Classic-winning jockey turned trainer Donnacha O’Brien believes Amusement has a ‘big chance’ of making his first runner at Newmarket’s July Course a triumphant one in the British EBF 40th Anniversary Chalice Stakes tomorrow (Saturday 5th August).
The daughter of Galileo will take on 10 rivals when attempting to become the second Irish-trained winner of the mile and a half Listed contest behind Fermion, who landed the 2006 renewal for the trainer’s father Aidan O’Brien when the race was staged at Newbury.
Amusement put up a career best display on her most recent start at the Curragh when finishing third behind subsequent Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup runner-up Emily Dickinson on her Group Two debut in last month’s Comer Group International Curragh Cup.
With that effort looking a standout piece of form compared to what any of her rivals have so far achieved, O’Brien feels it makes her the filly to beat in the £50,000 feature on the six-race card.
O’Brien said: “She is the highest rated filly in the race (off 103) and it looks like she has a big chance. She has run consistently well all season.
“It is her first time travelling outside of Ireland and you are never sure how they will handle the travelling. Her last run is strong form as the two fillies that finished in front of her are Group One fillies.
“She had a lot of allowances the last day and doesn’t have quite as many here, but we are hopeful of a good run.
“I had a few rides at the July Course as a jockey, but this is my first runner as a trainer. It would be nice to have a winner at the July Course but more so for the filly so that she then becomes a stakes race winner.”
Although Amusement only has one victory to her name, which was secured on her return to action at Leopardstown in May in a mile and a half handicap, O’Brien feels that figure could have been much more had connections decided to go a different route.
O’Brien added: “She has only won the one handicap and we probably could have won a few more handicaps with her but we wanted to step her up into stakes class and make her a black-type filly.
“When you do that it is obviously harder to win races and we have probably thrown her in at the deep end a few times but she seems to keep on improving in each of her races.
“She is a well-bred filly and has been placed in Group races so the next thing after that is to try and make her a stakes race winner.
“I looked through the programme book and she had plenty of options and I entered her up in plenty of places where she had a chance of winning.
“When the entries came out this didn’t look like the strongest Listed race so we decided to come here.”
Amusement’s latest assignment will see her drop back in trip having raced over a mile and three quarters on her last two starts, however O’Brien feels the nature of the July Course will play to her strengths.
He added: “She is by Galileo and she physically looks like a staying filly. Having run her over a mile and six furlongs it looks like she gets that trip well.
“A mile and a half would be towards the lower end of her scale in terms of trip as she will probably stay two miles in time.
“However, Newmarket is a big galloping track and the mile and a half there is quite stiff.”
Looking beyond this weekend O’Brien, who tasted QIPCO 2000 Guineas glory aboard Saxon Warrior in 2018 and Magna Grecia in 2019, has hinted he could try and secure Group One glory on the Rowley Mile later in the year with stablemate Porta Fortuna.
The daughter of Caravaggio will bid to follow up her Group Three victory in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot in the Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on August 12th ahead of a potential tilt at the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes in October.
O’Brien added: “I’ve always had a lot of luck at Newmarket. I’ve had the two 2000 Guineas winners there. I also rode Fairyland to win the Cheveley Park and Ten Sovereigns the Middle Park on the same day as well.
“The Rowley Mile was probably my luckiest track as a jockey in terms of big-race winners and it is a very fair track.
“The plan is to go to the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh a week on Saturday with Porta Fortuna.
“We will see how that race goes then make another plan, but the Cheveley Park Stakes will be on the radar later in the year I imagine.”