Warm Heart has international options

Coolmore’s Yorkshire Oaks winner could be the ideal type to travel overseas this autumn, with the Breeders’ Cup being considered and Hong Kong seen as a possibility too.

Warm Heart (pink) holds off Free The Wind in a stirring Yorkshire Oaks finish. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Aidan O’Brien believes Warm Heart has the makings of a Ballydoyle world traveller in the months ahead: France, the United States, even Hong Kong, are on the table for consideration alongside a potential home assignment on Irish Champions Weekend next month.

Not since Magical and Magic Wand retired to the paddocks three years ago has Ireland’s top stable had a bona fide globe-trotting Group 1 filly on the team: Mother Earth tried to take on the role but didn’t quite nail it. Warm Heart could be the one to carry the baton.

“It’s possible,” O’Brien told Asian Racing Report when asked if the three-year-old might be the type for a trip to Sha Tin in December. “She could travel a lot, this filly, I’d be happy to travel. I think she has the speed to handle Sha Tin.

“She’s a quick filly and she’s strong,” he said. “She’d have no problem with a mile and a quarter, she loves fast ground and she’s a very slick filly, a beautiful, quality filly.”


Before they get to thinking too closely about a trip to Asia, and the question of tackling the G1 Hong Kong Vase over the Yorkshire Oaks distance of 2400 metres, or the 2000 metres of the G1 Hong Kong Cup, O’Brien and his Coolmore paymasters will weigh up a shot at the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita at the beginning of November.

“I think she would probably be made for the Fillies and Mares Turf,” he said. “I think it would suit her really well, she’s a nice size and she has strength and she has tactical speed as well. She’s very off-handed and is taking everything in her stride with every run this year.

“She could go Irish Champions weekend, she could go Arc weekend, but she likes a nice bit of ground,” he emphasised, and noted that he would not want to “over-face her or give her too much hardship” before a possible trip to California and maybe beyond.

Warm Heart’s first top-flight win at her seventh career start, confirmed the potential she displayed when winning the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes over the same distance at Royal Ascot in June. Between times she was only fifth in the G1 Irish Oaks, behind the G1 Oaks heroine from Epsom, Savethelastdance, her stablemate and a front-running race favourite to score at York.

But Savethelastdance was in trouble with a quarter of a mile of the Knavesmire still to cover as Warm Heart galloped easily to the lead and set for home under James Doyle. The challenge, instead, came from Free Wind who slipstreamed and then quickened to within a head; Warm Heart was brave, though, and that margin of advantage remained as the pair flashed past the winning post.

It was a first win on a Ballydoyle horse for Doyle, a jockey closely allied with Coolmore’s old rival Godolphin, as that team’s second rider behind champion jockey William Buick.

“We’d always use James when he’s available but obviously he’s not available that much,” O’Brien said. “He’s a gentleman, a very classy rider, very determined, very strong; he has all the qualities and always had.”

Doyle revealed that he found himself in front earlier than he had envisaged.

“Before the race Aidan said if you can try and be the last one to challenge inside the furlong pole, but as you saw, she took me down through the two and nothing could take me … I had to go a little bit earlier just to focus her up.

“When Frankie came at me, I thought ‘here we go again,’ but she was very brave. It’s a quality that Aidan O’Brien really trains into these horses, they’re very tough; when you get into a battle you’d like to be on them.”

O’Brien, for his part, was pleased with Doyle’s application.

“I knew that he did his best, whatever way it was going to fall,” he said. “They’re not easy instructions, ever, and I don’t think he could have played it much later: Frankie was forcing him to go, so I thought he gave her a brilliant ride. It looked like Frankie was going to go by her but she found again, (James) was very strong on her.”

Meanwhile, the trainer said he was “not disappointed” with Savethelastdance’s run in third and she could be bound for the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, should the ground be wet, if not the G1 St Leger, Britain’s final Classic, at Doncaster two weeks prior.




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