Category Archives: Group 1

The Melbourne Cup (G1)

Recommendation: Johannes Vermeer 11/1 win

Johannes Vermeer with Minding following at Naas in May

Johannes Vermeer made his seasonal debut at Naas this year running fourth to the wonderful Minding. Injury forced her retirement after winning the G2 Mooresbridge Stakes. Alas we didn’t see her again but we have the prospect of Johannes Vermeer winning the Melbourne Cup, to a great deal of people the most coveted of all races in the world.

Johannes Vermeer was a G1 winner as a two-year old when he took the Criterium International at Saint Cloud in France in November 2015.  Injury meant his three-year old season was curtailed to just one run when at the end of the year in October he ran third in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien kept him for a four-year old campaign and that decision has been rewarded with a trip down under for the Melbourne Cup. He’s changed ownership for this transferring to the Williams family as has US Army Ranger who is now under the tutelage of son Joseph O’Brien. Jospeh’s other runner Rekindling likewise transferred offers most to fear here. There’s a lot to like about him and his fourth in the St Leger behind Capri is outstanding form coming into this race.

Back to Johannes Vermeer, two G1 outings followed the Nass run. The Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He never threatened but he wasn’t beaten that far going down less than 5 L’s on both occasions.

In early July he was then dropped in class for a confidence booster and duly obliged when beating a very good horse in Success Days in the G3 International Stakes on Irish Derby day.

In early August he was then beaten a 1/2 L by stable companion Spanish Steps in the G3 Ballyroan Stakes. The loss wasn’t unexpected judging by the betting that night and while Spanish Steps might have had his day in the sun you can quite conceivably see that a plan was hatched for Johannes Vermeer to go to Melbourne after that performance.

In mid October he made his Australian debut in the G1 Caulfield Stakes where he was an unconsidered outsider going off at 30/1. He ran a cracker to just be denied a head by Galio Chop.

A week later he went off favourite for the much bigger Caulfield Cup when in an interrupted run when boxed in on the rail he couldn’t get out in time.  He finished third. This was a case of full of horse with nowhere to go. He ate what was left of the ground but the post came too soon. Next time.

Next time comes now. He’s not the horse he led in the picture, none are, if she’d had a season we wouldn’t talk of Enable we ‘d have only talked of Minding.

It’s good to remember a day in May, now it’s November. A day for Johannes Vermeer to have a day in the southern hemisphere sun.

Minding enters the ring for the Mooresbridge Stakes on her comeback at Naas




Aidan O’Brien (G1) by 26

Aidan O’Brien who has broken the world record of 25 G1’s set in 2003 by Bobby Frankel

Congratulations to Aidan O’Brien and his team as Saxon Warrior wins the Racing Post Trophy to break the world record. 

It began with Churchill in the Guineas in May. Amazing that it’s happened in Europe.

Click here to see how Aidan broke Bobby Frankel’s World Record of 25 G1 wins


The Racing Post Trophy (G1)

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

Six weeks ago we said it couldn’t be done. There we are, talk about getting it spectacularly wrong. Tomorrow if Aidan O’Brien wins this race he will break Bobby Frankel’s world record of 25 G 1’s established in 2003. We no strangers to his genius. His greatness was hinted at last year ( just have a look at distance he won the PRWC 2016) but this year he’s really put himself in a league of his own.

He saddles four here with Ryan Moore siding with Saxon Warrior after his impressive win at Naas in the Beresford Stakes from another Ballydoyle inmate Delano Roosevelt. The latter was a surprise winner of a maiden in July when returned at 14/1 when winning first time out, a rarity for an O’Brien two year old. He beat Coat Of Arms who appears here in possibly a pacemaking role, possibly not. On collateral form Coat Of Arms has only 2 L to find on Saxon Warrior.

The winner of the Tyros Stakes on the same night in July was The Pentagon. He was a very short price favourite returning 4/11F. That was his third run. First time out when needing the run he was nearly 20 L behind Verbal Dexterity, Jim Bolger’s main hope here. He then went on to win a maiden by 8 L. In The Tyros he had a comfortable 1 3/4 L to spare over Theobald, Jim Bolger’s other runner here. We haven’t seen him since and his fitness is taken on trust.

Seahenge returns to Doncaster, scene of his finest hour where he was given a canny ride by Donnacha O’Brien to come through the pack and win the  Champagne Stakes over 7 F. Since he’d a difficult passage in the Dewhurst where he was bumped at the start and became unbalanced entering the dip but stayed on well to clinch third. The step up in trip here will suit.

The best form in the race comes courtesy of Verbal Dexterity. He’s already a G1 winner when taking the National Stakes at the Curragh from Beckford. He found plenty when asked the question and pulled away powerfully to win easily in the end. There was an awful to like about it.

Roaring Loin heads the home team for John Gosden. He’s unbeaten in three runs. He took the scalp of the Ballydoyle inmate Nelson (who’ll go to France on Sunday) a neck in the Royal Lodge last time out. He’s improving with every run.

Martyn Meade will hope his charge Chilean is as good Eminent. Two wins from three runs suggests he could be while the unknown quantity in the race is the Charlie Appleby trained Loxley. He dead heated for first on his only racecourse appearance with Istanbul Sultan who previously had run second to Sir Michael Stoute’s Gabr who makes the line up here.

It could be Aidan’s day. It’s a strong team he is sending, all four are capable especially the front two who now head the market for the Derby next year. They’ll surely come out of the race with their reputations enhanced if both are placed behind Verbal Dexterity. He’ll go winter favourite for the 2000 Guineas when he win’s this. He’s should be backed to win both.

Recommendation: Verbal Dexterity 4/1 win

Ante post2000 Guineas 2018  Verbal Dexterity 12/1 win





Champions Day (G1)

Poets Word finishing 2nd to Decorated Knight in the Irish Champion Stakes

Long Distance Cup

The ground will be soft, hardly surprising given the time of year. It won’t bother the favourite in the first, Order Of St George. He relished the conditions in this years Irish St Ledger winning by a commanding 9 L from Torcedor who once again can chase him home.

RecommendationOrder Of St George, Torcedor (SFC)

Sprint Stakes

Harry Angel won the Haydock Sprint Cup on heavy ground after taking the July Cup on good to firm. He was very impressive both times however you would be concerned that his three defeats were here at Ascot. Caravaggio beat him here in the Commonwealth Cup but has flopped twice since. In The July Cup and in the Prix Maurice De Gheest he looked a shadow of the horse he was in June. Aidan O’Brien has given him a confidence booster since with a win at at the Curragh over Irish Champions Weekend where he handled the soft ground. The speed factor wasn’t quite there though what was there was the stamina to see it out in the difficult conditions.

Recommendation: Harry Angel, Caravaggio (RFC)

Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes

Alyssa won the Park Hill at Doncaster at a big price on similar ground and again she’s priced here to have little chance. She stepping down in trip and that along with the ground in her favour could see her poised to spring another surprise.

Recommendation: Alyssa 20/1 e/w 

Queen Elizebeth 11 Stakes 

Lancaster Bomber could be the one to break the record for Aidan O’Brien if Caravaggio equals it. He’s been second at G1 level on four occasions. At 80/1 in places he’s the forgotten one again.

Recommendation: Lancaster Bomber 80/1 e/w 

Champion Stakes 

Poets Word is on the up and put in a great performance in the Irish equivalent of this when running second to Decorated Knight. His win in the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood showed his liking for soft ground and he can go one better than he did in Ireland.

Recommendation: Poets Word 7/1 win