Irish wizard making bold bid to conquer Everest
AIDAN O'Brien, the Irishman many regard as the world's leading trainer, has endorsed the $14 million The Everest by sending his stable jockey Ryan Moore to ride Ten Sovereigns at Royal Randwick on Saturday in the world's richest turf race.
Moore could have ridden this weekend at Ascot's Champions Day, the finale of the British flat racing season, where O'Brien has some outstanding Group 1 chances, including English 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia and top mare Magical.
But O'Brien said The Everest was now regarded as one of the world's most important races and Coolmore wanted to do everything possible to try to win it with Ten Sovereigns.
"The Everest makes news all over the world,'' said O'Brien, who spoke with The Daily Telegraph on Thursday from his famous Ballydoyle stables in Ireland.
"This is obviously a very prestigious race and a race worth that much money is not going to be easy to win. It will be very competitive.
"We think the race is a great initiative and it is a privilege to be a part of it. Ryan knows the horse very well and we wanted him to ride the horse in The Everest.''
Moore is due to arrive in Sydney on Friday and he will be heartened to learn Ten Sovereigns has thrived at Canterbury since his arrival last month.
O'Brien keeps in daily contact with his stable representatives in Sydney and believes Ten Sovereigns is in "very good shape" for the rich Randwick race.
"The horse he has travelled out well to Australia, the lads are very happy with him at the moment, and it is good to hear we will get a dry track,'' O'Brien said.
Ten Sovereigns has won four of his seven starts and is regarded as one of Europe's premier sprinters.
He was a Group 1 winner as a two-year-old in the Middle Park Stakes and has returned at three to win the Group 1 July Cup when he monstered his rivals in the Newmarket sprint earlier this year.
"We think he is a very good colt,'' O'Brien said. "He won our big, open-age sprint, the July Cup, and we have always thought the world of this horse.
"We know he is only a three-year-old and this is towards the end of the season for him but he seems to be in good form.''
O'Brien said Ten Sovereigns had legitimate excuses when only sixth to Battaash in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes (about 1000m) at York last start.
"He missed the start in the York race, he was standing at the start and the race didn't work for him,'' the trainer said.
Ten Sovereigns is the only international raider in a crack 12-horse Everest field that includes 10 individual Group 1 winners of 22 majors. Collectively, The Everest runners have earned more than $42 million in prize money.
The sheer quality of the field is undeniable and because Ten Sovereigns has not raced in Australia, the colt is the rank outsider at $31 for the big race.
O'Brien conceded the barrier draw had not been kind to Ten Sovereigns, with the sprinter to come out of gate 11, but said he was still expecting his colt to run a competitive race.
"It is never ideal to be wide on a round track,'' O'Brien said. "But this horse does go forward in his races, although he doesn't have to lead.''
O'Brien said Ten Sovereigns could stay on in Sydney to contest the $7.5 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 2.
But O'Brien also revealed Coolmore plans to send out another promising northern hemisphere three-year-old, Never No More for the Golden Eagle.
"Ten Sovereigns is a possibility to run in the Golden Eagle but it is also possible he could go to Melbourne,'' O'Brien said.
"He nearly got a mile in the (2000) Guineas, he ran very well but then we decided to shorten him up (sprint distances) and he has been very comfortable. But we do have Never No More in quarantine to come to Sydney. He's a lovely straight forward horse.''
Never No More won a Guineas trial at Leopardstown earlier in the year but O'Brien said a "little hold-up'' had prevented the colt from contesting the classics.
O'Brien said Never No More's good effort when a close second at Group 2 level at Doncaster last start has convinced them to send the colt to Sydney.
"Never No More ran very well at Doncaster and we have been happy with him since,'' O'Brien said. "We think he has speed and almost gets a mile so we are hoping the race might suit him.''
The Irish training genius has also set his sights on the Melbourne spring carnival, with Magic Wand set to contest the $5 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26, while Hunting Horn and Il Paradiso are Coolmore's big hopes for the $8 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 2.
"Magic Wand is going to run in the Cox Plate and Hunting Horn might run in a race on Cox Plate Day (Moonee Valley Cup) before the Melbourne Cup,'' he said.
"Il Paradiso is going straight to the Melbourne Cup.''
Coolmore's main base is in Ireland but it has a huge racing and breeding presence in Australia where the booming prizemoney is the envy of the racing world.
"The thoughts of everyone over here is that Australian racing is very progressive and is the place to be,'' O'Brien said. "Your sport is very healthy and is one of the most competitive race nations anywhere in the world.''