Sunday, February 18, 2018

O’Brien expects special things from ‘Popstar’


PRINCESS POPSTAR’S main objective upon arrival in Trinidad and Tobago two weeks ago, was to contest this country’s Trinidad Derby Stakes on September 24.

And her tall reputation has intrigued the horseracing industry.

She is the first juvenile in Jamaica to be adjudged Horse of the Year, and is unbeaten in six starts when conditioned in Jamaica by top trainer Phillip Feanney.

Her new trainer John O’Brien strongly believes the unbeaten Jamaica-bred daughter of Adore The Gold/Doc’s Paladin is something special.

Speaking yesterday to the Express at Santa Rosa Park, the question of Princess Popstar, and Triple Crown contender, Momentum clashing in the Derby was a hot topic.

And O’Brien cleared the air, as to what kind of pressure he has on his shoulders with Princess Popstar now on the horizon as the big threat to Momentum.

He popped out: “Good pressure.”

“It is good to know that you have two tremendous chances of winning the Derby, and it is definitely good pressure,” O’Brien said. Pressed further to find out what position would he be in, should Princess Popstar score impressively in tomorrow’s 1,800-metre Massy Oaks Stakes, he stated: “The burden is not Momentum going for Triple Crown. Princess Popstar is a good horse, and if she beats him in the Derby, so be it.”

Switching to Princess Popstar’s first start in these parts tomorrow, O’Brien pointed out that, “she did not get the ideal preparation. She was in quarantine when she arrived and only got two pieces of breeze work. One when she left Jamaica and did not get another breeze until August 26. I won’t say she is not a hundred per cent fit, but she is not far off.”

Asked from his years of experience what type of horse she is, and if the Oaks trip is of concern as the “Princess” has never travelled beyond one mile, O’Brien said: “She has a lovely action. My only concern is the two turns, not the extra furlong. Going two turns confuses horses. The distance should not be a problem.”

Her travelling partner, Raeven Renae, finished second in Jamaica’s St Leger to Relampago. And about her, O’Brien said: “She has the same problem as her. They were both in quarantine.”

Regarding his other runner, Market Rally (Oaks), winner of the 1,800-metre Breeders Stakes, O’Brien declared: “She is training fine, but I do not think she is of that quality. We know when they, the Jamaicans, tell you a Jamaican horse good, they good. I do not think the T&T-bred horses will beat the Jamaican horses.”

Moving onto the 1,800-metre Bernard Dulal-Whiteway Independence Cup in which he has Kidz Ro and Chase The Dragon entered, O’Brien reckoned, “it will be tough to run on the turf, and if they come off, it will compromise the chances of both my horses.” He added that, “Buffalo Soldier is running very well on any surface, but my horse Kidz Ro in particularly will run well on the turf.”

Asked his prediction of the race wherever it is run, he said, “the same, Buffalo Soldier. Sacred Trust will have a chance on both tracks. Urban Knight will be questionable as he has not run around two turns since last year, and Fly Junior does not like the main track.”

Asked if punters journeying to Santa Rosa Park could be in for something special he smiled, and said, “I am sure hoping so. I will not like to be the first one to be get beat with Princess Popstar. She looks like something special.”

Asked what tip he could help punters with on the ten-race card, O’Brien advised: “I ain’t have much on the day. I have three horses in a maiden race (two), and they are not special. I do not know how Jamaica-bred Glorify (in the race) is going, but Lady Angelica could have an outside shot in the fourth race. Rocket Man (entered in the seventh race) is not racing. He had a fever and he is scratched.”