O'Brien brothers readying Guineas contenders
- We bring you exclusive quotes from Joseph and Donnacha O'Brien
- Donnacha is pointing Shale at the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket
- Joseph will also throw Pretty Gorgeous into the first fillies' Classic of the season
- Joseph O'Brien also has high hopes for Thunder Moon in the 2000 Guineas
Brothers Joseph (right) and Donnacha O'Brien pictured at the Curragh in 2016. (Getty)
Despite riding plenty of Grade One winners between them for their father, Aidan O'Brien, the 1000 Guineas eluded both Joseph and Donnacha during their time in the saddle. Now both head their very own yards, the O'Brien brother will both be targetting Classic success at Newmarket on the first weekend of May.
Pretty Gorgeous rounded off a superb campaign with a powerful victory in the Fillies' Mile. Joseph O'Brien's stable star currently sits second behind Santa Barbara - trained by O'Brien senior - in the 1000 Guineas betting, and there's a chance she could go straight to Newmarket this season.
"We are very pleased with her. She came through the winter really well and looks fantastic." Joseph O'Brien said during his stable tour with AtTheRaces.
"We haven’t decided yet whether we will run her in a Guineas trial or go straight to the Guineas. We saw last year that she handles soft ground well, but I think she’ll prove quite versatile on that front."
"The experience that she got at Newmarket in the Fillies Mile can do her no harm with a view to going back there for the 1000 Guineas. I could see her getting a mile-and-a-quarter in due course for sure."
Shale got the better of Pretty Gorgeous when they met in both the Silver Flash Stakes and the Grade One Moyglare Stud Stakes. Donnacha's first Grade One winner could only finish sixth behind her rival in the Fillies' Mile, and the latest episode in their enthralling rivalry could take place in the 1000 Guineas.
Donnacha told AtTheRaces. "She was a brilliant filly for us last year and has wintered really well. She’s coming through all her work very nicely and her weight is right where I want it to be. All the signs are good."
"I know she probably looked a bit small compared to Pretty Gorgeous last season, but most fillies would look a bit small stood in against Pretty Gorgeous! Her mother Homecoming Queen was a small filly and that didn’t stop her winning the 1000 Guineas. Shale is a bit bigger than she was."
"We are thinking about starting her back in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial, but she’ll just be ready to start back there and the hope would be for that to put her spot on for either the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket or the Irish 1,000 Guineas. I think she’ll have a good chance of staying a mile-and-a-quarter. While she has won on testing ground, she moves like a good-ground filly and I think decent ground will be ideal for her."
Donnacha has Hazel entered in the 1000 Guineas too, but he said "the plan is to start her off in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial and possibly go on to the Irish 1,000 Guineas from there."
Meanwhile, Joseph will also throw Thunder Moon into the first Classic of the new season, the 2000 Guineas. O'Brien's star bolted up in the National Stakes last season, a result he followed with a fine third in the Dewhurst.
"He was brilliant for us last year." O'Brien said in the stable tour. "He was deadly in the National Stakes and I thought he ran very well in the Dewhurst. He was drawn in the wrong part of the track that day and the ground was softer than ideal, so it was a very good run in the circumstances I thought."
"He came through the winter very well and is in great shape. We haven’t made a final decision on whether to run him in a trial or go straight to the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, but that’s what his target is. It looks as though a mile will be his trip. We are excited to see how far he can go this season."
Thunder Moon is a 10/1 shot in the 2021 2000 Guineas betting with bet365. Battleground leads the way on 11/2. Pretty Gorgeous is a 7/1 shot in the 1000 Guineas betting, with Shale a 16/1 chance.