O’Brien planning dual Coronation Cup challenge
Aidan O’Brien is set to rely on Japan and Mogul in Friday’s Coral Coronation Cup at Epsom, with dual Classic-winning filly Love likely to wait for Royal Ascot.
Japan is rated the biggest threat to Al Aasy by bookmakers, having got his career back on track with a comeback victory in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last month.
The four-year-old lost his way last season, having been beaten just half a length in third place in the Derby and won two Group Ones in 2019, and O’Brien is hopeful he can once again prove his worth at the highest level.
He said: “We’re very happy with Japan. We started him short (over a mile and a quarter) last year and we think maybe it was too much pressure on him too early and his season kind of fell to bits after that.
Mentally and physically we think he's in a very good place
“We decided to start over longer this year. Ryan (Moore) thought it would suit him and the trip would help him get happy and relaxed and enjoy it, and we were delighted with his run in Chester.
“We think he’s progressed from the run. Mentally and physically we think he’s in a very good place.”
Japan is set to be joined by full-brother Mogul, who was last seen finishing third in the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp.
“At the moment we’re thinking of running the two brothers,” O’Brien added.
“I spoke to Ryan this morning and I’m not sure which he’s going to ride – he mightn’t be sure even himself yet.”
The Ballydoyle handler’s other entries for the Coronation Cup are last year’s Derby winner Serpentine, Broome and the aforementioned Love.
Broome is bound for the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting, while O’Brien feels Friday’s race might come a “bit too quick” for Serpentine after finishing down the field in the Tattersalls Gold Cup less than a fortnight ago.
O’Brien admits running plans may have been different had he managed to get a prep run into Love, who won last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks, but has been off the track since winning the Yorkshire Oaks in August.
He said: “Everything is good with Love. She’s wintered well and has been ready to run for a while now.
“There were some Group Threes at the Curragh and places like that we would have liked to start her off in, but the ground was bad so we didn’t, which is why Broome filled those slots in.
“She’s ready to go. We could have ended up in the Coronation if we’d had a run, but we didn’t, so we’re thinking about Ascot with her for the Prince of Wales’s.
“She did a half-speed this morning and looked very happy in herself, so we’re very happy.
“She should be nice and fresh for the second half of the year. The Arc has always been on her radar, but in an ideal world I don’t think we’d like to run her in bad ground, so it would depend on the weather at the time of the year.”