Guineas Festival 2016: Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs – three fillies trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien – are all on course for Sunday 1st May’s Group 1 QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at the Rowley Mile Racecourse in Newmarket, among the 17 fillies remaining engaged in the Group 1 event.
The second British Classic of the season and the first race in the Fillies and Mares category of the QIPCO British Champions Series, this one mile Group 1 event boasts prize money of £523,750.
The O’Brien trio have all contested the same race once before, when they filled the first three places in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh last September. And the score between Minding and Ballydoyle stands at one apiece as Ballydoyle has previously accounted for the Moyglare heroine in the Group 2 Debutante Stakes.
After the Moyglare, both won in Group 1 company, Minding notching a brilliant four and a half length success in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket and Ballydoyle landing the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp.
Adrian Keatley’s recent Group 3 Leopardstown 1000 Guineas Trial Stakes winner, Jet Setting, was the only supplementary entry, at a cost of £30,000.
Jet Setting’s addition brings the number of Irish entries to five, alongside the Group 2 May Hill Stakes scorer, Turret Rocks, while French hopes rest with the Group 3 Prix Imprudence runner-up, Midweek.
The British defence is set to include Lumiere, winner of the Group 1 Connolly’s RED MILLS Cheveley Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile in September, and Blue Bayou, successful in the Group 3 German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes two months earlier.
But Mix And Mingle, fourth in the Group 3 Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes on the Rowley Mile on 12th April, will only line up for the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas if the going does not soften from its current description of ‘good’.
Kevin Buckley, representing Coolmore, owners of Alice Springs, Ballydoyle and Minding, said: “The plan is for Minding, Ballydoyle and Alice Springs all to run in the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas.”
“Minding has had a very straightforward preparation. It has all gone well for her over the winter and she did a very nice piece of work on Saturday.”
“It is a fair point to suggest that, on form, there is not too much between Minding and Ballydoyle. But Minding has already won over the full Guineas course and distance and, from the chat that I’m hearing, she would be the better of the pair.”
“Alice Springs found the ground too soft at Leopardstown [when third to Jet Setting on 10th April] but Aidan wanted to get a run into her.”
“Aidan’s horses are more forward this year than sometimes, which bodes well for the coming weekend.”
Brian Meehan, trainer of Blue Bayou, said: “Blue Bayou is in perfect condition for this time of year.”
“[When Newbury’s Fred Darling Stakes was abandoned] I wasn’t desperate to get a run into her, so I just took her over to Richard Hannon’s Polytrack for a change of scenery and she went very well.”
“She will stay a mile fine as she is relaxed and switches off, but I don’t think she will get any further.”
“If the track remains as it is now that will be perfect for her.”
Chris Wall, trainer of Mix And Mingle, said: “Mix And Mingle is the best filly that we have had for quite a long time. The soft ground didn’t help her in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes but she has come out of that run fine and did a nice piece of work yesterday.”
“Good ground would be okay but any slower and I would have second thoughts about running her. She needs to have everything in her favour if she is to have a chance of making an impact.”