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O'Brien feels Moore is likely to chase Kentucky Derby dream on Mendelssohn

Aidan O'Brien expects Ryan Moore to partner Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby over riding in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Moore has had a long-held ambition to win the Churchill Downs spectacular, and appears to have every chance after Mendelssohn put up a breathtaking performance in running away with the UAE Derby at Meydan last month.

Moore's presence in America would leave O'Brien needing to finalise jockey plans for favourite Saxon Warrior at Newmarket on the same day, together with recent Leopardstown scorer Gustav Klimt and US Navy Flag.

The Ballydoyle trainer told At The Races: "I think it was (straightforward) for Ryan. He was always fascinated by the Kentucky Derby and obviously this horse (Mendelssohn) was coming along lovely last year.

"He went through the winter well and his first two runs were lovely, so that (Kentucky Derby) is what Ryan is thinking at the moment, obviously things can change but that's the way he's thinking at the moment."

O'Brien added on his Guineas runners: "They seem to be coming along, hopefully the Leopardstown horse (Gustav Klimt) and the Racing Post Trophy horse (Saxon Warrior) are coming along, they are so far coming good.

"US Navy Flag is progressing a lot from Leopardstown, and whether he'll go there or France we're not sure.

"So far, so good."

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John Gosden states preference to swerve 2000 Guineas with Roaring Lion

John Gosden is cool on the idea of running Roaring Lion in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday week.

The Qatar Racing-owned colt failed to strengthen his Guineas claims after he could only finish third in the Craven Stakes, in which he was sent off the 8-13 favourite, at Newmarket last Thursday.

Gosden feels Roaring Lion will be seen in a better light when stepped up in distance, and could swerve the Guineas in preference towards running in the Dante Stakes at York on May 17 - and then the French Derby at Chantilly on June 3.

The Clarehaven handler told At The Races: " The way he trains, it looks like the Dante-Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) will be a smart move for him."

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Sergei Prokofiev stars at Navan for Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien's Sergei Prokofiev looks a colt with a big future after bolting up on his second start at Navan.

The son of Scat Daddy is out of the Canadian mare Orchard Beach but did not find the soft ground an inconvenience when streaking clear by seven and a half lengths in the five-furlong Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race.

Ridden by Ryan Moore, he showed the benefit of his debut run when second at Dundalk and previous winner Pride Of Pimlico chased him home in second.

"We're delighted with him. Donnacha loved him when he rode him in Dundalk," O'Brien said of the 2-5 favourite.

"He's a big, powerful horse and has plenty of speed. He came on as obviously he was never away before Dundalk.

"We'll look at the Marble Hill or the Rochestown with him. Ryan said he didn't think six would be a problem, five or six. He went to the line strong.

"That was nice for his second race as we don't have the novice races and you are limited after you win a maiden.

"We always thought he was very nice and between now and Ascot we'd like to get another one (run) into him."

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James Tate makes French connection with Hey Gaman

James Tate is keen to step Hey Gaman up in class and trip for the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp on May 13.

The Newmarket handler has earmarked the mile contest as the next target for the three-year-old after he finished third on his seasonal return in the Greenham at Newbury on Saturday.

Tate said: "Initially, I was a bit disappointed that we came third but it was his first run of the year and he was only beaten three-quarters of a length by two Group Two winners.

"He is a massive, big horse and he will definitely come on significantly for that. Following on from that he has come out of the race well and he will probably go to the French Guineas.

"It is possible in time that he is best at seven (furlongs) but the programme book urges us to go a mile and I think he will get it."

Invincible Army will launch his campaign towards a possible tilt at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June in the Group Three Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at the Berkshire track a week on Wednesday.

Tate added: "Invincible Army is all set for the Pavilion at Ascot next Wednesday. He has got one more proper piece of work to do.

"Everything has been great with him at home and he has been showing a lot of speed. He is exciting. We've not got anything quicker in the yard.

"I'd imagine we will work towards the Commonwealth Cup but if he doesn't go that way we'll be coming back to five furlongs."

Ground conditions will dictate which route Tate decides to take with Kyllang Rock, who made a winning return to action in a conditions contest at Musselburgh last month.

He added: "He won that race at Musselburgh quite nicely. It is just the ground for him. He needs it softer than good.

"The next possible race for him is the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket next month but it is unlikely to come up soft although you do get it some years.

"There are options in France and Ireland and there is also the Temple Stakes at Haydock.

"I would hope he has improved from three to four so hopefully he has a few more pounds of improvement in him. He is a very useful horse."

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Willie Mullins has big guns fired up for Punchestown Champion Chase

Tuesday's Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown really lives up to its name with Willie Mullins fielding three of his stable stars.

Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Min all do battle and with over 160,000 euro just for the winner, the defending champion trainer is hoping to make early inroads into Gordon Elliott's lead.

It has been a truncated campaign for Douvan, who did not reappear until the Cheltenham Festival, but he was showing all his old elan until falling at the fourth-last.

Un De Sceaux has this season added another Grade One and two Grade Twos to his bulging CV but he was put in his place by Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair at Cheltenham.

Min ran well at Cheltenham and Aintree but was beaten by Altior and Politologue respectively.

Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins, who gets the leg-up on Un De Sceaux, said: "He was second in the race last year, but he's a little older.

"Two miles on this ground will probably mean you won't see him at his very best, but he always runs a very good race so you couldn't discount him.

"Douvan has schooled brilliantly since Cheltenham and with what I felt from him at Cheltenham I'll be very disappointed if he doesn't come back to his very best.

"I certainly haven't lost any faith in him and he's shown no ill effects from his fall. Hopefully he can leave a marker for next season.

"Min ran fantastically well at Cheltenham and again at Aintree where he probably ran a bit keen to get home over two and a half miles. He's come out of that fine and provides some very good back-up."

Mullins also runs Ballycasey, who finished fifth in the race last year.

Elliott runs likely outsiders The Game Changer, A Toi Phil and Tell Us More, but his main hope, Doctor Phoenix, has made great strides this season and was upsides Un De Sceaux when he came down at Fairyhouse last time.

"It would be too tough to say he would have beaten Un De Sceaux at Fairyhouse, but most importantly he is fine since that fall," said Elliott.

"It looks like a very hot race, but he certainly deserves to take his chance and he's been a grand horse for us this season."

Henry de Bromhead fields former champion chaser Special Tiara and Ordinary World.

De Bromhead said: "Special Tiara seems in great form and has worked really well since Cheltenham.

"We are hoping for a good run. I'd hope it was just the ground at Cheltenham as he hates that really tacky ground. His ability is still there and he is in mighty form.

"Ordinary World appears to be in good form since Cheltenham and we are looking forward to a good run from him as well."

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Team Tizzard back Finian's Oscar to go the distance at Punchestown

Connections of Finian's Oscar are confident he will have no problem getting the trip in the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday.

The Colin Tizzard-trained six-year-old will race over an extended three miles for the first time over fences as he bids to back up his top-level success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

Joe Tizzard, the Dorset handler's son and assistant, said: "His jumping got caught out racing down the back at Aintree but he got there in the end.

"Good ground will help him and three miles looks right up his street as well.

"We are expecting a big run from him. He is a horse that has still got a lot to more to come."

Henry de Bromhead hopes Monalee can go one better back on home soil, having found only Presenting Percy too strong at the Cheltenham Festival.

He said: "He seems really well and hopefully he will give another good account of himself.

"He has won over this sort of trip a couple of times and it looked to me like he stayed it in the RSA."

Willie Mullins will be triple-handed with Al Boum Photo, Invitation Only and Rathvinden in his attempt to win the race for a fourth time.

Patrick Mullins, the trainer's son and assistant, said: "Al Boum Photo was very tough in Fairyhouse and I don't see the step up to three miles being a problem for him.

"We don't know how Invitation Only would have done at Cheltenham as his race was ended at the fourth-last. He finished behind Al Boum Photo at Fairyhouse but over a different trip so that might see him in a better light.

"Rathvinden was very tough at Cheltenham. He gave his all but he's recovered well since and his rating gives him a good chance of being in the first three."

Mullins jnr expects Getabird, one of four runners for the Closutton handler in the Herald Champion Novices' Hurdle alongside Sharjah, Draconien and Whiskey Sour, to be hard to beat in the Grade One event.

He said: "I think at Cheltenham the atmosphere just got to Getabird. He did appear to jump a little to his right but he is very good right-handed.

"When I rode him before Cheltenham he beat Mengli Khan and I'd expect him to do so again.

"I think we can draw a line through Cheltenham. He's won at Fairyhouse since so he's put that behind him and he's won at Punchestown before.

"Draconien ran very well behind Getabird at Fairyhouse. I won on him before Christmas on very heavy ground and he felt to me like he'd be better when he got good ground.

"Whiskey Sour is a Grade One winner already and he ran a fantastic race in the County Hurdle. You can imagine he'd be involved at the very end again as he's won at the Galway Festival, so good ground isn't going to bother him.

"Sharjah, who I ride, runs in a first-time tongue-strap. He was running very well at Christmas on decent ground before he fell but he hasn't run on that ground since so I think a combination of that and a tongue-tie should help him show his best form."

Vision Des Flos appeared to appreciate the drop back to two miles at Aintree and another big run is expected from the Tizzard-trained five-year-old.

Tizzard jnr said: "He came back from Aintree in really good form and was jumping out of his skin so we decided to have another go.

"It might have taken its toll at Aintree but we won't know until we get there.

"He run very well at Cheltenham but he didn't quite get home. He travelled really well and the drop back to two miles helped him finish second at Aintree. He is a fair horse."

A return to a quick surface is expected to suit Supreme fourth Paloma Blue, according to De Bromhead.

He said: "He was good the last day at Cheltenham. He is in good form and hopefully he will improve for the better ground. It didn't surprise me at all how he ran at Cheltenham."

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Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott ready for titanic battle at Punchestown

Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have vowed to go all out at this week's Punchestown Festival as the battle to be crowned champion trainer reaches what promises to be a thrilling conclusion.

Elliott led perennial champion Mullins by a shade over 400,000 euro heading into last year's Festival, but gradually reduced the deficit and after five winners across the final two days, ended up retaining his crown with almost 200,000 euro in hand.

Mullins has an even bigger deficit to overcome this year, trailing by over 521,000 euro, and Elliott is long odds-on to take the crown for the first time.

However, with the likes of Douvan, Penhill, Laurina and Footpad all set to be part of a formidable squad, it would be a brave man who bets against the County Carlow maestro producing another stunning comeback in County Kildare.

Mullins said: "Usually we have a very big team and hopefully this year won't be any worse.

"There's a lot of racing and there's a lot of prize-money. The championship is all to play for, I think.

"My good ones have to go in, Gordon's good ones have to go in. It's going to be an exciting week.

"Everything that can raise a gallop will be there. If we had a race for the stable cat I'm sure that would be up there, too!"

Mullins is usually keen to split his aces, but admits some of his big guns will have to lock horns over the next five days, with even place prize-money likely to be crucial in deciding whether the title ends up in Closutton or Cullentra.

He added: "We're lucky enough that we have horses to run in those big races and they will have to run against each other. There isn't anywhere to hide. This is it."

Mullins has been forced to play second fiddle to Elliott for much of the season and in the last three weeks alone has seen runners beaten a head by Elliott inmates in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and the Grand National at Aintree.

He said: "After being beaten in two photo-finishes to two Nationals, maybe Lady Luck owes me a bit back!"

Whatever the outcome this week, the current campaign has been nothing short of staggering for Elliott.

As well as winning the Irish National for the first time with General Principle and claiming the world's most famous steeplechase for a second time with Tiger Roll, he has broken records by saddling over 200 winners in Ireland this term and claimed the top trainer award at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year in succession.

However, following what he admitted was a "heartbreaking" defeat in last year's title race, he insists to come out on top this season would be his biggest achievement to date.

Elliott said: "We've had an unbelievable season and to train 200 winners was fantastic and to win both Grand Nationals was incredible, but if I could swap every single one of those to be champion trainer I would.

"Anything that can breathe will be there this week! All joking aside, we'll do our best and try and bring as many as we can.

"I'm happier being in front than behind. If I was behind I'd have no chance. I have a small chance being in front.

"It'll be a great week, I'm looking forward to it.

"It'll be a long, nervous week. I know the ammunition Willie has and he's going to be chasing me hard. Seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths will all count.

"It's good for the public and I'm sure if I win it Willie will be able to shake my hand and if he wins it I'll be the first one to shake his."

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Adrian Keatley sets sights on French Guineas challenge with London Icon

Adrian Keatley is taking London Icon on his travels for the French 2000 Guineas.

An impressive winner of a Naas maiden in October, he was beaten on his return to action this season.

However, he lost little in defeat in attempting to give the winner, Dianthus, over a stone in weight.

Keatley said: "London Icon will go straight for the French Guineas, and hopefully we'll get him there in one piece.

"It's unknown whether he's up to that competition or not, but we won't know unless we go.

"He's in good shape and doing everything right since his run at Naas."

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Sir Michael Stoute rules out Guineas run for Veracious following a setback

Veracious, who was due to be the mount of Frankie Dettori, has been ruled out of the Qipco 1000 Guineas due to a "training setback".

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained daughter of Frankel was an impressive winner of a Newmarket maiden last October and had impressed Dettori in a gallop before racing at last week's Craven meeting.

In a statement to Press Association Sport, Stoute said: "Veracious will not be running in the 1000 Guineas because she has had a training setback."

Veracious had been as low as 6-1 for the Newmarket Classic on May 6.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owner Cheveley Park Stud, confirmed Veracious is lame and expects her to undergo further tests in the coming days

He said: "I spoke to Sir Michael Stoute and I don't know exactly what it is, but she is not 100 per cent right.

"She is lame in behind and I think they are going to do some more tests and examinations to try to establish what it is.

"Frankie Dettori was very happy with her gallop on Wednesday and it looked good. We are all very disappointed."

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Title-chasing Willie Mullins fields four as he seeks Punchestown Gold

Willie Mullins supplies four of the 13 runners in Wednesday's Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on day two of the Festival meeting.

Mullins pitches Killultagh Vic, Bellshill, Djakadam and Total Recall, who ran in the Grand National last week, into battle while his trainer's title rival Gordon Elliott relies on Outlander.

Edwulf takes his chance for Joseph O'Brien, Noel Meade runs Road To Respect, while Henry de Bromhead's Sub Liuetenant and Colin Tizzard's Sizing Granite also line up.

Tizzard's Kilbricken Storm will aim to follow up his Albert Bartlett win at Cheltenham in the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

Mullins takes him on with Next Destination, Ballyward and Brahma Bull while Elliott runs Blow By Blow, Delta Work and Lackaneen Leader among 11 runners.

The Racing Post Champion Bumper is also dominated by Mullins with the champion trainer saddling four of the 10 contenders.

Blackbow, Carefully Selected, Tornado Flyer and Cheltenham winner Relegate give him a strong hand, but Elliott runs Felix Desjy, Getaway John and Rapid Escape.

Tom Lacey sends over Dorking Boy.