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2016 Qatar Goodwood Festival: The Gurkha and Minding spearhead O’Brien assault

David Metcalf | July 12, 2016

The Gurkha and Minding pleasing O’Brien ahead of Goodwood

Classic winners The Gurkha and Minding are among a powerful Ballydoyle team heading over for the Qatar Goodwood Festival in two weeks time, with the former set for an eagerly awaited rematch with Galileo Gold in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes.

The Gurkha finished runner-up to Hugo Palmer’s brilliant English 2,000 Guineas winner in the St James’s Palace Stakes following a troubled passage, having previously scored in runaway style in the French 2,000 Guineas.

This three-year-old has since run a blinder to finish runner-up to Hawkbill in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown when seemingly failing to see out the 1m 2f trip.

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Connections believe the drop back down to 1m will suit and speaking at a media launch yesterday from his base in Ireland, trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “The Gurkha seems to be in good form since he ran in the Eclipse. Obviously, he hasn’t done much but seems to be fine.

“I think he travelled well at Sandown, like he always has done, although the ground at Sandown was probably softer than ideal. We thought he ran a very good race.

Hardy horse who has taken his racing well

“The Gurkha has been a very hardy horse at home and has taken his races very well. Obviously, the Qatar Sussex Stakes will be another test for him but should tell us a lot more about him. We are very happy with him so far.

“You can talk about what happened in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot but you can’t say for certain that if circumstances had been in our favour the result would have been different.

“It was an evenly run race and we were happy with the way The Gurkha ran on the day. We got beat, but you can’t win every day and the ground probably didn’t really suit any of the runners that day.”

Galileo Gold is currently Coral’s 7/4 favourite for the Sussex Stakes on Wednesday, July 27th. The Gurkha is 9/4 to triumph, with Belardo next best in at 7/1.

Minding preparation gone very smoothly ahead of Nassau

On his English 1,000 winner and dual Oaks scorer Minding, O’Brien said: “We will take it one race at a time with Minding. We are lucky that she hasn’t had any really hard races and doesn’t take a lot of work at home.

“The gap between the Curragh and Goodwood will be as long as she has had this season and her preparation has gone very smoothly.

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“We also have Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in the Qatar Nassau Stakes. I am sure the lads will have a chat and see where we are.”

Sword Fighter main contender for Goodwood Cup

Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s UK Representative had news on their Goodwood Cup challenge and juvenile team.

He said: “Sword Fighter is our main contender for the Qatar Goodwood Cup. I spoke to Aidan the other day and he confirmed that was the plan.

Horse Racing - Glorious Goodwood Festival 2015 - Day Two - Goodwood Racecourse

“He has come out of his win at the Curragh very well and if the ground is on the good or good to firm side, Colm (O’Donoghue, jockey) is confident he will handle it.”

Sword Fighter has won his last two starts in the manner of an improving young stayer, landing the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot and the Group 2 Curragh Cup in game fashion, and is currently 10/1 with Coral for the Group 2 Goodwood Cup run over 2m on Thursday, July 28th.

War Decree and Intelligence Cross among juvenile squad

Buckley added: “War Decree was on only having his second start when he was second in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and I think he was favourite due to the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore factor and what had happened earlier in the week.

“He is probably still a bit babyish and the initial reaction after the race was to give him a bit more time. With hindsight, we would like to run him again on similar ground over seven furlongs and that is why the Qatar Vintage Stakes may come into calculations.

“Intelligence Cross would be our contender for the Qatar Richmond Stakes. After he ran in the July Stakes, we thought we would like to take on the winner (Mehmas) again and providing he comes out of that race OK, which he has so far, he will be going to Goodwood. He should be more streetwise next time out.”

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