Trainer Aidan O’Brien Backs ‘Green’ Santa Barbara to Live Up to the Hype in Newmarket’s 1,000 Guineas
- The first Classic of the Flat season takes place in Newmarket this weekend
- Santa Barbara will try to justify short odds in Sunday’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas
- Filly only ran and won one race – a mile maiden on the Curragh in September
Trainer Aidan O’Brien hopes the fact that Santa Barbara is a ‘fast learner’ will help her overcome her inexperience as she tries to justify short odds in Sunday’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The first Classics of the Flat season at Newmarket this weekend will answer important questions, but most intriguing of all is whether a filly that won her only race – a mile maiden at the Curragh in September – will justify it to just 6-4 to be for the 1,000 Guineas.
O’Brien is chasing his seventh win in the 1,000 Guineas and his fifth in the past six years, while Santa Barbara, which will be ridden by Ryan Moore, could be the shortest-priced winner of the race since Finsceal won Beo 5- 4 in 2007.
Santa Barbara will try to justify short odds in Sunday’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket
O’Brien, who also runs the Frankie Dettori-ridden Mother Earth in the race, said: “We didn’t want to race too hard in Santa Barbara last season. It’s a big cry for her. She will be green and it will be interesting to see how she deals with it. She is a fast learner and very intelligent.
She always looked very special. She was always at the top of the pecking order of all two-year-old fillies. ‘
Santa Barbara is a half-sister to two Breeders’ Cup winners: Iridessa (2019 Filly & Mare Turf) and Order Of Australia (2020 Mile).
O’Brien is aiming for an 11th victory in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas with three representatives. Moore is riding Wembley favorite, the Dewhurst Stakes runner-up, Dettori is on Chesham and Vintage Stakes winner Battleground, with Seamus Heffernan partnered with Criterium International winner Van Gogh.
Over the jumps, Rachael Blackmore-ridden Honeysuckle faces an enticing rematch with the two horses that chased her home in the Champion Hurdle – Sharjah and Epatante – in Friday’s Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The meeting is still dominated by trainer Willie Mullins. His last Grade One wins came from Klassical Dream, who snaked under his amateur jockey son Patrick to a nine-long win over stable mate James Du Berlais in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle.
Energumene then justified the odds of favoritism under Paul Townend, making everything good for a 16-game win in the Ryanair Novice Chase.