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Busy Ballydoyle

http://parisparfait.typepad.com/paris_parfait/images/2007/08/29/horse_trainer_aidan_obrien.jpg Things are a bit quiet Stateside, but there’s been a flurry of activity for Ballydoyle in the past week. First, it was announced that the British Horseracing Authority was going to investigate a charge of team tactics (as discussed here last week) over the way the Juddmonte International was ridden, with Red Rock Canyon politely giving way to Duke of Marmalade. While it seems the results of the race would not be affected, there would be some financial implications for trainer Aiden O’Brien (pictured) and jockey Colm O’Donoghue:

If O’Donoghue is found in breach, however, O’Brien will be deemed to be in breach unless he can satisfy the BHA’s disciplinary panel that he instructed his jockey to treat every other horse in the race without favour. If found guilty, O’Donoghue faces a riding ban of up to 10 days, while O’Brien could be fined up to £10,000. In any event, the result of the race will not be altered.

Let’s review what Johnny Murtagah, who was aboard Duke of Marmalade, said post-race:

“I was always going to follow Colm,” Murtagh reportedly told the Sunday Times. “I didn’t want to start worrying about other horses. I just wanted to worry about myself and Colm and I said to him, ‘When you get to the four marker, just ease off and give me the passage through’. It’s what Ballydoyle’s all about.”

The inquiry will begin September 22nd, but there’s plenty to keep the press percolating over in the meantime — Duke of Marmalade had been set to line up for his sixth Group 1 of the year in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday, but rain and resulting soft ground could prevent a rematch against New Approach (who was third in their last meeting).

But the ground may not be the only concern — O’Brien had earlier suggested that the Duke might still be a bit tired after his previous controversial effort, and that combined with the forecast for rain meant that rumors of his non-appearance have been swirling to the point that betting was suspended in some corners. We’ll see…in any event, Red Rock Canyon and King of Rome (whom I can only assume is named for the famous racing pigeon of folk song fame) are both in the race for Ballydoyle as well. Any one of them could give O’Brien Group 1 win number 19 for the season.

Henrythenavigator has a tough weekend assignment as well; he is scheduled to take on top fillies Darjina, Goldikova and Natagora in the Prix du Moulin (yet another Group 1) at Longchamp – although exactly who lines up will depend on the weather.

And if Yeats does decide to go for the Melbourne Cup in November, he’ll have the highest weight in the field to carry – he’s been assigned 59 kg (about 130 pounds), with last year’s winner, Efficient, being accorded 58 kg (about 128 pounds). Some entrants have been given as little as 53 kg (about 117 pounds), so if he does go ahead, he has no small task ahead of him. It’s going to be a busy time for Ballydoyle.

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