O’Brien: “St Nicholas Abbey has so much speed”
Tuesday 21 August 2012
By Geoffrey Riddle
Joseph O’Brien believes that St Nicholas Abbey has enough gears to deal with Frankel’s threat in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday.
The teenage jockey has ridden the five year old seven times, including in his last two Group One victories.
Both of those successes were over 12 furlongs and although St Nicholas Abbey is yet to win over ten furlongs in two attempts his jockey has no concerns as the pair tackle the Knavesmire together for the first time.
St Nicholas Abbey displayed a turn of foot to win a second Coronation Cup at Epsom in June, injecting pace into the race three furlongs from home.
Frankel on the other hand can accelerate at any point in a race, whether it is at the start as displayed in the 2,000 Guineas last season or in the Sussex Stakes earlier this month when he kicked clear of Farhh three furlongs out.
"It doesn't get much better than this, taking on Frankel with a horse like St Nicholas Abbey. He ran well at Ascot last time and has been in good form at home,” O’Brien said.
"The drop in trip is a question mark for some, but I don't see it being too much of a problem. I've never thought of a mile and a quarter being a problem for him as he's got so much speed."
The going at York remains good to firm, which is perfect for the son of Montjeu, who last lost on such going when disappointing in the 2010 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
He won the Breeders’ Cup Turf on firm ground and O’Brien revealed St Nicholas Abbey has been given a break since he was third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last month in search for better ground.
"When he won the Breeders' Cup Turf, he did it with a great turn of foot, and 10 furlongs with a bit of nice ground should be right up his street. The nice ground is what we've been waiting for."
The going is not perfectly suited to Godolphin’s Farhh, however, and Saeed Bin Suroor will make a last-minute decision on his participation.
"Farhh is doing well, but we need rain to help his chances,” he said. “We don't want the ground to be too firm for him and we will make a final decision on Wednesday morning.
"He is in good form at the moment and I think this is the best trip for him now. We are taking on Frankel again, who will be very tough to beat, but I am hopeful of a good run, providing the ground is suitable."