Derby joint-favourites to give in-form O'Brien strong hand in Trophy
Derby joint-favourites The Pentagon and Saxon Warrior will spearhead Aidan O’Brien’s team for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday the trainer has revealed, a formidable duo sure to give him a leading chance of notching a record 26th Group 1 victory of the year.
The all-conquering O’Brien equalled Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 when Hydrangea landed the Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Speaking at Leopardstown on Sunday, the trainer said: “We’ll have runners in the Racing Post Trophy – the plan is to run both The Pentagon and Saxon Warrior, and probably a few others.”
The Pentagon and Saxon Warrior, who share ante-post favouritism at 10-1 for the Investec Derby, were among 22 confirmations for Saturday's prestigious juvenile contest, with O'Brien responsible for 12. O'Brien has already won the Racing Post Trophy seven times and has used it as a key stepping stone to the Derby.
Charlie Appleby's Loxley, who dead-heated on debut at Goodwood, was the only horse to be supplemented.
The Pentagon has not been seen since winning the Tyros Stakes in July on his third start, while Saxon Warrior made a winning debut in August and subsequently followed up in the Beresford. Ryan Moore rode both colts on their latest outing.
It promises to be yet another big weekend for Ballydoyle, and O’Brien continued: “We'll also be represented in the two Group 1s in France next Sunday – the ten-furlong Criterium de Saint-Cloud and the Criterium International over seven furlongs.
"Nelson, Kew Gardens and Delano Roosevelt are possibles for the longer race, while we haven't decided about the other race although Threeandfourpence, who ran fourth in the Dewhurst, could go."
According to O'Brien, decisions on the future of Churchill and Caravaggio, who both finished third at Ascot on British Champions Day on Saturday – in the QEII and Sprint – will be made shortly.
"We'll be discussing plans over the coming days as to whether Churchill and Caravaggio might run again,” he said.
"It's possible Caravaggio could step up in trip, although he doesn't have to. If he goes to the Breeders' Cup it will be for the Sprint or possibly the Mile."
Highland Reel, also third at Ascot on Saturday, in the Champion Stakes, will bid to land the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the second consecutive year.
"We were very pleased with Highland Reel's run at Ascot on ground which was much slower than he likes, and the plan is to send him to Del Mar," said O’Brien.
He added: "We'll also have to decide whether Hydrangea might go to Del Mar following her win in the Fillies & Mares at Ascot.
“Regarding other Breeders' Cup plans, Rhododendron and Roly Poly are intended runners, while two-year-olds likely to travel include Happily and September, who finished second in the Fillies’ Mile, and probably some of the colts who gave us a 1-2-3-4 in the Dewhurst.
"But Clemmie, who won the Cheveley Park, is finished for the season and won't be travelling."
Johannes Vermeer, who has finished second and third in Group 1s in Australia this month, is expected to take his chance in the Emirates Melbourne Cup a fortnight on Tuesday.
O'Brien said: "Johannes Vermeer only just lost out in the Caulfield Stakes and ran another very good race when third in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday. We'll see how he is during the week but his owner, Lloyd Williams, would probably like him to run."
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