O'Brien 'very happy' with Caravaggio as Irish Champions Weekend nears
He once described Caravaggio as the quickest horse he has ever trained and Aidan O'Brien is keeping the faith with the three-year-old who he believes can bounce back from two defeats in the Group 2 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend.
A brilliant winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June, Caravaggio lost his unbeaten record in the July Cup before returning "very sore" when disappointing in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last month.
O'Brien's believes new shoes fitted on Caravaggio were a factor in his loss of form, inadvertently limiting his traction when racing.
But the champion trainer said he has been delighted with how the son of Scat Daddy has been training throughout the past fortnight, and does not envisage similar issues standing in the colt's way at the Curragh on Sunday week.
He said: "We're looking at running Caravaggio in the Flying Five at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend and we've been very happy with him since he ran in the Prix Maurice de Gheest.
“I think and feel he didn't have proper traction in France and I'm hoping it shouldn’t be a problem at the Curragh next weekend. I've been very happy with him these last couple of weeks.”
Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher is on course to take on stablemate Churchill in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday in which Winter, who won her fourth Group 1 of the season when claiming Goodwood's Nassau Stakes last month, is also still a possible for O'Brien.
Dual Guineas winner Churchill was tackling a mile and a quarter for the first time when second behind Ulysses in the Juddmonte International at York and is a general even-money favourite to provide the master of Ballydoyle with his eighth win in the race.
He said: “Churchill is on target for the Irish Champion and we have been very happy with him since York.
“Everything has gone to plan with him since, and it looks as though we could run Cliffs Of Moher in the race as well. There are lots of other possibles, but it’s likely that those two will take part.”
The trainer added that a decision had yet to be made on whether Highland Reel will run in the race.
However Winter, successful in the British and Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and most recently the Nassau Stakes, may yet take up her engagement in the Champion Stakes alongside Churchill and Cliffs Of Moher.
He said: “We have yet to decide on whether Highland Reel will run or not but Winter will also come in for consideration for the Irish Champion Stakes.
“She also has the option of the Matron as well. She is in good form and there are plenty of options with her.”
O’Brien revealed that Rhododendron is set to return in the Matron Stakes and, commenting on some of his juveniles, he said: “Gustav Klimt is the one that we are looking at for the National Stakes and the fillies that ran in the Debutante Stakes [Magical, Happily and September] could run in the Moyglare on the same day. The plan is also to run Clemmie along with some of those other good fillies.”
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