x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Blue Bunting's form looks Classic ahead of Irish Oaks

Mahmood Al Zarooni said Blue Bunting is in peak condition and prepared to collect another Classic win at Sunday's race at the Curragh.

Blue Bunting partnered with Frankie Dettori to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and is aiming at Sunday's Irish Oaks.
Blue Bunting partnered with Frankie Dettori to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and is aiming at Sunday's Irish Oaks.

Mahmood Al Zarooni said Blue Bunting is in peak condition ahead of her bid for further Classic glory in Sunday's Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh.

The three year old gave her trainer a first British Classic success when flying home in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May and she was sent off favourite to double up in the Oaks at Epsom a month later.

She was beaten into fourth, with Frankie Dettori incurring a ban for losing third right on the line when dropping his hands.

"We have given her time and her last piece of work on Sunday was very good," Al Zarooni told Sky Sports News.

"She is pleasing us and I think she will run a good race.

"She is facing some top-class fillies, but I think the distance will suit."

The Dubai-based operation, Godolphin, go into the meeting on the back of an impressive day in Europe yesterday.

Saeed bin Suroor saddled a pair of winners (Laatafreet and Hunter's Light) in England, and the Dubai operation's French trainer, Andre Fabre, saw Aesop's Fables finish second in a Listed race in France.

The victory for Hunter's Light in the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton in Scotland came at the expense of Malthouse, the three year old owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, who led with 100 yards to go but finished second.

At Longchamps in France, Watar, who is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, won the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil.

The six-year-old colt emerged from against the rail to get the best of a dash to the line for Freddie Head, the trainer, and jockey Davy Bonilla.

Godolphin's Ley Hunter started as the favourite but could not make the top three.

Second in a Group 3 at the track last time, and a proven stayer, Watar was always in a prime position to challenge, but Bonilla had to sit tight for much of the home straight while he waited for a gap to emerge.

Elsewhere, Midday, owned by Saudi Arabia Prince Khalid Abdullah, is likely to try for a hat-trick of wins in Glorious Goodwood's Nassau Stakes should she not be called on for duty in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Workforce, also owned by Prince Abdullah, is the first choice for the midsummer feature at Ascot on Saturday week.

With the Nassau just a week later, Midday was put through her paces in a workout at Newmarket as part of her preparation for her next outing.

Five times a winner at the highest level against her own sex, the Henry Cecil-trained mare took on the colts in the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom last month.

She was only beaten by a length by St Nicholas Abbey.

The latter, trained by Aidan O'Brien, is hot favourite for the King George.

"Midday worked today and worked fine," Teddy Grimthorpe, Prince Abdullah's racing manager, said.

"Whether she runs in the King George would depend on Workforce.

"If Workforce goes for the King George then Midday would go to the Nassau."

Workforce was a big disappointment in this race 12 months ago after easily winning the Epsom Derby, but he bounced back in sensational style to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

He only went down to So You Think after an epic battle for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown earlier this month.

Grimthorpe reports him to be in fine shape following those exertions. "Workforce seems to be in good form after the Eclipse. Michael is pleased with him," Grimthorpe said.

Workforce is the third favourite behind St Nicholas Abbey and Godolphin's Prince of Wales's winner, Rewilding.

If Midday misses the Nassau Stakes, then Principal Role, another of Prince Abdullah's stable, will run at Goodwood.

"Principal Role would be a possibility for the Nassau Stakes if Midday went for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes," Grimthorpe said. "She won nicely at Newcastle and is improving.

"They are not kept in training as a four year old without good reason and she is an interesting filly."

* Compiled by The National staff with agencies