Rather than endure another lunchtime briefing from Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday, I took the opportunity to read last weekend's Irish Field which included an interview with Aidan O'Brien. In addition to explaining what was currently happening at Ballydoyle during the lockdown, Ireland's champion trainer passed on his thoughts regarding four of his leading hopes for 2020. He also had news of the stable's juveniles for the season ahead.
"We have some Air Force Blues this year and they seem to have come to hand very quickly, which is very interesting. I think that is just a bit unusual. We have three Air Force Blues and they are all really fast and very early. They all look like Ascot types. Air Force Blues could be something different, something we might not have had for a couple of years so it will be interesting to see how they go."
"We have a few by The Gurkha and they go very well also. We always loved The Gurkha as a racehorse. They look like Danehill/Galileo type horses, maybe six or seven furlong horses now, whereas the Air Force Blues look like straight five/six furlong horses," commented O'Brien.
The good news for readers of the new edition of Ahead On The Flat is that all three colts by Air Forces Blues are included and named between pages of 109-112 in the Ballydoyle Juveniles feature, plus there are three of the two year olds by The Gurkha included, too. Both first season sires, the pair promise to make a major impact in 2020.
If you haven't already ordered a copy of Ahead On The Flat or the Updates, please head to the Publications section of the site. Thank you very much to those who have done so already, it is greatly appreciated during this tricky and uncertain time. The response has been tremendous and, once published, the 160 pages will provide a distraction from the horrible events which have been unfolding over the last six or seven weeks.
On a lighter note, I have been involved in the Skybet / Sporting Life quiz nights during the last four Wednesday evenings. The quizmaster Mike Vince has been at the helm and has produced some real gems over the last month. The contestants have included Ed Chamberlin, Fran Berry, Oli Bell, Michael Shinners, Dave Ord, Simon Holt, Mike Cattermole, Ben Linfoot and Matt Brocklebank. Below I have listed five of the best questions on offer - they are belters.
1. Gordon Elliott rode one Grade 1 winner as a jockey - name the horse and who trained it.
2. Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins and Jonjo O'Neill have trained a Grand National winner but how many times did they complete the course between them as jockeys?
3. During the last 18 years, who is the only Newmarket based trainer to have won the 1000 Guineas at their local track?
4. Who is the only trainer to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and July Cup?
5. Who trained Sheikh Mohammed's first winner in the UK in 1977? And for an extra biscuit name the track.
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