The Craven Stakes (Group 3)

The Craven meeting brings classic thoughts hidden in deep winter into focus. Dreams of Guineas glory over long dark nights can disappear in a flash as was the case with the long-standing second favourite Faydhan yesterday in the Free Handicap.

The Craven is a Guineas trial over course and distance but it’s a long time since a Craven winner returned in May to capture the main event. That’s not to say it hasn’t produced great winners, Dancing Brave in 1986, Ajdal the year after, Twice Over in 2008, Toronado in 2013 however you have to go back Tirol in 1990 to find the last Craven winner to triumph on the first Saturday in May.

Off course the preference now for trainers is to miss the trials completely and instead go straight to the Guineas. This does somewhat diminish the trails unless of course their is a performance that cannot be ignored.

Of the seven runners lining up here early prices of around 3/1 and 7/2 would suggest Moheet and Nafaqa will dispute favoritism however in the ante post market for the 2000 Guineas there are respectively 20/1 and 33/1 shots.

Moheet had the one run at Salisbury in October where he ran out a 7L winner.

Nafaqa is much more experienced. Introduced in the Chesham at Royal Ascot where he ran fourth, he stepped up to win a maiden following up with a listed win at Doncaster before running second in the Royal Lodge to Elm Park who then went on to win the Dewhurst.

Kool Company is the most experienced in the field, having run nine times as a juvenile. He’s a five time winner including the Railway Stakes at the Curragh where he had the measure of War Envoy by 3 3/4 L on a good to firm surface.

War Envoy had eight visits the course. He’s also hardy and tough and in those runs there are some nuggets of good form. He ran second in last years Champagne Stakes (Aces back in third) and although turned over on his seasonal debut at Dundalk he was beaten by a good Ger Lyons colt in Convergence.

Luca Cumani’s White Lake is an interesting contender. After a maiden win he was fourth to Nafaqa in the Doncaster race. What’s interesting is that Luca doesn’t tend to put them into early season battle unless he’s see’s something.

David O’Meara is now responsible for Hail The Hero who transferred from Aidan O’Brien over the winter. He won his maiden at Doncaster on debut for the new yard and also has good form in the book. He was beaten a neck by Vert De Grace, a colt who went on to be beaten 3/4 L by the Guineas favourite Gleneagles in the Futurity Stakes following up with a G1 win in France at the end of the season in the Criterium International at Saint Cloud.

We mightn’t see a Guineas winner here yet this race will certainly give us a bearing on that race. Aidan O’Brien will come home from Newmarket knowing where he stands with Gleneagles and with a run under his belt this year his War Envoy represents the best value in today’s market.

Recommendation : War Envoy 11/2 win

 

 

 

The Pattern Racing World Championships – 2014

Foreword

Before our 2015 journey begins in earnest let’s take a moment to reflect on 2014.

Last year was our second year to hold the Pattern Racing World Championships, the purpose of which is to recognise the consistency of horses, jockeys, trainers and stallions at pattern racing’s top-level, Grade 1/Group 1 over a year calendar year.

Here at Pattern Racing we compiled the results of 309 Grade 1/Group 1 in 2014 up from 238 in 2013.

The Championships

There are 4 categories, Champion Racehorse, Champion Trainer, Champion Jockey and Champion Stallion.

Included are G1’s from 12 countries. Point’s are awarded for finishing in the top three in Grade 1/Group 1 contests in the year.

Country No Of G1’s
USA 111
Australia 72
England 33
France 27
Japan 22
Ireland 12
Germany 7
UAE 7
Hong Kong 6
Italy 6
Canada 4
Singapore 2
Total 309

Points                1st 10 pts,                    2nd 7 pts,                 3rd 5 pts.

The Champion Racehorse of 2014 is Kingman.

Rank Horse Points Won
1 Kingman (GB) 47
2 California Chrome (USA) 45
3 Australia (GB) 42

Find the full list hereFind the detail here.

1. Kingman trained by John Gosden pipped American horse of The Year California Chrome to this years title.

His points were earned courtesy of a second in the Two Thousand Guineas followed by four flawless performances in the mile division. The Irish Guineas and St James Palace Stakes marked him out as the champion miler of his generation.

He further stamped his authority on the division when taking on the older horses in the Sussex Stakes and Jacques Le Marois. A throat infection led to missing the planned end of season engagement in the QE11 on Champions Day and unfortunately early retirement.

2. California Chrome lit up the season in America this year. The Dumb Ass Syndicate owed colt showed there is still a place at the top table for the smaller man.

He launched himself to favouritism for the Kentucky Derby with an authoritative performance in the Santa Anita Derby. He duly obliged at Churchill Downs then set the country’s pulses racing when he took the second leg of the triple crown the Preakness. In the last leg, the Belmont Stakes, the combination of the short timeframe between the three races and a foot injury sustained in the race alas meant at least another year’s wait for a triple crown winner.

He was rested and aimed at the Breeders Cup Classic where in a head bopper he was beaten a nose and a neck into third. In his last 2014 run he threw down a turf marker when winning the Hollywood Derby. Will we see him in the Arc this year?

3. Australia was beaten first time out in the Guineas and last time out in the Irish Champion Stakes. In between the one Aidan O’Brien described as the best he’s ever had won The Derby, Irish Derby and the International at York.

Like Kingman retirement came earlier than wanted and like Kingman he never made it to Champions Day where the QE 11 over the mile was the target.

We can only imagine but if Kingman and Australia had stayed in training at four, with California Chrome a more than possible for Royal Ascot then we’d of had one hell of Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

In 2014 244 horses won G1’s, 656 made the podium.

The Champion Trainer of 2014 is Aidan O’Brien.

Rank Trainer Points Won
1 Aidan O’Brien (IRE) 266
2 Chris Waller (AUS) 237
3 Todd Pletcher (USA) 190

Find the full list here. Find the detail here.

 

1. Aidan O’Brien second in 2013 (218) went one better in 2014. His winning total surpassed last years winning mark by 3 points.

13 G1’s winners, 13 seconds and 9 third place finishes marked Aidan’s season. His wins came from 10 individuals with Australia topping the bill with the 3 G1 wins referred to earlier. In the Irish Derby he again had the 1,2,3.

Adelaide was twice a winner at top-level in the Secretariat in America and the Cox Plate In Australia. The four-year old Leading Light took the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot while three-year olds Bracelet, Marvellous and Tapestry took the Irish Oaks, Irish 1000 Guineas and Yorkshire Oaks.

His two-year olds winners were the exciting Found in the Prix Marcel Boussac, Together Forever in the Fillies Mile, Dick Whittington in the Phoenix Stakes and Gleneagles in the National Stakes.

2. Chris Waller is a new entrant on the inclusion of Australia in these championships. He won 10 G1’s with 9 individuals and ran second 11 times and was place third in 12, all in his native land. His star attraction was Sacred Falls winner of the Doncaster Mile (where he had a 1,2,3) and George Main Stakes.

Boban took the Chipping Norton, Foreteller the Underwood, Junoob the Metropolitan, Amicus The Thousand Guineas, Brazen Beau the Coolmore Stud Stakes, He’s Your Man the Epsom Handicap , Moriarty the Kingston Town Classic and Preferment the Victoria Derby.

3. Todd Pletcher winner in 2013 amassing 263 points couldn’t quite match last years feat. He sent 9 individual G1 winners to the races with Stopchargingmaria doubling up in the American Oaks and Alabama Stakes.

Constitution won the Florida Derby, Danza the American Derby, Palace Malice the Arkansas Derby, Competitive Edge the Hopeful Stakes, Angela Renee the Chandelier Stakes, Daredevil the Champagne and Carpe Diem the Claiborne Breeders Futurity.

In 2014 150 trainers won G1’s, 292 made the podium.

The Champion Jockey of 2014 is Joel Rosario.

Rank Jockey Points Won
1 J. Rosario (USA) 227
2 R. Moore (ENG) 210
3 J. Velazquez (USA) 201

Find the full list here. Find the detail here.

 

1. Joel Rosario third in 2013 (186 points) topped the 2014 poll with 10 wins, 11 seconds and 10 thirds. 

He notched up a hat trick on Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign and Apple Blossom. Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes.

He also won on Minorette in the Belmont Oaks, Imagining in the Man o’War, Lea in the Donn Handicap, Bobby’s Kitten in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint and La Tia in the Matriarch Stakes.

2. Ryan Moore, fifth last year, was the worlds hardest working jockey travelling the world in his bid to become champion.

On his travels he won 15 G1’s.

In Dubai he won the Sheema Classic partnering Gentildonna. In Australia he won the Cox Plate on Adelaide and The Melbourne Cup on Protectionist. In North America he took the Secretariat again on Adelaide, The Beverley D on Euro Charline, The Canadian International On Hillstar.

In Europe at home in England he picked up the Falmouth and Sun Chariot on Integral, the Coronation Stakes on Rizeena and the Yorkshire Oaks on Tapestry. In France he bagged the Prix Du Jockey Club on The Grey Gatsby, The Marcel Boussac on Found and The Prix Du Cadran on High Jinx and in Ireland he took the Irish 1000 Guineas on Marvellous and the Irish Champion Stakes on The Grey Gatsby. His 7 seconds and 5 thirds were the difference between top spot and runner up.

3. John Velazquez was the 2013 winner on 234 points.

He returned from injury this year after the loss of his spleen in the 2013 Breeders Cup. He had 12 G1 wins, the highlights being Wise Dan’s victories in the Shadwell Turf Mile and Woodford Reserve and Main Sequence’s victory in the Breeders Cup Turf. His other winners were Carpe Diem the Claiborne Breeders Futurity, Competitive Edge in the Hopeful, Crown Queen in the QE11 Challenge Cup, Dayatthespa in the First Lady Stakes, Judy The Beauty in The Madison Stakes, Palace Malice in the Metropolitan Stakes Stephanie’s Kitten in the Flower Bowl, Stopchargingmaria in the Alabama Stakes and Untapable in the Mother Goose Stakes. , His wins were accompanied by 8 seconds and 5 thirds.

In 2014 125 jockeys won G1’s, 211 made the podium.

The Champion Stallion of 2014 is Galileo.

Rank Stallion Points Won
1 Galileo (IRE) 261
2 Deep Impact (JPN) 131
3 High Chaparral (IRE) 102
3 Dansili (GB) 102

Find the full list hereFind the detail here.

 

1. Galileo‘s domination of the breeding barn continued again 2014.

Also the winner in 2013 (160 points), did he up his game this year? Did he what?

He beat last years total by a whopping 101 points beating his nearest rival Deep Impact by 130 points, equivalent to winning 13 more G1’s.

He produced 9 individuals to win 14 G1’s. His prodigies were second 13 times and third on 6 occasions.

Australia and Noble Mission were was his leading lights with 3 wins each, the latter taking The Tattersalls Gold Cup, The Grand Prix De Saint Cloud and The Champion Stakes. Adelaide added the Cox Plate and Secretariat while Leading Light took the Gold Cup, Tapestry The Yorkshire Oaks, Together Forever the Fillies Mile, Marvellous the Irish 1000 Guineas with top two-year olds Gleneagles the National Stakes winner and Found The Prix Marcel Boussac winner giving us something to look forward to this year.

2. Deep Impact, also second in 2013, held his grip again in the east albeit falling 16 points short of his last years total.

He produced 9 individuals to win 10 G1’s. His prodigies were second 3 times and third on 2 occasions.

Gentildonna did the double in the Sheema Classic and Arima Kinen. Danon Shark took the Mile Championship, Harp Star the Oka Sho-Japanese 1000 Guineas, Lachesis the Queen Elizabeth 11 Commemorative Cup, Mikki Isle the NHK Mile , Shonan Adela the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, Shonan Pandora the Shuka Sho, Spielberg The Tenno Sho (Autumn) and Verxina the Victoria Mile.

3. Dansili third in 2013 on 135 points dead heated with High Chaparral on 102 points in 2014.

Dansili produced 5 G1 winners. His prodigies were second 6 times and third on 2 occasions.

Foreteller won the Underwood Stakes, Miss France the One Thousand Guineas, Flintshire the Hong Kong Vase, The Fugue the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and We Are the Prix de l’Opera.

The big step up came from High Chaparral who was ranked 64th in 2013.

He produced 4 individual G1 winners. His prodigies were second 6 times and third on 4 occasions.

Lucky Lion won the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayerisches Zuchtrennen,  It’s A Dundee the Queen Elizabeth Stakes,  Toronado the Queen Anne and High Jinx the Prix du Cadran.

In 2014 189 stallions sired G1 winners, 400 made the podium.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these championships. When you consider the numbers who made the podium in each classification and then consider the number who tried you then realise how very difficult it is to succeed at G1 level. Those who do are special, those who top these tables, equine or human, are very special indeed.

Congratulations to them all.

A Question Of Sport. Who Is The World’s Greatest Jockey ?

Ryan Moore The Grey Gatsby returns having won The Irish Champions Stakes

Ryan Moore returns on The Grey Gatsby having won The Irish Champions Stakes.             1 of 15 G1’s he’s won internationally so far this year.

The International Federation Of Horseracing Authorities will this Saturday award the title of the Longines Worlds Best Jockey. It is to be presented at a gala dinner in Hong Kong on Saturday to coincide with Hong Kong’s prestigious international meeting on Sunday.

In layout it’s remarkably similar to Pattern Racing.com’s World Jockey Championships 2013 conceived last year.

The scoring for the IFHA award is based upon performances in the 100 highest-rated Group 1 and Grade 1 races established for the year by the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee. The scoring incorporates races from 1 December of the previous year until 30 November of the current year. Jockeys accrue 12 points for a win, 6 points for placing second, and 4 points for placing third.

Pattern Racing.com’s scoring system, established last year, is 10 points for a win 7 points for second and 5 points for a third place over the calendar year.

We have decided to publish our jockey’s championship for 2014 to date (Click here) to contrast with the IHFA/Longines version.

As you can see from the following table there are differences between the Pattern Racing.com top 12 and the IFHA/Longines top 12. 

Pattern Racing.com IFHA/Longines
Rank Jockey Points Won   Rank Jockey Points Won
1 J. Rosario 217 1 R. Moore 94
2 R. Moore 210 2 C. Soumillon 88
3 J. Velazquez 201 3 J. O’Brien 72
4 J. Castellano 195 4 J. Doyle 70
5 J. O’Brien 173 5 Z. Purton 58
6 C. Soumillon 170 6 D. Oliver 48
7 M. Smith 131 7 R. Hughes 46
8 H. Bowman 125 7 J. Velazquez 46
9 V. Espinoza 118.5 9 W. Buick 42
10 D. Oliver 118 9 T. Berry 42
11 R. Hughes 113 9 M. Rodd 42
12 J. McDonald 109 9 J. Rosario 42

The purpose of the pattern racing system is to establish a hierarchy for races and to set a benchmark on which they are judged. If a pattern race has been award G1 status (decided by the IFHA) then the purpose of the exercise is to have it recognised as such. This produces an obvious question for the IFHA/Longines rankings committee.

Do the rest of the worlds G1’s not count?

Crucially what separates both championships is the number of races included in the calculation, in this case, of the Worlds Best Jockey. (this can be extended to trainers, horses and stallions as Pattern Racing.com has done).

On this site we try to include all international Group 1’s and Grade 1’s in England, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Canada and the USA to in order to recognise a champion. To date in these jurisdictions there have been 299 G1 races run with 11 still to be come. In contrast the IFHA/Longines choose to limited to 100.

The means the IFHA/Longines have chosen to ignore the other 210 which have been granted G1 status.

These include the likes of the Epsom Oaks, The Dewhurst, The Santa Anita Handicap, The Gold Cup, The Jean Prat, The Irish 2000 Guineas and the TVG Pacific Classic. All massive races in their own right.

The danger with this exclusion is not only does it diminish those races but it also leads to a skewed result in the title bid of worlds greatest jockey.

In the Pattern Racing Championships top 12 there are 5 American based jockeys, 4 European and 3 Australian.

The winner of the Pattern Racing Jockey’s Championship is not yet decided.

With 11 G1’s still to run, (4 are in Hong Kong, 3 are in Japan, 4 in USA), Joel Rosario is ahead by seven points from Ryan Moore in second with John Velazquez (the reigning Champion) back in third. JJ Castellano in fourth is also not out of the title bid.

Ryan Moore will be in action on Snow Sky in Hong Kong Vase this weekend and it will be his last opportunity to add to his tally while in America before year end, we still have the Starlet, the Los Alamitos Futurity, La Brea and Malibu Stakes to run. This gives all three American jockeys the chance to still top the poll.

In the IFHA/Longines table Europeans dominate with 6 of the top 12, Australians get 4 in while the Americans can only muster 2. Is there an anti-American bias?

It’s worth looking at where Joel Rosario sits in the IFHA/Longines list, joint 9th along with 4 others. He is accredited with recognition for his both his wins on Tonalist in the Belmont Stakes and in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, a second and 2 third places whereas Pattern Racing.com recognises his 8 other victories, 10 other seconds places and 6 other third place finishes.

Joel notched up a hat trick on Close Hatches in the Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign and Apple Blossom, plus he also won on Minorette in the Belmont Oaks, Imagining in the Man o’War, Lea in the Donn Handicap, Bobby’s Kitten in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint and most recently La Tia in the Matriarch Stakes. These are all recognised the Pattern Racing.com standings.

Off course the Pattern Racing Jockey’s race isn’t finished and there are still chances for all to boost their tally.

A second place finish for Ryan Moore draws him level with Joel Rosario, and he may well better that however with 4 American G1’s still to run it looks like this is a race that will go down to the wire.

It might help our understanding if we look at which countries hold these G1 races. The tables below outline the number of races from each of the countries that make up the both the Pattern Racing.com list and the IFHA/Longines list and also their percentage of the overall total.

Pattern Racing.com IFHA/Longines
Country of Race Total Races % of Total    Country of Race Total Races % of Total 
USA 111 36% Australia 26 26%
AUS 72 23% USA 20 20%
ENG 33 11% England 17 17%
FR 27 9% France 11 11%
JPN 22 7% Japan 9 9%
IRE 12 4% Hong Kong 6 6%
GER 7 2% UAE 4 4%
UAE 7 2% Ireland 2 2%
HK 6 2% Germany 2 2%
ITY 6 2% South Africa 1 1%
CAN 4 1% Singapore 1 1%
SIN 2 1% Canada 1 1%
SA 1 0%
Total 310  Total   100

Not surprisingly in the Pattern Racing.com list the USA has the greatest number of G1’s however as you can see Australia with 26 races has the highest representation of any nation in the IFHA/Longines list. Again has this created bias in the overall outcome? This must be considered.

This piece is not an attack on either the IFHA or their sponsor Longines who both do a fantastic job in promoting racing. Neither is it an attack on Ryan Moore whom we have the utmost respect and admiration for. Ryan most definitely is a man of sport and he will consider the merits of the accolade he’s been awarded given the exploits of his American counterparts.

This is about opening debate on the inclusion of all G1’s to decide the title of the world’s best.

Whether its horse, sire, trainer, jockey and indeed owner then encompassing all G1’s is a fairer assessment of who is the greatest of them all.

It’s also worth noting in 2013 we also established a trainer championship, horse championship and stallion championship and we will have the same championships for 2014. We’ll return to this in the new year.

Pattern Racing.com calls on the IFHA and Longines to include all G1’s in the future. Better still, do with Pattern Racing.com, the most comprehensive pattern racing guide in the world.

As a fella said to me, they might even ask you to the gala dinner next year.

Have your say,vote now and don’t forget to follow Pattern Racing.com

The Japan Cup (Grade 1)

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

The last foreign trained winner of the Japan Cup was Luca Cumani’s Alkaased in 2005.

The last, and only, Irish trained winner was Frank Dunne’s Stanerra back in 1983. This year Jim Bolger has sent Trading Leather to bridge the 31 year gap.

Trading Leather’s last win was the Irish Derby last year. He hasn’t seen the winners enclosure since notching up a seven race losing sequence in the process. That and the draw position of 18 (widest of all) are the negatives that the Godolphin owned colt has to overcome.

Let’s concentrate on the positives.

Second to Novellist in the King George after the Irish Derby success, second to Declaration Of War in the International at York next time out and in his last run as a three old, third to the Fugue in the Irish Champion Stakes.

That’s defeat at the hands of three of the best in Europe over the last decade. Novellist was shudderingly brilliant that day at Ascot and would have gone off favourite for the Arc had injury not curtailed his career. Declaration Of War fought out that marvellous battle up the Santa Anita home straight in the Breeders Cup Classic when beaten a nose and a head by Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. The Fugue followed up the Irish Champion Stakes in spectacular style when winning at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes this year.

As a four year old the son of Telfilo returned to the racecourse at Group 2 level in May when contesting the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket. He was turned over as an odds on shot by Gospel Choir and Pether’s Moon. The winner, Gospel Choir only had one more run, two weeks later when beating Tac De Boistron in the Yorkshire Cup, again a Group 2. Tac De Boistron then didn’t run until October when he won the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak (French St Leger) in October.

Naturally Trading Leather’s trainer Jim Bolger only pitched him at the highest level since.

Next time out he ran second in the Coral Eclipse to Mukhadram. He then ran fifth to Taghrooda in the King George and third to the Grey Gatsby in this years Irish Champion Stakes. You could well argue this form isn’t as strong as last year’s but consider that last time out only Australia and The Grey Gatsby were ahead of him. When viewed in the context of this challenge that’s still very strong form.

Of course he’ll have to beat the home team headed by Gentildonna (going for a never done before, third straight victory) in the race, Just A Way and Harp Star plus Germany’s Ivanhowe.

Gentildonna will renew her partnership with Ryan Moore who won on her at Meydan in March beating Cirrus Des Aigles in the Sheema Classic. She’s run twice since beaten both times though second last time in a prep for this could well mean she’s back to her best.

Just A Way, Harp Star and Ivanhowe all ran in the Arc. Neither Japanese horses got in a blow however it must be remembered Just A Way was the most impressive winner of the Dubai Duty Free in March while Harp Star who loves to come from behind was given a mammoth task by her jockey in the Arc and if ridden closer to the pace can be seen at her best. Ivanhowe was way down the field in Paris did beat Sea The Moon in a G1 in the summer and after the Arc won another in Munich at the start of the month.

It’s a big ask to travel halfway across the world to win Japan’s major all age race.

Can he do it?

When you consider the opposition, top class proven international performers and then the draw, virtually in the carpark, you’d be inclined to think no.

Then you think Gentildonna won from stall 15 in 2012 so maybe the draw isn’t a killer. Then you wonder about the current form of the home team, say to yourself that if Trading Leather ran in this year’s Arc would he have done better than Harp Star and Just A Way, probably. Then factor in that Gentildonna has lost those last two runs.

Then consider that Trading Leather is running over his best trip, on his favoured ground, which he hasn’t encountered this year and consider the shrewdness of his trainer then the picture looks different.

You would have to conclude that Trading Leather has a real good chance of belying his 20/1 odds offered at the moment. If you are going to back him best not to be tempted to take that price, instead put PMU on your docket thereby taking the local odds as it’s hardly lightly the Tokyo public will steam into him and you just might end up with a more juicy return than that offered at the moment.

Recommendation: Trading Leather EW (PMU Price)

 

 

Champions Stakes (Group 1)

The Two Year Old Free Eagle (8th September 2013)

The Two Year Old Free Eagle (8th September 2013)

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA

The Three Year Old Free Eagle on the way out to win the Enterprise Stakes on Irish Champions Day

Oh how the Newmarket and Ascot teams must envy their Leopardstown and Curragh counterparts.

The Irish Champions weekend sits pretty in the racing calander on the second weekend in September. Three weeks before Lonchamp. Perfect. Sunny, warm good ground as near as can be guaranteed. The Irish weekend can only be viewed as a massive success. Poor England, one Group 1 more than the Irish weekend and some of the best races of the season to boot but it looks like it’s all come too late.

Racing is all about risk. When you go deep into October there’s more than an even chance that the animals who lit up the summer may have well have been stood down, retired, or more likely won’t risked on what’s fast becoming winter ground. If you are still around and have one more chance of glory the Santa Anita sun must look very appealing compared to wet and windy Ascot.

It’s a bit of a bummer but England’s big climax comes wrapped in dark skies with a touch of damp squid. Today, Future Champions Day saw all three favourites turned over in the Group 1’s at Newmarket. No doubt come next year we’ll be told it was because they didn’t handle the wet dank conditions of late autumn. Bad ground the culprit.

As for tomorrow, Champions Day is alas without “the big name”. The two stars of the season Kingman and Australia have moved on for what for then will be more interesting pursuits leaving us the racing public hoping their prodigy will prove equally as exciting. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if …… let’s not go there.

The race and day can still provide a horse worthy of the title Champion.

There’s Cirrus Des Aigles. We forgotten how good he really is, familiarity breeding it own contempt.  If he’d been an entire he would be viewed as a superstar. Form says he’d have won the Arc a couple of weeks ago, he beat Treve in The Ganay in April (before any ailments) and accounted for Flintshire in the Coronation Cup in June sandwiching in the Prix D’Ispahan in May. His marvellous trainer Corine Barande-Barbe put him away for a crack at a fourth Prix Dollar which he won only to be denied in the Lonchamp stewards room. He’s an absolutely wonderful horse, a winner of this in 2011 from So You Think, he only went down to Frankel in 2012 and Farhh in 2013. Throw in the Meyden win over St Nicholas Abbey in the 2012 Sheema Classic and don’t forget the second to Gentledonna this year. What a horse. Wouldn’t you like to read his biography.

He’s opposed by Frankel’s brother Noble Mission. He’s become a man this year. A double Group I winner beating Magician in the Tattersall’s Gold Cup and benefiting from the disqualification of Spirit Jim in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud  (he looked a winner 100 yards out only to tire in the final strides). We haven’t seen him since a trip to Munich in July where Lucky Lion (conqueror of Sea The Moon) got the better of him in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis.

Ruler Of The World, last years Derby winner looked back to his best in his Arc warm up, the Prix Foy where he displayed a sharp turn of foot to overcome Flintshire. In the Arc itself as the year before the cards didn’t fall right for him. Bumped at the start he was forced to race prominently only to fall away at the business end. He’s so much a better horse when he’s held up and can come from behind. He needs something to attack and coming off the pace is his strength.

Western Hymn is capable if not top drawer. Not seen since August at Deauville when behind Gailo Chop he was a winner of the Prix Eugene Adam over 10f at Maisions Laffitte on soft ground. No doubt John Gosden has targeted this as his chief aim.

The wonderfully named Sheikhzayedroad keeps stepping up for David Simcock. The York Stakes winner in July went to Woodbine coming home with the Northern Dancer Trophy on the plane. This will require another big leap up the ladder. Al Kazeem has already been up the ladder landing three top G’1 s last year. His return from stud duties to earn a crust on the racecourse is well worth the try and next year he may have forgotten about all those mares he was introduced to.

Roger Varian has had a magnificent season but even he won’t be dreaming tonight of victory for Ayrad. Pether’s Moon is proven on the soft having won in Veliefendi then keeping up the good work beating Parish Hall in the Cumberland Lodge here two weeks ago.

A somewhat unknown quantity here is Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle. Considered massively talented as a two year old he went to Leopardstown going off odds on to beat Australia having already been installed Derby favourite on the back of what looked like a cracking maiden win. He got beat 6L leaving his trainer head scratching though it’s clear he wasn’t right.  A setback in the spring ruled him out of the Derby picture and we had to wait a whole year to see him again. This time he was the 7L winner. Granted the opposition didn’t include Australia, Dermot wisely not throwing him straight back in the deep end instead allowing him find his feet in a more gentle reintroduction to back to the racecourse. He was mighty impressive.

What strikes you about the two pictures above is Pat Smullen’s expression. Caring and tender looking after a two year old turns to killer steel on the mature three year old. No longer raw you can see Pat means business and has complete confidence in this fella. His look will be no different if, and it’s still a big if, Dermot gives him the leg up tomorrow. The plan is to walk the course in the morning before the final decision is made.

Let’s hope for the thumbs up so we get the chance to see the next equine champion.

Recommendation : Free Eagle 3/1 win

If he doesn’t run Ruler Of The World coming from off the pace can chin Cirrus Des Aigles.

The Prix L’Arc De Triomphe


Just A Way winnier of The Dubai Duty In March

15 individual G1 winners.

Between them this field has won 25 G1’s in the last two years. They’ve also been second 13 times and third 7 times at top level. Tells you the depth of the field. Just what you’d expect for the Arc, Europe’s middle distance absolute highlight.

Treve at the peak of her powers won the Prix Diane, Vermille and this last year. This year she’s been 2nd in The Ganay, 3rd in The Prince Of Wales’s and more worryingly 4th in the Vermille last time out. Are her powers gone?

John Gosden’s three year old Taghrooda, the Oaks and King George winner, tops the market. She was a run away winner of the Oaks and equally impressive at Ascot and the market seems to have forgiven her defeat at the hands of Tapestry (supplemented here) in the Yorkshire Oaks despite not having visited the racecourse since.

Ectot last years Criterium International winner, another three year old, will probably start favourite on the Pari Mutual. He beat Karakontie (subsequent Poulains winner) before a set back sidelined him until the Autumn. In his warm up he won the Prix Neil a shade lucky on Arc trails day (Adelaide 3rd, not a clear run).

The Japanese really want to win this race and a strong contingent travel in an attempt to go one better than Orfevre last year. They include Just A Way who in the last year has won the Tenno Sho (Autumn), The Dubai Duty Free and Yasuda Kinen. He looked a proper horse in the spring at Meyden when demolishing the field in the desert. He is supported by Gold Ship who won the Takarazuka Kinen this year and last and Harp Star the Japanese 1000 Guineas this year who beat Gold Ship last time out in the Sappora Kinen in a trail for this. It’s a strong contingent from the east.

Beside Ectot the home team hope to keep it on French soil with Avenir Certain who took the The Pouliches and Prix Diane this year. Like Treve last year she comes here unbeaten.  They also have Flintshire the Grand Prix De Paris 2013 winner, Spritjim (disqualified after first past the post in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud) and Prince Gibraltar, Dolniya, and Siljan’s Saga in the field.

Germany are looking to emulate the success of Danedream with this year’s representative Ivanhowe. He beat the ante post favourite Sea The Moon (retired through injury) in the Grosser Preis van Baden.

Ruler Of The World last year’s Epsom Derby winner looks to make Al Shaqab’s investment sharp thinking. He looked good in the Prix Foy and the quiet build up might bring him here the freshest of all. Similar Chiquita last years Irish Oaks winner, whose €6m price tag can look good value if she bags this after nearly a year off the track. She showed she retained her abilities when running second in the Blandford recently.

English hope Kingston Hill was the Racing Post Trophy winner last year and this year he took the Leger after a frustrating summer for connections where he was withdrawn from the Irish Derby and Eclipse because of the fast ground. He only found Australia too good at Epsom. He also may have benefitted from a light campaign.

Al Kazeem (supplemented) didn’t take to stud duties and try’s to add to last years Coral Eclipse, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Prince Of Wales’s. Roger Charlton says he’s nothing to lose in his second Arc attempt however he’s a lot to gain.

You can see from the quality of what this field has won to date that this is an open Arc. Treve could well bounce back to her scintillating best of last year. The step back up in trip could see Tapestry prevail over Taghrooda once again or this could be the year for Japan. In Just A Way they have a quality colt full of eastren promise who can finally nail that elusive Arc that Japanese breeders so crave.

Recommendation : Just A Way 8/1 win

Tricast Option : Combine : Just A Way, Treve, Tapestry and Ruler Of The World. 

 

 

The Cheveley Park Stakes (Group 1)

Twiggy Wiggy looked an extremely impressive winner of the Lowhter at York where she went pillar to post. The pack in behind never got in a blow as she stretched away from them 2 f out to win easily from Cursory Glance (since a winner of the Moyglare (G1)) and Anthem Alexander.

At York she was avenging her short head defeat suffered at the hands of Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary and Eddie Lynham has chosen to let the fillies meet once again.

Andre Farbe throws High Celrebrity in here looking for a fourth French win in the last eight years. Three runs have yielded two wins and a second. The loss came in the Duchess Of Cambridge at Newmarket when as a 4/9 shot she got turned over. She put it right when comfortably winning the Prix D’Arenberg at Chantilly a couple of weeks ago.

David Simcock fresh off a Group 1 double in Canada sends his 10 L Warwick maiden winner to take her chance. She was very good at the shallow end but here she’s in at the deep end on only her second run. She could be anything.

Not often you get the chance to back Ryan Moore at 33/1 in a G1 but that’s the opportunity today when he rides Richard Fahey’s Zuhoor Baynoona. A Yarmouth maiden winner she was third to Patience Alexander (Twiggy Wiggy second) at York in May and hasn’t run since.

John Gosden and James Doyle combine for Khalid Abdullah’s Tendu. She’ll hardly replace Kingman for stable stardom but she has advanced from a first run 7 L defeat to a 5 L second time out win on Kempton’s all weather surface.

The Irish filly could well beat the French filly but can either beat the English one. Visually Twiggy Wiggy was the eye catcher of the season. A win here and connections are talking about a trip to Paris next weekend for the Abbaye . The way she won last time you wouldn’t rule either out.

Recommendation : Twiggy Wiggy 6/4 win

Irish Champions Day 2 and Arc Trials Day

The Grey Gatsby returns having won The Irish Champions Stakes

The Grey Gatsby returns having won The Irish Champions Stakes

Cracking days racing yesterday at Leopardstown.

The action moves on to the Curragh today with another 3 Group 1’s with the limelight switching to the two year olds with the Moyglare Stakes for the fillies and the National Stakes for the colts.

In the Moyglare Cursory Glance represents the Leger winning combination of Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni. She comes here having run second to an extremely fast filly in Tiggy Wiggy in the Lowther at York a few weeks ago where she had Anthem Alexander back in third. Very decent form.

The other English runners Malabar and Osaila are both pattern race winners having taken the Prestige Stakes at Goodwood and the Princess Margret at Ascot respectively putting both in the window for this. They were both behind Cursory Glance in the Albany so have to turn over the form but both have gone the right way since.

Aidan runs four with the once raced Found being the pick of Joseph. She was an unconsidered 14/1 shot when she beat her stalemate Together Forever here last month on the bridle. This is a major step up in class but the way she did it last time suggests she mightn’t light up the gallops at home but saves her best for the racecourse. Simply A Star has the most experience having seven runs yielding one win and placed each time in the other six. There’s some decent form in those efforts. Second to Accepted (3rd in the Flying Childers at Doncaster on Friday) and third to Ainippe twice means she’ll outrun her price of 50/1.

The National is disappointing numerically with no horse there to pick up the €3000 sixth prize. It’s hard to see beyond Gleneagles though if there is to be a surprise, as we had yesterday with Australia, then Jim Bolger’s Hall Of Fame who already has the scalp of John F Kennedy (impressive winner of the Juvenile Turf yesterday) could be the provider.

In the Irish Leger Pale Mimosa can put it up to Leading Light while over at Longchamp for Arc trials day there’s plenty to keep an eye on.

Treve in the Vermille is vulnerable to the John Gosden pair of Pomology and Sultanina with Pomology preferred. Kingsbarns might fulfill his potential in the Prix Foy with Ryan Moore aboard who can also boot Adelaide home in the Prix Neil.

Recommendations :

The Moyglare Stakes Simply A Star 50/1 e w 

The National Stakes Hall Of Fame 16/1 ew 

The Irish Leger Pale Mimosa 5/1 win

Prix Neil Adelaide 5/1 ew 

Prix  Vermille Pomology PMU Price

Prix Foy Kingsbarns 12/1 win

 

 

Irish Champions Weekend

 

Crowd Watch on at Leopardstown at last years Champion Stakes

The crowd watch on at Leopardstown at last years Champion Stakes

As summer slips gently by racing goes into overdrive as a trio of top class festival’s begins. Irish Champions Weekend , Arc weekend in Paris and Champions Day at Ascot all but bring Europe’s pattern season to a close.

The inaugural Irish champions weekend comes with a real punch of quality. Ten Group races including five Group 1’s. A veritable feast of racing. €2.9 m of prize money up for grabs.

On Saturday at Leopardstown

Kilternan Stakes (G3) over 10 f for 3 yo and up Open. €100,000

Golden Fleece (G3) over 8 f for 2 yo Open. €100,000

Solonaway Stakes (G2)  over 8 f for 3 yo and up Open. €200,000

Matron Stakes (G1) over 8 f for 3 yo and up Fillies & Mares. €300,000

Champion Stakes (G1) over 10 f  for 3 yo and up Open. €1,000,000

On Sunday at the Curragh

Blandford Stakes (G2) over a 10 f for 3 yo and up Fillies & Mares. €200,000

Flying Five (G2) over 5 f for 3 yo and up Open. €100,000

The National (G1) over 7 f for 2 yo Colts & Fillies. €300,000

Moyglare Stakes (G1) over 7 f for 2 yo Fillies. €300,000

The St Leger Stakes (G1) over 14 f  for 3 yo and up Open. €300,000

Last year that we saw Australia take first taste of superstardom when he had 6 L to spare over Free Eagle in the Golden Fleece. He’s back again this time for the main event The Irish Champion Stakes. As you’d expect plenty of other stars will be on show Leading Light, Chiquita, Tapestry, Encke, Marrek, Gordon Lord Byron to name but a few.

It’s a weekend that cover’s all angles, top class older horses, the best of the classic generation and the establishment of the top juveniles. Sprinting, middle distances and stayers all catered for.

And the good news if further were needed, good fast ground with the sun shining to boot.

What a weekend it promises to be.

Recommendation : Be There