O'Brien sends warning shot with Whitecliffsofdover
Aidan O'Brien's first shot across the bows of the British training ranks was an ominous one, as Whitecliffsofdover dictated in the bet365 European Free Handicap.
It was O'Brien's first winner of the race, and the trainer will have presumably gained greater clarity on how his Qipco 2,000 Guineas contenders stack up following the two-and-three-quarter-length win by the son of War Front.
Churchill is the hot favourite for the Newmarket Classic, and a supplementary entry would be needed for Whitecliffsofdover, who could instead contest the French or Irish equivalents.
Michael Tabor, one of the owners of Whitecliffsofdover, was present, and said: "He was very impressive and will hopefully go on to better things. I would suppose with that run under him he would go for either the French or Irish Guineas."
Ryan Moore was able to set his own pace and, having quickened clear, had plenty left in the tank to see off Rodaini and favourite Seven Heavens.
"He's a lovely, big colt who ran some good races last year and I’d say he’d go on from here now," Moore said.
Although the Free Handicap is not regarded as much of a trial for the Guineas now, Ladbrokes were suitably impressed to install the winner at 14-1 should he be supplemented.
How O'Brien will disperse his troops for the various Classics will become clearer in the coming weeks, but Whitecliffsofdover accomplished his first mission well, and Kevin Buckley, representing Coolmore, said: "It was ideal ground for him and Ryan was very positive in his comments. We could go back up to a mile, I don't envisage that being a problem."
Rodaini had excuses for his final two runs as a juvenile last season, but returned to form to claim second.
"We were pleased with that and we'll look for another race for him up to a mile," his trainer Simon Crisford said.
The hood was applied to Seven Heavens in a bid to help him settle, and while it worked to some extent, it will not be retained next time.
A drop in trip awaits the son of Frankel, as trainer John Gosden said: "We will leave the hood off Seven Heavens next time when we may drop him back in trip for the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot."