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Aidan O'Brien could base staff in Newmarket to get around travel woes

Aidan O'Brien: optimistic he will be able to have runners at the Guineas meeting
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Aidan O'Brien is hopeful that Brexit, coronavirus and the related travel restrictions will not hinder his chances of adding further Classic riches to his expansive CV.

O'Brien's thoughts are already turning to the logistical challenge behind bringing his Guineas team, both human and equine, to Newmarket in May.

The master of Ballydoyle stationed stable staff in a house in Newmarket last season to be able to continue to have runners within England – while further afield he scooped Group 1 prizes in Hong Kong, France and the US.

He is considering his options again and could base stable staff in Newmarket while flying them over in advance to allow time to quarantine if necessary.

Brexit has added further complications but O'Brien hopes that by the first Classic of the season on May 1 the situation will be clearer, partially thanks to the experiences of fellow Irish trainers seeking to bring runners to the Cheltenham Festival in March.


Harrington bemoans 'seriously annoying' paperwork for sending runners to Britain


O'Brien, who trains four of the five Classic ante-post favourites, said: "We're lucky as Cheltenham will happen and have to be sorted before things come our way. Like all these things, they're all slow at the start, and it's always messy and stressful on everyone.

"I think everyone knows where we all want to get and it usually gets sorted. Hopefully come Guineas time it'll all be a bit more straightforward.

"We all have to do what we have to do to keep the whole thing going. Everyone has to make adjustments on every side and we all want the same result. We need to be able to compete for the good of racing all over Europe."

He added: "There could be a new quarantine rule coming in where you need to be there [in Britain] one or two weeks before. If that's the case then it'd be like [for us] Australia, where we sent people down, do their two weeks quarantine and they stay there then.

"We had a team at Newmarket last year. Wherever the racing was the lads would put them on a plane and the team would pick them up over there. I suppose something like that would happen. I hope we'd be able to be there to do that and it'd be great if we could."

St Mark's Basilica (right) and Wembley (left): on course to return to Newmarket

O'Brien named St Mark's Basilica, crowned Europe's champion two-year-old on Wednesday, as a likely Qipco 2,000 Guineas contender along with Wembley and Van Gogh.

But the participation of 8-1 favourite Battleground is unclear, with O'Brien potentially targeting the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot instead. 

On his Guineas contenders, O'Brien said: "I had a good chat with the lads and they'll decide but the two Dewhurst horses – St Mark's Basilica and Wembley – could be, and Van Gogh too.  

"He's [Battleground] a Guineas horse along with the other three but it's very possible that, with all of them going to the Guineas, he could go to Ascot with one run before rather than them all going to Newmarket.

"He's a lovely horse and Newmarket would suit him so a lot will depend on how they all are in the spring. Battleground could go for an easier race and then the St James's Palace – it all depends on how the spring is going for them all."

High Definition: general 6-1 Derby favourite

Meanwhile, Investec Derby favourite High Definition remains on course for Epsom.

"High Definition would be a shorter price to go for that [a Derby trial] than a Guineas," said O'Brien, speaking at the European two-year-old Classifications press conference.

"The Guineas is a great trial for the Derby but we have other horses for it so it's very possible he might go for a trial and then straight to the Derby."

O'Brien also gave an update on last season's dual Classic winner and Arc favourite Love, who has wintered particularly well.

"She's cantering away at the moment and she's done very well," he said. "I'd have thought she'd be ready for all of those middle-distance races.

Love: comfortable winner of the Yorkshire Oaks under Ryan Moore

"We'll be wanting to keep her on nice ground so where she starts will depend on that. There's the Tattersalls Gold Cup but she probably wouldn't go there unless it was nice ground.

"She loves nice ground so we're hoping to have her for all those summer middle-distance races and have her into the autumn. Physically she's done really well and everyone is happy with her."


Read more:

St Mark's Basilica named Europe's top juvenile but third lowest-rated in history

Aidan O'Brien fined £4,000 for 'million to one' mix-up over Fillies' Mile horses

'She couldn't have been any more impressive' – Love a class apart in the Oaks

All O'Brien needs is Love as star filly sets up Oaks date with Guineas rout


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Everyone has to make adjustments on every side and we all want the same result. We need to be able to compete for the good of racing all over Europe
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