Joseph O'Brien has seven runners across three cards on Sunday, including a stable star in a Group 1 contest at Saint-Cloud in France...
"It is a big ask of him, but we want to find out whether he belongs in this sort of company or is best kept in staying races."
- Joseph O'Brien on Baron Samedi
Earned his shot and we can't wait to see him race
Baron Samedi has been an absolute star for us. He surprised everyone when progressing from basement-level handicaps into a Group 2 winner last season and he has improved again this season. We took a chance in sending him to America for the Belmont Gold Cup last time, but he rewarded us by running out the easy winner.
This race is a totally different test altogether, as it is back at a mile-and-a-half against world-class opposition. It is a big ask of him, but we want to find out whether he belongs in this sort of company or is best kept in staying races. He is a two-time Group/Grade 2 winner, so he has earned his shot. He can't wait to see how he gets on.
Bit to prove but he can win a maiden
Witham River shaped with promise on his debut at Dundalk back in May, but didn't build on that under a more positive ride at Gowran Park last time. He has a bit to prove now, but I'd still be hopeful that he'll build on his debut promise and win a maiden along the way. This shorter trip should be fine for him.
Belmont can run well but Mazagran is an unknown at present
Belmont Avenue made it third-time lucky when winning a maiden at Dundalk in April. We had hoped to run him in one of the handicaps at Royal Ascot, but he got balloted out. This is a lower class of target and I'd be hopeful that he can progress enough to run very well.
Mazagran is an interesting horse that was sent to us from the UAE. It's hard to weigh up his form in an Irish context as a lot of it came on a dirt surface, but he has settled in well to our routine and it will be interesting to see how he fares.
Should improve but he'll need to
Rock Chant set himself a big task on debut by missing the kick quite badly. He didn't shape too badly thereafter and should have good improvement in him, but he'll need to progress to get involved in the finish of this contest.
Hard to be confident
Filon D'Oudairies has yet to really fire over fences and it would be difficult to be confident in his prospects until he shows a bit more.
Hopeful he'll be in the mix
Golfe Clair made a winning hurdling debut at Clonmel last month, but made it tricky for himself when almost coming down at the last when well in control. He rallied well to hold on and should be all the better for that initial hurdling experience. This is a tougher test for him, but I'd be hopeful he'll be in the mix.
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