The Irish Oaks (Group 1)

Together Forever battles it out with Star Of Seville in the Musidora Stakes at York. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Alan Crowhurst.

The beauty of the Irish weather is it’s unpredictably they say.

Yesterday morning the Curragh reported the ground good to firm. This morning after 10.7 mm of rain it was reported good to yielding.  If the local very heavy showers in the greater Dublin area through Friday hit the Curragh we will have soft ground. Aidan O’Brien reported this evening Qualify a most unlikely runner on account of her need to hear her feet rattle to show her best. The forecast today is dry and windy so it might dry out come the late post time but it still odds on that the winner will like to get her toe in.

Curvy the favourite has been a revelation this year going from strength to strength. She was beaten three times as a juvenile but this year she’s unbeaten in four including last time out in the Ribblesdale. That was on good to firm. She did handle a yielding surface first time out in a Navan handicap.

Words is the leading Ballydoyle fancy. She has only had the two runs. She won at the Curragh last June and didn’t see a racecourse again until this June when she won the Munster Oaks at Cork beating the year older Carla Bianca who franked the form very nicely by winning a G3 at Leopardstown on Thursday. Words really caught the eye at Cork and looked a very talented filly who will try to emulate her mother Moonstone who won this race in 2008. Both her runs have been on good to firm so we won’t know how she will handle this softer surface.

Seamie Heffernan gets the leg up on Together Forever the most experienced filly in the field. She’s having her ninth run. She’s a G1 winner at two having taken the Fillies’ Mile last year. She was only beaten a head by Star Of Seville (since a winner of the Prix Diane) in the Musidora and lost all chance when cannoning into a rival at Epsom in the Oaks.

Michael Hussey rides Kissed By Angels who showed she’s talented when beating Devonshire in the Irish Guineas Trail. Devonshire ran 3rd in Irish Guineas where she herself finished tailed off beaten 17 L. She is only filly in the line up to have chalked success on heavy ground when she won the trial.

Jack Naylor first two runs were on soft and she was beaten both times. She then won three in a row beating Legatissimo in the sequence but this year she’s fallen short at G1 level getting beaten in the Irish 1000 Guineas and she laboured at Epsom tiring in the last furlong.

From England Hugo Palmer sends Covert Love. She showed nothing in her one run last year well beaten on the all-weather at Lingfield but this year she’s notched up three on the bounce stepping up in class from an all-weather Chelmsford maiden to a listed win last time out at Newcastle. Her two turf wins have been on good ground.

Also travelling is James Fanshawe’s Speedy Boarding another inexperienced filly who was also a winner at listed level last time out and Gretchen sent by the all-conquering John Gosden who will come under starters orders for only the third time. She won her maiden at Newmarket and was 6 L behind Curvy in the Ribblesdale.

Jim Bolgers Stellar Glow makes up the numbers only Jim Bolger never makes up the numbers especially with a daughter of Sea the Stars who was a winner last time out.

Words looked a filly that oozes class and its no wonder Aidan has been patient with her but if it turns soft we don’t know if her class will be enough to carry her through. On the other hand her stable companion Together Forever has acted on a yeilding surface when winning at listed level last October and showed her class in winning a G1 last year and going down a head to a French Oaks winner. You’ll have to forgive her not handling the camber in the Oaks however at 12/1 she’s worth forgiving and is certainly the each way option.

Recommendation: Together Forever 12/1 ew 





QIPCO Falmouth Stakes (G 1)

Avenir Certain running out the winner of the Poule D’Essai Des Pouliches last May at Lonchamp. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Alan Crowhurst.

This could be a very French affair with 3 crossing the water. Andre Farbe sends Fintry, Avenir Certain comes from the Jean Claude Roguet yard and Bawina from the Carlos Laffon-Parias stable.

Their recent form is closely interlinked. Fintry beat Avenir Certain in a G3 in June, a run that was a big step the latter’s first run back of the season when she was seventh of eight behind Bawina in the Prix Du Muget in May. Previous to that Avenir Certain ran 6 1/2 L behind Treve in the Arc recording her first loss having run up a six race winning sequence previously including the French 1000 Guineas and French Oaks. There’s no other filly in this field to show anything to match that three-year old form but the runs this year questions if the enthusiasm she had last year remains.

Lucida will go off favourite on the back of her second to Lagatissimo in the Guineas and her 3rd in the Cornation Stakes Ervedya. That form is beginning to wilt a little with Lagatissiomo’s defeats in the Oaks and Pretty Polly Stakes since.

The home team of Amazing Maria, Arabian Queen and Euro Charline all need to put in career best runs to prevail here though it’s worth noting Euro Charline did win a G1 on fast ground at Woodbine last backend.

With the French likely to dominate the call is to rely on the dual classic winner to show she has retained that enthusiasm and to once again regain winning ways.

Recommendation : Avenir Certain 7/2 win





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