Acapulco bids to be a star turn at O'Brien anniversary party
Star sprinter Acapulco joins Aidan O’Brien’s formidable Curragh team this weekend as the Ballydoyle maestro seeks more Guineas glory on the 20th anniversary of his first Classic success.
“It makes me feel very old,” joked O’Brien on Thursday as he recalled victories for Desert King in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Classic Park in the fillies' version in 1997.
“We take things one day at a time and that's been the way we've always approached everything in life,” said the trainer as he prepared for the challenge of emulating that double Classic success this weekend with Churchill and Winter.
“I didn't realise it was 20 years ago since we won our first Classic. When you think back, it doesn't feel like 20 years ago, that's for sure.”
Churchill on Saturday and Winter 24 hours later are odds-on favourites to add to this month’s Guineas wins at Newmarket for O’Brien.
Acapulco is no bigger than 5-1 for the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot over five furlongs, a target that is likely to be her last as she is in foal to Coolmore’s super sire Galileo.
After winning on her first start for O'Brien at the Curragh, the champion trainer feels she needs another run to put her spot-on for the royal meeting – where she triumphed as a two-year-old for US trainer Wesley Ward – next month.
He said: “We're going to go for the Greenlands Stakes over six furlongs with Acapulco on Saturday. We were happy with how she did things at the Curragh earlier this month. She'll go on to Ascot after this weekend.”
The continued strength of Ballydoyle’s hand at Group 1 level signifies the sustained brilliance of O’Brien since he announced himself on the big stage all those years ago.
He said: “Churchill has come out of Newmarket very well. Donnacha [O’Brien] and everyone associated with him have been very happy since the Guineas and it's a case of so far so good with him.
“Winter has also come out of Newmarket well and all being well she will line out in the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday – we're very happy with her.”
The Curragh is under development, limiting crowd numbers, but CEO Derek McGrath is not anticipating anyone being turned away from the track's first Classic fixtures of the season.
He said: “The weather is expected to be very good and we're delighted with the condition the track is in. Everybody will be welcome to the Curragh and we hope to have massive crowds here at the weekend.”
The going on Thursday was good to firm.