Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Group 1)

RYAN MOORE STUCK IN A POCKET IN THE TETRARCH STAKES

It’s interesting that Ryan Moore has elected to ride Peace Envoy in preference to Orderofthegarter today in the French 2000 Guineas. Orderofthegarter is a 5/1  shot and will be ridden by Seamie Heffernan while Peace Envoy can be backed at 12/1 with the leading stable jockey on his back.

Orderofthegarther has been a winner in both his runs this season while Peace Envoy was beaten of his seasonal debut at Naas two weeks ago in The Tetrarach Stakes.

Ryan had come up the inside and at the two furlong pole he found himself trapped on the rail with two horses in front of him with another pair on his outside. He’d nowhere to go and could only sit and wait. As they entered the final furlong and they stretched no gap came. To make matters worse, of the two in front of him, the one on the outside began to roll in on the one on the inside causing Pat Smullen to snatch up further impeding any chance Peace Envoy had.

It was just one of those things nowhere to go however they appeared to be plenty to hide. At the moment of the snatch up Moore was about to unleash Peace Envoy and his demeanor in the saddle suggested he had every confidence that his horse could pick up and win. It never happened because of the scrummaging but today the pair remain loyal to each other.

It’s worth noting the colt had a good two year old season and that Moore won the race last year on The Gurkha who went there with a similar profile. Peace Envoy looks over priced, had he won at Naas he’d be less than 5/1.

Recommendation : Peace Envoy 12/1 ew

 

1000 Guineas Stakes (G1)

Talaayeb winning at Newmarket last September. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

 

Churchill did the business as expected in the 2000 Guineas and here in the 1000 Guineas Ballydoyle hold a strong hand again.

Rhododendron one of a trio from Fethard is the choice of Ryan Moore and heads the market at 6/4. Like Churchill she was beaten first time out. Rehana got the better of her in a maiden in last June at the Curragh then Aidan sent her to Goodwood to win her maiden. In mid August she contested the Debutante Stakes (G2) where she was a winning favourite by a head from Hydrangea with Intricately a further 1 1/4 L behind in third. Next time out in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) Intricately had a short head over Hydrangea with Rhododendron 1 3/4 L behind in third.

She was asked to turn that defeat around in the Fillies Mile in September (G1) at Ascot which she duly did with a 2 1/4L win over Hydrangea on good to firm ground. She travelled sweetly relishing the conditions and the step up in trip. Both brought out the best in her and it’s no surprise to see her such a short price for this.

Fair Eva trained by Roger Charlton is a daughter of Frankel and will race in the same colours as her father. She is the second choice of the market at 6/1. She was a winner first time out at Haydock following up in the Princess Margret Stakes (G3) at Ascot. She was then sent off an odds on favourite in the Lowther (G2) in August where she was beaten by Queen Kindly and Roly Poly. In her last run she was again sent off favourite for the Rockfel Stakes (G2) where Spain Burg got the better of her by 1 1/4 L.

Closely followed in the market is Daban at 7/1. She’s only had two runs. A winter winner of her maiden at Kempton John Gosden’s filly came back in the spring to win the Nell Gwyn Stakes (G3) here at Newmarket when an unfancied 12/1 shot with Unforgettable Filly 3/4 L back in second and Poet’s Vanity 1 1/4L further back in third.

Talaayeb is a 12/1 shot. Sheik Hamden’s filly trained by Owen Burrows has only had the one run. In September at Newmarket she beat another Sheik Hamden filly who was favourite for the race in impressive style showing a nice turn of foot to win cosily. She could be anything.

Hydrangea has franked the Irish two year old form at Leopardstown in the 1000 Guineas Trial. She beat Winter a head with Intricately fourth beaten 1 1/2L. The form of the race is working out well.

On Monday at Naas Rehana (beat Rhododendron on her racecourse debut) boosted the Leopardstown form when she was an impressive winner of the Athasi Stakes (G3). Drumfad Bay eighth in the Leopardstown race also contributed to the form boost when she ran second to Doctor Geoff in the Tetrarch Stakes. This might explain why the money has come for Winter. She was available at 33/1 on Monday, since then a steady flow of cash has seen her price contract into 8/1.

There’s seems more depth to the Irish form than there is to the English. Hyendgea Leopardstown win stands up with the money suggesting that Winter has progressed best from the race however Rhododendron stands above the Leopardstown form for that Fillies mile performance and that puts her on top of the Irish team.

The home horse who could spoil the Ballydoyle party could be Talaayeb. She lacks experience but the bit she has came here at Newmarket. That day she relished the track and the ground was good to firm. Much like today.

Recommendation: Talaayeb 12/1 ew

Rhododendron and Talaayeb. (Reverse forecast)

2000 Guineas Stakes (G1)

Lancaster Bomber is greeted by Aidan O’Brien after winning his maiden at Leopardstown last August

The smallest field in 22 years contests this Guineas and last year’s top ranked two year old Churchill heads the market.

He was beaten on debut last May but in five runs since he’s come out on top. The win sequence began in the Chesham Stakes (L) at Royal Ascot in June and continued through the summer with wins in the Tyros Stakes (G3) and the Futurity Stakes (G2). In the autumn he added the National Stakes (G1) and Dewhurst Stakes (G1), the top two-year old races in Ireland and Britain.

In command, kept on well, going away, comfortably and stayed on strongly are the descriptions of those runs. What it means is that he was a top class two-year old who improved throughout his juvenile career. As a three-year old will that progression be maintained?

This time last year Air Force Blue held similar credentials. In fact he was rated higher on 124 lbs going into the Guineas, 2 lbs above Churchill’s current mark of 122 lbs, and he started an odds on favourite for this race. He turned out to be bitterly disappointing only beating one home in this last year and his further three runs were no better. It’s unlikely Churchill fate will be similar more likely he’ll continue to progress. Air Force Blue is a War Front whereas Churchill is by Galileo.

Aidan O’Brien also sends Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valour. The latter is the likely pacesetter. In the Dewhurst last year the betting suggested that Lancaster Bomber sent off at 66/1 was there to make the pace for Churchill but he stayed on strongly, as he did when he won his maiden, and filled the runners-up spot. He did it again in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He was given a spin on dirt in the UAE Derby (G3) in March this year where he ran on well and connections have decided he’s better placed here than in Kentucky. If the pace collapses he will take it on and again he may prove difficult to overhaul.

Eminent trained by Martin Meade comes here on the back of a smart Craven win where he beat Rivet the Racing Post (G1) winner of last year. Prior to his win at Doncaster Rivet had run in the Dewhurst where he was beaten 3 1/2L by Churchill. It’s worth noting that we have not seen the Craven/Guineas double done since Haafhd in 2004.

Godolphin have a brace of entries headed by Barney Roy trained by Richard Hannon who also sends Larchmount Lad into the fray.

Richard is no stranger to winning this as in his first season in charge in 2014, after taking over from his father, he sent Night of Thunder out to overturn Kingman at odds of 40/1. That was a reversal of the result of that year’s Greenham. Barney Roy has travelled the same path and was an impressive winner of the Newbury trial where he beat the other Godolphin runner Saeed Bin Suroor’s Dream Castle by a cosy 2Ls.

Andre Fabre has made a flying start to the season already having won nine Pattern Races at home in France. He sends Al Wukair whom he hopes will follow in the footsteps of Zafonic and Pennekamp who both won the Guineas in the nineties. He has been bullish about his chances saying he expects a place at worst for the son of Dream Ahead. A winner of a maiden and at listed level as a juvenile he won his trial the Prix Djebel comfortably beating the previous G1 winner National Defence who had won France’s premier two-year old race for colts the Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1).

This Guineas field might be a small in number but it’s deep in quality.

There will be plenty of pattern race winners coming out of this and it’s conceivable six could go on to score at G1 level as the season progresses. The question is which will lift this prize. Barney Roy bursts with potential as does Al Wukair and both have already won over a mile. Eminent, Dream Castle and Lancaster Bomber are all promising colts but Churchill is rock solid.

Rarely does a colt who has achieved so much already break from the gate in a Guineas. There’s a slight question mark on the distance as he’s never raced beyond 7f but his pedigree suggests he’ll stay and his win in the Tyros suggests he’ll love the this good to firm ground. He also has the experience of winning over the course. Whilst the others are capable of achieving success at the highest level none of them have done it so far.

This will be a battle. You would imagine the Ballydoyle strategy will be to set a high cruising speed through Spirit Of Valour with Lancaster Bomber tracking him. If Seamie Heffernan’s mount falls away then Lancaster Bomber will be asked to pick it up.

Coming out of the dip Barney Roy will be produced with Al Wukair and Eminent in hot pursuit. Churchill is a very relaxed and laid back sort and Ryan will be able to leave it late to make his challenge. When he’s asked to quicken he won’t be flashy but he’ll get the job done probably by the minimum margin but also with the minimum of fuss.

He might be a short price but he’s the most likely winner of this.

Recommendations:

Churchill  11/8 win.

Churchill and Barney Roy  (forecast)

Churchill, Barney Roy and Lancaster Bomber  (tricast)

 

 

The Dubai Sheema Classic (G1)

Highland Reel in the Pre Parade Ring at Leopardstown

 

Postponed beat Highland Reel in this and in The International at York last year, the latter at 10f.

At York when they broke from the gate Postponed’s pacemaker King Bolete took it on with Sheamie Heffernan content to settle in behind on Highland Reel. Andrea Atzeni on Postponed tracked Highland Reel. As the pacemaker fell away 4F out Andrea immediately kicked. He received an instant response from his mount. At the 3F pole he cruised past Highland Reel in a matter of strides and looked to a have the race won. Highland Reel having got caught for toe initially began to pick up and battle. Postponed drifted towards the stands rail under maximum effort and managed to hold off the Irish colt. Immediately the suspicion was over a longer trip there would be a reversal.

In Paris in the Arc in October they met again.

Both were drawn wide and needed to break well in order to establish position. After 2F they had shuffled across to sit in behind the leader’s racing side by side for much of the race. As they turned for home Andrea asked Postponed to extend. He did picking up as instantly as he did at York with Highland Reel once again caught for toe. Then the stamina requirement of those extra two furlongs began to ask questions. Postponed dash was over while Highland Reel was finding his stride. He galloped to the line only to be denied by the turn of foot of his stablemate Found who had burst through on Postponed’s inside to fly to the line.

Maybe it was the excretions at York that emptied Postponed.

Highland Reel who’ll reunite with Ryan Moore went on to the Breeders Cup where extraordinarily he was given a soft lead by the American jockeys. They mustn’t have watched him win the King George in the summer under Ryan. This time it was Seamie who thought them a lesson. He wound him up in his own time and not even Found’s pace could reel him in. He then took in Hong Kong in December where he looked to have the race won only to tire in last 100 yards and be collared by Santono Crown who has since followed up in the Kyoto Kinen at home in Japan in February.

Maybe it was the end of a long season.

Postponed has followed a similar route to last year prepping for this on super Saturday in the Dubai City Of Gold. Last year he won easily, this year he was beaten. When they broke from the gate Andrea Atzeni found himself trapped wide. He didn’t want to be there so he angled his way in onto the rail. As they raced around the bend into the straight he brought Postponed off the rail. A gap appeared briefly for Postponed to get upsides of one of the Godolphin runners Emotionless on the outside. He was in turn being tracked by another Godolphin runner Prize Money ridden by Adrie de Vires. Adrie pressed Prize Money to close the door and the gap was gone. Postponed angled back inside Emotionless and got a run up the rail. He ran on and got passed Emotionless but it was too late Prize Money on the outside was in full flight and won it a half a length.

Maybe Roger Varian had left something to work on.

Jack Hobbs put in one hell of a run in the Champion Stakes last October. He’d been virtually off the track for a year as in his only other start in April he had been pulled up. At Ascot he came from the tale of the field travelling wide putting in his best work at the finish to close to third behind Almanzor and Found. Word is he put in a spectacular piece of work at Chelmsfort before travelling to Dubai. These extra two furlongs will help his cause.

Seventh Heaven the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner must prove herself again. After disappointing in the English equivalent at Ascot in October she was a tad unlucky when not getting the best of runs in the Fillies and Mares Turf at the Breeders Cup.

Sounds Of Earth will have to find something having finished in the bunch in the Arima Kinen on Christmas Day. Before that he ran second in the Japan Cup while Prize Money who won the November Handicap has continued to improve through the spring at Meyden winning a handicap before the City Of Gold.

It might be that Roger Varian didn’t want Postponed as forward as he had him last year, that he’s left more to work on in the intervening three weeks or it might be that run at York last August left too deep a scar. If it’s the latter then Highland Reel will expose the wound.

Recommendation: Highland Reel 4/1 win

Tricast : Highland Reel, Jack Hobbs & Seventh Heaven