Category Archives: England

The Challenge Stakes (G2)

True Valour at Leopardstown in August

Recommendation: True Valour 25/1 ew

The G1 Fillies Mile is the main event with the G2 Challenge Stakes acting as support on what is a cracking card on this the opening day of the Future Champions Day Festival at Newmarket.

It has attracted four Irish entries, Rehana, Gordon Lord Byron, True Valour and Cougar Mountain.

If one is to win they’ll have to beat a home team headed by Limato. He has not hit the heights he did last year when winning the July Cup and Prix de la Foret and he comes here on the back of a below par run in the Lennox Stakes in early August in what it has to be said has been a below par season.

When he took the July Cup last year he beat Suedois a comfortable 2 L s and in France in The Foret he had him back in third beating him an even more comfortable 3 L s that time. Suedios went to America last weekend and won the Shadwell Turf Mile one of the premier turf races on the American pattern calendar.

Before that Suedois was in Ireland where he won The Enterprise Stakes, the form of which is working out very well. He beat Johnny Murtagh’s True Valour a 1/2 L on that occasion, who’d gone off an unconsiderd 25/1 shot with Phsychedelic Funk back in third and Sir John Lavery back in fourth.

Phsychedelic Funk has won since and Sir John Lavery was second in the Joel Stakes.

The Enterprise was a real step up for Johnny’s colt and if he can match that now dropping down in trip to 7 F he can present a real alternative to the favourite. Again he’s unconsidered and available at 25/1.

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The Park Stakes (G2)

 

Peace Envoy at Naas before the Tetrarch Stakes

Peace Envoy is a big price today at Doncaster for the Park Stakes over 7f.

He’s a three-year old running against older horses, something he did for the first time in the Minstrel Stakes last time out at the Curragh in July over this trip.

On that occasion like today he had Seamie Heffernan on his back. He raced at the back of the field and Seamie quietly brought up the inner. At the two furlong pole he was tracking the subsequent winner his stable companion Spirit Of Valour who also runs today. When they quickened he was slightly caught for toe and the gap in front of him closed. Within a couple of strides his chance was gone and Seamie had no choice but to pull him up for fear he would come down. Chance gone.

As a juvenile he’d had a few very good run’s beating King Electric on debut, probably Ger Lyons best three-year old this year, and running second in the Railway Stakes to another Ger Lyons inmate Medicine Jack.

This year as a three-year old he made his comeback on bank holiday Monday at Naas in the Tetrarch Stakes with Ryan Moore in the plate. He got no run when boxed in on the rail. He then went to the French Guineas where he got no luck in running with Ryan unable to get a gap having to switch him a number of times but to no avail.

Next time out in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile again he wore headgear. He was lit up from the gate carrying his head awkwardly refusing to settle and his race was over by halfway.

Clearly he’s considered highly at home bearing in mind where they’ve sent him and he’s one that Seamie has been sweet on. He’s no doubt got an engine and this trip of seven furlongs might just be his optimum.

If he settles today and gets a clean run, at 28/1 he’s worth backing.

Recommendation: Peace Envoy 28/1 ew

 

 

Juddmonte International Stakes (G1)

Embed from Getty Images

Churchill beating Barney Roy in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in May. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

It’s always a mouth-watering prospect.

This year even with only seven runners the Juddmonte International which always asks questions, asks the primary one, will Churchill get the trip of 10f? If he does will he be good enough to see off the opposition?

Let’s deal with the opposition first.

Barney Roy already has the scalp of Churchill. He overturned his Guineas run when second to Churchill by comprehensively beating him when they met over a mile in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was then stepped up in trip to this distance in the Coral Eclipse last month when Ulysses sprang somewhat of a surprise to beat him a nose. Another stride would have seen Barney Roy come out on top. You can see why Richard Hannon says he’s the best he’s trained.

Sir Michael Stoute is a master with older horses and in Ulysses he has an animal who accentuates his ability perfectly. He mightn’t be noted for great patience with the media but with horses he has that in abundance. As a three-year old Ulysses offered promise but he couldn’t hit the notes required to sing at top-level. The win in the Eclipse saw him capture his first Group 1 and now his trainer who has won this five times in the past, asks him to win another. If he does he’ll follow in the footsteps of Shardari in 1986, Ezzoud in 1993 and Notnocato in 2006 who were all four-year old’s when they won it for Sir Michael. Ezzoud returned to defend it in 1994 as five year old and Singspiel also won it as a five year old in 1997.

Decorated Knight has benefited from the move from Roger to Roger. Formerly with Roger Varian he moved to Roger Charlton at the beginning of last year. He’s already contested five Group 1’s this year winning two of them. At Meydan in March he took the Jebel Hatta, the prep for the Dubai Turf. He fell short on bad ground in the main event in the Middle East but bounced back in May to take the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland. A second to Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales’s was followed by a sixth in the Eclipse.

Shutter Speed is the only filly in the field after her trainer decided to keep Enable, the best three old around, for the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday. John Gosden’s three-year old benefits from the weight for age allowance as well as the sex allowance and being the least experienced she’ll certainly need both if she is to prevail. This will only be her fifth start. She won her first three but was 1 1/2L off Senga in the Prix de Diane in June. Senga didn’t frank the form when getting beaten at Deauville last week.

My Dream Boat will be the outsider in the field but let’s not forget he beat Found, last years Arc winner, in 2016’s Prince of Wales’s. He has not hit those heights since.

Cliffs Of Moher is nearly the forgotten horse in the line up. This year’s Derby runner-up went off favourite in the Eclipse on the back of his Epsom exploits but could only manage fourth at Sandown. You could say that was a disappointment or alternatively view it as a super performance considering he nearly came down after three furlongs.

The Eclipse form is strong, Eminent fifth at Sandown has come out and won the Prix Guliiaume d’Ornano at Deauville last week. That’s a boost for the Derby form also and on balance gives Cliffs Of Moher the edge at this distance where he deserves another chance.

Is he good enough to beat Churchill?

Churchill was champion two-year old year and is a dual Guineas winner this year yet he has something to prove. He must turn around the lacklustre run at Royal Ascot and handle the step up in trip.

That’s the question. There’s no doubt Aidan O’Brien holds both his colts in high esteem but it’s evident listening to him it’s Churchill who is the apple of his eye. His may well be matched for speed by Barney Roy but what about his stamina. There’s no question on that score for Cliffs Of Moher but is he good enough to beat both Ulysses and Barney Roy over this trip?

So many questions but back to the primary one. Will Churchill get the trip? He finished strongly at Newmarket and the Curragh suggesting he will.

If he does he wins.

Recommendations: Churchill 10/3 win

                                          Churchill, Cliffs Of Moher RFC

 

 

 

 

The Sussex Stakes (G1)

Aidan and Donnacha in conversation with Lancaster Bomber being led away after his maiden win at Leopardstown last August.

 

Nine go to post with Ribchester and Churchill providing the duel in the downs. Ribchester heads the market as an even money shot with Churchill priced up at 2/1.

It’s a fair reflection that the rest of the field trade at 9/1 or better.

Ribchester has gone from strength to strength since running third in this last year. He went to Deauville after that and won the Jacques Le Marois. This year he’s won with authoritative performances the Lockinge and The Queen Anne. His trainer say’s he’s matured and now settle’s in his races. In the Lockinge he led from the front and in The Queen Anne he came from off the pace. He’s a very good four-year old and a win here will see stamp him as the best miler around today.

Churchill looked to be heading to take that mantel before blotting his copybook in the St James’s Palace Stakes last time out at Royal Ascot. Up to that point he’d built on a quality juvenile career where he’d won the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes before adding both the Guineas and Irish Guineas to his CV in this his classic year. He hasn’t been flashy, he had been reliable always doing enough to see off his rivals. Then at Ascot he ran flat as a pancake never picking up to challenge the leaders trailing in a well beaten forth.

Aidan O’Brien has never been able to identify what happened, nothing came back to suggest there was anything wrong with him. All that can be said was it was just an off day, nothing more. He now meets his elders for the first time and does so with a valuable 7 lbs weight for age allowance, the same as his stable companion Lancaster Bomber who finished in front of him for the first time at Ascot.

He can’t afford to have an off day, today he must produce his best day if he is to beat Ribchester. The depth of his form say’s he can do it.

With three to be placed Lancaster Bomber can again outrun his odds and run into a place.

Recommendation : Churchill 2/1 win

                                         Lancaster Bomber 28/1 ew