O’Brien admits QIPCO 2000 Guineas will be “a big ask” for Luxembourg

April 27, 2022

Aidan O’Brien has admitted it is “a big ask” to start Luxembourg off in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday (April 30th) without a run under his belt this season, but insists “everything has gone to plan” in the build-up to the first Classic of 2022.

Luxembourg will be bidding to emulate his sire Camelot, who made a winning return to action in the same race 10 years ago. 

Having ended last year by securing Group One success in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, Luxembourg will now attempt to maintain his unbeaten record by giving Ballydoyle master O’Brien a record-extending 11th success in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

Luxembourg is set to be joined in the race, which is the opening leg of the QIPCO British Champions Series, by stablemate Point Lonsdale, who had his colours lowered for the first time on his final start last year by ante-post QIPCO 2000 Guineas favourite by Native Trail in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh.

O’Brien, speaking at a Guineas Festival Preview Lunch sponsored by Turners of Soham, said: “He (Luxembourg) is in good form. He has wintered well and everything has gone well. We had him at the Curragh four or five weeks ago and that all went well. Everything has gone according to plan since then. 

“He was quite natural and did everything he did last year and he is the same in his work this year. 

“Obviously it is a big ask to start him off in the Guineas and he is looking like he will be a middle-distance horse, but we started similar horses like Camelot and Australia in the Guineas. 

“We think and hope it is the right place to start. He seems in good form and we will learn a lot about him.”

Although Luxembourg has a way to go to match the achievements of his sire Camelot, who followed up his QIPCO 2000 Guineas success with victory in The Derby at Epsom Downs, O’Brien believes there are some similarities between the pair.

He added: “He is a big scopey horse and probably physically bigger than Camelot was as a two or three year old. 

“He is very athletic and very natural in everything he does. He has a very high cruising pace. He has a lot of the sharpness that Camelot had.”

While jockey bookings will be confirmed nearer to the race O’Brien insisted he would not be surprised if three-time champion jockey Ryan Moore elects to renew his partnership with Luxembourg, having steered him to victory on his final start at Doncaster. 

He added: “Luxembourg is unbeaten three from three and he has won a Group One whereas Point Lonsdale ran five times last year and he was second in his last run. I’m not sure at this moment (what Ryan Moore will ride). 

“I know that Ryan was very impressed with Luxembourg at Doncaster last year. It is not fair for Ryan to make up his mind until later in the week when he has seen everything and they have done their last pieces of work. 

“He has won a Group One on Luxembourg and I would not be surprised if he rides him, but I wouldn’t like to say which one he would go for at this stage.”

O’Brien is confident that Tenebrism will see out the mile when putting her unbeaten record on the line in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas on Sunday (May 1st). 

After winning at Naas on the opening day of the Irish Flat season last year, the daughter of Caravaggio then missed the bulk of the season before securing victory on the Rowley Mile in the Group One Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs. 

Asked whether he expects her to see out a mile, O’Brien said: “We won’t know that until she has run. We were very impressed with what she did in the Cheveley Park. 

“We were kind of going there thinking that if she was a Guineas filly she would have experience of the track and how she handled the dip.

“Really we were thinking I suppose that she would run a nice race and we would go on from there to see if we could train her for the Guineas or not. 

“She looked like a filly that would get seven furlongs last year and there is obviously a very good chance she could get a mile this year. 

“Everything she has done this year has gone to plan. She went away to the Curragh and we were very happy with her.”

Also representing O’Brien will be Tuesday, who he admits has developed into a late 1000 Guineas contender after making a lot of progress since running out the winner of a Naas maiden last month.

He said: “Tuesday won her maiden at Naas and really we thought there was no was way she was going to make the Guineas or anything like that but she has made a lot of progress since then. She is not a three year old until June, so she is a late foal.  

“She shows like a filly that you would imagine would get a mile and a quarter and could get a mile and a half. 

“We are very happy with her work but obviously the plan would be to start here and maybe go on to the Oaks afterwards, like her sister (Minding) did. 

“We are happy with where she is as we didn’t think we would be in this position with her four weeks ago.”

With the weather looking dry in the coming days, Regional Head of Racing East and Clerk of the Course at Newmarket, Michael Prosser, expects to water the track again following the conclusion of racing on the opening day of the QIPCO Guineas Festival on Friday (April 29th), having started the process last week.

He said: “It is a dry forecast and we are set fair with temperatures of 14 to 15 degrees, which is just below seasonal average, so we are watering. 

“We started watering last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and again yesterday. We’ve put a good amount of water on the track so far. 

“I’d like to go in on Friday and have the ground where we are now. It walks really well and we have to maintain that position. 

“We will probably have to water again on Friday and then take each day as it comes.”

By Graham Clark

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