O’Brien unveils his strongest Goodwood festival line-up

Aidan O'Brien is eyeing another Sussex Stakes success / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Aidan O'Brien is eyeing another Sussex Stakes success / Picture by Malcolm Wells

RACECOURSE bosses today expressed their delight that Aidan O’Brien is set to field his strongest-ever Goodwood line-up.

The esteeemed Ireland-based trainer has high hopes of winning the Sussex Stakes for the first time in six years – but have plenty of other big-race targets at the Qatar Goodwood Festival as well.

Three-year-old dual Classic winner Gleneagles is O’Brien’s headline act and is set to go off favourite in the £1m Qatar Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, July 29, in his first meeting with champion older miler Solow, trained in France by Freddy Head.

But Gleneagles is just one of several likely runners for O’Brien, whose presence adds quality to any racing festival.

Kevin Buckley, UK representative for Coolmore, revealed the news Goodwood officials wanted to hear when he guested at a media launch for the festival in central London.

Buckley – nephew of Goodwood clerk of the course Seamus Buckley – said: “I spoke to Aidan and Joseph (O’Brien) at Newmarket on Saturday and they said Gleneagles is in great shape. He did a very nice piece of work on Friday.

“Aidan said every time Gleneagles runs, he lives up to expectations and I agree with him. He is a specialist miler.

“He is a very tough horse with a low action. His dam is a sister to Giant’s Causeway who won the Cherry Hinton and he is by the world’s best stallion, Galileo. They are very special ingredients.

“We would ideally like the rain to stay away - hopefully Uncle Seamus can help out! Gleneagles is a versatile horse so it is going to be an interesting race and very tactical.”

Gleneagles would have been ridden by Sussex jockey Ryan Moore but a neck injury sustained in a stalls incident at Newmarket a week ago is set to keep him out of the saddle beyond Glorious week.

Kevin Buckley said: “As regards riding arrangements at Goodwood, we have always chosen the best available on the day and I am sure that will be the case again.”

Buxkley confirmed they could have more Goodwood runners than ever before, adding: “We could run three two-year-olds.

“Air Vice Marshall could run in the Vintage Stakes depending on how he come out of Newmarket. Washington DC, who won the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot, could for the Molecomb, while Air Force Blue, who was second in the Coventry Stakes, could go for the Richmond Stakes.

“Father Christmas could take his hand in the Gordon Stakes while Diamondsandrubies and Legatissimo could take each other on again in the Nassau Stakes.

“We are very appreciative of the cash injection from Qatar and for future stallions, winning a Group race at Goodwood is highly-important to us in making stallions.”

Racecourse managing director Adam Waterworth said: “The entries this year are as strong as I can remember and in terms of the Qatar Sussex Stakes, I hope we can have real strength in depth. We have the champion older horse against the champion three-year-old and without being greedy, I hope we can have a strong supporting cast too.

“Seamus has a brilliant reputation for providing perfect racing ground and we have been very lucky over the past four years with two wins for Frankel followed by Toronado and Kingman last year. We have been truly blessed with some top milers and it looks another outstanding race this year.

“And to hear that Aidan O’Brien is planning such a strong showing is tremendous news. He looks like having three two-year-olds, one in each of our big two-year-olds’ races, and several other high-class contenders elsewhere.

“It was lovely to hear at the launch from so many yards who have taken notice of the increased prize money and are responding accordingly with their support for the festival.”

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