Category Archives: Group 2

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.


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



Royal Ascot Jersey Stakes G2 (Day 2)

Embed from Getty Images

Herald The Dawn chases home Air Force Blue at the Curragh last year. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

This a step down in class here for both Ribchester and Herald The Dawn. The former finished third in the Guineas with the latter back in eighth. After the victory of Galileo Gold today that form doesn’t look too shabby. There’s nothing quite to match Guineas form and while you would have to respect the others, Gifted Master, Ibn Malik and Castle Harbour they all to step up considerably on previous effort’s.

Ribchester was in retrospect a big price at Newmarket (33/1) considering he ran second in the Gimcrack at York, only his second start, and then followed up winning the Mill Reef as a two-year old. In April Richard Fahey sent him to Maisons-laffitte for the Prix Djebel possibly thinking French rather than English Guineas. He ran second but was demoted to fifth for interference and the connections rerouted to Newmarket. They bypassed the showdown of today opting for this easier option.

Jim Bolger did likewise. Herald The Dawn was just as impressive as a two-year old. He won The Futurity and ran second to Air Force Blue in the National Stakes. He too had a trip to France for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day where he was only 2L off Galileo Gold who finished third to Ultra. Jim choose the direct route to Newmarket and rather than go for the Irish Guineas he held off for this.

We went for Herald The Dawn in the Guineas and at the price today we would have to give him another chance to rediscover that juvenile form.

Recommendation: Herald The Dawn 16/1 win

The Dante Stakes (Group 2)


John F Kennedy on his way out to win the Juvenile Turf Stakes at Leopardstown last year.

Without a doubt this race will change the ante post market for the Derby in a big way. Inconclusive trials to date have left the market at sea in terms of finding a candidate worthy of commanding the market.

The Dante has a rich tradition in pointing to top class three-year olds with the likes of The Grey Gatsby winning last year however you have to back to Authorised in 2007 to find the last Dante winner to triumph at Epsom.

It’s hard to believe that the current favourite for this race and also the Derby itself made his racecourse debut two days after christmas on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, hardly orthodox. He’s by Halling who won the 1996 Cambridgeshire handicap before winning 5 G1’s (2 Eclipse’s, 2 Internationals and a Prix d’Ispahan). He was green but none the less impressive at Wolverhampton where he came from last to first to win easily. On his turf debut in a handicap he destroyed the field at Sandown winning by 12 L. He’s trained by John Gosden and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori a team reunited this year who were responsible for that same success with his father all those years ago. There has to be a question mark about him lasting 12 f although he’s proved himself over this 10 f already at Sandown.

Golden Horn also from John Gosden’s stable put himself in the Derby picture by winning the Feildan Stakes. He’s 4/1 here and a 20/1 shot for the Derby, five times the price of Jack Hobbs for Epsom.

John F Kennedy and OL’ Man River travel from Ballydoyle both on retrieval missions. The former didn’t fire in the Ballysax and the latter trailed in last in the Guineas. Both runs are best ignored. They both showed their class last year in winning at Leopardsown and the Curragh respectively.

Nafaqa’s second to Elm Park in last years Royal Lodge will give connections hope as the latter went on to win The Racing Post Trophy, form that looks good after Celestial Path’s (third in The Racing Post) good 5th in the Guineas.

This race will establish a short price favourite for the Derby.

John F Kennedy looked to fill the part last year in the Juvenile Turf with a convincing display that marked him out as Ballydoyles number one for Epsom. The ground at Leopardstown for the Ballysax was awful and he should be forgiven the run. He will be a different animal today.

Recommendation : John F Kennedy 4/1 win