Moore and O’Brien fly high as Air Force Blue takes off
- Credit: PA
Air Force Blue flew home in the £500,000 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday destroying his rivals and confirming his position as leading two-year-old colt of the season.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden effortlessly by Ryan Moore, the 4/6 favourite outclassed a star-studded field to earn a quote of 5/4 for next season’s 2,000 Guineas.
Victory by more than three lengths could have been even greater as Moore had the seven-furlong contest won coming out of the famous Rowley Mile course dip at the two-furlong marker.
Adventurous set the early pace, with Sanus Per Aquam settled on his heels, and it was the last-named who made the first run for home with around three furlongs still to run.
However, Moore was merely biding his time on Air Force Blue and switched to the stands rail to challenge in unison with Emotionless.
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That rival was soon in trouble, though, as Air Force Blue kicked into top gear and he soon put daylight between himself and the rest of the field, winning with plenty in hand.
Moore was thoroughly impressed with the Ballydoyle colt: “It was a brilliant performance. I rode him on Irish Guineas day and he won first time, but he was a big frame of a horse.
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“Then he got beat in the Coventry at Royal Ascot but he still wasn’t quite developed.
“It’s the first time I’ve sat on him since June. Cantering down I could feel he’s really strengthened and developed.
“I’m struggling to think of any better two-year-old I’ve ridden. He felt like there’s more to come.
“He’s a big horse and is still filling that frame. I think there should be more to come over the winter, with a bit of luck.”
O’Brien was full of praise for his charge and believes he is the best two-year-old he has handled during his training career.
He said: “I could not be more impressed. He was a baby early on but he keeps doing it time after time. Joseph (O’Brien) got off him last time and said he’s ridden nothing like him.
“I would say no doubt he’s the best two-year-old I’ve had. It’s a joy when these horses come along.”
Trainer Charlie Appleby felt Emotionless, who finished last, found the switch up to Group One level a different proposition.
“We will put him away and let him furnish over the winter and see where we are in the spring. He’s a big-framed horse and hopefully he will strengthen into that frame.”
The Moore and O’Brien team had hoped to follow up in the Dubai Zetland Stakes but 11/10 market leader Landofhopeandglory just failed to reel in the winner, fellow Irish raider Glamorous Approach.
Trained by Jim Bolger, the New Approach filly was given a great ride by Kevin Manning and battled on well to keep Moore at bay to win at 15/2.
Bolger said: “She’s a lovely filly. The extra couple of furlongs have been a big help and she always looked like the winner.
“She’s an Oaks filly and she will love the mile and a half.”
There was consolation for Godolphin’s Appleby and Buick pairing when Mistrusting won the Vision EBF Stallions Boadicea Fillies’ Stakes at 4/1.
Buick had the filly out the back early on in the six-furlong contest but midway allowed her to close on the near side.
He made his move a couple of furlongs out and ran on well to score in good fashion with market leader Terror always well held in second spot down the centre of the course and Mick Channon’s Divine back in third.
The second running of the Varsity Race for the Bearsted Trophy proved a farce.
One of the more fancied runners, Nosey Barker, bolted and unseated Bruno Steinkraus before the actual start was a complete mess.
Outsider Realt Na Mara broke away 20 lengths before the rest and cruised home for Cambridge’s Holly Mason.
The starter seemed destined to signal a false start but the contest was allowed to continue and the Hugh Morrison trained 12-year-old won easily from The Gay Cavalier and Anni Bates, with Cambridge taking the team honours.