Air Force Blue drops in class
The view from connections ahead of the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint at the Curragh on Sunday.
Air Force Blue drops in class on Sunday
Air Force Blue has his sights lowered in a bid to get his career back on track in the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club Phoenix Sprint at the Curragh on Sunday.
The son of War Front looked another superstar colt for trainer Aidan O'Brien after a hat-trick of Group One victories as a juvenile ensured he was crowned last season's champion two-year-old.
He was odds-on to claim Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, but beat just one horse home and his two subsequent starts in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the July Cup have not yielded much of an improvement.
After six consecutive runs in Group One company, Air Force Blue drops down to Group Three level this weekend and is the only three-year-old in a seven-strong field.
O'Brien told At The Races: "We were very happy with his run at Newmarket, he nearly went to the line on the bridle and Ryan was very happy.
"The way the race fell he was a little slowly away and found himself behind a wall of horses and the wall never split, so he sat away.
"It might have been a blessing in disguise, as it's a big jump from the Irish Guineas in soft ground into that. He had a very easy race, it was only really like a piece of work to him.
"We were looking forward to going to France (Prix Maurice de Gheest) with him, but the ground wasn't there. We're very happy with him at home and looking forward to seeing him run on nice ground."
Richard Fahey's Eastern Impact turns out just a week after finishing third in a Listed event at Chester and is joined on the trip from Yorkshire by the David O'Meara-trained Lord Of The Land.
Mick Halford's Godolphin runner Toscanini won over the course and distance on his penultimate start and was third to a resurgent Gordon Lord Byron in the Minstrel Stakes on his latest visit to the track.
"He always runs well at the Curragh, he'll like the good ground and six furlongs is probably his ideal trip," said Halford.
"I suppose strictly on ratings Air Force Blue is the one we all have to beat, but we're happy with our horse.
"He's very consistent and hopefully he'll run another good race."
Ireland's 'sprint king' Eddie Lynam is represented by progressive filly Fort Del Oro, who won her third Listed prize at Naas almost three weeks ago.
Lynam said: "It looks a good race – there a couple of English horses coming over that are pretty good – but our filly is in good form and we're happy with her.
"She's a three-time Listed winner now, so we're trying to win a Group race.
"She's a solid filly and I don't think the ground will bother her."
The in-form Jim Bolger runs the tough-as-teak Flight Risk, while David Marnane's stable stalwart Jamesie is back in action eight days after running with credit in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood.