Compare these two quotes from Irish supertrainer Aidan O’Brien:
“Everyone has been over the moon with him and he’s been so impressive. Joseph [O’Brien, Aidan’s son] got off him the last day and said he’d ridden nothing like him. He’s getting bigger and stronger. He’s something like we haven’t had before.”
“Everything went 100%. In his last piece of work he hit a top speed of 45 miles per hour – no horse in Ballydoyle has ever been able to do that.”
The first refers to Air Force Blue following the then-two-year-old’s fine victory in Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes last October, leaving Ballydoyle’s great hope strong favourite for the 2016 2000 Guineas at the same track after four wins and a second in five debut-season runs.
Air Force Blue went off 4/5 jolly in the first boys’ Classic of the year, but bombed badly, finishing 15l off winner Galileo Gold in 12th place.
Despite dropping down in class and trip, the son of War Front has failed to fire in three starts since, coming last of seven at the Curragh over the weekend when 1/1.
The second quote refers to Caravaggio, the latest star two-year old off the County Tipperary production line with four wins from his first four starts, the most impressive coming in the Curragh’s Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, immediately prior to the vaunted trainer’s lavish comments.
Caravaggio is 5/2 favourite to manage what his stablemate could not by winning next year’s 2000 Guineas, but the cautionary tale of Air Force Blue is just one reason to look elsewhere for value.
Having mopped up four 2000 Guineas victories between 2002 and 2008, O’Brien has only taken two of the past eight, with St Nicholas Abbey (1/1) and Australia (5/2) joining Air Force Blue among the fancied flops during that period.
At this early stage in the betting, Richard Hannon’s Mehmas looks a much better bet at 14/1 for a trainer with as many 2000 Guineas triumphs to his name as O’Brien over the past three years.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.