| 8.5°C Belfast

O'Brien watching York weather


Aidan O'Brien has his fingers firmly crossed York escapes most of the rain that could hit the Knavesmire later in the week as dual 2000 Guineas hero Gleneagles prepares for the Juddmonte International.

Ground conditions were described as good to firm on Wednesday afternoon but could ease with heavy rain forecast for the area on Friday, although settled weather is due from Saturday onwards.

The presence of Gleneagles has set up a mouthwatering showdown with unbeaten Derby and Eclipse winner Golden Horn - but the crack miler does need a sound surface to show his very best.

O'Brien said: "I'm delighted the lads have agreed to let him take his chance and we'll learn a lot about him.

"Hopefully they won't get too much rain and I'd love to go if it's good to firm."

William Hill reported Gleneagles to be friendless in the ante-post market, pushing him out to 100-30 from an initial 3-1.

Spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: "There's been plenty of money in the race, but hardly a penny for Gleneagles so far and perhaps punters are waiting to see how much rain there is at the Knavesmire."

Free Eagle, meanwhile, is increasingly likely to sidestep York and wait for the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Dermot Weld's four-year-old fought off The Grey Gatsby to make a winning start to his campaign in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot and would add further intrigue to next Wednesday's Group One feature if he were to line up alongside Golden Horn and Gleneagles.

However, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October remains the primary objective for Free Eagle and connections are minded to give him just one run ahead of his trip to Paris in the Irish Champion Stakes on September 12.

Fiona Craig, breeding advisor for owners Moyglare Stud, said: "I think York is probably looking less likely. I'm not sure it's settled in stone, but he'll probably go straight to Leopardstown.

"He was very tired after he came home from Ascot. As everyone knows it was a bit of a rush to get him there anyway and he ran his heart out on the day.

"He's in good form now again now, though. He worked on the racecourse at the Curragh on Monday morning as they'd had a bit of rain and it was beautiful ground.

"We'd like to get to the Arc and we just think to run at York and then Leopardstown and then go to Longchamp would be a fair bit of racing in a short space of time.

"I think he'll probably stay in the York race at the five-day stage, just in case it cuts up and the likes of Golden Horn and Gleneagles come out, but at the moment it looks like we'll wait for the autumn."