Fancy Blue Putting Donnacha O’Brien on the Map as a Trainer

Goodwood Horseracing Course © Copyright Janine Forbes

Fancy Blue Putting Donnacha O’Brien on the Map as a Trainer

When your father is Aidan O’Brien and arguably the greatest trainer of Flat racehorses in history, there is a certain pressure and interest that has accompanied the fledgling career of Donnacha O’Brien.

Like elder sibling Joseph, retirement from race riding has been followed with a swift transition from the saddle to handling horses on the gallops. O’Brien junior is living up to the family name with the first of potentially many equine greats being Fancy Blue.

The Coolmore breeding operation and its triumvirate of powerful owners Magnier, Tabor and Smith sent Donnacha this filly by the late, great Japanese super sire Deep Impact. He was unofficially training Fancy Blue at Ballydoyle under the watchful eye of his dad last season, but now has his own license. Before his 22nd birthday, O’Brien sent her out to win a French Classic in the Prix de Diane:

Not bad for starters. Fancy Blue took a clear step forward at Chantilly from chasing home Peaceful when beaten a couple of lengths in the Irish 1000 Guineas. That form was reversed in France as the first three spots were filled by Emerald Isle raiders.


Fancy Blue was on top at the line in the Diane, but her main market rivals all finished in a heap with just over half-a-length separating first from fourth. In a year where other Classic form hasn’t stacked up, it still left her and Donnacha with questions to answer.

A maiden Group 1 success as a trainer was briefly savoured before Fancy Blue was sent out to prove herself again. Could she now follow-up in open company against older fillies and mares? The Nassau Stakes at Goodwood has 180 years of storied history attached to it.

Great female horses like Sceptre, Pretty Polly, Russian Rhythm, Ouija Board, Peeping Fawn and Midday are among its illustrious roll of honour. The previous Nassau heroine and Japanese mare Deidre came back to defend her crown.

There was also a market plunge on Coolmore’s other runner Magic Wand, but Fancy Blue was the choice of jockey Ryan Moore. Despite being slowly into stride she tracked the leaders and, when shaken up to make her challenge with over two furlongs to race, she came under a ride and led approaching the final furlong.

Despite sustained pressure from fellow Irish raider One Voice, Fancy Blue got another result during Glorious Goodwood, running on well for a neck success. That display earned her quotes from bookmakers for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with MansionBet going 18/1 about her claims at Longchamp.

As a three-year-old filly, Fancy Blue would have race terms in her favour there. She gets weight from older fillies and mares like Enable and a sex allowance from colts such as Ghaiyyath and Sottsass who are all similar and shorter prices in the Arc betting.

The only negative about the future prospects of Fancy Blue is her owners also have Love. While Fancy Blue has won one Classic, Love has two wins in that company and the Epsom course record for a mile-and-a-half. Donnacha may be a chip off the old block, but he’s going to clash with his father if taking his stable star to Paris for the Arc in October.

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