Breeders Cup Classic (Grade 1)


Not quite a match but it really should be.

American Pharoah and Gleneagles have been stand out three-year olds in America and Europe this year.

Their meeting here in the biggest race of the year hasn’t caught the public imagination. Bored with the will he won’t he run, the public has lost faith in Gleneagles especially after being beaten at Ascot in the QE11. Bubble burst.

In the States the opposite has happened. American Phar Continue reading

Getaway video clip

The Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes (G1)


Will he won’t he?

It’s been the story for the second half of the season for Gleneagles. Bad ground at Goodwood, York, Deauville and Leopardstown have meant he hasn’t seen a racecourse since Royal Ascot when he won the St James’s Palace Stakes.

The one Aidan described as the best miler he’s ever trained has been the subject of much frustration for the racing public. Prior to Ascot wins in the Guineas and Irish Guineas, which preceded a top class two-year old campaign, stamped him king miler of his generation. Yet for all his promise he has been denied the chance to measure himself against the older generation. For connections that’s a commercial opportunity missed for his stud value.

Ballydoyle have been nothing but consistent about him. Aidan O’Brien has declared him for The International Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes only to walk the course on both occasions before pulling him out. They won’t risk their prize asset on anything but good ground. The likelihood for Ascot on Saturday is good to soft. That’s short on what is required. Aidan will again walk the course tomorrow afternoon before making a final decision.

Do you compromise? The ground won’t be fast. The temptation to run produces a dilemma. If he runs and wins that place at stud is guaranteed at top dollar. He’ll have beaten the year older Solow, a top drawer performer at the top of his game.

Should he lose the cost in stud reputation mightn’t be too high. After all he’s a fast ground horse who’ll rely on his class to get him through. There’ll be no real knock to reputation in getting beaten.

There is another choice, the last chance saloon, the Breeders Cup Classic at Keenland on dirt in two weeks time where he’d take on the best of the Americans including American Pharoah. He’s available now at 14/1 to achieve that. That’s reflective of the doubt of his participation given the uncertainty about where or if he’ll run. More of the will he or won’t he but reality is options are fast running out.

He might be retired without another run or we might see Gleneagles race at four.

Today there’s still the possibility of him doing the double proving Aidan’s assertion, “he’s the best miler I’ve  ever had” but with the upgrade to “he’s the best I’ve ever had”.


Recommendation: With A Run – Gleneagles Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes (2/1)

Small Double : Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes (2/1) & Breeders Cup Classic (14/1) 


Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe

Golden Horn after winning at Leopardstown

Golden Horn after winning at Leopardstown

Treve’s bid for history has in the last 48 hours gone from some certainty to some doubt judged by the drift in the market from odds on to odds against. Is the market right?

She looked imperious in the Prix Vermille 3 weeks ago when she absolutely smashed the field with the release of her tremendous turn of foot. Thierry Jarnet could hardly contain her. She wanted to cruise, she wanted to travel but those around her were incapable of coming near matching her stride. She made good fillies including Arabian Queen who beat Golden Horn at York look very ordinary. When she was finally given her head she flew and in a matter of strides it was all over. She sauntered up Longchamps home straight digging deep into the very soft turf with each step lifting her further and higher giving her the chance to extend her stride to the full. Magnificent to watch.

Her trainer Criquette Head has timed her season beautifully. Prior to the Vermille she had two spins around Saint Cloud in the Prix Corrida and Grand Prix De Saint Cloud giving her the perfect preparation for this third Arc tilt. Unlike last year everything has gone right and all credit to her trainer as she comes here in the form of her life.

So why has the market got the jitters?

It was after all the same weekend we saw the Champion Stakes and the Prix Vermille. Within 24 hours of Golden Horn’s success at Leopardstown the market decided that Treve’s Vermille performance put considerable distance between her and her all her market rivals. Maybe it was the controversial finish at Leopardstown that clouded the judgement. Golden Horn you felt always had the measure of Free Eagle even if he did put him out of the race.

It’s the ground is the great leveler.

Golden Horn’s owner has expressed the opinion his colt would easily beat Treve on fast ground. Considering last year’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes it’s a statement not without foundation. Treve couldn’t let herself down on the lighting quick ground at Royal Ascot that day and up against a top class filly who totally loved the surface The Fugue easily had her measure.

The issue here is the ground while very much coming the way of the Golden Horn camp it is still not what he really really wants, quick, lighting quick. That’s the surface that brought out the best in him in the Derby and Eclipse when he could hear his feet rattle. It was not so at York when Arabian Queen turned him over in what was akin to Japan’s Rugby World Cup performance against South Africa. John Gosden’s view has been they got the tactics wrong on the Knavesmire rather than the horse just couldn’t reproduce his speed on a surface less than quick.

So the ground, likely to be good, won’t be either’s first love, the questions are then who’ll like it more than the other and will that be enough to floor the rest of the field.

As ever the Arc produces the best middle distance horses of the last few years to compete against each other. This year is no different. It’s regrettable no Japanese challenger has emerged however New Bay who was given an impossible task in the French Guineas when trying to come from last to first (nearly making it) then showed his class by winning the French Derby. He’s since won on heavy at Deauville and put in a very smooth performance in his prep over course and distance in the Prix Neil.

Free Eagle surely can’t keep revving the engine in the last two furlongs. When he came upsides Golden Horn at Leopardstown he looked to be in top gear and it’s hard to imagine his stamina will stretch another two furlongs. Found will pose more of a threat. She was forgotten in the controversy but she ran a fine race to be second and will surely benefit from the step up in trip. She’ll also benefit from the weight for age and fillies allowances from the field. Mention must also be made of Tapestry the Yorkshire Oaks winner of last year (where she beat Taghrooda) who made a highly encouraging return to the track in the Blandford Stakes.

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Of the others Flintshire returned to winning ways in America in the Sword Dancer having chased down Treve here last year. The three-year old Erupt did exactly that in his first four runs but hated the soft ground in the Prix Neil. Eagle Top was beaten a nose by Postponed in the King George who then ran a faster time than Treve in the Prix Foy. There all good horses.

As ever the Arc will produce a cracking race. Treve has to match Corrida (1936 & 1937 winner) as the only mare to win it as a five-year old. Golden Horn or New Bay on the other hand would join a long list of winning three-year old colts. Should either prevail they would be the 47th to do it. Found would be the 13th three-year old filly. History is not on Treve’s side.

The draw often is a feature in the Arc. Treve is drawn in the middle in stall 8 which means she might encounter traffic problems. Golden Horn and Found must overcome wide draws from 14 and 15.

With the pacemaker drawn in 2 New Bay breaking from stall 5 is given a considerable advantage. He can break and track the pacemaker and when she falls away take control of the race and steal a march on them. If Treve’s trapped in a pocket there’ll be serious questions asked of her turn of foot. She’ll no doubt answer and with Golden Horn, Tapestry and Found coming there too it promises to be mouth watering finish. New Bay can hold on.

Recommendations: New Bay 5/1 win 

                                        Found and Tapestry coupled on the pari mutual e/w


Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Koji Hirano

Don’t be surprised if the description of Leopardstown ground this morning, good to firm, turns to soft or even heavy by tomorrow morning. The rain in Dublin began to fall around mid afternoon on Friday. By tea time it was enough to turn the ground yielding at Leopardstown. If it continues as predicted by race time we might have had 50mm fall on the track.

Ballydoyle have been consistent in not running Gleneagles on bad ground and although push has come to shove its most likely he’ll be withdrawn. The participation of Golden Horn is also very questionable as his trainer John Gosden has said he’d let him take his chance on a surface no worse than good to soft but if the heavens opened he would walk the course before making a final committment.

If John’s gives the thumbs up after his stroll then Golden Horn will go off an even shorter favourite. His aura of invincibility was blown away at York when going down to Arabian Queen and surely it was the give in the ground that was his downfall. The Derby and Eclipse winner gave his all but that exceptional turn of foot we’d seen at Epsom and Sandown was blunted by the rain-sodden surface.

Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle could well handle it however that is still an unknown. He ran well to be third in the Champion Stakes last year on heavy ground and although it was a very good effort he couldn’t run down Nobel Mission or Al Kazeem.

If Gleneagles come out Coolmore are reliant on Found and Highland Reel. The predicament here is both of them are also fast ground horses.

Found missed the 1000 Guineas because of the ground and was sent to the Curragh to race in lesser company on heavy ground the next day (Aidan was desperate to get a run into her). She was beaten 2L by Iveagh Gardens (not seen since but due to contest the Matron Stakes later on) and then ran second to Pleascach in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She followed up with another second to Ervedya in the Coronation Stakes and a couple of weeks ago beat Answered impressively on a horrible day at the Curragh. It rained as much that day however the rain came late and didn’t get into the ground as it will here.

Highland Reel prospects of handling the surface must be as questionable as Gleneagles. We’ve seen the best of him in his last two runs. At Goodwood in the Gordan Stakes he relished the quick surface and was even happier when rattling home in the Secretariat on Arlington Million day on a rock hard track in Chicago.

Pleascach likewise restored her credentials in the Yorkshire Oaks. Her win in the 1000 Guineas was followed by a defeat by Curvy in the Ribblesdale and a below par run in the Pretty Poly a week later. At York she put that right when getting the better of Covert Love on a good to soft surface.

Last years winner The Grey Gatsby is capable of doing it again. Circumstances have not fallen his way this year however he refuses to throw in a bad run. Third at York in the International, second in the Eclipse and very unlucky not to collar Free Eagle in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes he could once again grind it out as he did last year against Australia.

The forgotten horse is the seven time G1 winner Cirrus Des Aigles. Tough as teak he added the last to his collection when he beat Al Kazeem 2L in the Prix Ganay on very soft ground in early May. He’s run once since when coming last of four in the Prix D’Ispahan (beaten 5 1/2L by Solow) on good ground in late May. He’s a horse who comes into his own in Autumn.

With no sign of an ease in the rain there really can only be one trainer enjoying wine with dinner tonight thinking I’m glad I came. If Corine Barande-Barbe has her star right, and she will, then Cirrus Des Aigles can add an Irish Champion Stakes to accompany the English one he already has. Granted he has to overcome age to make it G1 number eight but his toughness, durability and most importantly his love of the ground give him a shout here way beyond his current price. Don’t expect it to last if the top two defect.

Recommendation: Cirrus Des Aigles 11/1 win 


Juddmonte International (G1)

Gleneagles in action taking the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out in June. Picture courtesy of Charlie Crowhurst and Getty Images.

This is one of the greatest races of the year, but this year what a mouth-watering prospect.

Gleneagles the dual Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner taking on Golden Horn the unbeaten Derby and Eclipse winner. Those Guineas and Derby performances were because feet could rattle with both horses showing a distinct liking for a good surface.

Since destroying the field with an authoritative win in the Eclipse Golden Horn has had to miss his intended target The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes while Gleneagles has cried off the Sussex Stakes and Jacques Le Marois on account of soft ground.

Gleneagles the most exciting Guineas winner since Sea The Stars will take on Golden Horn the most exciting Derby winner since Sea The Stars in a race Sea The Stars won on his way to proving himself one of the greatest of all time.

The Derby winner has looked exceptional. All the doubt about his ability to stay the mile and a half at Epsom proved unfounded and he duly followed up in the Eclipse when tackling 10 f for the first time, a distance his owner believes he’s best bred for. John Gosden has supplemented Dick Doughtywylie to ensure an even pace for the favourite while David Elsworth lets Arabian Queen take her chance after a good third in the Nassau Stakes.

Gleneagles will have his stamina stretched to full capacity to get the trip as he’s looked at absolute genuine miler to date. Aidan O’Brien has described it as a very sporting that the lads have let him take his chance and so it is. The team also send Cougar Mountain in to bat once more but it’s likely he’ll set the fraction’s for Gleneagles.

The key to both the front two is fast ground and with both most unlikely to see a racecourse as four-year olds time and opportunity is fast running out for them to achieve their owners ambitions.

Time Testa late developing three-year old will represent the sponsors in the Juddmonte colours with Pat Smullen booked to ride. He was a very easy winner of the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot under Frankie Dettori and he was immediately nominated for this.

The older genertion standard is set by the Grey Gatsby. Kevin Ryan’s charge proved himself top class last year in winning the French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes and was mighty unluckily when beaten a short head by Free Eagle at Royal Ascot however he was no match for Golden Horn at Sandown last time out.

Criterion has yet too light up the northern sky but he’s a triple G1 winner at home down under. He was beaten 3 3/4 L in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on his sole British start so to feature here he needs to step up considerably. He could yet be hard nosed Australia.

His presence does show racing is ever now on an upward international curve it would be some prospect if the best American three-year old could also in the future turn up at York. Last years top three-year old California Chrome was only denied a run at this year’s Royal Ascot through injury and he had proven himself as well as being a top dirt performer also a turf performer as a three-year old.

York’s Ebor meeting sit’s nicely in the calendar for the Juddmonte to be an attractive alternative to either the Haskell Invitational or Sartoga’s Travers Stakes for American owners and trainers.A win here could culminate in an Arc bid. American Pharaoh’s win in the Haskell showed him to be improving and it was his best run to date, a step up on all three triple crown wins. Imagine if he did that at York against Golden Horn and Gleneagles.

How exciting would that be for racing?

This is likely to become a battle of the three- year olds up the long Knavsmire straight. Dick Doughtywylie will fall away with the tempo being kept on the boil to the mile pole by Cougar Mountain. In the last two furlongs Time Test will try to pull away but he’ll have to be some horse to do that against the three coming at him. I expect The Grey Gatsby to crack first but it will be later than he did in the Eclipse and this will leave the last 1/2 furlong to be a battle royal between the Derby and Guineas winner’s.

The sporting gesture by the lads might just Sea The Stars.

Recommendation : Gleneagles 5/1 win

With the course receiving 14mm of rain in the last 24 hours there is now some doubt about the participation of Gleneagles. Aidan has let him travel to York and he will walk the course before a final decision is made. Fingers crossed.

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