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O'Brien hoping Guineas ace Empress Josephine can follow familiar path to glory

Empress Josephine: Irish 1,000 Guineas winner has big claims at Keeneland
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9.44 Keeneland
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes presented by Dixiana | 1m1f | RTV

It is ten years since Aidan O'Brien won this race with Together and the master of Ballydoyle will be hoping Empress Josephine can chart a similar path to success in this prestigious Grade 1. 

Like Empress Josephine, Together was beaten in the First Lady a week before her Group 1 triumph at Keeneland and O'Brien is hopeful this year's Irish 1,000 Guineas winner can prove herself to be equally as durable. 

O'Brien has elected to fit the Galileo filly with first-time blinkers as the First Lady third steps up a furlong in trip under John Velazquez.

"She ran a nice race in the First Lady and, while she hasn’t done much since, the lads seem to be happy with her,” O’Brien said. “John [Velazquez] just thought that a set of open blinkers might just help her.”

Donnacha O’Brien will send out his first Stateside runner in Nicest, who was last seen finishing third in the Irish Oaks. O’Brien said: “It’s a big step back in trip for her but she shows plenty of pace and I think the trip will be fine for her. Her best form is over further but she’s in good form.”

William Haggas has sent Cloudy Dawn over from Newmarket and the trainer hopes the mile winner at Deauville last time can see out the extra furlong in trip.

He said: "She has a bit to do but has improved so much throughout the year. She got invited and we felt it was worth a crack.

"She has a hard task, being drawn a bit wide, but her preparation has been good. I wouldn’t have thought the extra furlong would be a problem for her. I just hope she can get out of the gates and get into a good rhythm.”

The home team is headed by the Chad Brown-trained pair of Technical Analysis and Shantisara. 

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She ran a nice race in the First Lady and, while she hasn’t done much since, the lads seem to be happy with her
E.W. Terms