Trainer Aidan O’Brien backs ‘green’ Santa Barbara to live up to the hype in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket
- The first Classic of the Flat season takes place at Newmarket this weekend
- Santa Barbara will seek to justify short odds in Sunday’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas
- Filly has run and won only one race – a mile maiden at the Curragh in September
Trainer Aidan O’Brien is hoping the fact Santa Barbara is a ‘quick learner’ will help her overcome inexperience when she attempts 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 the most intriguing of all is whether a filly who has won her only race — a mile maiden at the Curragh in September — can justify being only 6-4 for the 1,000 Guineas.
O’Brien is chasing his seventh win in the 1,000 Guineas and his fifth in the last six years, while Santa Barbara, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore, could be the shortest-priced winner of the race since Finsceal Beo won at 5-4 in 2007.
Santa Barbara will seek to justify short odds in Sunday’s Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket
O’Brien, who also runs Frankie Dettori-ridden Mother Earth in the race, said: ‘We didn’t want to over-race Santa Barbara last season. It is a big call for her. She will be green and it will be interesting to see how she copes. She is a quick learner and very intelligent.
‘She always looked very special. Of all the two-year-old fillies, she was always at the top of the pecking order.’
Santa Barbara is a half-sister to two Breeders’ Cup winners — Iridessa (2019 Filly & Mare Turf) and Order Of Australia (2020 Mile).
O’Brien will seek an 11th victory in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas with three representatives. Moore rides favourite Wembley, the Dewhurst Stakes runner-up, Dettori is on Chesham and Vintage Stakes winner Battleground, with Seamus Heffernan partnering Criterium International winner Van Gogh.
Over the jumps, Rachael Blackmore-ridden Honeysuckle faces an enticing rematch with the two horses who chased her home in the Champion Hurdle — Sharjah and Epatante — in Friday’s Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The meeting continues to be dominated by trainer Willie Mullins. His latest Grade One wins came from Klassical Dream, who sauntered to a nine-length win from stablemate James Du Berlais in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle under his amateur jockey son Patrick.
Energumene then justified odds-on favouritism under Paul Townend, making all for a 16-length win in the Ryanair Novice Chase.