Great Leighs Breeders' Cup prep for Marmalade
DUKE OF MARMALADE is still in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe picture, according to trainer Aidan O'Brien on Sunday - but the five-time Group 1winner could instead be Great Leighs-bound for a conditions stakes on September 27.
Such a revelation, while no doubt prompting some readers to check the front of the Racing Post to confirm it is not April 1, suggests the Breeders' Cup Classic is alsoin the trainer's sights.
O'Brien, speaking from the Curragh on Sunday, where he saddled his 20th Group 1 winner of 2008, said: "We're still looking at the Arc for Duke Of Marmalade, but should we decide to miss the race then it's possible we will run him at Great Leighs to see how he handles the surface, with a view to running him in the Breeders' Cup Classic next month."
Not surprisingly, the prospect of the £40,000 1m1f50yds Thoroughbred Open Classic attracting Duke Of Marmalade has Great Leighs's owner John Holmes salivating.
He said on Sunday: "It's fabulous news. We mustn't get carried away, butthe mere fact that Aidan O'Brien is even considering it means all the planning we have put into this has been pitched right. We're thrilled."
He added: "It's the ramifications of it. Here is a great trainer and a greathorse, and if they look at Great Leighs and take advantage of what we have to offer, that's great for us."
The Essex course will also host three other £40,000 conditions races a week on Saturday under floodlights - a staying event, a sprint, and a 7f juvenile contest.
Duke Of Marmalade missed the Irish Champion Stakes eight days ago owing to testing ground.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, the same afternoon as the Great Leighs race, is the next target for Henrythenavigator, whose run of four consecutive Group 1s ended when he finished fifth in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp eight days ago.
O'Brien said: "The QEII is the plan for Henrythenavigator andwe'll see how he gets on there before looking at the Breeders' Cup meeting."
Henrythenavigator is 4-1 joint-favourite with Tamayuz for the Breeders' Cup Mile with Coral, Boylesports, William Hill and Stan James.
Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire, who finished seventh when favourite for the St Leger on Saturday, may be on O'Brien's team for Santa Anita, too.
"We're considering sending Frozen Fire for the Breeders' Cup Turf," said O'Brien.
O'Brien also revealed on Sunday he may launch a three-horse attack on the Emirates Melbourne Cup, with Honolulu and Alessandro Volta likely to join Septimus should Saturday's Irish St Leger winner be confirmed for the race on November 4.
O'Brien said: "Septimus was fine this morning. We're waiting to hear what penalty he is given for Melbourne. The quarantine situation is almost sorted, but we need to know the penalty situation before we make a final decision.
"If we decide to send Septimus, then we're looking at putting Alessandro Volta and Honolulu into quarantine with him and sending the three of them to run in the Melbourne Cup."
Honolulu won the Doncaster Cup on Friday, and Alessandro Volta finished tenth in the St Leger, after which jockey Jamie Spencer reported that the colt failed to act on the tacky ground.
Last year, O'Brien sent two for the Melbourne Cup.
Mahler finished third, but Scorpion had to be withdrawn after picking up an injury that led to his retirement.