Aidan O'Brien 2017 Breeders' Cup stable tour

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Wed 25 Oct 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle and Jason Kiely

Aidan O'Brien has pre-entered 14 horses for the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar on November 3-4 and has won a total of 11 races at the meeting down the years.

His best championships was in 2015 and 2011 when he secured two wins each time, and last year he struck in the Breeders' Cup Turf with Highland Reel.

The master of Ballydoyle went through his plans for his runners on Wednesday.

Churchill and War Decree – Breeders’ Cup Classic:

QIPCO Guineas Festival - Day One - Newmarket Racecourse Churchill ranges from 10-1 to 33-1 for the Breeders' Cup Classic (PA)

I’m not sure if he [Churchill] will go for the Mile or the Classic. I’m not sure but The Lads [Coolmore syndicate] will decide.

There’s a big chance he will go for the Classic, he seems to have come out of Ascot very well. He jumped smartly at Ascot and got into a lovely rhythm, he just got a bit tightened inside the two and then again got another squeeze just after, and it just stopped him a bit.

Ryan [Moore] said he never managed to get into top gear, really, and he hit the line very strongly.

He seems to have come out of the race very well and we are looking forward to seeing what is going to happen.

He’s very like Giant’s Causeway in that’s he’s a miler that you think, and hope, will get a mile and a quarter.

Like Giant's Causeway he is tactically quick early on and he relaxes and he’s tough and comes home very well.

In the second part of the race, in an ideal world, you would hope for a good, strong clear run because it just takes him a bit of time to get into top tempo.

You are never sure about the surface, but he is out of a Storm Cat mare and is big and powerful like those good dirt horses, so it’s something to look forward to.

Giant’s Causeway ran a great race in it with Mick Kinane, it was a great run. Then Declaration Of War was just beaten a length in it a couple of years ago with Joseph [O’Brien] as well, it’s a tough race to win.

If the race suits the horses and you have the horses for these races it’s worth a go, but they are hard races to win and they are hard races to get horses for.

It was the plan to go to Dundalk the last day after the French Derby with War Decree. Ryan rode him in the French Derby and really liked him. It was good to start off again at Dundalk. Donnacha [O’Brien] rode him and really liked the way he travelled and we were happy with him. There were some horses with good form in it but obviously he will have to step up from that, but hopefully he can.

Highland Reel, Cliffs Of Moher and Seventh Heaven - Breeders’ Cup Turf:

Highland Reel - Eclipse Sportswire Highland Reel bids to emulate Aidan O'Brien's High Chaparral as a dual Turf winner. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Cliffs of Moher is in good form after Ascot, obviously the ground went too soft there for him. He probably wasn’t suited by it but we wanted to run him. He is a real good ground horse and some horses are like that. They either handle it or they don’t on the soft so we let him take his chance, most horses don’t really like it. But he is good form now and he will love the nice ground.

We are delighted with Highland Reel. We were very eager to run him last week at Ascot. He went out there and he ran a great race. Ryan went looking for the best ground he could get for him just to give him a chance. He seems to be well and we are looking forward to him, he should get some nice ground. To be fair to him, he had to run and Ryan tried to mind him as much as he could, I don’t think he asked him too much I don’t think Ryan even gave him a tap, but it was lovely to get the run into him really.

I think everyone knows he doesn’t mind bowling along and making the running, He doesn’t have to make the running but he is very happy to if nobody else goes on and that will be a great advantage.

He would be equally happy to take a lead, but like I say he won’t mind going in front.

Seventh Heaven had a break in the middle of the summer; she then had her first run back at The Curragh.

We took her to the Arc for her second run, Pat [Smullen] rode her and he was delighted with her and Seamus [Heffernan] has been delighted with her in her homework since. She’s a good ground horse really; she has a little bit of form on softer ground. Fast ground and a mile and a half will really see her at her best, she really likes it.

Happily and September – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf:

Longines Irish Champions Weekend - Day Two - Curragh Racecourse Happily has got over the bad scope that ruled her out of the Fillies' Mile (PA)

Both of them seem to be flying. Happily seems to be fine now after her last race.

We were delighted with her, obviously we split up the two fillies at Chantilly the last day and we were delighted with the way that went and with her win in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere.

We think she has both the speed and the stamina.

After a few days she was fine, everything cleared up with her bloods and her scope was fine. September ran a very good race in the Fillies’ Mile, she didn’t get a very clear run but she ran a great race and we were delighted with her.

She is by Deep Impact and she ran very well the last day and handles that good ground well. She had a few lesser runs in between but that was coming back off a break and the ground was a little on the slow side as well.

I’m not sure about Ryan at the moment, he won’t make his mind up until he has to, but obviously Happily has won two Group Ones so it would be very hard to get off her. The other filly is very good, too, and he will leave it until closer to the time.

U S Navy Flag and Mendelssohn – Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf:

Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day Two - Newmarket Racecourse U S Navy Flag is bred to go on the dirt and could run on it at Del Mar (PA)

I’m not sure which one goes in which one yet but Mendelssohn and U S Navy Flag are in both the Turf and the Dirt.

Obviously U S Navy Flag could have the option of either, he could go on the dirt and the lads will probably decide a bit later about that.

Mendelssohn wouldn’t have as much experience and for that reason will probably stick to the grass, they will probably go separate ways but I’m not sure which way yet.

U S Navy Flag is a very solid horse - he came up the middle in the Middle Park, he jumps and he travels well. He is powerful and he’s strong and you obviously would have to be very happy with him. Mendelssohn took a big step up with his last run.

In his first few runs he was very green and just took his time to learn. He baulked and stared in front, then we put the blinkers on him at home in his last piece of work and he grew another leg, so that’s why we left them on. He was just a bit babyish and they just helped him concentrate, and he took a big step up the last day.

He is bred for the dirt, but again its questionable whether that is too big a jump for him. We might just stick to the turf with him, we don’t want to over face him and ask him too much too quick, but he is obviously bred for the dirt and we will look at both options.

Nelson ran well the last day, he’s a nice horse too, but he’s also in France on Sunday so it’s possible that he will go there but we’re not sure yet.

But we will think about splitting up the other two I think.

Washington DC - Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint:

Washington DC Curragh 15 Washington DC's best performance is winning a Group Three in August (PA)

He ran very well in at Ascot this year on the fast ground. Even though he has run a lot we feel he is still on the upgrade. Fast ground and five furlongs - that’s what he’s best at but he doesn’t get it very much over in this part of the world. He’s Group One placed a few times and he has won a Group Three and hopefully we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

Rhododendron and Roly Poly - Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf:

Sun Chariot Day - Newmarket Races Roly Poly will be making her ninth start this season at Del Mar (PA)

She is in good form. Both Roly Poly and Rhododendron are in this and they both are in good form. It’s possible that just Rhododendron could run in that or both of them could run together. It’s also possible that Roly Poly could run in the Mile and Rhododendron will stay in the Filly & Mare so we could split them up that way.

They are two unbelieve fillies with fantastic pedigrees and I’m delighted with both of them, really.

Lancaster Bomber - Breeders’ Cup Mile:

Newmarket Races - Dubai Future Champions Festival - Day Two Lancaster Bomber has run in four different countries this season (PA)

It could be that Lancaster Bomber will run in the Mile with Roly Poly, if things went that way, but we haven’t really decided what to do yet as we have a few options.

He ran very well on his only run on the dirt in the UAE Derby, he ran at Ascot but the ground didn’t suit. He seems to have come out of Ascot well so looking forward to seeing him run.

Breeders' Cup specials:

William Hill: Number of European trained winners: 100-1 None, 12-1 One, 9-2 Two, 15-8 Three, 2-1 Four, 4-1 Five or more; Number of Aidan O’Brien trained winners: 5-1 None, 2/1 One, 13/8 Two, 10/3 Three or more; Horses to repeat their 2016 victories: 28-1 Drefong (Sprint), Highland Reel (Turf) and Arrogate (Classic).

Paddy Power - Number of Aidan O'Brien Winners: 11-8 exactly one, 5-2 exactly two, 100-30 none, 11-2 three or more. Aidan O'Brien to train a juvenile winner: 4-5 yes, 10-11 no. 33-1 Bob Baffert to train the one-two-three in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

This article has been amended. Initially it said that Seventh Heaven was entered in th Mile. She is entered in the Turf.

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