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Mixed fortunes for some of Aidan O’Brien’s leading lights

10 Apr 2017

Hydrangea and Orderofthegarter both win in Ireland over the weekend but Alice Springs and US Army Ranger are beaten

alice springs

Alice Springs made an encouraging return to action in the Group 3 Gladness Stakes at Naas on Sunday.

A dual winner in the QIPCO Champions Series last year, when she won the Falmouth Stakes and Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, Aidan O’Brien had warned she would come on a lot for the run and the trip of seven furlongs was also on the sharp side for her.

However, Alice Springs still started 6-4 favourite and looked like prevailing when collaring front-running Blue De Vega deep inside the final furlong, only for the Fozzy Stack-trained Diamond Fields to collar her in the final strides.

Alice Springs was not subjected to a hard race by Ryan Moore and seems certain to derive plenty of benefit.

Later, O’Brien’s Derby runner-up US Army Ranger made his return in the Dr Vincent O’Brien Centenary Alleged Stakes.

He also looked in need of the run, though, and a bit keen, finished third behind British challenger Air Pilot.

“You can always rely on these old geldings to get you out of jail when things aren’t going great,” said Ralph Beckett, the winning trainer. “He’s a great old campaigner and probably has another day or two in him.”

On Saturday, O’Brien’s Hydrangea kept on well to land the Group 3 Ballylinch Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.

The daughter of Galileo, one of four runners for the stable in the race, will now be considered for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 7.

“She’s a very solid filly, and had the form in the book,” O’Brien said. “She will be in the mix for Newmarket.”

O’Brien also landed 2,000 Guineas Trial on the card with Orderofthegarter, who made all and won by nearly four lengths.

The trainer will now consider the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas for the son of Galileo and confirmed plans for Churchill, hot favourite for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6, and Caravaggio, who is also prominent in the market.

“At the moment we are looking at running Churchill at Newmarket and Caravaggio in France,” he said. “That is Plan A, but things can always change.”

The QIPCO 2000 Guineas is the first race in this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.

Alice Springs was beaten at the weekend but looks set to come on for that run. Picture: Racingfotos.com