Tucked away in winter quarters, Gainsborough’s sons and Buchan’s daughters

Blue of blood, clean lined and handsome, priced beyond a prince’s ransom

Where no danger can befall them, rest ‘til next year’s classics call them.

THOSE words were written a century ago to begin the William Ogilvie poem Steeplechasers.

Through later decades, it was the bluest of bloods in Ballydoyle’s stables that gathered most of the attention as the new flat season began and the first classics came up on the horizon. And it was the sons and daughters of Northern Dancer, Sadler’s Wells and latterly Galileo that awaited their classic dates.

Across the water in those past decades the opposition ranks came from the Walywn, Hern and Cecil yards to compete with the O’Brien stars.

The O’Brien name continues on and there are newer rivals over the sea in Newmarket. The flat season begins here, as members of the Irish racing media await entry passes at the Ballydoyle gates. Seven British 1000 Guineas and ten 2000 Guineas winners have thus far had APO’B on their blankets.

In through the gates and you are moving past classic history. Nijinsky commemorated in a sculpture on the left. Imagine’s resting place with a plaque on the right. The spring sun rises above the dark shapes of monuments to Yeats and Giant’s Causeway.

Out to the work and it’s always notable how well behaved every horse is – 40-odd horses, walking two by two in the warm-up barn, then a standing trot in each direction, ignoring the press eyes and cameras.

On the gallops are new additions – speed cameras – this time to tell the lookers-on what speed is approaching– not a slow down warning to the riders. After pull-up they circle back past the master for a quick nod of approval. The Galileo filly History does an impression of Zenyatta’s famous extended front leg walk.

“All right Shane, alright Sophie, alright Soumi, good man.”

When asked how he spends the day the trainer confesses that after the two lots, and lunch, he retires to spend time looking at the boards and see what needs to be tweaked for next time and is in bed by 9.30 or 10. “It’s all I do, I’m here all the time, that’s why I know everyone’s name!”

What’s the dam?

As the horses warm down and comments are given, it’s the dams’ names that register more quickly in the mind of the trainer. To a question on a particular horse “what’s the dam?” and he is quicker to then give the update on their most recent progeny.

The dams in second lot could be a Who’s Who of the elite mares of recent times. Immortal Verse, Tepin, Lady Eli, Was, Marvellous, Anthony Van Dyck’s sister is Twinkle.

There seems plenty of confidence that Tenebrism will see out the trip when the Cheveley Park Stakes winner steps up to a mile in the Qipco 1000 Guineas.

She is by the sprinter Caravaggio, but her dam, Immortal Verse, did win the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot over a mile. “We always felt Caravaggio could go further,”he said

The filly was the joint top rated Ballydoyle two-year-old in the international classifications, at 115 along with Luxembourg and a pound ahead of Point Lonsdale. The pair were joint second in the ratings behind the National Stakes winner Native Trail (122).

Last year’s three-year-old colts didn’t catch fire and ante-post Derby favourite High Definition will be given the chance to redeem his reputation after some unavailing efforts.

There are still high hopes he can fulfil the potential of his first season. Hugely impressive in his two outing at two, on his debut and winning the Beresford Stakes, he reappeared when third at York for the Dante Stakes but it was downhill from there, disappointing in the Irish Derby and when last seen in the St Leger.

First lot for morning work relax by walking after their canters \ HEALY RACING

Aidan noted the good spring weather has brought the horses forward but then “it’s bringing everyone else’s horses forward too. We were going really well until three weeks ago when we got a foot of snow here, no one else got it.

“This time of year you are dreaming more but anything could happen, reality gets in quick.”

There are many dark horses yet to reveal full potential. Waterville gets numerous mentions and the day after the visit the Galileo colt Stone Age was an impressive nine-length winner in Peter Brandt’s colours at Navan earning Derby quotes of 33/1. The stable is unlikely to have any runners in Britain before the Guineas meeting. “It doesn’t really suit us, I think the Guineas will be the first. Do the trials and Chester and Lingfield again and see what we have. Space them out and learn at the races.”

Older horses

Bolshoi Ballet

4yo b c (/11714469-)

Galileo - Alta Anna

The 2021 Derby favourite was last seen down the field in the Hong Kong Cup and was not among the workers on Monday.

“Bolshoi Ballet is on the way back. He got a little fracture a couple of months ago but he’s back and ready to start again – it will be the middle of the season maybe. I think a mile and a half is his trip. I don’t think he’ll be back for Ascot, but he’ll be back in the autumn and we think he’ll be better as a four-year-old.”


6yo b c (122142020-)

Australia - Sweepstake

The six-year-old French Group 1 winner is back again but his comeback will be delayed after picking up a freak injury following his last run in the Japan Cup.

“Broome picked up an injury when he was in Japan. When he was getting untacked, a horse walked by and kicked him which fractured his shin. It was a freak thing to happen as this was after the race, so he had to have a long time off. I think he’ll take a bit of time but hopefully we’ll have him for Ascot.”

High Definition

4yo b c (11/3069-)

Galileo - Palace

“High Definition worked very well at the Curragh. He’s going to come on the next day and he’ll start in that 10-furlong race, the Mooresbridge, something like that, but he’s ready to go now,”

“Looking at him now, he was probably very weak last year and the two runs at two probably took more out of him than we thought. He was a big horse for two runs and maybe I should have left him. Ten or 12 furlongs should be no problem.”

Order Of Australia

5yo b h (16/815320-)

Australia - Senta’s Dream

“He suffered a small fracture in his last run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but he’s back now and in great form. He finished close up behind the best milers around last season and held his form well. We are looking at the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot for his first big target. We’ll decide closer to the time whether we’ll give him a run or a racecourse gallop before it. I don’t think he’ll be ready for the Lockinge.”


4yo ch c (2/1223255-)

Galileo - Chelsea Rose

The Grand Prix de Paris runner-up is likely to be one for staying contests along with Kyprios.

“Wordsworth went to the Curragh, he’s going to stay well. He might start off at Navan (Vintage Crop), he’s a brother to Kew Gardens. Kyprios is there for that race as well.”

Mother Earth

4yo b f (/1232132504-1)

Zoffany - Many Colours

The dual Group 1 winner is the leading older filly.

“Mother Earth is the only one of the good three-year-old fillies who has stayed in training, the others have gone off to stud like Joan Of Arc and Empress Josephine.

We were going to keep Santa Barbara and Snowfall, but unfortunately we lost the two of them.

We were delighted with her winning return at the Curragh and she should benefit plenty from that run. She’ll have loads of options in Group 1 races over a mile both against fillies and colts throughout the season.”



3yo b c (614-)

Galileo - Quiet Reflection

“Bluegrass might run in the Ballysax. He was just a bit green at Newmarket, it took a while for the penny to drop, he has a lazy way of going. He didn’t run too bad in the Zetland after never travelling.”


3yo bb c (147-)

No Nay Never - Saucy Spirit

“He’ll go to Navan for the start of the three-year-old sprints.”


3yo b f

Galileo - Red Evie

“She is Found’s sister. She looks like starting over a mile.”

Contarelli Church

Gr f (14-)

Carvaggio – Chenchikova

“We always thought the world of her. She had to have a chip taken out of her knee after her run in the Group 3 at Naas and that was why she didn’t run again last season. She’s going very well. She’s a half-sister to Donnacha’s Fancy Blue and is out of a full-sister to High Chaparral, so there must be a good chance that she’ll stay a mile.”


3yo b c (1610-)

Kodiac - Khaimah

“He will go for the Guineas trial on Saturday, he’s going very well and showing plenty of pace. America was probably too quick for him, Ryan said he couldn’t get him organised and he was too green on the track but he’s going well. We were playing catch up all last season, he’s a big horse, but he could be one for the French Guineas.”


3yo b (111-)

Camelot - Attire

“It looks like Luxembourg will go straight to the Guineas. He travelled well in his work (at the Curragh). The two of them finished close and it will be interesting. The two [Point Lonsdale] could go there and then we’ll see after that, but you’d imagine they’d have no problem stepping up (in trip).

“He’s probably bigger than Camelot but he has the pace. Camelot is the only Montjeu to win a Guineas I think and this fellow finds it easy to go fast, which is a good sign. They could both be Derby horses.”

Point Lonsdale

3yo b c ((11112-)

Australia - Sweepstake

“We’re thinking the two of them can go to the Guineas at the moment. Point Lonsdale is a lovely horse, he has a great mind and when he gallops his head goes to the ground. He’s a great traveller, has plenty of pace and he’d love a nice bit of ground, even though he was racing on soft ground most of last year. A very brave horse.”


3yo b c (615-)

Churchill - Pivotalia

“Scriptwriter ran in England at the end of the season, he’s probably one for a Derby trial, he looks a mile/mile and a quarter horse. He won at Gowran and he could go for a trial or we might even chance him over a mile. I think a mile and a quarter might suit him better.”

Star Of India

3yo b c (1-)

Galileo - Shermeen

A Leopardstown maiden winner.

“Star Of India went to the Curragh to see if he was a Guineas or a Derby horse. He has a lazy way of going but does everything well, there’s always plenty in there. He could look at a French Guineas and then look at the French Derby. He’s another one of those who could be anything.”


3yo bb f (11-)

Caravaggio - Immortal Verse

The leading two-year-old filly was among the string who worked on the Curragh last Saturday.

“I was very happy with Tenebrism, Ryan was very happy. He felt there’s a good chance that she could stay (a mile). We went a good gallop in front of her and she picked up and ran home.

She had a little problem last year which was why her races were spaced out, but she looks very smart at the moment.

“I thought it was impossible what she did at Newmarket. She was literally back in work two months and hadn’t had a racecourse gallop.

“At halfway I thought she was going to run bad. She looked like she wanted every yard of that trip. We always thought Caravaggio could have stretched further than five or six.”


3yo ch f

Galileo - You’resothrilling

“I think she’s a talented filly. We might consider going straight to a stakes race next rather than another maiden, but we haven’t decided that yet.”


3yo b f (2- 1)

Galileo - Lillie Langtry

The sister to Minding broke her maiden on Sunday at Naas.

“Tuesday was good and she’ll come on plenty. We were delighted with her. I think the English Guineas will be too soon for her, so it might be an Irish Guineas on the way to an Oaks, something like that. There is a trial at Leopardstown, she could go there.

I’m thinking of going up gradually on the way to an Irish Guineas, or we could have a look at the Musidora if we weren’t doing that.”

United Nations

3yo b c (17-)

Galileo - Christmas Kid

“He will stay well. Physically he has done well. He won at Naas and then went to Newmarket. I think he’ll stay well, he’ll want a mile and a quarter plus. He’s lazy but will stay well.”


3yo b c

Camelot – Holy Moon

A half-brother to the ill-fated Arc runner-up and classic winner Sea Of Class, the unraced colt gained favourable mention.

“A very nice horse. He has never run before. He could be a good bit better than a maiden and may even be a Derby horse. He’s a Camelot half-brother to Sea Of Class, who was only just beaten in an Arc for William Haggas. He’s a very big horse and will run in a maiden before long.”

The stable has a host of three-year-old maidens and Aidan highlighted some he felt could be better than average.

“Cougar, Samuel Pepys, and Changingoftheguard are maidens who are going well. Snowfall’s brother, (Newfoundland) has been going nicely too. Loch Ness is another, he had a nice run behind Star Of India.”

“The Algarve was ready to run but she got an infection in her hock. She’ll have an Oaks Trial and could be an Oaks filly. Only, the first foal out of Winter, a Deep Impact filly, she goes well, too.”


It is early days for the Ballydoyle juveniles as one batch by the speedier sires are in faster work and a second group, with many by Galileo, were out but not asked any questions yet. O’Brien nominated a few that have caught his eye.

“Little Big Bear is likely to be our first runner, he is by No Nay Never out of Adventure Seeker, he’s going well. He’s one for a six-furlong maiden at the Curragh. The same day Mediate, by No Nay Never out of Pembina, might run in the fillies’ maiden over five.

“There’s a very nice colt by Mendelssohn called Congo River who is working well. There’s one by Sioux Nation out of Rhiana, Tiger Paw, going nicely. We’ve only two by Sioux Nation and they are fast horses.

“There’s a Dark Angel out of Anna Law (dam of Battaash), The Antarctic, they were some of the early ones, along with Aesop’s Fables (No Nay Never-Hows She Cuttin), who have made it into our A grade when they’ve been working.”

Aidan on the suggestions

of illegal drugs in racing

“I think it has to be policed like any other sport. All the places have to be policed, there was a thing in France and one in America, those things have to investigated and checked. But talking about something when they don’t seem to have any facts ... My opinion is everything has to be scrutinised but you can’t be talking about something when you don’t seem to have any facts.”

Aidan on social media

“I don’t have a lot of time – I just read the headline. I’m on Twitter but nobody sees me! I’m sure I get abuse, I don’t read the comments. Who is this ‘Icy’ fellow, anyway?!”