Australia on track for Newmarket
Aidan O'Brien expressed his satisfaction after overseeing in excess of 30 horses in after-racing work at the Curragh on Sunday, including high-profile Classic contenders Australia and War Command.
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O'Brien traditionally brings his string to the opening fixture of the Irish Flat turf season, and others on show were Oaks favourite Tapestry plus classy American import Verrazano and Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita, who went for six million euro at the dispersal sale of Peter Makin in November.
Australia, who slammed Free Eagle by six lengths on his final start last season, heads the ante-post markets on the Qipco 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby, and he travelled in mid-division under Joseph O'Brien in his group, which also featured Dewhurst winner War Command (Colm O'Donoghue), who could yet head to the French Guineas rather than Newmarket.
O'Brien said: "Joseph was very happy with him there - he hated the soft ground and Joseph said whatever you do, don't run him on soft. I made that mistake with Camelot and I don't want that to happen again.
"He goes straight to the Guineas and physically he has done wonderfully.
"He is the second-best horse I have ever trained and the best was not a Flat horse. The great Istabraq.
"Istabraq was a class above everything he raced against, but Australia looks very good - he just has to prove it on the track. I stand over everything I said about this horse last year.
"He's a lovely-moving horse and we always knew he'd want good ground. He just sauntered up there today.
"War Command wouldn't like soft ground either, we are training him and Australia for the Guineas but if Australia goes to Newmarket then he could go to France.
"War Command is very well. Colm said he didn't like the soft there today, but that would be the same for all progeny of War Front.
"Indian Maharaja could go for the Guineas Trial next weekend in Leopardstown.
"Orchestra will be trained as a Derby-type horse, he's got options - we'll look at races in Gowran or Lingfield and he'll probably go a mile and a half.
"Leading Light will be trained for the Ascot Gold Cup, and may start off in Navan in the Vintage Crop Stakes and there's also the Saval Beg in Leopardstown.
"Geoffrey Chaucer doesn't want bad ground but he wouldn't mind an ease. He'll be trained for the Derby and could start off in the Ballysax Stakes.
"I was very happy with Tapestry, she's as forward as we would like at this stage and we can now give her an easy time and go straight for the (1000) Guineas."
Australia is the 5-2 favourite for the Guineas at Newmarket on May 3 with RaceBets and Boylesports having been well-backed in recent days. Ladbrokes and Stan James are as short as 2-1.
Dual American Grade One winner Verrazano has joined O'Brien from Todd Pletcher, and could have his first start for Ballydoyle at Royal Ascot although a run before that has not been ruled out.
O'Brien said: "We're looking at the Queen Anne at Ascot for Verrazano, he could have a run before that if the ground is OK.
"We are thinking of the Yorkshire Oaks for Chicquita. She's entered in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but we are taking our time with her and looking at the second half of the year.
"Venus De Milo has won a Group Three so we will be looking at least at Group Twos with her and like a lot of Duke Of Marmalades she could improve a lot from three to four."