State Of Rest won twice at the highest level on foreign soil last year and Joseph O’Brien is confident he can fly the Group One flag for his team closer to home in 2022.
The Starspangledbanner colt ran only three times last season – but made the most of his opportunities by winning the Saratoga Derby and the Cox Plate in Australia on his final two starts.
O’Brien is hoping to see the four-year-old reappear in the coming weeks, potentially in France, before bidding for a first Irish Group One success in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 22.
“State Of Rest is probably our flagship horse for the year, hopefully,” O’Brien said during a media visit to his County Kilkenny yard on Wednesday.
“We’re looking at either the Prix Ganay or the Mooresbridge as a starting point, with the Tattersalls Gold Cup being his first big target.”
Asked whether he felt State Of Rest could be underrated, he added: “I think that’s fair to say. The horse he beat in the Cox Plate (Anamoe) won a Group One by six and a half lengths last week.
“He (State Of Rest) is rated 120 and I think he’s going to be competitive in those big 10-furlong races this year.
“If he happens to win or be competitive in those Group Ones early in the season, you have Ascot (Prince of Wales’s Stakes), Sandown (Eclipse) and York (Juddmonte International).
“He also has American options and then Australia again as he’s been bought by an Australian stud (Newgate Stud and partners), so he’ll probably end up in Australia again if the season went well.”
State Of Rest will lead what O’Brien believes is his strongest ever team into battle.
O’Brien with a string of Classic hopefuls
Some of his big hopes in the three-year-old division are set for imminent action, including potential Derby contender Buckaroo, who is being readied for Saturday’s Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown.
He is likely to be joined at Leopardstown by both Seisai and Agartha, who are set to cross paths in the Ballylinch Stud ‘Priory Belle’ 1,000 Guineas Trial.
Another colt identified by the trainer as a potential Classic contender is Hannibal Barca, who rounded off last season by finishing fourth in the Vertem Futurity Trophy for Brian Meehan and has since switched yards.
O’Brien said: “He will probably go to the Curragh for the Tetrarch Stakes and then we’ll see.
“That race is the same course and distance as the Irish Guineas, so will that will give him the chance of being an Irish Guineas horse.”
Discussing some of his other three-year-olds, the trainer went on: “Brasil Power will probably run in a handicap at Leopardstown at the weekend. He is working like a nice horse and could be progressive.
“Velocidad won a Group Two last year. She’s bred to stay but I’m not sure how far she will stay, so I’m toying with the idea of starting her at seven (furlongs) or going sprinting.
“Tranquil Lady will probably go for an Oaks Trial – the Salsabil Stakes or the Blue Wind, something like that and take it from there.
“Above The Curve will probably run in a maiden next week and we think she’s a nice filly – we think she’ll make up into a Stakes filly, hopefully.
“Vega Magnifico is another nice maiden who could go to Leopardstown a week today.”
Thunder Moon leads older horses
O’Brien appears particularly happy with his team of “80 or 90” two-year-olds, while the older horse brigade includes Thunder Moon, who was only narrowly beaten in last season’s Prix Jean Prat.
“Thunder Moon will probably go for the Gladness Stakes and we’ll try to win a Group One with him after that,” said O’Brien.
“I think seven furlongs is his trip and he was unlucky not to win a Group One last year in France.
“I think I got his conditions wrong a few times – I tried to sprint him or go a mile and if you look at all his runs over seven furlongs, they’re way ahead of his form over any other trip.
“Gear Up will start off in the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh and seems to be working nicely. He didn’t fire last year really, but he had a bit of an injury.
“He was a very good two-year-old before that and we’re happy with what we’ve seen from him so far.”
Pep Guardiola jokes he’s ‘sorry’ that he stopped Mikel Arteta from becoming Manchester City manager
The Gunners head north leading rivals City by five points with a game in hand atop the Premier League, but acutely aware of the challenging taking on the frustrated Guardiola and company.
Arteta left Guardiola’s City setup in December 2019 to take the Arsenal helm, transforming the Gunners in remarkable fashion since.
“I am pretty sure if I would have left here before, he would be here [at City] and he would be the best, absolutely,” said Guardiola, of Arteta.
“But I extended my contract, I am sorry, and he didn’t wait, so it could not happen. But definitely it could have.”
Arteta joined Manchester City’s coaching ranks on retiring as a player in 2016, learning his craft under master tactician and serial winner Guardiola.
City’s former Barcelona boss revealed how Arteta would never celebrate goals against the Gunners, the team he represented more than 100 times between 2011 and 2016.
“He loves the club; I remember when we were together here and we scored goals, he jumped a lot and celebrated – except with one team,” said Guardiola.
“One team, every time we score a goal, I jump, look back and he was sitting there. It was Arsenal.”
R Madrid 3 – 1 A Madrid
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior scored in extra-time as Real Madrid fought back to beat local rivals Atletico 3-1 on Thursday and reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
On a freezing night at a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu hosting its first game for 77 days due to the World Cup break, Real started slowly and Atletico had many dangerous counter-attacks.
Atletico captain Koke delivered a brilliant through ball to Nahuel Molina who ghosting in behind Reals defence and the full back set up Alvaro Morata, a former Real academy player, to tap the ball into an empty net in the 19th minute.
Eder Militao wasted a golden chance to equalise in the 32nd minute after Toni Kroos had delivered a perfect cross.
It was not only until Dani Ceballos came off the bench to replace the injured Ferland Mendy late in the first half that Real started to play better.
The 26-year-old midfielder injected a new dynamic into the team who were far more aggressive after the break.
Benzema wasted two good opportunities and Federico Valverde also sent a shot wide from just outside the box.
Substitute Rodrygo equalised in the 79th with a delightful goal, dribbling past three defenders before finishing well.
With Real Madrid in full control, Atletico played most of extra time with 10 men after defender Stefan Savic was shown his second yellow card for chopping down Eduardo Camavinga in the 99th minute.
Five minutes later, Real substitute Marco Asensio sent a low cross into the box and Vinicius’s deflected shot reached Benzema who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the net.
Vinicius secured Real’s win in the dying seconds with a brilliant individual goal, running half the length of the pitch before scoring with a low shot.
“We got behind very early and after Mendy’s injury the whole team had to be rebuilt. But we woke up and played really well after the break,” Ceballos told TVE.
“They played better in the first half, but the coach corrected things in the second; we took control of the ball and found the goal. Then, after the red card, everything was easier.”
Real Madrid joined Barcelona, Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals.
Everything we know about Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle
It’s conference championship week. With only four teams on the NFL schedule this week — the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals — one interesting storyline can dominate the entire conversation leading up to the games. This time, it’s QB Patrick Mahomes’ ankle.
The fact that this storyline is the dominant one heading into the weekend makes sense. He’s the best player in the league, and his team is hosting the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals who are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Also, the game is taking place one week after he suffered a high-ankle sprain and was still able to hobble the Chiefs to victory — aided of course by a timely 98-yard touchdown drive that was led by backup quarterback Chad Henne.
How mobile does Mahomes look right now?
Since his right ankle got rolled against the Jacksonville Jaguars, no leg in America has had as much attention on it as his. Not even Brent Maher’s as he overcame his kicking yips during the Dallas Cowboys’ loss on Sunday to the Eagles. Mahomes’ ankle has so much attention on it that Fox 4 KC’s Harold R. Kuntz has been filming him walking down from the press conference podium the last two days. And by filming Mahomes, I mean only his legs.
Thursday update: Mahomes didn’t even need to use the stairs.
Knox’s assessment: Don’t be a hero… until Sunday.
Kuntz isn’t the only reporter on the scene sharing video footage of Mahomes’ mobility. During the portion of practice that was open to the media, many videos were sent out of Mahomes moving around. As the Chiefs were warming up, Mahomes actually jogged and spun as he headed toward his next station. He is certainly running better than he was on Sunday.
In their comments to the media, Andy Reid said that Mahomes “did a nice job and was “comfortable with what we did.” Mahomes said that he believed his Wednesday practice went, “better than I expected.”
For Chiefs fans — and those of us who want to see a well-played AFC Championship Game — this news out of Kansas City is the best we could’ve received. On the Chiefs’ most active days of practice, Mahomes was seen moving very well. Also, he and the head coach both gave positive updates about the health of the most important leg in sports this weekend.
Will the ankle affect Mahomes’ play on Sunday?
There is no possible way that Mahomes will be 100 percent against the Bengals. They are going to test that ankle by trying to apply the same type of pressure that disrupted the Buffalo Bills during the Bengals’ Divisional Round win on Sunday. However, if he can move around all game as well as he has been in practice, he will be able to play well enough for the Chiefs to have a chance at victory.
We’ve received the closeup and overhead views of Mahomes’ health. All that is left is the view at Arrowhead Stadium from the CBS cameras at 6:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 29, 2023.
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