Category Archives: G1

Aidan O’Brien and the Bobby Frankel World Record (G1)

Aidan O’Brien in the ring at Leopardstown

The bookmakers are offering 5/2 about Aidan O’Brien breaking Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group 1/Grade 1 victories in one year which was set in 2003.

Across the world there’s been 183 G1’s run so far this year.

Aidan has won 14 of them giving him an overall strike rate of 8%.

There’s 125 G1’s left to be run this year, 40% of the overall total, so to do it he’ll have to up his strike rate to 10% to break the record.

In that context you’d say 5/2 is probably a skinny price but maybe it’s not too far off the mark either when you consider the brilliance of the man himself and the team behind him. When you consider the power of the Ballydoyle operation, the depth in quantity and more importantly the quality of the horses at his disposal, just the sheer size of the operation means it’s possible.

It’s not probable.

Let’s examine the chances in the context of the G1 contests left that he can challenge for.

Ireland will sign off it’s Group 1 season running the last 5 of it’s 12 G1’s over this Champions Weekend. England have 12 G1’s left, France another 12 with Germany providing a further 2 opportunities and Italy 1 more. That’s 32 G1’s left in Europe.

So if he were to do it running in Europe then the required strike rate would be 38%. Now that’s looking a lot tougher especially when you consider he’ll unlikely have runners in all the remaining races.

Ballydoyle had a team of 14 engaged at Chantilly this Sunday but have decided not to declare anything for either the Prix Vermeille or Prix Du Moulin, the two G1’s which are the centrepiece of a terrific card in France so maybe a third of these European opportunities can be ruled out. This pushes the required strike rate to 54%.

There are other opportunities across the globe.

In America there’s 43 G1’s to be run, 28 on dirt and 15 on turf including 6 at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar in November. In Australia there’s 29 and in Japan there’s 12. Canada has 5 and Hong Kong offer’s another 4 opportunities.

Realistically in the States it is only the Breeders Cup that will provide chances and conceivably Aidan could contest all 6 turf races plus the Breeders Cup Classic on Dirt. In Australia there’s a possibility of 3 if you include the The Cox Plate, The Melbourne Cup and Mackinnon Stakes. In Canada he could contest 4 and in Hong Kong in December chances are they would be no more than 2 opportunities.

When you add up the opportunities, you’re talking about 44/46 range that Aidan could possibly contest. 12 wins then will require a strike rate of 26%. 5/2 doesn’t look so attractive now.

It’s more likely now Bobby Frankel’s record will never now be broken.

To do so requires a level of dominance in a sport which at the top-level is ultra competitive. Aidan O’Brien is best placed to do it but even with the depth of Ballydoyle resources it’s still more impossible than possible.

It’s conceivable he could capture all 5 of the domestic G1’s on offer this weekend as he’ll likely have a favourites chance in all of them. If he did win them all it would bring his tally to 19 sending the bookmakers into overdrive to slash him to odds on to achieve the feat but he’s never done that before, won the last 5 G1’s in Ireland, that in itself is an outlandish feat.

So it can’t be done. Unless.

Unless they targeted Japan. Highland Reel, Seventh Heaven or both could take in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), The Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Cup, The Mile Championship and The Japan Cup, all on turf spaced over 4 weeks beginning the end of October. That’s makes the required strike rate 24%, still highly unlikely but wouldn’t it be something if Aidan was to release his genius out east.

He mightn’t break the record but it would be some achievement to win a Breeders Cup race and a Japan Cup this autumn.

Recommendation: Lay Aidan O’Brien to break Bobby Frankel’s Record.

PS. Paddy Power have just quoted 2/7 for AOB not to break the record.

 

 

 

 

 

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The July Cup (Group 1)

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Caravaggio wins the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Mike Hewitt.

Caravaggio is a ball of speed.

Rumors suggest he’s clocked 47 miles per hour over 2 furlongs on the gallops at Ballydoyle. Aidan O’Brien has confirmed he’s the quickest they’ve had ever at home and today against the older brigade he put’s his unbeaten record on the line. Should he win he will extend that run to seven.

Should he win in the style he’s capable of it will be no surprise if it’s his last run.

Coolmore will surely be very tempted to retire him to fill the hole left in their stallion rooster by the untimely death of his father Scat Daddy. His value of a stallion will far exceed any winnings he might pick up in the future on the racecourse.

As fans it will be our loss. The three year old middle distance division might look a bit muddled this year, that’s something that can’t be said about the sprinters.

Harry Angel’s connections won’t be complaining should Caravaggio be called ashore after this. They’ve a seriously good sprinter on their hands and without Caravaggio around he’ll shine brightly. All that said he was flattered to be only 3/4 L behind Caravaggio at Ascot. The other three year old in the field is Intelligence Cross who will set the fractions for the favourite.

The older brigade is headed by Limato who put in his best display when winning this last year as a four old. Since then he’s won the Prix de la Foret over 7 F at Chantilly however he was beaten over the minimum 5 f trip in the Nunthorpe at York last year and failed to see out the mile at the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita. This year the yielding ground beat him at Meydan on his comeback and he was then a fair third in the Diamond Jubilee when The Tin Man and Tasleet got the better of him. Both reoppose here.

That was a big turnaround for The Tin Man as Tasleet had 6 1/4 L to spare over him on their previous meeting in the Duke Of York Stakes at York in May. His trainer James Fanshawe says he doesn’t do that well in the spring. He likes summer and also the autumn as he showed when he won the Champions Sprint at Ascot last year when he beat Growl and Brando. Both the latter two will have to put in career best’s to be involved here. The same can be said of Mr Lupton and Intisaab.

Michael Tabor part owner of Caravaggio said when discussing his chances that Aidan O’Brien doesn’t say it for the sake of it, he really thinks Caravaggio is something special. An opinion that is backed up by the clock on the run at Ascot. He feels he’s every bit as good as Ballydoyle’s great sprinters of the past Stravinsky and Mozart who both won this as three year old’s.

It might be the last time we’ll see him, the performance could be that special.

Recommendation: Caravaggio 11/10 win

 

 

 

 

 

The Irish Derby (Group 1)

Taj Mahal at Leopardstown last year

Sport can sometimes be cruel.

Last week Peter O’Mahony was the Lions captain. This week he watch’s the match from the sidelines. Padraig Beggy will also watch from the sidelines after winning the Epsom Derby on Wings Of Eagles. He is replaced by Ballydoyle’s number one pilot, Ryan Moore.

He was no fluke winner of the Epsom Derby.

Ae we noted in the Epsom Derby blog he showed a turn of foot in the Chester Vase when second to Venice Beech. That was repeated when he collared Cliffs Of Moher and Crackman at Epsom. Cliffs Of Moher waits for next week’s Eclipse but Cracksman comes back for another crack at Wings Of Eagles. The noises from the Gosden camp are positive and they are looking forward to the rematch. Their thinking being their colt having only had his third run of his life will improve. Wings Of Eagles will be having his seventh run. Is he still improving?

The Derby form got a great boost at Royal Ascot with both Benbatl (5th at Epsom) winning the Hampton Court Stakes where he beat Orderofthegarter a 1/2 L and Periman (10th at Epsom) winning the King Edward V11 Stakes where he beat Khalidi (14th at Epsom).

Capri, Douglas Macarthur and The Anvil also represented Ballydoyle at Epsom. Capri was disappointing running sixth running on at same pace with Douglas Macarthur 1 L behind in seventh. Seamie Heffernan retains the ride on Capri, a horse he’s been sweet on since his first run. The suspicion now is he shows more at home than he does on the track.

Douglas Macarthur who probably does show us as much on the track as he does at home will be ridden by Donnacha O’Brien as Colm O’Donoghue is claimed for Grandee as retained rider to the Jessica Harrington stable. He will have to improve a ton to win this on the back of a listed win at Leopardstown, the good news was that that was over 1M4F so he’ll stay.

Dubai Sand also has a mountain to climb on ratings if he is to win having been beaten 9 L by Douglas Macarthur in the Derrinstown Derby Trial in May. He’ll be the freshest horse here.

Ana O’Brien will again get a spin on The Anvil. At Epsom Douglas Macarthur broke well and took it up joined by Ana on The Anvil. The pace they set was searing and soon they were well clear of the field. Rounding Tattenham corner Wings Of Eagles was a long way back running third last. Douglas Macarthur up front was piling on the pressure. He soon burnt off The Anvil and when Cracksman came to his hindquarters 2 F out he began to fold. Outside of Cracksman Cliffs Of Moher was attacking under Ryan Moore. It looked between the two of them. All the while in behind Padraig Beggy was getting a tune out of Wings Of Eagles. He easily picked up a tiring field and as the line loomed he swooped late to overhaul his stable companion and Cracksman. Turn of foot, job done.

Andre Farbe, who won this in 2005 with Hurricane Run, has elected to send Waidgest here on the back of his excellent second in the French Derby where Brametot beat him a short head. Taj Mahal ran a cracker staying on to be fourth 1 1/2 L behind the winner with Orderogthegarter back in sixth. This was reversed in the Hampton Court when Orderogthegarter ran second to Benbatl with Taj Mahal again filling fourth.

The form link suggests Epsom was the better race than Chantilly.

There’s every reason to think Waidgeist will benefit from the step up in trip from the 1M2F Prix Du Jockey Club to the 1M4F here. Cracksman you would expect will improve from his Epsom run also. So too will Wings Of Eagles. This time Ryan Moore will call the tune. It’s the turn of foot that will deliver.

Recommendation: Wing Of Eagles 9/4 win

                                      Wing Of Eagles, Cracksman, Waidgeist Combined Trifecta 

 

The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)

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Caravaggio winning the Coventry Stakes last year. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Julian Herbert.

Caravaggio comes here looking to extend his unbeaten run to six.

His introduction to the racecourse was at Dundalk last year where you could see immediately he was something special. He followed up in the Marble Hill Stakes before coming to prominence when winning the Coventry Stakes here last year.

We only saw him once again as a juvenile when he took the G1 Keenland Stakes where he was returned as the 1/8F. That was his best performance to date. He glided across the ground winning effortlessly. A set back meant the end of his season and we had to wait until this year to see him again.

That came in the Lacken Stakes at Naas a month ago. Again he was imperious. When Ryan Moore pulled him out and asked him to quicken his trust of speed was immediate and in a matter of strides it was over and the job of pulling him up had begun.

He’s all speed inherited from his father Scat Daddy who himself was a son of Johannesburg, a very quick two-year old for Aidan O’Brien in the early noughties.

Two very good English horses oppose him in Harry Angel and Blue Point.

Harry Angel trained by Clive Cox, who won the Queen Mary yesterday, has been purchased by Godolphin and will wear the blue cap. He has mixed his four runs with two wins and two seconds. First time out last year at Ascot he was beaten a nose. Then he was thrown into the deep end for the G2 Mill Reef Stakes where he duly obliged by a cosy 2 1/2 L.

Godolphin also own Blue Point. He’s more experienced than the other two, this will be his eighth start. He’s won four including last years G2 Gimcrack Stakes. He was beaten by The Last Lion when stepped up to G1 level in the Middle Park Stakes and again in the Dewhurst when he was third to Churchill. After that the sprinting route looked the more likely option.

His return to the track came back here at Ascot in May for the Pavillion Stakes. He went off favourite and he got the better of Harry Angel easily. That was Harry Angel’s second defeat. He returned to the winners enclosure next time out in the G2 Sandy Lane Stakes where he was a very easy winner.

There’s also another unknown quantity in the race, Wesley Ward’s Bound For Nowhere. He’s had two runs at home in America, the first at Turfway Park where he was an easy winner and the second in an allowance race at Keenland where again he did it easy. There’s no telling how good the form is but he won pillar to post so you can expect him to break quick today.

The fact that the challenge from the Godolphin pair is so good means Carraviggo is a reasonable price at a shade of odds on. He could be exceptional even by Ballydoyle standards.

Naas racecourse will be very happy if Alpha Centauri trained by Jessica Harrington does the business in the Albany. She’s won both her races there. She put in a cracking trial at listed level the same day Caravaggio won and she’s a worthy favourite in the opening contest, the Albany.

Recommendation :

The Commonwealth Cup : Caravaggio 10/11 win

The Albany Stakes: Alpha Centauri 11/4 win

                                     Double on both