Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

O'Brien hails Lockinge hope

Aidan O'Brien is anticipating big things from Verrazano

Aidan O'Brien is anticipating big things from his US import Verrazano, who has his first run for the yard in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

A dual Grade One winner in America, he faces an altogether different test in Berkshire as he will be racing on grass for the first time, and the straight mile presents another new challenge for him.

"He's a very exciting horse. For us to get a horse like him is incredible," said O'Brien. "He's been very natural and very relaxed. He's a big powerhouse of a horse. I'd say his trip is around a mile and he could end up at the Breeders' Cup again."

Paul Deegan's Sruthan is a second Irish contender and is on the up having won his last two races at Group Three level, but the trainer is well aware this will require another step forward.

"He won't be out of place," said Deegan. "It's a bit of a shot in the dark, although it looks a better race now than it might have done a week or so ago. Originally it looked a penalty kick for Olympic Glory but now with Verrazano and Chopin, it's a good race.

"He's done little wrong, he's won four of his seven races and the last two were Group Threes. There are not many Group Twos he can go for.

"I thought he always wanted good ground to be seen at his best but his last two races have been on soft and they've been his best, so he's versatile. There's a couple in there that might want it soft.

"We'll know more after this. We went to the Gladness thinking he needed the run, but he won it well. I felt before that he'd improve for the race and he certainly has at home. Whether he's a Group One horse or not we'll find out."

Frankie Dettori believes the race is the perfect starting point for Olympic Glory.

Richard Hannon's colt impressed hugely in first-time blinkers when winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes but was last seen trailing home behind American superstar Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile on firm ground at Santa Anita.

"I've ridden him work three times and he only does enough, that's why he wears the headgear," Dettori told Racing UK. "He seems in tremendous shape, is best on a straight track and a mile is ideal for him. It looks the perfect starting point.

"Every Group One is hard to win so we certainly won't be taking anything for granted. We'll just do our own thing and hope it is good enough. One thing is he has won first time out at two and first time out at three, so I hope it's the same again at four."

Hannon also runs Montiridge, the mount of Richard Hughes, but believes Olympic Glory is a worthy favourite.

"We know he has the class - he won the QEII Stakes at Ascot last year - and, though that was in a mudbath, people seem to forget that on good ground he finished second to Dawn Approach in a Coventry and ran Moonlight Cloud to a short head in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville," he told his website.

"We have no qualms about the going and he has a favourite's chance.

"We also run Montiridge, who is rated 10lb inferior to Olympic Glory. This is a step up in class for him but, though he was beaten fair and square by Tullius in the Sandown Mile, unlike the winner he did not have a run under his belt, so hopefully our fellow can improve on that."

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