O’Brien has Point Lonsdale primed for Coronation Cup duty

By Sports Desk May 28, 2023

Point Lonsdale will head for the Dahlbury Coronation Cup on Friday, as Aidan O’Brien finalises his squad for Epsom’s two-day Derby meeting.

The Australia colt is unbeaten in two starts this season having followed up his reappearance success in the Alleged Stakes by adding the Huxley Stakes at Chester, to prove he still possesses all the high-class ability he showed when motoring to multiple victories as a juvenile.

He is one of three in the mix for O’Brien in the Group One contest alongside Dubai Gold Cup scorer Broome and last year’s Derby fifth Changingoftheguard.

However, it appears Point Lonsdale is Ballydoyle’s main hope for the race, trying a mile and a half for the first time.

“The plan is to go for the Coronation Cup with Point Lonsdale,” said O’Brien. “It looked the last day like a mile and a half might suit him.”

O’Brien also holds a strong hand in both of the Classics set to be run on the Surrey Downs with Savethelastdance the overwhelming favourite for the Betfred Oaks and Auguste Rodin high-up on ante-post lists for the Betfred Derby despite disappointing in the 2000 Guineas.

“Epsom is all about Auguste Rodin at the moment and everything has gone well since the Guineas. We have others in and it’s possible that something else will run with him,” said O’Brien when assessing his contenders.

“Covent Garden might run in the Derby as well along with Adelaide River.

“Gooloogong will go for the mile and six race, the (Queen’s) Vase, at Ascot.

“Savethelastdance has done well since Chester. Be Happy was second in Lingfield and may run as well.”

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  • Westover has sights set on Breeders’ Cup after brave Arc bid Westover has sights set on Breeders’ Cup after brave Arc bid

    Ralph Beckett is eyeing a run at the Breeders’ Cup following Westover’s brave second in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

    The son of Frankel, who was an Irish Derby winner at three, had to settle for sixth in his first crack at Europe’s richest middle distance prize.

    But returning to the French capital on the back of a fine four-year-old campaign, the colt thrived in the unusually quick ground to find only the imperious Ace Impact too good in the closing stages.

    Westover finished a length and three-quarters behind Jean-Claude Rouget’s impressive victor, but Beckett could not hide his pride in his charge who has now earnt a trip to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Turf next month.

    “What a run, I’m delighted, what a run,” said Beckett.

    “Hukum came across and sort of helped the pace along it looked like to me. He seemed a bit lazy out of the gate and then has got his place.

    “At the top of the straight I thought we were in business, but there was just one better.

    “He’s gone and done it again, which is terrific for everyone. I’m so proud of him.”

    He went on: “I always fancied the Breeders’ Cup Turf for him because he’s a horse who enjoys his time away, as we saw in Dubai.

    “So I’ve always kind of fancied that for him. The Breeders’ Cup Turf is shaping up to be the best ever isn’t it, but that’s life and I think we will probably go.”

    Westover was once again picking up a silver medal having also filled the runner-up spot behind Hukum in a thrilling renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier in the season.

    However, Owen Burrows’ five-year-old could not repeat his Ascot heroics from a tricky position in stall 14, with the quick ground blunting his challenge.

    “The ground was a lot quicker than ideal. We didn’t expect it to be so quick, it was on the fast side of good,” said jockey Jim Crowley.

    “From stall 14 I had to use up a little bit (of energy) but I actually got a good position and was happy. I got a breather into him down the hill but he just couldn’t pick up on the quick ground.

    “He owes us nothing, he has come back from injury and won a King George, he is a very special horse.”

    Fabrice Chappet’s Onesto claimed third, while Japan’s wait for a first Arc winner goes on after Tomohito Ozeki’s Through Seven Seas kept on for fourth, but ultimately could not land a telling blow at the business end.

    “There was no pace on and so our jockey held her up,” said Ozeki.

    “It was a sprint in the straight but I am pleased at the way she finished. We don’t know whether she will run again. It depends how she is because the Arc is such a great challenge for a horse.”

    A place further back in fifth was Aidan O’Brien’s Continuous, who having been supplemented into the contest at a cost of 120,000 euros, was unable to add this middle-distance showpiece to the St Leger success he claimed at Doncaster.

    The Ballydoyle team are now eyeing some overseas adventures with the son of Heart’s Cry later in the year.

    O’Brien said: “We’re very happy. We made the decision to take our time and let him relax.

    “They sprinted the last two furlongs, but he wasn’t finished and ran all the way to the line.

    “He looks like he wants a strongly run mile-and-a-half so obviously we can look at Japan, Hong King, America and Dubai.

    “He’s a very legitimate horse and a ready-made four-year-old. He loves travelling, and the best is yet to come.”

    Meanwhile Bay Bridge could be set for a defence of his Champion Stakes crown having faded into sixth after racing keenly in the early stages.

    He was just a little free and needs more moisture in the ground” said trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

    “If he comes out of it well he could go for another shot at the Champion Stakes.”

  • No fairytale Arc farewell, but Dettori still smiling No fairytale Arc farewell, but Dettori still smiling

    There was no fairytale finale for Frankie Dettori in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, although the weighing-room legend was still able to leave ParisLongchamp with a smile on his face.

    His final ride in the mile-and-a-half showpiece came aboard Free Wind, but as the John and Thady Gosden-trained mare was double-figure odds against a hot favourite in Ace Impact, a dream farewell always appeared unlikely.

    And so it proved as after travelling well on the heels of the leaders in the early stages, Free Wind found it tough going in the sprint to the line and was left well behind brilliant winner Ace Impact in 13th place.

    “I had no pressure today, I didn’t feel it,” said Dettori, who will retire at the end of the year.

    “I got a lovely slot behind Westover, I knew he would take me there. When he got to the straight they quickened a little bit and left me there, but I really enjoyed it. The Arc has been a great race for me, it has been a good journey, but I’m bowing out with a smile on my face.”

    Dettori, who plans to hang up his saddle after riding at Hong Kong’s International meeting in December, bows out the winner of six Arcs – making him the most successful rider in the race’s glorious history.

    His first victory came aboard Lammtarra in 1995, with Sakhee’s six-length demolition job in 2001 quickly followed by Marienbard’s unexpected victory a year later.

    However, Dettori then had to wait until 2015 when he produced a peach of a ride from a wide draw on Golden Horn, before Enable completed a double in 2017 and 2018, sealing her status as one of the best racemares of all time.

    Dettori entered the stalls for the Arc on no less than 34 occasions and could reflect with satisfaction on his final spin.

    He added: “This morning I was sad, but now that I have got going a bit I can feel the adrenaline kicking in and the competition. I will miss it, for sure.

    “It’s all been great, six Arc wins, what can you say? I’ve ridden some great champions and riding in it 34 times is a record in itself.”

  • Ace Impact shows blistering burst for stunning Arc success Ace Impact shows blistering burst for stunning Arc success

    Ace Impact once again displayed his sensational turn of foot as he sprinted to glory in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

    Unbeaten in five previous runs for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, the Prix du Jockey Club winner was trying his hand at 12 furlongs for the first time in the European middle-distance championship.

    Employing his usual waiting tactics, Cristian Demuro settled Ace Impact – who got very worked up in the paddock beforehand – at the back of the field before unleashing his electrifying burst in the closing stages to overhaul the gallant Westover and pull away for an impressive triumph.

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