Category Archives: Pattern Racing World Championships 2017

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1)

Recommendation: Dschingis Secret 16/1, Idaho 33/1 (Both EW & RFC)

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Idaho runs second to Harzand in last years Irish Derby. Picture courtesy of Alan Crowhurst and Getty Images.

Dschingis Secret and Idaho offer the best alternatives to Enable in the Arc today.

The German horse took the eye in a smooth performance in the Prix Foy last time out when he was an easy winner from Cloth Of Stars and Santono Diamond. He was similarly impressive in beating Hawksbill in the Grosser Preis von Berlin the time before.

Idaho is appealing with soft ground the order of the day. He was a staying on third to Enable at Ascot in the King George in July. As a three-year old he was a 1 1/4 L behind Harzand in the Ballysax on heavy ground in the spring before running third at Epsom in the Derby and second at the Curragh in the Irish Derby to the same horse.

It will require an upset, Enable to be either off her game or unlucky. Shocks can happen in the Arc especially on soft ground and drawn two means Frankie may either have to dictate it or if he takes a pull rely on luck to get out off the rail.

Thats why it worth taking her on.

 

 

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Irish Champion Stakes (G1)

 

Zhukova on her way out to win the Enterprise Stakes last year.

” I’ve been waiting such a long time, looking out for you but your not here.”

It’s Minding we’ll miss, if injury hadn’t curtailed her career she could have blown the season apart and expectation would have been she would have been crowned Queen of Ireland in the Champion Stakes here.

The show goes on and Churchill fills the role as the Ballydoyle number one. The dual Guineas winner has been beaten twice since. The poor run at Royal Ascot is still a mystery but it’s forgotten now after a good return to form in the International at York. He and Barney Roy cut their own throats by having a private battle setting it up for Ulysses  He mightn’t have won but he put in a very solid performance proving he could see out the step up in trip to 10f.

Alas, the race doesn’t have the depth in quality it had last year, a truly exceptional year, it’s still intriguing none the less. That’s down to the presence of Eminent. He put in a cracking effort over this trip in Deauville last time out. He was ridden by Ryan Moore that day and given a soft lead the field couldn’t peg him back. That won’t happen here so will Frankie Dettori in the saddle for the first time take it on or will he sit and wait.

Most likely it’ll be Ken Condon’s Success Days who will set the pace. He a confirmed front-runner who last time out at York in the Sky Bet Stakes just saw it out to win by a nose. He’ll love every drop of rain that falls.

The 2014 winner The Grey Gatsby now trained by Dermot Weld is back. He’s a shadow of the horse who won when beating Australia and it’s more likely Zhukova would give Rosewell House the better opportunity to claim this prize.

Zhukova is a lightly raced five-year old who won the Enterprise Stakes here last year in impressive style. She’s since a G1 winner when she took the Man o’ War at Belmont in May this year. She ran a cracker in July in the Pretty Poly when only tiring in the last furlong and this shorter trip after a nice break will be right up her street.

Decorated Knight is back in Ireland the scene of his last G1 win where at the Curragh he took the Tattersalls Gold Cup also in May. Luck has deserted him since, second to Highland Reel at Royal Ascot was followed by what his trainer Roger Charlton described as a frustrating run in the Eclipse. In the International at York he pulled muscles and in the circumstances ran magnificently to still be involved with a furlong to run.

The Stoute team sends Poet’s Word over instead of Ulysses. He’s three wins from seven, the last being a G3, the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. He’s on the up and will like Ulysses turn into a nice five-year old. A similar case could be made for Jim Bolger’s Moonlight Magic whose shown flashes of potential never more than last time out when beating Deauville a head here in the Meld Stakes in July.

That leaves Cliffs Of Moher and Taj Mahal, the Ballydoyle supporting actors. The former hasn’t lived up to expectations, sent off as favourite for the Derby where he ran second, he hasn’t yet cut the mustard since running fourth in both the Eclipse and The International.

Taj Mahal went to Chicago where he ran his best race when second to Oscar Performance in the Secretariat Stakes. The winner won last years Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and is now a triple G1 winner. 66/1 ignores his talent.

Aidan O’Brien hasn’t won Ireland’s premier all age race since So You Think won in 2011. St Nicholas Abbey, Australia, Found (twice) and Minding have all been beaten in this race. Can Churchill end the drought?

Chances are he can but at 11/10 he’s a short price for one whose been beaten at this distance albeit on his only try when caught in a headlock by Barney Roy.

It presents a doubt, enough to take him on, a fit Decorated Knight is interesting on what looks like good to yielding ground however there’s one who’ll love the ground and the track and is trained by a master in Dermot Weld.

And Twelve points go to … … Zhukova

Douze points Zhulova

I can hear Aidan humming on the way home in the car. I’ve been waiting…….

A happy Chris Hayes coming in after winning the Desmond Stakes in July

In The Boomerang Stakes Alexios Konmenos should follow up his win in the Desmond Stakes over course and distance in July.

Recommendation:

Irish Champion Stakes:  Zhukova 12/1 ew 

                                            Zhukova and Decorated Knight (RFC)

Boomerang Stakes:        Alexios Konmenos 9/4 win

The Matron Stakes:       Enjoy Winter

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Juddmonte International Stakes (G1)

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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