Racing takes us to Naas tomorrow. It’s a low key card with a 10f listed race for 3yo fillies the feature. It’s being called an Oaks Trial. I’m not sure what kind of a record it has for producing Irish Oaks winners or runners, I’d be surprised if there were many. Our stable star Dean Street Doll runs here and appears to have a legitimate chance. Her Guineas run was very good. A staying on 5th is a peculiar feeling. She has ran well, justified her place in the race, honourable etc but it’s still nowhere. This filly’s pedigree and the way she has been finishing her races suggests 10f will bring about improvement and if that’s the case she’ll take whacking. My feeling is that a Naas 10 is going to be a fair test for her. We have to have a look as it frames the rest of her 3yo campaign. She is reckless hard on herself and trying to get her to conserve is going to be a big problem for Colin. It’s a very competitive race with 1st and 3rd from the Guineas trial in there, an unknown quantity from DK and then the small matter of Team Ballydoyle. Individually they are lesser fillies, by their standards, as a collective they’re a different proposition altogether. I heard Aidan describe recently their policy of racing horses, campaigning them vigorously and categorically identifying the best, most durable amongst them. It’s good for the breed, strengthens the gene pool etc. I admire everything about the outfit. Brilliant horses, brilliantly trained, campaigned, ridden etc but when 2 or 3 or 4 rock up in the same race it makes life tricky. Head down and keep kicking I suppose.

We head to Leopardstown tomorrow for a low key card. Royal Ascot is the biggest show in racing at the moment but mere mortals have to ply their trade away from the spotlight. That’s us! Some day we’ll go, hopefully.  We could have gone with Dean Street and Chessman I suppose but belting runs to finish 8th of 28 or 10th of 30 didn’t really appeal. Anyway we introduce our 2nd 2 year old tomorrow. It’s the first mile race for 2 year olds and I put her in because usually it’s a small field and I expect her to be a bit dozy for the first couple of furlongs. She will be fine back at 7 after tomorrow but the early tempo will suit her better. She is a filly we like, her work is good but my experience of my starters  is to expect nothing and get their first run out of the way. It’s a huge occasion for them and if she gets the opportunity to learn and enjoy the day out then we can think of a plan thereafter.   Papal Count runs in the last. He ran fine on Saturday. He looked caught for a gear turning in after they appeared to go slowly and a better gallop will suit. His runs have been with cut but he’s a good mover and a solid gallop on nice ground might have him competitive. I say might because it’s hope rather than expectation.

We were in Gowran this day last year and were in the middle of a pretty mental run of results. Things are completely different this year. The nice ones are performing but that means running nicely without coming close to winning and the lesser ones aren’t winning or coming close to it. Tomorrow is going to be more of the same. 2 grand horses capable of running away fine. Drawn in 1 and 2 and on Tipp’s sprint track, with juice in the ground, that is lights out. That’s not being pessimistic, it’s just a fact. Ampeson is now a gelding, he was very taken by The Curragh the first day and especially the 5 fillies in his race. That was a Monday, he was a gelding by lunchtime Tuesday.  He’s fine to start back. It’s a hot race and realistically he needs to travel and finish and I’ll be happy with that. That’s Mad has 2 good runs over 5 furlongs and a repeat of those would have him running well again. The draw scuppers things however.    

Tomorrow’s 2000 Guineas is the new Curragh’s first big day. It’s great to see the race with 2 potential superstars facing off. Newmarket’s convincing winner taking on last year’s champion 2yo. Christ it’s exciting. Our 2 will have run by then with Barend Boy going first. I got excited for a brief moment a furlong down in Naas last Sunday but he ran out of steam late on, fading to finish 4th. It was a good effort and dropping back a furlong should suit. I say should but he needs to travel better than he did over 6 two runs back. I hope he’s not a bit tripless.He’s taking on his elders aswell and that makes things tougher.   Chessman goes next and his last 2 runs have been good. This was his target since Navan but last week’s Listed 7 cut up and he had to take his chance. He bumped in to a filly on fire and she outbattled him late on. It won’t be the last time he’s outbattled but he’s a very talented horse that’s performing to a high level and I’m not going to crib him. I am conscious he tended to throw in occasional stinkers in his previous life but he seems to have taken last Sunday’s race well. This is a substandard Group 2 and this lad on song could swoop past a few of these. He needs to be spot on though, I hope he is.   I probably won’t get to expand on Dean Street Doll and her Guineas assignment Sunday but it’s one we’re looking forward to. She’s well, she has been on the go but she’s maintaining her condition and her appetite for work is terrific. She’s high energy and despite a busy schedule her post exercise pick of grass had to be cut short due to bad behaviour this morning. Whether she’s entitled to have a go at these superstars weighs a little but hopefully she acquits herself well. Her Guineas trial 2nd was admirable, I thought and things could have gone better. Colin had to take her back early on the last day and when they dropped to a crawl she started to pull very hard and stopped using herself the way she can. This is the key, if she can get down and settle in to a rhythm and use herself she will definitely step forward on what she has done thus far. Whether that’s enough or whether she has the sense yet to settle are the unknowns but myself and Clive and all attached to this beautiful filly are going to enjoy the experience of finding out.

I have failed to keep up with these blogs recently. I’ll have to do better. These horses have been running away fine at times and to be competing in some of these better class races feels great but a winner or 2 wouldn’t go astray. T For Tango runs in the 6f claimer tomorrow and it has to be a good opportunity for him. How can he mess this up? Lincoln could I suppose. Sligo should suit and the trip would be more his than his main rival’s. He could be claimed too and if he is so be it. He was an 8k purchase last July and has won a race and been placed. He’s far better than his rating but needs heavy ground and a fast pace. He could run to quite a high rating in that instance. He’s sound and easy to train.

The lovely Dean Street Doll steps in to stakes company tomorrow for Leopardstown’s 1000 Guineas Trial. It’s a huge step up from winning a maiden 15 days ago but it fits in to have a look. It’s not a big field and while they will be undoubtedly hot to handle it’ll be interesting to see if she can. For her to win a maiden wasn’t a surprise but for her to do it so soon was. To me anyway. She has a lovely way of doing things but she pulls very hard in her work and her races and can feel a little weak late on in her exercise and I expected her to find less than she did. Colin liked her and advised this route. He’s riding like a man possessed at the moment and it’s nice to have him on our side tomorrow.

We have 3 going to Naas tomorrow and we’re on the straight course for all 3. I have been critical of the draw bias that has been obvious on the straight track since the opening meet of the year. I believe this goes back to August ’18 in fact but I’m open to correction. After the last meet I tweeted something to the effect that turning up in double figure stalls was a waste of time. It was, whether it still is depends on what racecourse management have done to address it. I spoke to Tom Ryan, the racecourse manager, Wednesday and he assured me that they have been aware of the bias and have thoroughly investigated distances etc. They have examined the course using a penetrometer( a going stick I think) and the stalls are to be positioned further stands side.  Let’s see. May Remain goes in the 5f Sprint Handicap. This is his trip and this is his grade. His runs thus far just aren’t quite good enough. He needs to come up a level, get up to a proper level of fitness and find that zone that will get him winning. He’s working hard at home, running regularly and should get there. Sooner rather than later, one hopes. Barend Boy is in a lovely race. There has been no 3yo only 6f hcap for him on turf yet this year and his first one is an ultra competitive 50k heat. He’s drawn well and has the help of the best in the business. A stakes horse will more than likely win this. He’s not that but he is a rock solid, likeable customer that got back on track on his most recent run. He’s heading in to a busy schedule but if he was from another era and was required to contest multiple match races in one day, he could. He’s granite tough, not over big but with great depth and bone. Watch out for Sonaiyla, she has been running huge from some crazy draws and her most recent 4th was a notable effort. Check out my tipping column! T For Tango is last and is poorly drawn again. He has been running away fine but he needs a very specific set up. There needs to be a pace collapse, he gets that on heavy ground but when he has to graft from deep on quicker ground to get involved things happen a bit quick and he ends up eye catching. He’s talented though and is better running than looking at us at home. He’s drawn poorly and Declan McDonagh rides. He had no chance from his draw the last day but Declan was nice and positive about the horse afterwards. It makes a difference, when someone is heading out full of optimism, it has to help.

We head to The Curragh tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing the new developments. The general consensus is that it’s very well thought out and completed and it’ll be nice to be part of the occasion. We run 4. Ampeson goes in the 2yo Listed Sprint. I was pleased with him the last day. I know he was last of 3 given the draw bias on the night but he did plenty right. He had a little crack at the winner a furlong down and blew up in the same instant. He took the race well and is a candidate to get much fitter with racing. He’s extraordinarily gross and will need to be gelded sooner rather than later but as long as he’s running fine we’ll keep kicking. Listed level seems ambitious but for the last number of weeks and the next few weeks maidens here are like listed races. The most important thing with this guy is that he’s running regularly. Maymine and May Remain run in the 6f 50-70hcap and it’s a cavalry charge. May Remain runs away regularly and he should pop up some day. He’s not well drawn however with high numbers advantaged. Maymine is drawn better in 22 and she has 5lbs off with Shane Crosse. It’s her first run for a bit and the ground is my concern. The ground as described (yielding, yielding to soft) would be fine but it’s drying all the while and it could be good by tomorrow evening. She is well handicapped but realistically these 30 runner events are dangerously competitive. Global Pass runs in the next and I’m convinced this lad is poised to do something soon. I would prefer much quicker ground but he’s not going to get too many chances to run at the Curragh. The galloping nature of the track should suit him and it’s worth hoping it will have dried out sufficiently and let him run. His 1st run back was ok on ground tougher than he’d like. He travelled well and just when he looked like he’d stay on and run a race full of promise he levelled out a little. It was ok without being much better than that. Similar to how things are going for us. We could do with a bit of momentum developing but we’re facing into a cauldron to try and gather some. Look on the positives, bit part player on the opening day of The New Curragh. Could be worse I suppose

We head to Dundalk tomorrow with a few. It’s been a quiet week with runners but Ruby’s retirement stopped me last evening. The greatest, without question, he brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people. I could ramble on ad infinitum. A thought struck me watching my own horses riding out a few weeks ago. Amateurs and an apprentice and a would be apprentice were riding them. Each riding with plenty of leg, locked on, horses relaxed and everything happening in front of them. When I was a kid learning the ropes you couldn’t ride short enough, literally knees touching, ready to be launched. Ruby changed that, dropped them 6 inches and it’s now the norm. He popularised horsemanship, put the emphasis on it. It’s worth looking back at this year’s Supreme Novices, that Klassical Dream was hard work in the prelims. I’m convinced he would have got the better of most. Anyway I digress but Christ he was extraordinary. 4 tomorrow and we run 2 in the €30k extended 10 furlongs fillies handicap. 7 go to post and we’re shoehorning both in to this event simply because of the small field and money on offer. I should be a conscientious objector when it comes to Dundalk and the surface issues but my conscience wouldn’t allow me leave these 2 ladies on the sidelines while 5 battled for their share of €30k. Cautious Approach was terrific the last night and probably should have won but for tripping slightly turning in. The step up in trip is a slight unknown but she looks and is bred to stay. She had a go at 11f as a 3yo and definitely didn’t stay but she was a much lankier unfurnished rasher then. I’m hoping the 2 fillies at the head of the market might have their winning done. Bianca Minola runs also and her question is the surface. She’s better with plenty of juice but she’s not slow and has no physical infirmities to prevent her from letting herself  down on it. Interestingly her best run is on fast ground albeit over 13 furlongs and in defeat. Let’s see. Khabaray is next and he definitely would not be in training except my father owns him. He had very good form 2 years ago but showed less than nothing last year. He was a work horse for everybody and I felt he may have suffered for the tough schedule. He has been trained properly this year and is showing nothing. He has loads done and I’m running him in an effort to spark some life in him. The most frustrating thing is there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him. We’ll just have to see. Lord Cooper is last. He runs off his proper mark this time but even with 11lbs less than the last day a repeat would see him disappointing. He’s showing bits and pieces and he’s another that won’t be seen again unless he’s competitive. He was a nice horse in his day, he’s still young and doesn’t have anything obviously amiss, they usually do something. It’s up to him.

Limerick tomorrow and if this rain keeps up it’s going to be a slog. Probably a fair few non runners aswell and we may end up with a reserve getting in and 4 runners as a result. Papal Count was refused a mark after his 3rd run and we’re trying to get him out quick. He didn’t progress much from his first run to his second and needs to be careful. Handicapping is where his future lies for sure and to get going at it ASAP is the priority. Dianthus runs in the first. I was concerned pre race that she may be too gassy for her first run and so it proved. She showed plenty and if that weak finishing effort can be fully explained by lack of fitness and over exuberance then she should be bashing down the door tomorrow. Her draw in 12 doesn’t help but I had notions that this lady was stakes class in testing conditions and she’d want to be getting on and proving me right or wrong. Dean Street Doll is next and she’s drawn in 2 in what appears to be a tough enough maiden. This lady is interesting in that she is well bred, has a Guineas entry and had a more than satisfactory debut last backend. She has been in training just shy of 4 months and is ready to start back. She looked wintry for ages but has started to look well this 2 weeks past. Anyway she shows plenty of dash and I think she’s a lovely filly in the making but she’s going to take time. Her mother was a late developer and stayed well. This lady will more than likely be similar. As was the case on debut she needs to do things sensibly and conserve and finish her race, a nice positive run is the priority, winning would be a surprise but one I could cope with. Bianca Minola goes in the (almost) 12f handicap later and it would be a surprise if she were to get involved. Her angle is the ground, she handles hock deep conditions and just hasn’t been getting them. Saying that she appears to be going through the motions and for a fully fit filly that is moving well and healthy she’s not troubling the judge or even close to it. I can’t think of any reason not to run her so run she will and maybe it might spark a return to form. I could do with the same!

2017 Richard O'Brien Racing Limited