Hannon to run three in Guineas
Richard Hannon has confirmed he will be triple-handed in his bid to train a Classic winner in his own right at the first attempt with Night Of Thunder and Shifting Power joining leading light Toormore in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
While success at the highest level is nothing new for a man who assisted his father Richard to three of the last four British titles, there is still high expectation ahead of the showdown with Kingman and Australia at Newmarket on May 3.
Last season's champion European juvenile Toormore, the scheduled mount of Richard Hughes, heads the team after extending his unbeaten record to four in the Craven Stakes over course and distance a few days ago.
Also undefeated is the strong chestnut Shifting Power, who Ryan Moore helped to prevail in a tight finish to last week's Free Handicap, while Night Of Thunder's unblemished record was ended by a hot Guineas favourite Kingman in the Greenham Stakes.
"I'm quite happy for all three of them to run, at the end of the day they are all owned by different people and they all want to have their go," said Hannon, who showed off the trio at a press morning at his Wiltshire stable on Tuesday.
"Hughesie will ride Toormore and we'd like Ryan to ride one, which depends on how many Aidan O'Brien runs. Then it will be the next best available on the other, depending what the owners want."
While Hannon was generally credited with last year's 1000 Guineas victory of Sky Lantern, when he was referred to as 'junior', this is truly his chance to shine alone.
"I think they are three excellent chances," he said.
"Shifting Power is the dark horse. He'll be a lot more suited to a mile and going a bit quicker. He's something a bit out of the ordinary as he's quite big and obviously very good.
"Night Of Thunder will have improved for the run at Newbury. He went off a bit keen and has an excellent chance of getting closer (to Kingman than four and a half lengths)."
Toormore did not turn in a performance in the Craven to match Kingman's demolition job in the Greenham Stakes but Hannon said: "He's never been a flashy horse and we were delighted with him.
"He'll run a massive race in the Guineas. Ours need their first run and he can improve five or seven pounds for it. That will put him right in the mix."
Aidan O'Brien is pleased with Australia ahead of the colt's intended seasonal debut on Saturday week.
Australia is currently Sky Bet's second favourite behind Kingman for the Classic over the Rowley Mile and heads the ante-post market for the Investec Derby at 5/2.
The son of Galileo, out of the brilliant mare Ouija Board, has always been held in very high regard at Ballydoyle.
He looked an exciting prospect when ending his two-year-old campaign with a six-length romp over Free Eagle in the Group Three ICON Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes at Leopardstown on September.
"We're happy with him and always have been. He's never done anything other than that for us," O'Brien told At The Races.
Australia could be accompanied in the Classic by his stablemate War Command, who wound up his juvenile season with victory in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October.
"The plan was always to train both for it and then we'd see closer to the time," said O'Brien.
"It's very possible both will run, but the boys (owners) will decide that closer to the time."