Coral-Eclipse Stakes (G1)

Cougar Mountain chasing home Solow in the Queen Anne. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images. 

Golden Horn’s Derby win got a boost last week at the Curragh with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th all finishing in the same order but stepping up a place at the Curragh.

It solidified his position at the top of the market for this first generational meeting of the colts this season. In numbers the race lacks depth but that cannot be said about the quality. In the Derby winner we have a horse who has the potential to become one of the all time greats running over a trip that his owner always thought would be his best.

He has to beat The Grey Gatsby who hasn’t won since beating Australia in the Irish Campion Stakes last year. His three runs this year have yielded a 2nd to Solow at Meydan , a 4th to Al Kazeem at the Curragh and a 2nd beaten a short head by Free Eagle at Royal Ascot. That last one was terribly unlucky. Caught in a pocket he couldn’t get out until too late and a yard by the line he had his head in front. This 10f is his best trip as he displayed in winning the French Derby and collaring Australia last year.

Cougar Mountain is a fascinating entry here. Has Aidan O’Brien got him wrong so far? His second visit to the racecourse was to contest the July Cup and he continued at sprint distances for the remainder of the season. This year he’s run three times over a mile doing his best work last time out when 3rd to Solow in the Queen Anne.

This could well be a tale of right and wrong.

John Gosden was right earlier in the week to say the market has got this wrong. He thought even’s about Golden Horn and 2/1 about The Grey Gatsby was a fairer reflection of their respective chances. He didn’t mention the 12/1 on offer about Cougar Mountain which has since shortened to 10’s.

Kevin Ryan was also right to say The Grey Gatsby is not given the respect he deserves by the racing public.

Aidan O’Brien could well be telling us post race he was wrong with his horse last year but he’s found his right trip now.

 

Recommendation : Cougar Mountain 10/1 ew 

 

 

Pattern Racing World Champions 2015 (Jan 1 – June 30)

After 135 Group/Grade 1’s have been run across the world so far this calendar year we thought we’d update you on the Pattern Racing World Championships standings.

We have 6 categories now, Trainer, Jockey, Horse, Sire, Owner and Breeder.

Below are the top 5 in each category.

Remember – For a G1 placing You get 10 points for win 7 for second and 5 for third.

American Pharoah Triple Crown winner and current  leader in the Pattern Racing World Championships for Horses. Picture by Rob Carr courtesy of Getty Images

Rank Horse PointsWon
1  American Pharoah (USA) 40
2  Able Friend (AUS) 30
2  Gleneagles (IRE) 30
4  Criterion (NZ) 27
5  Dissident (AUS) 25
Rank Trainer Points Won
1 Chris Waller 153
2 Todd Pletcher 110
3 Bob Baffert 101
4 A P O’Brien 88
5 Gai Waterhouse 86
Rank Jockey Points Won
1 Blake Shinn 104
1 Victor Espinoza 104
3 Hugh Bowman 97
4 James McDonald 95
5 Ryan Moore 90
Rank Owner Points Won
1 Godolphin 132
2 M Tabor, D Smith & Mrs John Magnier 54
3 U Carrot Farm 50
3 Zayat Stables LLC 50
5 H H Aga Khan 42
Rank Sire Points Won
1 b c Galileo (IRE) 44
1 b f Fastnet Rock (AUS) 44
3 b c Pioneerof The Nile (USA) 40
4 b c King Kamehameha (JPN) 32
4 b f Deep Impact (JPN) 32
Rank Breeder Total
1 Darley 143
2 Northern Racing 80
3 Northern Farm 50
4 Widden Stud Australia Pty Ltd 40
4 Wertheimer Et Frere 40
4 Zayat Stables Llc 40

Pretty Polly Stakes (Group 1)

The four year-old Brooch faces her stiffest tack to date in keeping her unbeaten run intact in a cracking renewal of this Group 1 Fillies and Mares contest. Last year she hosed up at Galway in her first start, won a listed race at Killarney and a Group 3 at Gowran Park having missed her juvenile season. Her comeback run was the Ridgewood Pearl Stakes here in May where she duly obliged beating Ramone (previously a 100/1 winner of a G3) and Amazing Maria who went on to win at Royal Ascot in the G2 Duke Of Cambridge.

She’ll have to overcome two Guineas winners in Lagatisssimo and Pleascach both impressive at Newmarket and the Curragh respectively. Lagatisssimo steps back in trip having failed to see out the mile and a half in the Epsom Oaks where Qualify outstayed her in the last hundred yards, no doubt she’ll have the stamina to see out this 10 f. Pleascach similarly didn’t see out the 12 f at Ascot in the Ribblesdale and likewise will benefit from the drop in trip. Tamaadhor complimented the Curragh form when winning at Fairyhouse.

Diamondsandrubies won the Cheshire Oaks in good style. At Epsom she was one of the sufferers when cannoned into and actually did very well to finish 4th. The concern is this trip might be a bit sharp for her in this company.

From France comes John Hammond’s Pollyana. It’s a while since she’s sparkled but she is a G2 winner of the Daniel Windenstein at Lonchamp on Arc day in 2013.

Travelling from England is Mutatis Mutandis from the Ed Walker stable. She a winner twice last including at listed level but this is a major step up in class. Ribbons accompanies her crossing the water as does Secret Gesture. Ribbons has already proved she can travel when winning the G1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville last August and she also ran 2nd to We Are in the Prix De L’Opera on Arc day. Recently she was held by Secret Gesture at York in the Middleton who made all to win in good style. No doubt the latter will try to make it all here again.

Dermot Weld is well renowed for his patience and that will be rewarded here by Brooch. She’s got to give weight to the three-year olds which is a big ask first time out at top-level but she oozes class in all she’s done to date and she looks well capable of putting the younger generation in their place.

 

Recommendation: Brooch 11/2 win

 

 

The money has come for Highland Reel all week and it’s not surprising.

As a two-year old at Gowran Park last July he was a 12 L winner of his maiden on good to firm. He followed up in the Vintage Stakes on a similar surface at Goodwood in August. Having done enough Aidan put him away for the winter.

As a three year old he contested the French Guineas going off favourite but could only manage to run sixth to Make Believe. He stepped up to 10 F for the French Derby where he went down 1 1/2 L to New Bay at Chantilly. The second run was a nice improvement of the first run of the season however both runs were on good to soft.

This fella likes to hear his feet rattle and last time in Paris he was doing his best work in the closing stages. It’s probable he’ll improve further for the extra step up in trip to the mile and a half.

The Derby second Jack Hobbs like have his work cut out to deny him at the death.

Recommendation : Highland Reel 4/1 win

The Derby (Group 1)

A big shock in the Oaks yesterday. Could the same happen in the Derby?

It’s got every chance with doubts about the one’s at the top of the market ability to stay.

What’s sets the Derby (and Oaks) apart and makes it such an appealing race is what it demands of a young three-year old.

The first requirement is to handle the preliminaries. The noise and build up affects animals more than it does the humans. It’s easy to boil over especially on a hot day. Then they have to go out on the course. Epsom is a horseshoe-shaped track with Tattenham Corner being the final bend 4 1/2 f from home. It’s a steep downhill track with an uphill finish with a pronounced camber which drags them into the rail. Tough. It finds them out, those how don’t stay, (like the favourite in the Oaks yesterday) they can run out of petrol before the line comes.

The favourite Golden Horn will have to be exceptional on breeding to handle that. His owner was convinced he was a 10 f horse yet the temptation the Derby offers means he has to put hope over logic. Who can blame him. After all he looked to have something left at the end of the Dante but then York is a flat track with a long wind up straight. Very different to Epsom. His stablemate Jack Hobbs looks to have flattered in winning a handicap by 12 L and while he may stay Godolphin’s purchase of him was done with a long eye into the future.

The dismissal of Giovanni Canaletto in the public mind before the Gallinule has reversed 360 degrees. He’s now the Ballydoyle hotpot having put holes in bookmaker prices all week down from 20/1 to 7/1 this morning. It been far from a smooth passage for Ballydoyle this year to the Derby and yet they come here with three live chances. Giovanni Canaletto looked every inch a stayer at Leopardstown and he’ll benefit and come on for that run.

Hans Holbein proved himself over the distance in the Chester Vase beating Storm The Stars who franked the form in the The Cocked Hat at Goodwood. Likewise Kilimanjaro did it in the Lingfield Derby Trial over 11.5 f.

Elm Park has the best two-year old form as a Derby pointer having won the Racing Post as a juvenile and the trip gives him every chance of reversing Dante form over Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs. It’s also worth noting he won the Royal Lodge on G/F last year and he has a pacemaker in Rouge Runner.

Moheet was a spring fancy for the Guineas but he didn’t have the pace to cope over a mile. He’s by High Chaparral so this will be his trip and he’s very tempting at such a big price.

Epicuris the French colt trained by Criquette Head looks to be full of stamina given he won the Criterium De Saint-Cloud over a mile and two as a juvenile last November on heavy ground. His target was the Prix du Jockey Club last Sunday but he was rerouted here after refusing to load in the Greffuhle last time out. That’s a worry.

Success Days would be favourite if he was under the care of Aidan O’Brien instead of Ken Condon (who). He’s won the Ballsax and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trail on soft ground. The cribbers will knock the form saying he didn’t beat much in the Derrinstown but he did it as easy as you like with 10 L to spare. In the Ballysax he had John F Kennedy toiling a long way out. They’ll also say he won’t handle the ground yet his action doesn’t suggest he’s a soft ground specialist. Ken Condon isn’t a familiar face to the public but he will be after today.

He’s the choice at a tasty 16/1 with a few bob on Moheet at 40/1.

Recommendation: Success Days 16 e/w.

                                        Moheet 40/1 e/w

 

 

 

 

Prix Du Jockey Club (Group 1)

New Bay and Karaktar vie for favouritism in Paris today in a race where the draw could play a significant part. The ground is good giving an advantage to those drawn low or middle over those out wide.

New Bay trained by Andre Fabre came from the back off a wide draw to run second to Make Believe in the French Guineas. He’ll have to repeat that turn of foot over this two furlong longer trip to get the better of this field.

The Aga Khan’s Karaktar trained by Alain De Royer-Dupre position in the market comes courtesy of an impressive Prix Noailles performance where he had 3  1/2 L to spare over High Dynamite. Both colts will have to be dropped in having been drawn wide 13 and 12 respectively.

There’s a lot to like about Jean Claude Rouget’s War Dispatch beaten a 1/2 l by Full Mast (beneficiary of Gleneagles disqualification on Arc day last year) first time out who was a four-time winner on the all-weather before capturing the Prix De Guiche here in an impressive turf debut.

Silverwave trained by Alain Couetil won his first three at provincial tracks and remains unbeaten after putting in a bold display when taking a big step up in class in the Prix La Force beating Epicuris by 4 L at Lonchamp in April. The form wasn’t questioned in the Greffulhe when Epicuris (G1 winner at two) refused to load leaving Sumbal to saunter home a 6 L winner.

Sumbal connections are still considering Epsom as an alternative and will walk the course before deciding whether to run or not. The decision with Epicuris has already been made with the French stewards ruling out the option of him having a horse whisperer help him load his team have decided to wait for Epsom where no such restrictions will be in place.

Ballydoyle are triple handed in their attempt to win their first French Derby. The trio (drawn 7, 8, and 9) are led by Cape Clear Island with Ryan Moore in the plate. He is stepping back in trip having run second to the well-regarded Ampere (kept for the Grand Prix De Paris) in the Prix Hocquart over 11 f. Highland Reel was a disappointing favourite in the French Guineas. He had looked an exciting colt as two when a 12 L winner of a Gowran Park maiden last July on good to firm. He finished just ahead of War Envoy in the Guineas who ran well before fading in the last furlong.

With the top two in the market drawn wide traffic problems could ensue leaving Silverware drawn low in 2 to steal a march up the rail. While the Greffulhe didn’t test the strength of the form there was no denying the eye-catching performance of the winner. Cape Clear Island will benefit from the quick surface and will be doing his best work closest to the line.

Recommendation : Silverwave 11/2 win

                                         Cape Clear Island 12/1 ew

The Irish 1000 Guineas (Group 1)

Found sets the standard.

She was tremendously impressive in Paris last year when beating Erevdya in the Prix Marcel Boussac, form that reads well with the latter winning the French Guineas a couple of weeks ago. Her maiden win last August was a surprise when she accounted for her stablemate Together Forever going in as an unconsidered 14/1 shot. We knew she beat a good one when Together Forever later took the top-level G1 Fillies Mile at Ascot. In between Found went down to Cursory Glance and Lucida in  the Moyglare. We haven’t seen the former since but the latter ran second in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas so the favourite here sets a high benchmark based on her juvenile career.

Aidan O’Brien decided to skip Newmarket (ground lightening quick) and instead ran her at the Curragh the day after on ground that turned out to be unsuitably heavy. She was beaten emptying out in the last half furlong. Do you forgive her the run? Ryan Moore was easy on her minding her up the straight knowing today is what it’s all about.

She has to beat a number of good fillies to win this. The colts may not be vintage this year but the fillies do look to be high quality.

Jessica Harrington’s Bocca Baciata beat Jim Bolger’s Pleascach (Irish for Explosive) at Navan in April in the Salsabil Stakes and Jim’s filly went on to win the Blue Wind at Naas by 8 1/2 L  (beating older fillies). Jessica also runs Jack Naylor who beat the English Guineas winner Legatissimo in the Flame Of Tara here last year. She’d previously beaten Agnes Stewart (2nd to Together Forever in the Fillies Mile) but she has 4 L to find on Found based on the her Paris run in the Boussac.

Raydara’s form also reads well. We haven’t seen her since the Debutante Stakes last year where she beat Lucida a 1/2 L. Dermot Weld’s Moyglare bred Joailliere must also come into consideration after a 7 L win in April at Gowan Park on her racecourse apperance. She mightn’t have beaten much but when the master of Rosewell House throws her in at this deep end then one should take note. She could be anything.

Similarly the impeccably bred Kissed By Angels, a daughter of Galileo out of Lillie Langtry is light on experience. She came to the track for the first time in April losing out in a Limerick maiden before scoring in the Leopardstown Guineas Trial a couple of weeks ago beating Willie McCreery’s Devonshire (Godolphin owned representative here) by 3 1/2L.

Malabar ran a cracker at Newmarket when fourth in the Guineas. The form of the race was subsequently boosted by the run of Irish Rookie sixth at Newmarket who ran second to Erevdya in France the following week.

There is a significance to this race beyond the norm for an Irish 1000 Guineas. If Found win’s and does it well she most likely will be supplemented for the Derby.

You have to go back to Fininella in 1916 to find the last filly to win The Derby. Epsom wasn’t an option that year because of the Great War and the race was run at Newmarket. She hadn’t been originally entered but because of the change of venue entries were reopened. Not only did she win the The Derby she also hacked up in the Oaks two day’s later.

Found won’t have that opportunity and in modern times not many fillies have tried to win The Derby. You might think Ballydoyle are grasping at straws for this years blue riband having lost the likes of John F Kennedy and Ol’ Man River from the picture by considering the filly to fulfill their Derby aspirations. It might be that Giovanni Canaletto will have already solved the problem by winning the Gallinule in emphatic style but if he hasn’t then a convincing demonstration from Found will put her very firmly in the Derby picture. An unconvincing performance will see her go the more traditional route of the Oaks.

It’s a day of tremendous Group 1 action in Europe and The Grey Gatsby should start to get the recognition he readily deserves by winning a top class Tattersalls Gold Cup. In France at Lonchamp we have the Coolmore sponsored Prix Saint-Alary and Prix D’Ispahan where Cirrus Des Aigles and Solow clash. A cracking duel that the wonderful Cirrus can win to retain his D’Ispahan crown.

Recommendation : Found 15/8 win

                                             The Grey Gatsby 5/4 win

                                             Cirrus Des Aigles 13/8 win

                                             ( 3 cross doubles and a treble)

Lockinge Stakes (Group 1)

The first clash in England of the older generation at top-level.

It’s not vintage, yet. The field is led by last years Guineas winner Night Of Thunder who hasn’t won since. He’s been beaten four times but he’s still the absolute rock of form for this race. Kingman and Charm Spirit twice have been his undoing at the mile and in all reality the only blot on the copy book is when his stamina was stretched beyond his capacity to 10 f in the Eclipse.

Toormore accompanies him from the Richard Hannon stable a horse who beat The Grey Gatsby in the Craven last year. He was a brilliant two-year old who’s three-year career didn’t quite match up to that early Craven win but he’s not far off the pace.

Integral a double G1 winner ( Falmouth and Sun Chariot) last year is the main act to oppose. Can she beat the boys? who’d rule it out in the hands of Michael Stoute with Ryan Moore in the plate.

Tullius went to all the big dances after coming second here last year and with give in the ground has to come into calculations.

Custom Cut has yet to score at top-level but he keeps getting better, a Dermot Weld baby is becoming a man with David O”Meara.

And of those that stand out under the radar.

Yeften’s disqualified second in the Jean Prat behind Charm Spirit doesn’t look too shabby nor does Here Comes When Challenge Stakes victory but the one that is most intriguing is Cougar Mountain.

You would have to think Aidan O’Brien lost the plot when he threw this once raced into the July Cup last year yet he only went down a 3 L  fifth to Slade Power. Next time out in the Nunthorpe ninth was the best he could muster yet only 2 L separated him from Sole Power.

It’s a shot to nothing stepping him up to a mile, if he doesn’t stay he’ll revert to sprinting. If he does stay that turn of foot proven with the best sprinters in the world will put this fella as the main opposition to Able Friend in the Queen Anne.

Recommendation : Cougar Mountain 25/1 win

Ante Post : Royal Ascot – Queen Anne 40/1 ew 

 

 

The Dante Stakes (Group 2)

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John F Kennedy on his way out to win the Juvenile Turf Stakes at Leopardstown last year.

Without a doubt this race will change the ante post market for the Derby in a big way. Inconclusive trials to date have left the market at sea in terms of finding a candidate worthy of commanding the market.

The Dante has a rich tradition in pointing to top class three-year olds with the likes of The Grey Gatsby winning last year however you have to back to Authorised in 2007 to find the last Dante winner to triumph at Epsom.

It’s hard to believe that the current favourite for this race and also the Derby itself made his racecourse debut two days after christmas on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, hardly orthodox. He’s by Halling who won the 1996 Cambridgeshire handicap before winning 5 G1’s (2 Eclipse’s, 2 Internationals and a Prix d’Ispahan). He was green but none the less impressive at Wolverhampton where he came from last to first to win easily. On his turf debut in a handicap he destroyed the field at Sandown winning by 12 L. He’s trained by John Gosden and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori a team reunited this year who were responsible for that same success with his father all those years ago. There has to be a question mark about him lasting 12 f although he’s proved himself over this 10 f already at Sandown.

Golden Horn also from John Gosden’s stable put himself in the Derby picture by winning the Feildan Stakes. He’s 4/1 here and a 20/1 shot for the Derby, five times the price of Jack Hobbs for Epsom.

John F Kennedy and OL’ Man River travel from Ballydoyle both on retrieval missions. The former didn’t fire in the Ballysax and the latter trailed in last in the Guineas. Both runs are best ignored. They both showed their class last year in winning at Leopardsown and the Curragh respectively.

Nafaqa’s second to Elm Park in last years Royal Lodge will give connections hope as the latter went on to win The Racing Post Trophy, form that looks good after Celestial Path’s (third in The Racing Post) good 5th in the Guineas.

This race will establish a short price favourite for the Derby.

John F Kennedy looked to fill the part last year in the Juvenile Turf with a convincing display that marked him out as Ballydoyles number one for Epsom. The ground at Leopardstown for the Ballysax was awful and he should be forgiven the run. He will be a different animal today.

Recommendation : John F Kennedy 4/1 win

 

Musidora Stakes (Group 3)

Sariska in 2009 was the last filly to do the Musidora/Oaks double.

Two fillies have the opportunity to do it again.

Star Of Seville and Together Forever are respectively 12/1 and 16/1 shots for the Oaks at Epsom next month and a good performance in todays Musidora may see one or either of them shorten considerably.

Star Of Seville is trained by John Gosden who was very unlucky not to have done the double in 2012 with The Fugue. She won her maiden last October by 6L in impressive fashion (2nd has won since on the all-weather) and won a conditions event at Newbury again in impressive style by 3 1/2 l on her comeback last month.

Together Forever is already a Group 1 winner for Aidan O’Brien having taken the Fillies’ Mile at Ascot last autumn. It was the last run of six she had as a juvenile and it was a big step up the ladder having previously won at listed level and before that a fillies maiden.

Star Of Seville and Together Forever have cross form with both beating Winters Moon. The Gosden filly had 7 L on her at Newbury while there was less than 1L between the O’Brien filly and Winters Moon last year at Ascot. That would seem to give the edge to Star Of Seville and the reason why bookmakers have quoted her a shade of odds on today as opposed to 7/4 available about the Irish filly.

In her favour is a run already this year however against her is experience. That might shade it for Together Forever even allowing for the concession of 4 lbs for that G1 win.

It would appear this is a two-horse race and its significance for the Oaks will be further understood in the aftermath of the race.

Recommendation : Together Forever 7/4 win