Joseph O’Brien has enjoyed a highly-successful season over jumps thus far, but with the Flat season about to kick off, he is understandably excited about the months ahead for his big team of horses on the level. He was good enough to guide us through the pick of his squad for the campaign ahead.
4 br g Dream Ahead – Bluebell Park
Rated 86, he won a maiden hurdle in October and made an encouraging return to the Flat when third in a handicap at Dundalk in March.
“He was very consistent in good handicaps on the Flat last season and won a maiden hurdle since then. We’ll probably mix it up with him between handicap on the Flat over 10 and 12 furlongs and giving him a few spins over hurdles too. He doesn’t want the ground too soft.”
3 b c Camelot – Wishing
An unraced colt from the family of Miesque.
“He’s a very nice unraced colt by Camelot. He was working well last autumn before picking up a little setback which was why he didn’t run. I’m looking forward to starting him off in a maiden in the next month or so. He looks a middle-distance type and he looks to be potentially a good horse.”
BAND OF OUTLAWS
3 b c Fast Company – Band Of Colour
Rated 89, he won a maiden at Limerick in June and ran out the impressive winner of a handicap at Naas in November.
“We’ll start him back in the Madrid Handicap at Naas and we think he’ll improve on whatever he does there. We think he is still fairly treated, so hopefully he can find some more improvement this season. He showed he handles soft ground at Naas, but he has won on good ground too, so I think he will be versatile in that regard. Seven furlongs is probably a good trip for him for now, but he’s likely to try a mile at some stage.”
3 b f Declaration Of War – Charroux
Rated 94, she won a nursery at Leopardstown in October and went on to finish second in a Listed race at Newmarket.
“She finished off the season really well last year and the intention is to start her off in a Guineas or Oaks trial in the coming weeks. I’d be hopeful she’ll stay at least a mile-and-a-quarter. She handles an ease in the ground well, but I think she’ll be just as good or a firmer surface. Her pedigree suggests she should improve with age, so we are hoping she can step up and get really competitive in stakes company this season.”
3 b f Power – Flavia Tatiana
Rated 92, she won a maiden at Down Royal and a nursery at Leopardstown last season.
“She came up through the grades last year and ended up rated in the 90s. The plan is to start her off in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown and the big aim with her this year is to get some black type. I’d say seven furlongs looks to be her trip based on last year’s form, but I wouldn’t be against exploring a mile with her again. She seems quite versatile with regard to ground.”
4 b f Motivator – Seraya
Rated 101, she won four times last season including a Listed race at Limerick in October.
“She did really well last year to come up through the grades and win a Listed race. She’ll be campaigned in stakes company this year and can hopefully be competitive in Group races. She stays well and handles soft ground. I wouldn’t be against trying her at two miles if the right race came about, but she seems fully effective at shorter than that. She’s only a small filly, but she tries hard.”
3 b c Camelot – Cinnamon Rose
Rated 88, he has improved with each of his starts and made it third-time lucky in a seven-furlong maiden at Dundalk in February.
“He won his maiden at Dundalk in good style and the plan is for him to step into handicap company now. We think he’ll stay further than he has been running over and he won’t want the ground too soft. He looks a nice middle-distance colt for the future and hopefully he can progress as he steps up in trip.”
3 b c Bated Breath – Smart Step
Rated 96, he made it second-time lucky when winning a mile maiden at Navan by eight lengths in October.
“He disappointed us a bit on his debut and we gave him plenty of time after that, but he came back to win a maiden at Navan in really good style in October. He handles an ease in the ground, but I think he’ll be fine on a sounder surface. While he might start back over a mile, we think he’ll stay at least a mile-and-a-quarter.”
FOCUS OF ATTENTION
4 ch f Intense Focus – Precipitous
Rated 66, she won a maiden at Down Royal for Eddie Lynam last season prior to being bought by her current connections for €23,000 in February.
“She’s a nice filly that we bought at Goffs in February. She looked a nice sprinting prospect when she won a maiden for Eddie Lynam last season, but things didn’t seem to go her way after that. She has settled in well and we’ll campaign her in sprint handicaps over the summer. We are very hopeful she can win off her mark.”
4 b f Lawman – Benedicte
Rated 89, she won a maiden at Killarney in August and shaped with promise in a Listed race at Naas in October.
“She won her maiden well and I thought she shaped nicely in a Listed race at Naas on her final start of the season. She handles soft ground, stays a mile-and-a-half well and should stay further. The main aim will be to get some black type with her this season.”
3 br c Camelot – Question Times
Made a highly-promising debut when a never-nearer second to James Cook in a maiden at Leopardstown in October.
“He has wintered very well. He ran a lovely race at Leopardstown last season and he is an exciting horse. Based on his run, he looks a stakes horse in the making and those are the hopes we have for him. I see him as a middle-distance horse and we’ll probably start him off in a maiden over a mile-and-a-quarter. He seems like one that will be versatile with regard to ground.”
4 b c Galileo – Burning Sunset
Formerly trained by Andre Fabre, he won at Lyon Parilly in May and went on to run well in stakes company prior to changing hands in the autumn.
“He’s a nice horse that joined us from France during the winter. His form with Andre Fabre looks useful and hopefully he’ll compete in stakes races over middle-distance or staying trips over here this season. Hurdling could be an option for him at some stage, but there hasn’t been a decision made on that yet. He is likely to start off in the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on April 22nd.”
4 ch g Teofilo – Sentimental Value
An unraced gelding that was formerly trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, he has been entered for the Vintage Crop Stakes in April.
“He’s a nice unraced horse that came to us from France. I could see him starting off in a mile-and-a-quarter maiden during the summer and could well stay further than that.”
MEDAL OF HONOUR
3 ch c Lope De Vega – Rich Gift
Rated 88, he made it 11th-time lucky when winning a maiden at Dundalk in December.
“He was consistent as a two-year-old and deservedly got off the mark at Dundalk last time. He seemed suited by being ridden a small bit more quietly in a truly-run race in his last start, so stepping him into good handicaps this summer could suit him well. I’d say seven furlongs or a mile will be his trips and he’ll never want the ground to be too soft.”
NOW YOU’RE TALKING
3 b f Zoffany – Granadilla
Rated 106, she finished fourth in both the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot and the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.
“She’s still a maiden, but she showed a high level of form in Group company last season and is a lovely prospect for this year. Physically, she looks like one that should be better as a three-year-old than a two-year-old. The plan at the moment is to stick to sprinting with her and is she is likely to make her return in a five-furlong maiden at Dundalk this Wednesday.”
5 ch c Pivotal – Golden Shadow
Rated 100, he won a maiden at the Curragh in 2016 and finished third in a Listed race back at that track last June.
“He ran very well in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last year, but had a bit of a setback at the backend of the season. He likes the Curragh and is one that just wants nice, safe ground. He’ll probably campaign in stakes company this season and has been entered in the Tattersalls Gold Cup again.”
4 b c High Chaparral – Sitara
Rated 119, he progressed strongly as a three-year-old, winning the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown, the Curragh Cup and the Melbourne Cup.
“He was brilliant for us last season and gave us an unbelievable day in the Melbourne Cup. He is still down in Australia with his owner Lloyd Williams in Macedon Lodge and we are looking forward to getting him back here later in the year.”
SHIP OF DREAMS
3 ch f Lope De Vega – Oh Sedulous
The winner of a maiden at Dundalk in January, she shaped with some promise when sixth in a Listed race back at that track in March.
“She won a maiden at Dundalk and I think she ran better than her finishing position suggested in the Patton Stakes at Dundalk last time. The hope is to try and get black type for her and the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown is likely to be her next race. I think she’ll be a bit better on turf than on the all-weather and I don’t think she needs to go any further than a mile for the time being.”
SPEAK IN COLOURS
3 gr c Excelebration – Maglietta Fina
Rated 104, he was formerly trained by Marco Botti for whom he won a maiden at Ascot and a Listed race at Doncaster.
“He’s a very nice horse that joined us from Marco Botti in February. He has settled in well to his new routine and he has done everything we’ve asked him to do in good style. Looking at his runs, he looks to have plenty of speed and we’ll start him off at sprint trips. He is an exciting horse for the year ahead.”
TRUE BLUE MOON
3 gr c Holy Roman Emperor – Fancy Intense
Rated 100, he won a maiden at Dundalk in April and a Listed race at Naas in May last season.
“He has done well very over the winter. His form tailed off a little bit at the backend of last season, but we’d be hopeful that we can get him back to this best this year. I think we’ll keep him to five or six furlongs this year.”
4 ch g Champs Elysees – Masandra
Rated 75, he was formerly trained by Andrew Balding to win a maiden at Kempton in October prior to joining his current connections for 16,000gns.
“He is a lovely dual-purpose prospect that we bought in Tattersalls in February. He has settled in well and is likely to start off for us in a month or so.”