O'Brien eyes drop back to mile for The Gurkha

Hawkbill -William Buick wins

The Gurkha could not get the better of Hawkbill in the Coral-Eclipse

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

 By Lewis Porteous 6:30PM 2 JUL 2016 

THE GURKHA looks set for a return to a mile despite going down all guns blazing when just half a length behind Hawkbill on his first attempt at a mile and a quarter in Saturday’s Group 1 Coral-Eclipse.

Although trainer Aidan O’Brien believes Saturday’s trip is not out of range for The Gurkha, the combination of rain-softened ground and being set alight after scrimmaging on the home bend, meant he perhaps did not quite see out the trip on this occasion.

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“It was a little bit rough off the bend,” said O’Brien. “He ran well and travelled well but perhaps came alive a little bit early because of the bend. I’m not sure if he truly got home.

“He’s got a lot of speed but being by Galileo you’d imagine he would get a mile and a quarter. The rain wasn’t an advantage and maybe if it had happened a little bit smoother . . .”

A rematch with his St James’s Palace Stakes conqueror Galileo Gold looks a distinct possibility next, with O’Brien mulling the Qatar Sussex Stakes at the end of the month.

He added: “Originally the plan was to go from Ascot to the Sussex but because he’d done very well we decided to take this in. We’ll see how he is but if he’s well I’d imagine that could still be in the plan.”

Rain scuppers Time Test’s hopes

Ground that was changed to soft after a sharp shower brought 3mm of rain before the first race went against Time Test but connections were far from downbeat with his run in third, especially after rider Pat Smullen instantly put his name in line for the ride at York in the Group 1 Juddmonte International on August 17.

Trainer Roger Charlton said: “The first thing Pat said was ‘my God this horse has improved since the last time I rode him’.

“Pat said he tried so hard and when he gets fast ground he’d like to ride him again.”

He added: “I think a mile and a quarter is what he is and hopefully Lord Grimthorpe could organise to keep the ground fast at York!”

Cox eyes autumn for My Dream Boat

My Dream Boat, who downed The Gurkha’s stablemate Found when winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, failed to feature on this occasion in fifth and an autumn campaign could now beckon.

Trainer Clive Cox said: “I think it’s probably come soon enough after Ascot but take nothing away from the first and second.”

 
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