By Jon Lees
GB: St Mark’s Basilica will not contest the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next week, when Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia is set to lead Aidan O’Brien’s challenge in the July 28 contest.
O’Brien said the dual French Classic winner, who won the Coral-Eclipse earlier this month, will have his next start in the Juddmonte International at York on August 18 or Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 11; he could possibly run in both races.
He also confirmed Love would be his main challenger in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, with Broome in reserve if the ground turned soft.
With top older miler Palace Pier also ruled out of the Sussex due to a blood disorder, 2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare is set to go off a strong odds-on favourite.
St Mark’s Basilica won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club before defeating Addeybb and Mishriff in his first run against older horses at Sandown this month.
“We are just trying to give him a little bit of time,” said O’Brien, speaking at an event to promote the Qatar Goodwood Festival. “He has the choice of York and Leopardstown, one or even both. We are just trying to get down the road another little bit before we decide where he is going next.”
Order Of Australia won his first race since the Breeders’ Cup when landing a G2 at the Curragh on Sunday; the Sussex Stakes comes ten days later. “He’s come out of the race well,” said O’Brien.
“He cantered today and yesterday,” he added. “It’s a race that could suit him. He likes fast ground, a mile is probably his trip and he can be ridden very forward. He likes a strong tempo in his race. Obviously he only ran at the weekend and we’d like to get him back into full work before we make the right decision.
“We are kind of half thinking of going to the Sussex with Lope Y Fernandez,” O’Brien went on. “He has came forward since Ascot. We have a choice of there or the Lennox but at the moment we are thinking of the Sussex
“The other one that might go is Battleground. He ran a very big race in Ascot. He was a little disappointing the last day but he was drawn out on the wing and likes to get cover. We think Goodwood will suit him and he can leave that run behind him.”
O’Brien said he was training three horses for the G1 Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup on July 27 in which he will probably run two from Santiago, Amhran Na Bhfiann and Serpentine.
Although dual Oaks winner Love features among entries for the Qatar Nassau Stakes on July 29, she runs on Saturday at Ascot.
“We haven’t decided whether she will go by herself or not, but the plan is for her to go to the King George,” said O’Brien.
“Everything has gone well since the last day. We were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince of Wales and this is up another two furlongs.
“The two fillies we are training for the Nassau are Joan Of Arc, who won the Prix de Diane, and Empress Josephine, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas.”
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