Category Archives: G1

Irish Champions Weekend (G1)

It could be an exceptional day for the Niarchos Family.

The owners of both Alpha Centauri and Study Of Man may end the day celebrating having the best three year old filly and best three year old colt in the world, on turf at least.

The Matron Stakes (G1)

Alpha Centauri after her win in the Irish 1000 Guineas at the Curragh in May

Jessica Harrington’s filly began her sequence of mile win’s with the Irish 1000 Guineas in May followed by the Coronation Stakes in June and Falmouth Stakes in July. She improved with each run and last time out in the Jacques le Marois in August she was mighty impressive when she beat Recoletos who has since franked the form in no uncertain terms by winning the G1 Prix de Moulin at Lonchamp last week.

Happily, Clemmie, Magical and Lightening Quick are the other Irish contenders. It’s hard to see any of them upsetting the favourite as she’s beaten Happily and Clemmie at the Curragh with the latter also suffering defeat at Ascot and Newmarket as well. Happily has got the closest to her and a win or place for any of the Ballydoyle trio will cement Aidan O’Brien’s position at the top of PRWC 2018 Trainers Table.

Happily 27th July 2017 at Leopardstown

Magical has yet to take her on and Ryan Moore has opted for her over the other two. He may expect she’ll improve the most as she’s only had the two runs this year winning the Kilboy Estates Stakes last time out. She can be expected to improve again for that.

Johnny Murtagh will hope Lightening Quick can repeat the feat of winning as she did this day last year when trained by Ger Lyons for the Ballylinch Stud Maiden, the opening race on the card. This granted is a bit thougher.

Lightening Quick who won the first this day last year

Laurens, a dual G1 winner over 10f in France steps back to a mile, a distance she last ran at when second behind Billesdon Brooke in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket. It’s a bold step having tried a mile and a half in the Yorkshire Oaks where she didn’t stay the trip. Dan’s Dream accompanies her from England having already been a visitor when running second at listed level at Tipperary last time.

Jessica Harrington has done a fabulous job with Alpha Centauri, her pride and joy. She has got her confidence to grow and grow throughout the season and she’s treated us to better and more authoritative performances each time she’s run.

There’s a tiny doubt about her on slow ground, it’s been a showery day in Dublin today, and she was beaten here on her first run of the year on heavy ground. Whatever the ground her class will tell, at least enough to see her out with Happily the one to chase her home.

A win here will see her top PRWC 2018 Horse Table though she’ll probably be sharing top spot with Winx when she win’s the George Main Stakes at Ranwick in the morning.

Recommendation: Alpha Centauri, Happily (Exacta) 

The Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

Study Of Man also looked a proper horse in the making in the spring when winning the Prix Greffulhe as a prep for the Prix du Jockey Club.

At Chantilly he didn’t disappoint winning it snugly.

He was given a summer break and brought back in August for a G2 at Deauville where on the face of it he did disappoint running fourth however in hindsight it looked a decent effort and his jockey Stephane Pasquier who’ll be having his first ride at Leopardstown reports him in top order expecting he’ll come on an awful lot for the run.

John Gosden saddles the favourite, trading slightly odds on, Roaring Loin was impressive at York in the Juddmonte where he easily had the measure of Poets Word. The second had a difficult passage but in truth the loin had roared and was long gone and there was no chance he would have been reeled in.

Ballydoyle send a quartet of G1 winners headed by Saxon Warrior. The Guineas winner has not hit the heights expected after Newmarket and could not get to Roaring Loin last time out at York in the International. There had only been a neck between them at Sandown in the Eclipse but at York Roaring Loin had extended that to 5L. Deauville, Athena, Rhododendron also run with the best of them possibly the latter.

Willie Haggas sends Addeybb over having already plundered G1 riches here this season with Sea Of Class and Urban Fox. This is tricker.

Verbal Dexterity makes up the line up, Jim Bolger’s horse is the forgotten one having won the National Stakes last year he missed the early season through injury but did make a pleasing comeback when fourth in G3 at the Curragh recently. If he can show that kind of form again he could well be a force to be reckoned with.

A cracking days racing to open Champions Weekend. Alpha Centauri will likely be crowned Queen of Ireland in the Matron while in a fascinating Champion Stakes Roaring Loin and Study Of Man will both lay claims to being the best middle distance colt of this generation. Preference is for Study Of Man who could yet become King Of France if he adds this on route to the Arc.

Recommendation: Study Of Man 10/1 win and Verbal Dexterity 20/1 ew

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Juddmonte International Stakes (Group 1)

Poets Word last year at Leopardstown

This is the best race of the season to date. Full of intrigue.

Poets Word rightly heads the market trading at 6/4. He’s been the star middle distance performer this season. His second last year in the Irish Champion Stakes marked him out as something to look forward too this year. He matched that placing in the spring at Meyden in the Dubai Sheema Classic before taking the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot beating Cracksman and then winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, again at Ascot, beating stablemate Crystal Ocean in a hard fought battle.

Against him are the current classic crop.

Saxon Warrior the Guineas winner found 12f beyond him at Epsom when running fourth in the Derby and likewise at the Curragh he didn’t stay when finishing third. A week later he was stepped back in trip to 10f for the Eclipse where he was involved another cracker with Roaring Loin who just came out on top by a neck, the Gosden colt having previously run second in the Derby.

Joseph O’Brien’s Latrobe was the beneficiary of a muddling pace when taking the Irish Derby however that was not his fault and he was there to capitalise when others couldn’t. The step back in trip here will be interesting given his profile suggests he was more likely to be considered a Leger candidate and ultimately a Melbourne Cup one. He did show pace at the Curragh.

Godolphin who head Coolmore in the PRWC 18 Owners championship are represented by a pair of four-year olds in Benbatl and Thunder Snow. Both had a four race campaign at Meyden in the spring culminating in wins in the Dubai Turf over 9f for Benbatl and Dubai World Cup on dirt over this trip for Thunder Snow. Benbati did disappoint in the Queen Anne when stepped back to a mile but bounced back to winning ways in a Group 1 in Germany, the Grosser Dallmayr Preis over 10f. Thunder Snow makes his European seasonal debut here after a good break.

Without Parole was very nearly the talking horse of the year. He missed the Guineas in the spring and was instead aimed at the St James’s Palace Stakes where he duly obliged justifying favouritism. He went to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes where again going off favourite he finished down the field in seventh. He’s entitled to bounce back as at Ascot he looked top class.

Thundering Blue is the only one who hasn’t won a Group 1 yet however he has shown a real liking for this course having finished second in a John Smiths Cup and winning the G2 Sky Bet York Stakes here last time out.

This race promises much. Poets Word has been, as we have come to expect from older horses in the care of Sir Michael Stoute, a model of improvement and consistency. In his last two run’s he displayed his class when beating Cracksman and his heart in beating Crystal Ocean. Equally Roaring Loin has worn his heart on his sleeve at both Epsom and at Sandown.

Saxon Warrior looked a cut above the rest at Newmarket in the Guineas and maybe the Eclipse came a bit soon after the Irish Derby. He’s had a break now however the Ballydoyle form is a worry. Latrobe can he continue to surprise, he is in the hands of someone who knows a thing or two about it or can John Gosden get Without Parole back on track. Can Godolphin’s march this season continue? They do come here with a Dubai World Cup winner.

Intrigue aplenty even without Cracksman and Enable. Who’ll comes out on top.

Over this trip, possibly short of Poets Word ideal and giving weight to the three-year old’s, a healthy Saxon Warrior might just slay him and Roaring Loin. He’s had a break something he didn’t have the last time they met at Sandown.

Incidentally a win for Poets Word or Benbati could see either go second in the PWRC 18 Horse championships.

Recommendation: Saxon Warrior 11/2 win

The Eclipse Stakes (Group 1)

Happily 27th July 2017 at Leopardstown

The news broke just after six last night that Masar was out of the Eclipse due to his off-fore becoming inflamed after a knock at exercise. It’s a blow to the race to lose the Derby winner so late in the day however there was another surprise this week, the news that Saxon Warrior would run despite having had an outing only last Saturday in the Irish Derby at the Curragh where he finished a weary third over the mile and half trip.

The horse who looked so good over a mile in the Guineas is sent on a retrieval mission, he must have some constitution.

He’s accompanied by Cliffs Of Moher who ran here last year but was well beaten. In eleven visits to the racecourse since his Epsom Derby second of 2017 he’s only managed one win. He looked to be gradually regaining his confidence when second to Lancaster Bomber in the Tattersalls Gold Cup but since he’s been beaten twice at Royal Ascot.

Happily, Aidan O’Brien’s other runner form has been slightly disappointing this year. She was outstanding as a juvenile beating Masar in France’s premier two-old race, the Jean-Luc Lagardere last year. She went off favourite for both English and Irish 1000 Guineas and was third in both over the mile. She stepped up to this trip for the Prix de Diane finishing a close fourth behind Laurens. Now she benefits from both the age and sex allowance here which could be crucial.

Roaring Loin’s best run to date was in the Dante at York over this trip however those he beat have all run poorly since. In the Derby he was outstayed by Dee Ex Bee for second who was subsequently disappointing at the Curragh.

Hawkbill won this in fine style in 2016 and had a very good spring this year winning twice at Meyden including beating Poets Word in the Sheema Classic. That form has not been replicated on his return to England, he finished tailed off in the Coronation Cup and was again well beaten by Poets Word in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Forest Ranger has been a revelation this year winning his two runs both times beating Ballydoyle inmates. He beat Deauville and War Decree but again the form has not been franked.

Raymond Tusk is asked to do the near impossible, step up on two previous racecourse appearances where he won his maiden and was second in a Novice Stakes. It will be the shock of the season should he do so.

This is the first meeting of the generations, the first time the classic generation are tested against their older brethren at Group 1 level. To date this classic generation have been disappointing. With the exception of Study Of Man, the French Derby winner, no horse has stamped authority over their peers. Are they a poor crop?

Today will tell us more.

Saxon Warrior could find the kick he had in the Guineas, he could once again be the one to ooze class. Over the longer trip he’s bred for, he looked ordinary. Roaring Loin’s is probably best at 10f but he beat nothing of note in the Dante. Forest Ranger could be the surprise act but he’s yet to prove himself at top level.

Of the older horses only Hawkbill can genuinely be considered proven however his form in Europe has been less than distinguished since he conquered here two years ago.

That leaves us with Happily. She’s benefitting from the weight of age and sex allowance and her run in France, only beaten a 1/2 L by Laurens was a good one given the winner was winning her second G1 of the season. Added to her excellent juvenile form she looks the one to beat.

Recommendation: Happily 5/1 win

 

 

The Irish Derby (Group 1)

The Pentagon on his way out to win the Tyros Stakes last July

A field of twelve go to post for the Irish Derby with Ballydoyle supplying four of the entries headed by Saxon Warrior who will go off the odds on favourite quoted at 4/5. He’s on a retrieval mission having flopped at Epsom where he couldn’t justify the favourite’s tag after his scintillating performance in the 2000 Guineas. Dee Ex Bee who ran second to Masar at Epsom is priced up as the 7/2 second favourite.

Stay and he’ll win was the call of the day at Epsom for Saxon Warrior but stay, well it appeared he didn’t, instead labouring home in fourth. There was no after burner, no turn of foot, no sudden burst of acceleration as there had been in his previous run’s. When he rounded Tattenham Corner the warning signs were there, Ryan Moore was having difficulty keeping position and as they came into the straight Dee Ex Bee was travelling by far the sweeter of the pair and he stayed on resolutely to be second. Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon trailed in sixth and eighth respectively with Knight To Behold fading to eleventh having led into the straight.

Delano Roosevelt went on to Ascot for The King Edward V11 Stakes, affectionately known as the Ascot Derby, but he couldn’t justify favouritism there when beaten 4 L by Godolphin’s Old Persian. He was upped in class from Listed level and he took it all in his stride to put in a good performance and win cosily. He has been supplemented to represent the team here as they’ve decided to target Masar at the The Eclipse next week. Rostropovich ran on well to be second.

Platium Warrior goes for Mick Halford. He ran fourth in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial behind The Pentagon and Delano Roosevelt and then won the Gallinule Stakes here a month ago getting the better of Joseph O’Brien’s Latrobe by 2 L in the process. Latrobe went on to break his maiden here over this trip three weeks ago.

Dermot Weld’s Bandua is unbeaten in two run’s. He’s asked to make a massive  step up in class but he may well be capable of it. He won his maiden in April at Cork impressively by a wide margin from Arthurian Fame and followed up at Cork again in early May winning easily again. Both win’s were on soft ground but he may well prefer a quicker surface. The form was given a nice boost by Dawn Hoofer, 16 L behind him in the second Cork race, when he won the Apprentice Derby here last night.

Carlo Biraghi form ties in with Bandua as he won his maiden when beating Arthurian Fame by 3 L but he didn’t match the effort when fifth at Listed level last time out. Jim Bolger’s Theobald makes up the numbers having failed to match the potential he showed in his first three runs as a juvenile.

In the build up to this race Ballydoyle have been quiet about Saxon Warrior. That might signal a certain nervousness or alternatively the view may well be the horse will do the talking.

Like everybody else we thought he would hack up at Epsom but he failed to fire. Post race Aidan O’Brien felt he had been distracted, in awe of the experience, failing to concentrate and he simply ran green. If Aidan’s right it’s likely he’ll have got the greenness out of him and if so he could win here however the jury is still out on whether he truly stays the mile and half trip and this stiff Curragh track will one way or the other find him out. At the price he’s too short to back given the questions the Epsom run has posed.

There are good each way alternative’s.

The later developing three year old’s are of interest. Charlie Appleby’s Old Persian could make the supplementary worthwhile, he beat Gronkowski as a juvenile who ran so well to be second to Justify in the Belmont Stakes. Dermot Weld’s rank outsider Bandua could well belie the 50/1 odds on offer now. On debut he has 23 L to spare over Giuseppe Garibaldi who was then 2 L behind Old Persian at Royal Ascot.

Recommendations: Old Persian 14/1 ew 

                                          Bandua 50/1 ew