O’Brien Predicts Piz Badile Improvement Ahead Of Curragh Return

Donnacha O’Brien is predicting that Piz Badile (Ire) (Ulysses {Ire}) will strip a lot fitter for his comeback effort in the G3 Alleged S. at the Curragh on Sunday and identified the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup as the early-season target for last year’s Irish Derby runner-up. 

The trainer also provided an upbeat bulletin on the hugely-exciting Proud And Regal (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who could get his season underway in the G3 Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown on May 7. 

Piz Badile will face just five rivals on Sunday, including likely favourite Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}), with O’Brien optimistic that the best may yet be to come from his charge at four. 

He said, “Piz Badile is in good form and has done very well from three to four. It will be nice to get him started and hopefully the ground dries out a little bit for him. He doesn’t mind a bit of juice in the ground but I’d rather if it wasn’t heavy ground. We’re looking forward to the year ahead with him.”

Asked how he reflects on last season with Piz Badile, O’Brien said, “I suppose he won his Derby Trial well and then we went to Epsom for the Derby and he didn’t really handle the track. He went on to run a very good race to finish second in the Irish Derby and then the ground was like flint in France for the Grand Prix de Paris. He pulled out of that race a little bit jarred which is why we gave him the rest of the year off. 

“Looking at his pedigree and even physically, he’s a horse who was always going to make up into a better four-year-old, and we had that in the back of our minds even at the start of last season’s campaign.

“The plan was to use this race as a prep for the Tattersalls Gold Cup, which is over the same course and distance, and I think he will come on a lot from whatever he does on Sunday. He’ll come on plenty for it and is going to be a lot better on better ground.”

Proud And Regal | Scoop Dyga

O’Brien revealed that Nell Gwyn S. entry Not Even Close (Ire) (Zoustar {Aus}) is an unlikely runner at Newmarket on Wednesday but confirmed that Wodao (Fr) (Showcasing {GB}) would definitely take his chance in the G3 Prix Sigy at Chantilly on Monday. 

He said, “Wodao had a really nice comeback run behind Tenebrism (Caravaggio) at Cork. We didn’t have him entered in this race but it popped up and the ground is soft over there, which will be to his liking. He takes his racing well and we thought it looked a nice opportunity to put him in. Some of the Irish sprints can be very competitive and even some of our listed races will be the equivalent Group 2s and Group 1s because of the types of horses who will be using such races as preps.”

On Not Even Close, he added, “She’s a lovely filly and has done really well throughout the winter but I don’t think she’ll be running in the Nell Gwyn. As is the case with most of mine, we’re trying to find a bit of nice ground for her somewhere, but it’s been a bit of a nightmare start to the year with all of the rain that we’re getting. 

“I bought her for Justin Carthy and then Qatar Racing bought into her after she won nicely at Dundalk. It’s my first horse for Qatar and I think she’s a smart filly. Obviously she is completely unproven at any kind of stakes grade but, on her work at home, she looks as though she can make up into a stakes filly.”

But there’s no doubting the great hope for O’Brien this season is Proud And Regal, a winner of the G1 Criterium International when last seen in October.

O’Brien said, “He’s a lovely horse and has done well over the winter. We didn’t run him in any of the early trials as he’d have had to carry the Group 1 penalty. 

“At the minute, we’re aiming him at the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, as he wouldn’t have a penalty in that. We could see where we want to go with him after that. 

“He could go the Derby route or he could even drop back for something like the Irish 2,000 Guineas. But we’ll start him off at Leopardstown first and then decide about where we want to go afterwards.”

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