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'I always thought he was a proper horse' - Donnacha O'Brien full of praise for Gladness winner Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley: with Gavin Ryan on board on the way to winning Listed Lester Piggott Gladness Stakes
Yosemite Valley: wins the Lester Piggott Gladness StakesCredit: CAROLINE NORRIS

Three O'Brien winners on a Curragh card, yet none trained by Aidan. It was sons Donnacha and Joseph who upstaged their father, and they even fought out the finish of the feature Lester Piggott Gladness Stakes between them. 

Donnacha O'Brien has always thought the world of Yosemite Valley and he kicked clear in the closing stages of the Listed event under Gavin Ryan to put daylight between himself and runner-up Jumbly. The margin was two and three-quarter lengths and the winner could have earned himself a crack at a Group 1 in France later in the campaign. 

O'Brien said: "I always thought he was a proper horse but he was just unlucky a few times. He ran well at Cork last time and the step up to seven furlongs seemed to suit him. It’s nice to get a stakes win into him.

"He could get away with a stiff six, but he travelled so well there today, so all the big seven-furlong races will be open to him. There's the Maurice de Gheest over six and a half in France, which could suit. Whether he’s up to that level I don’t know, but I’d like to give him a shot at it to see.

“The Greenlands is here in about a month but that's back to six furlongs. A stiff six could be an option or we might give him a little break and aim for the race in France."

'He could be a bit special'

Although bragging rights went to his younger brother in the main event, Joseph O'Brien unleashed a pair of potentially top-class juveniles in the opening two races and both could be Royal Ascot-bound. 

Cowardofthecounty was particularly impressive in the 6f maiden as he not only reeled in the strong-travelling even-money favourite Whistlejacket, a brother to Little Big Bear, but powered two and a half lengths clear at the line. There were a further six and a half lengths back to the third and it was unquestionably the best two-year-old performance this season. 

Cowardofthecounty: wins the 6f maiden
Cowardofthecounty: wins the 6f maiden for Joseph O'BrienCredit: Caroline Norris

O'Brien said of Cowardofthecounty, who returned 17-2: "This fella looked like he could be a bit special at home but you’re never really sure with a two-year-old until they go to the races.

"He’s a particularly laid-back horse and couldn’t have been more impressive. He’s big, well over 500 kilos, which for a two-year-old at this stage is a lot. He could go straight for the Coventry now. He’s such a big horse I don’t know if he needs to run again, we’ll see."

Of 15-2 shot Midnight Strike, winner of the 5f maiden, O'Brien said: "I thought he was a nice colt but didn’t expect him to win like that. He looks an Ascot-type horse and he’s another nice Starspangledbanner for the owners [Teme Valley]. We thought he’d stay six but was certainly quick enough to start at five. He looks very smart."

Howard's Vision

Aidan Howard has a smart sprinter in Magical Vision, who made it four wins from ten starts in the 5f handicap under Chris Hayes at odds of 100-30. Howard said: "She travelled very well and five furlongs is definitely her trip."


Read more:

Monster 4,462-1 four-timer puts Willie Mullins in the ascendancy for first British title, and he ain't letting up 


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David JenningsDeputy Ireland editor

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