Luxemburg and Ryan Moore (left) battle insinuendo at the Curragh

O’Brien expects ’20 to 30 per cent improvement’ as Luxemburg survives fear | Horse racing news

Patrick McCann

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Luxemburg and Ryan Moore (left) battle insinuendo at the Curragh

Patrick McCann

By Mark Boylan

Saturday: Royal Whip Stakes, Curragh

It wasn’t a performance that showcased his brilliant best, but Luxembourg delighted trainer Aidan O’Brien with a hard-fought victory on his return from injury in the Royal Whip Stakes and set up an exciting Irish Champion Stakes clash with the Eclipse winner and the French ace ahead of Vadeni.

The official winning margin of a neck at odds of 2-9 doesn’t tell the full story of the one-time Derby favorite’s curragh comeback as he was pinned to the collar with a 28-1 running when led by brave mare Insinuendo .

Serious questions were asked but Luxembourg had the answers when it came down to getting close to home and getting back on track for Royal Bahrain-backed Group 1 next month.

There’s still a lot to improve on the sheer form of what he’s achieved in this Group 3, but O’Brien estimated he’s improved “20-30″ since his first start since finishing third behind Coroebus in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas percent” would improve.

“We’re very relieved as we didn’t think he would ever come here – we didn’t think he had a chance to run [this year] after what happened to him,” O’Brien said, referring to a muscle injury in his Epsom prep.

Patrick McCann

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Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore after Luxembourg's successful comeback

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore after Luxembourg’s successful comeback

Patrick McCann

“Everyone did a great job getting him over his first mishap, he was gone a long time. Then he came back and things didn’t go well for him.

“Our eye was on the Irish Champion Stakes and of course we knew you couldn’t go there without a run and this was the only place we could run. The route was beautiful. It’s very difficult to find your way in this heat so hats off to the Curragh.”

Paddy Power was unfazed by the performance, pushing the three-year-old to 5-1 (down from 4-1) for the Irish champions, but O’Brien was more than happy with what he saw from Luxembourg and winning driver Ryan Moore.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are,” said O’Brien. “He can go a very high pace and accelerate it, and he accelerated a slow pace today. Strong pace will hopefully bring out the best in him.

“Ryan was very good. He had to wake him up, let him come down and do it without taking him too seriously. He was brilliant at it and he found when to find. When he walked to the line, he was coasting again.”

O’Brien added: “We came here before with High Chaparral [winning] the Irish Champion and he did very well with it. This horse still had a lot to do because he had a big setback, but we couldn’t be satisfied with that. I thought it would be 20 to 30 percent better than today.”

Group 2 winner Insinuendo, representing Willie McCreery and Billy Lee, improved her record after defeat as she returned from her own muscle problem that had kept her sidelined since March.

She is now firmly on course for the Moyglare Blandford Stakes at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend, having traded just 1.03 here at Betfair.

McCreery said: “She ran a great race. They did a great job locally at the Curragh and Billy said she handled it well. Hopefully things will go forward and up.”

Read this next:

“When two-year-olds have given Nunthorpe a chance they are usually in shock”

The Return of Luxembourg: Can the Forgotten Horse Make an Appearance as a New Arc Contender?

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