By Simon Jackson.
Territories has pleased trainer Andre Fabre ahead of the potential rematch with his Qipco 2000 Guineas conqueror Gleneagles in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
Territories was a two and a quarter lengths second at Newmarket to Gleneagles, who has since won the Irish equivalent and St James’s Palace Stakes, but has not raced since June due to unsuitable ground conditions.
“I am very happy with Territories – his work has been good,” Fabre said of his charge who has finished first and second in Group 1s in his two starts since finishing second at Newmarket.
“He would prefer good ground but the straight course should not be as soft as the round course,” Fabre continued. “He has not run since August but he is quite a light horse who does not need much work.
“Comparing the progress he and Gleneagles have made since they finished second and first in the 2000 Guineas is difficult because neither has run for a long time. What I would say is that Territories is quite a late foal, he was born almost four months after Gleneagles, so that might allow him to have made greater progress since the spring.”
The going at Ascot this morning (Saturday) is good to soft on the straight course and good to soft, soft in places on the round course.
Gleneagles’ participation remains in the balance after O’Brien walked the course on Friday. At the time of writing O’Brien had yet to confirm his participation in the £1.1million contest where he is hoping for good ground for the son of Galileo who has won seven of his nine starts.
“The ground is not perfect at the moment, but we will take Gleneagles to the races and see how it rides in the first few races tomorrow (Saturday). Obviously, we would love to run but want to do what is right by the horse,” O’Brien said on Friday.
“It is very close to good ground in parts today. There are parts that are a bit slow at the moment but we will see how things are tomorrow.
“The ground is not far away from where it needs to be for him to run. You would hope it might tighten up a bit before his race tomorrow. A millimetre of rain though would be too much. After Ryan (Moore) has ridden on it tomorrow, he will know what it is like – he will know straight away. The times will tell us a lot as well.
“When I walked the course, there are strips that are good and strips that are a bit slow at the moment. From the three furlong pole to the furlong pole is where it is quicker.
“The horse has always come first and we want to be fair to him. If it doesn’t rain, there is no heavy dew and when the lads have ridden on it and say it is good ground or better, especially Ryan, then we might take our chance. It’s a close call – if the ground starts shifting and breaking off the top, we are going to be in trouble.”
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