Hong Kong Vase (Group 1) An Irish View

Eryiza on her way in after winning the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in August

Hong Kong’s International day takes place on Sunday with four Group 1’s featuring across the Sha Tin card.

There’s a strong Irish presence in the first, The Hong Kong Vase over 12f. Rostropovich, Eryiza and Latrobe will break from the gate with the green white and orange tricolour tucked underneath the saddlecloth.

Jockey bookings suggest that it will be waived only should Aidan O’Brien’s Rostropovich win with Wayne Lordan in the plate as Joseph O’Brien has gone with a new partner for Latrobe, Australian James McDonald.

Dermot Weld has teamed Eryiza with Christophe-Patrice Lemaire who’ll be reunited with the silks of the Aga Khan, a retainer he held in his native France in 2015 before going to ride in Japan full-time.

Rostropovich after winning The Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown in September

Latrobe, just touched off in the Mackinnon Stakes last time out on the final day of the Melbourne Spring Carnival is arguably the form horse of the three.

He won the Irish Derby over 12f a ½L from Rostropvich in the summer, the initial reaction, a media view, was that he was a Leger horse in the making. Joseph slept on it and decided he was worth a crack at the International at York over 10f, he didn’t see him just as a stayer but rather a top class middle distance animal. It didn’t work out on the Knavesmire where he got a little unbalanced and tapped for toe turning round the bend and when his chance was gone he was eased down to finish second last.

He did step up to the 14f trip for the Irish Leger running on well when second to his father’s horse Flag Of Honour and it must have been tempting to try to follow-up Rekindling’s Melbourne Cup success of the previous year. Instead Joseph opted for the Mackinnon Stakes over 10f. He travelled beautifully in behind but had to come wide to make his challenge, he nearly got up but ran out of track on a trip shorter than ideal. This step back up to a mile and a half here will suit. 

Rostropovich was given a stiff task after the Irish Derby when sent to Ascot for the summer showpiece, The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Over the same trip as the Irish Derby he led off a strong pace fading in the last quarter to be beaten 13½L. He was dropped in class over Irish Champions Weekend for a cosy win the G3 Kilternan Stakes from stablemate Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Next up he was thrown back in at the deep end, sent down under to take on Winx in the Cox Plate, drawn widest of all he couldn’t get any cover and ended up in a battle too early for the lead. In the end the 10f trip proved too sharp, Ryan Moore easing him down in the final furlong with an eye on his next target the Melbourne Cup where he ran a cracker to finish fifth over a trip too far for him. 

Dermot Weld is known to hatch the odd plan, two Melbourne Cups, a Belmont Stakes, throw in the Epsom Derby and you get the idea. His patience is well documented and Eziyra is another example of that. Her seasonal debut came in August at Leopardstown where she was given a hands and heels ride to come from the back to win the G3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown over 12f.

Two weeks later she was at York for the Yorkshire Oaks running third to Sea Of Class and Coronet, form which was given a significant boost by Sea Of Class’s brilliant run in the Arc. Like Rostropovich she was dropped in class and given a confidence booster with a win in the G2 Blandford Stakes over Irish Champions Weekend.

She then went to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf where under Frankie Dettori she broke from stall fourteen, the widest gate of all, far from ideal around an American tight turn inner track. Frankie insured she broke well shuffling her across into a good position, in the pack off the rail, the problem was they’d slowed to a crawl and she’d already been given her head and so was running far too free. On the face of it she didn’t do well managing a lowly sixth however the five in front of her were all G1 winners.  

Latrobe is improving and well drawn in six, Rostropovich has preformed well over trips either inadequate or too far on his last two runs however drawn eleven isn’t ideal.

It is Eziyra who stands out the most with a good draw in gate eight. Hopefully the rain stays away, she’s a beautiful mover with a lovely action, a top of the ground filly. If she relaxes in the hands of Christophe-Patrice Lemaire she could make a bold show, the tricolour might be produced, blue white and red.

Recommendation: Eziyra 16/1 ew

The Pattern Racing World Championships 2018

You can follow the story of the G1 Pattern Race year by clicking on the links below. There you’ll find how the 299 G1’s already run this year have panned out in championship format.

PRWC 2018 Horse, PRWC 2018 Jockey, PRWC 2018 Trainer, PRWC 2018 Sire, PRWC 2018 Owner, PRWC 2018 Breeder


The Melbourne Cup (G1)

Yucatan at Leopardstown in August

Aidan O”Brien’s Yucatan will go off favourite for the Melbourne Cup 2018.

His last run in Ireland was on a summers evening in August where he ran third in a tight finish for second headed by Eziyra and Stellar Mass close home.

He went down under to contest the G2 Herbert Power Stakes winning it as easily as he liked in what only can be described as a caught the eye performance, coming from nearly last to first, cruising past the opposition he won eased down. He was a revelation compared to the form shown at home, the authority the Australian public saw that day was never displayed in Ireland. 

Maybe it’s the trip that has brought out the best in him, he might be loving the holidays, or possibly the form of the G2 Herbert Power is questionable, questionable compared to European form that is. Aidan O’Brien has improved horses beyond recognition many times before however in the Ballydoyle pecking order Yucatan would have been considered third ranked of their trio on what he’d achieved in Europe. 

Cliffs Of Moher in the ring at The Curragh before The Tattersalls Gold Cup in May

Cliffsofmoher will be partnered by Ryan Moore who travels from Kentucky, overall he’s a a very decent colt who’s possibly just a tad under high quality. His best run remains the 2017 Epsom Derby where he ran second but his Caulfield Cup run was encouraging.

Rostropovich at Leopardstown in September

Rostropovich will be partnered by Wayne Lordan who also makes the trip from Kentucky. His best run was second in this years Irish Derby. As a three year old he’s the beneficiary of the weight allowance as is Godolphin’s Cross Counter and both are in the mix as a result.

The key to this Melbourne Cup may well have been found in the closing race of the Irish flat season, the Listed Finale Stakes at Naas on Sunday. It was won in the style Yucatan displayed to the Aussie audience by Ger Lyons Mustajeer by a very easy 7L, he pulverised them. 

His previous run was the Ebor at York in August which with a £500,000 pot now requires a G1 horse to win it. Mustajeer was outpaced but ran on really well to get up up be fourth. The winner of the Ebor was John Gosden’s Muntahaa who comes here fresh having not run since. Jim Crowley who travelled a week early to be here is in the plate. He was very impressive at York, well as Mustajeer ran he was never going to beat the winner.

The market is shaped by the Herbert Park form and that is a concern, Yucatan would not have won the Ebor, that form looks much more solid. 

Recommendation: Muntahaa  10/1 win, Rostropovich 20/1 ew

You can follow the story of the G1 Pattern Race year by clicking on the links below. There you’ll find how the 299 G1’s already run this year have panned out in championship format.

The Pattern Racing World Championships 2018

PRWC 2018 Horse, PRWC 2018 Jockey, PRWC 2018 Trainer, PRWC 2018 Sire, PRWC 2018 Owner, PRWC 2018 Breeder



The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and The Breeder’s Cup Classic (G1)

Eryiza returns after winning the Ballyraon Stakes at Leopardstown

Dermot Weld’s Eryiza has a great opportunity to capture a first G1 win here at Churchill Downs. Last time out she was a winner of the G2 Blandford Stakes over a mile and two furlongs at the Curragh. Her previous run to that was at G1 level when she ran a fine third to Sea Of Class and Cornet in the Yorkshire Oaks, a run that now looks very good considering Sea Of Class’s fine second to Enable in the Arc and Cornet’s fine second to Magical in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. 

Roaring Loin before winning The Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstwon.

In the Breeders Cup Classic the best colt in Europe will try to do something very special. He’s been on the go since April and has won the Dante at York, ran second in the Derby, won the Eplicse at Sandown, The International at York, the Irish Championship Stakes at Leopardstown and the Queen Elizebeth Stakes at Ascot., the latter over a mile having proved himself over 10f before that.

The big question, Can he handle the dirt?

It’s going to be very tough, his run style means he’ll have to come form off the pace, so he’ll get to eat a lot of it. This doesn’t mean he won’t like it, the surface that is, it’s just he’s never encountered it before and with no experience of it Mendelssohn may be a better alternative.

He’s been prepared for this with a dirt campaign beginning with a 18 L win in the UAE Derby at Meyden and he then came here for the Run For The Roses. Ok the run in the Kentucky Derby was awful, at least he won’t encounter the sloppy track that we had in May again tonight.

Aidan O’Brien gave him a two month break and brought him back for a confidence building third in the Dwyer Stakes before stepping back into G1 company where he ran second to Catholic Boy in the Travers Stakes and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes to Discreet Lover and Thunder Snow.

Recommendation: Eryiza 8/1 win

                                  Mendelssohn 9/1 win

The Pattern Racing World Championships 2018

You can follow the story of the G1 Pattern Race year by clicking on the links below. There you’ll find how the 299 G1’s already run this year have panned out in championship format.

PRWC 2018 Horse, PRWC 2018 Jockey, PRWC 2018 Trainer, PRWC 2018 Sire, PRWC 2018 Owner, PRWC 2018 Breeder

The Cox Plate (G1)

Rostropovich after his last win at Leopardstown over Irish Champions Weekend

Aidan O’Brien has sent Rostropovich to be his runner in the Cox Plate. 

There’s been a lot of talk about the quality of the European form versus the Australian equivalent and the concentration of the argument has centered around Godolphin’s Benbatl winner of the Ladbrokes Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago and his chance of beating Winx denying her a fourth win in this race, the Arc of down under.

Rostropovich’s whose best form came at the Curragh in the Irish Derby in June where he put in a battling performance to finish second to Latrobe, a place in front of Saxon Warrior has largely been ignored.

After the Curragh he went to Ascot for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, England’s premier middle contest. Seamie Heffernan rode him positively bringing him to the front early making it a true run gallop, in the straight he began to thread water staying on eventually to finish fifth. 

He was given a break until September and brought back for a much easier encounter at G3 level where he beat his stable companion Giuseppe Garibaldi, all three trips over a mile and half.

It’s interesting that he’s brought back in trip here to ten furlongs, a trip he last won over in May when he took the Dee Stakes at Chester on a track not too dissimilar to Moonee Valley. That win brought a trip to Paris for the French Derby where he failed to land a blow behind Study Of Man hence the step up in trip.

Can he become the most unpopular horse ever to visit Australia? 

Well he has a chance, a son of Frankel means it’s in his blood and his best form, finishing in front of Saxon Warrior means he’s not far away from being up there with Roaring Loin given the Irish Champion Stakes run of Saxon Warrior, albeit on his best day. 

Winx has nothing to prove, she will be trying to win her seventh G1 of the year after a long campaign. She likes to come from off the pace, from way off the pace actually and Hugh Bowman her rider always exudes the utmost of supreme confidence giving her the opportunity to find her stride before she unleashes her turn of foot. It’s always been enough. 

Winx is the current Pattern Racing World Championship having won six G1’s last year. Since the beginning of the championships in 2013 no horse has ever won seven. It will be wonderful to watch her do it and have Australia celebrate but with Ryan Moore likely to let Rostropovich take it on, there’s a chance, an outside one, that her speed may just be tested, just once to often this season.

Recommendation: Rostropovich 33/1 ew

You can follow the story of the G1 Pattern Race year by clicking on the links below. There you’ll find how the 251 G1’s already run this year have panned out in championship format.

PRWC 2018 HorsePRWC 2018 JockeyPRWC 2018 TrainerPRWC 2018 SirePRWC 2018 OwnerPRWC 2018 Breeder