the Ballydoyle gallops.

In the Derby, for instance, O'Donoghue rode Midas Touch while Heffernan rode the 100-1 pacemaker, albeit he did so in such a way that he hung on for second.

O'Donoghue has won three Group One prizes for the stable, but winning such a prestigious race on an Irish Derby winner would be unprecedented.

His appointment confirms the race as especially discouraging for Kieren Fallon, who had two previous employers looking for jockeys in O'Brien and Sir Michael Stoute.

Fallon has made a generally impressive comeback this season, but has evidently encountered some burnt bridges, too.

He has had just one mount from O'Brien, and none at all from Stoute, who turned to Olivier Peslier for the fancied Harbinger when Ryan Moore chose to ride Workforce, the Derby winner, on Saturday. Heffernan retains a key supporting role when Murtagh rides in both Group races at Leopardstown tonight.

Steinbeck, so disappointing at Ascot, has his sights lowered in the Jockey Club of Turkey Meld Stakes. Steinbeck has made four just starts, three times looking potentially top-class, and apparently lost a shoe at Ascot.

O'Brien has two of just four runners in the Korean Racing Authority Tyros Stakes, but small fields have not prevented this race announcing future Group One years in each of the last four years.

After Teofilo and New Approach incorporated the race into their champion juvenile campaigns for Jim Bolger, O'Brien won it in 2008 with Rip Van Winkle and last year with Cape Blanco himself.

Zoffany still looked inexperienced when also beaten at Ascot but has since confirmed previous promise over this course and distance.

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori displayed no signs of the illness which kept him off the track on Monday as he fired in a 261/2-1 treble at Lingfield courtesy of Introvert, Rutterkin and Zigato.

Belfast Telegraph

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