Rip to lead O’Brien raid
Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien yesterday confirmed seven of his charges as likely starters for the Breeders' Cup meeting next month which is being staged for the second year in a row at Santa Anita.
Rip Van Winkle has the Classic as his sole target in California where the Ballydoyle team can choose between that richest race of the weekend or the Mile, likewise on a synthetic surface, for Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Mastercraftsman.
The Juvenile, on the Pro-Ride surface, is the next port of call for Beethoven which hit the headlines with a surprise Dewhurst Stakes triumph at Newmarket, with Alfred Nobel also lined up for that contest.
The Turf events for juveniles are on the agenda for Lillie Langtry and Viscount Nelson, with the contingent rounded off by Man Of Iron which goes for the Marathon, won by Pat Smullen on Muhannak a year ago.
O'Brien also reported that both unbeaten Racing Post Trophy victor St Nicholas Abbey and Steinbeck, which was a close fourth to Beethoven in the Dewhurst after a rushed preparation, are finished for the year.
Meanwhile, the stable's quest for more end-of-season Group One prizes overseas will continue in France on Sunday as impressive maiden scorers Jan Vermeer and Midas Touch tackle the International in Saint-Cloud.
A fortnight later the Criterium, back at that Paris track, which O'Brien raided with Fame And Glory a year ago, is being considered for Don Carlos, which opened his account at Leopardstown yesterday.
Forcefully ridden to overcome a wide draw, hot favourite Don Carlos answered every call from Johnny Murtagh to defeat arch-rival Pat Smullen's mount Legendary Lad and open up a four-winner lead in their title duel — with Murtagh on 85 to Smullen's 81.
“This colt always worked like a nice horse.
“He has come forward from his debut third at Cork recently and if he continues to make the same progress, he could go to the French race next month,” said O'Brien whose runners in the featured JRA Killavullan Stakes had to give best to Jim Bolger's American purchase Free Judgement, which showed the benefit of his eighth to Beethoven at Newmarket earlier this month.
The front-running Lord High Admiral fared best of the O'Brien trio here as Colm O'Donoghue's mount had all except the Bolger representative in trouble up the straight before settling for the runner-up berth.
Free Judgement, which was making his fourth appearance during October and had landed a Dundalk maiden, proved equally adaptable to the more testing surface here to initiate a splendid treble for Kevin Manning.
Bolger's stable jockey was seen at his strongest later on the marathon card as Raise Your Heart stepped up in form again in the Jockey Club of Turkey Trigo Stakes and Silent Decision belatedly got off the mark in the finale.
A credit to his astute trainer Joanna Morgan, the versatile Raise Your Heart will revert to jumping next month in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham's Paddy Power meeting and is then heading to Dubai for the winter.