When Irish horse racing trainer Aidan O’Brien claimed that Gleneagles was the best miler he had ever witnessed in his stable, after the colt had won the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, it was some accolade given that the Irishman has been responsible for some legendary horses over the same distance such as Rock Of Gibraltar and Giants Causeway. Gleneagles had just completed his eighth successive victory when beating the Godolphin horse Latharnach although he had been disqualified when winning the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris during October. Yet the question remains as to just how good a horse Gleneagles is and can be.
The horse had already won the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas before his victory at Ascot and the St James’s Palace Stakes had been described as a match between Gleneagles and the winner of the French equivalent race Make Believe. However, the Irish horse completed a comfortable success after the Make Believe failed to cope with the prevailing good to firm going. Gleneagles can only beat his opposition but the remaining horses in the field can arguably described as just below Group 1 level.
O’Brien clearly thinks that Gleneagles is his best ever miler but he produced similar claims in the past such as when Camelot was asserted to be his best ever horse only to disappoint the horse racing public after winning the Epsom Derby. Gleneagles may eventually justify the claims of the Irish trainer but the horse will soon be facing older horses and with Galileo and Storm Cat in his breeding, there is also the possibility of him moving into 1m 2f races.
Over a mile, Gleneagles may now be required to prove his ability against the exciting French horse Solow who won the Queen Anne Stakes on the opening day of the meeting, and there is also a potential clash with last season’s 2,000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder for whom yesterday’s race was a disappointment.
Should Gleneagles tackle the important 1m2f races later in the season, there is the intriguing prospect of the horse facing French and English Derby winners New Bay and Golden Horn who may be campaigned over this trip plus older horses Free Eagle, The Grey Gatsby and Western Hymn who occupied the first three places in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday.
Aidan O’Brien was disappointed prior to the Epsom Derby when his two main hopes for the race, John F Kennedy and Ol’ Man River failed to show the necessary sparkle and were withdrawn, but Gleneagles has progressed since his decent two-year old career and has demonstrated an ability to accelerate without winning by a great distance. He is clearly highly regarded by his trainer but sterner tests await and there are some good horses among his prospective challengers during the remainder of the flat campaign.