Churchill and Always Dreaming consider their respective Triple Crown options

Churchill and Always Dreaming consider their respective Triple Crown options
By Sportsbeat

07/05/2017 at 15:45

When you name your horse Churchill then you better hope you'll be able to flick a few 'V's for victory' - thankfully for trainer Aidan O'Brien he delivered on expectation.

Last season's champion two-year old has been the favourite for the Qipco 2000 Guineas, the opening Classic of the flat racing season, all winter.

With only nine rivals to beat in the smallest field for years, he won under a patient ride from jockey Ryan Moore to secure O'Brien a record eighth victory in the race at Newmarket.

Six years after Frankel's stunning win - the first of his nine group one successes - the pre-race talk had been about the hopes of a pair of colts he had sired.

Frankel's offspring Dream Castle and Eminent were fifth and sixth respectively over the mile distance, both seeming to want a longer trip as the pace also conspired against them.

And instead it was the great champion's father, Galileo, who proved that in the business of bloodlines, he is still the Daddy.

O'Brien must now consider the next options. Will Churchill be routed towards Epsom for a crack at the second leg of the English triple crown, with the equally strongly-named Camelot the last horse to win the 2000 Guineas and Derby in 2012.

Or will he look for another British Champion Series win at Royal Ascot, with the St James' Palace Stakes a definite race to consider.

"We will see how he is after a week or so and then make our plans with what is next," said O'Brien. "We'll talk to everyone and see what the feeling is.

“If everyone wants to go to Derby, and owners will have a chat about it and decide, I’ll be delighted and if they don’t, I’ll be delighted too and that’s giving an honest answer.

"He has lots of options and distance isn't usually a problem with a Galileo horse. He definitely gets a mile and a quarter but you are never sure with the Derby distance until you get there. He's such a relaxed horse that I think he could get any trip you wanted.

"It was his first run of the year and there were some nerves but we've been very happy with him at home and that gave us some confidence, plus Ryan gave him a lovely ride."

Moore - a man of few words - would surely love a crack at the Derby on Churchill, as he seeks to win the race for the third time, after Rule of the World and Workforce in 2013 and 2010 respectively.

"He always feels like there's more when you ask him," he said. "He has a magnificent mind, he travels, has speed and loads of class."

Pushed on his Derby hopes, he added: "I doubt there would be a better ride."

While O'Brien and Coolmore Stud connections now consider their options for a crack at history - there is no doubt where Always Dreaming is heading after a winning the 143rd Kentucky Derby.

Only 12 horses have won America's Triple Crown, with the Preakness Stakes the next leg later this month in Maryland.

Trainer Todd Pletcher's record in the Run for the Roses - one previous winner from 45 runners - had been much discussed in the race build-up.

But jockey John Velazquez was happy to put the record straight.

"We've had so much success in the past, yet we hadn't won a Derby but finally we do it together with this horse - it means so much," he said.

"He's an incredible horse. He's still young, he's still inexperienced so to come and win like this - that's very impressive and very exciting for the future."

Sportsbeat 2017