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Henry Longfellow expected to bounce back at Royal Ascot

Henry Longfellow expected to bounce back at Royal Ascot
Henry Longfellow expected to bounce back at Royal Ascot

Aidan O’Brien has blamed himself for a “tactical error” that he believes contributed to Henry Longfellow’s defeat in the French 2000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Bred to be a superstar as a son of Dubawi out of the brilliant racemare Minding, the three-year-old enjoyed a faultless juvenile campaign, winning each of his three starts including the Group One National Stakes.

With his stablemate City Of Troy the stable’s chosen representative in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Henry Longfellow instead crossed the Channel for the French equivalent, but was unable to land a blow in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, passing the post eighth of 13 runners.

“That was a tactical error on my behalf. I said to Ryan (Moore) to take his time on him because it was his first run and he hadn’t been away and he’d never been on that type of track,” said O’Brien.

“Ryan took his time but then found himself in a way that he couldn’t get out, and to get out he had to keep coming back to get out, but as he kept coming back they kept going by him and the next thing he ended up too far back in a slowly-run race.

“He’s come in like he didn’t have any kind of race, but with Ryan he’s obviously very experienced and he knows when his chance has gone and he doesn’t go to the end of a horse then. Henry came in and he was very happy in himself so we just put that down to a lovely experience, he went right-handed and I’d say he felt it was only a piece of work.”

Henry Longfellow and Ryan Moore at the Curragh
Henry Longfellow and Ryan Moore at the Curragh (Damien Eagers/PA)

O’Brien is confident his charge will show his true colours in due course, with the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot an obvious target for potential redemption.

He added: “The plan with him was, if everything went well, was to go to the St James’s Palace so we’re going to stick to that plan. I’ll probably have more confidence in him the next day to tell Ryan to go forward with him in the St James’s Palace.

“Ryan will listen to every word you say and carry it out but the way that it worked, the race didn’t fall for us. In France, around Longchamp, if it’s a steady pace it’s very hard to make a length.”

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