Tag Archives: Group 2

The Champion Stakes (Group 1)

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Aidan will be in action at Ascot for Champions Day

Massive day’s racing at Ascot with the 3rd instalment of Champions Day.

There’s been some criticism of staging Britain’s richest days racing so late in the season but it does bring the show down in a massive crescendo. The downside is the ground is always more likely to have turned at this time of the year. Soft even heavy may be the description come post time tomorrow.

The feature is the Champions Stakes over 10f. We’ve also got the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes over a mile, the Fillies and Mares Champion Stakes over 10f with all three carrying Group 1 status . The undercard features the G3 Champions Long Distance Cup and the G2 Champions Sprint Stakes.

All in all a day to rival Paris two weeks ago.

The Long Distance Cup

In the Cup The Queens Estimate will of course be all the rage. We haven’t seen her since the Gold Cup where she brought the house down with her emotional victory over Willie Mullins Melbourne Cup bound Simenon. She’ll have to go from G/F to handling soft to win this. There’s also a suspicion this is a better field than in June with the likes of Harris Tweed, Ahzeemah, Eye Of The Storm and Royal Diamond in the mix. It’s been won by the Irish the last two years and Dermot Weld who won with Rite Of Passage last year could surprise again with Pale Mimosa. His unexposed 4 year old last year won a maiden at Galway on heavy ground by 15L.

Recommendation : Pale Mimosa 16/1 EW

The Sprint

Another strong Irish challenge in the Sprint with Balmont Mast, Cape Of Approval, Slade Power, Viztoria and Maarek. The latter is defending the title and showed himself in rattling good form when slicing through the field to win the Abbaye in Paris two weeks ago. That was over 5f and should have him spot on for this 6f trip. However we’ll give Eddie Lynam’s Viztoria another chance stepping back from 7 f where she did well to be only 5 L behind Moonlight Cloud in Prix de La Floret.

Recommendation : Viztoria 13/2 win

The Fillies And Mares

The Fillies and Mares is an open contest. The market rates the nine runner field between 4/1 and 16/1. Again recent Paris form looks hot. Dalkala won the Prix De L’Opera getting her nose in front of Tasaday on the line. Talent the Oaks winner ran well in the St Leger while Oaks third The Lark won the Park Hill where Seal Of Approval clipped heels and fell at the Doncaster meeting. Belle De Crecy got the better of Hot Snap at the Curragh in the Blansford while Waila was a 10L winner of a Newmarket Listed race in July. Mike De Kock’s Igugu was a superstar at home in South Africa but hasn’t translated that at Meyden or Sha Tin at the beginning of the year. In prep for this she ran second in a listed race three weeks ago suggesting her form is there to come back. The German raider Nymphea is attractive. A Group 1 winner in the Preiss Von Berlin where she beat Temida 3 L who previously was a G1 winner herself in the Preis Von Bayern.

Recommendation : Nymphea 12/1 EW

The Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes

Dawn Approach has been given a rest since the Jacques Le Marois where he trailed in 8L behind Moonlight Cloud. He’d come out of a hard race with Toronado in the Sussex Stakes and can be forgiven the run. Maxios saw off Olympic Glory in the Prix Du Moulin by 5 L who’d run an absolute cracker to be a short head behind Moonlight Cloud in the Jacques Le Marois. Kingsbarns was one of the ante post favourites for the Guineas through the winter on the back of his Racing Post victory. He was pulled up in the Irish Champion Stakes but the fact that Aidan puts him in is significant. The Godolphin Mile winner Soft Falling Rain can’t be ruled out but he’s never encountered ground like this before.

Recommendation : Kingsbarns 16/1 EW

The Champion Stakes

The main dish sees a rejuvenated Cirrus Des Aigles come back to go one better than his second to Frankel last year to add to his win in 2011. We doubted him through a poor campaign but his trainer Corine Barande-Barbe kept telling us to be patient, that he was on the way back and in the Prix Dollar he put in a performance to vindicate her view. Farhh makes a welcome return from injury. Last seen when winning  the Lockinge in May it will be a wonderful training feat to bookend the season with two Group 1’s. His stable companion Hunter’s Light has some form on the ground having won in heavy in Italy last year as does Morandi who was also was winner at top level on a heavy surface as a two year old.  The Derby winner Ruler Of The World hit a pocket in the Arc and did well to finish seventh considering the run wasn’t clean. He looked sharp the previous run before that in the Prix Neil when the bob of a head separated him from Kizuna. Like Viztoria he’s worth another chance.

Recommendation : Ruler Of The World 8/1 EW

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Balanchine (Group 2)

The heat is rising in the desert.

There’s a genuine antcipation about this one we haven’t seen yet this year.

A small field of seven go to load including the top South African filly Igugu.

She’s the talk of the town bringing with her the tall reputation of being her nations best ever filly. Australian bred by Galileo she’s demolished all before her at home clocking up a seven race unbeaten run including the fillies version of the country’s Triple Crown, the Vodacom Durban July and J & B Met. She’s oozed quality and now after a long lay off, in part due to injury and in part due to the rules of quarantine, she finally meets the world stage.

Opposing her is Sajjhaa the primary Godolphin hope after her win in the Group 2 Cape Verdi over the mile here four weeks ago. It was a good performance considering the stop start nature of the pace that day and the bump she took from the second when holding her run to the line. This extra furlong here shouldn’t present a problem to her having won a Listed contest at York over 10f.

Her handler Saeed Bin Suroor also runs Dark Orchid and Spellwork. Both ran in the Cape Verdi with the former setting decent fractions, a job you’d expect her to perform again while the latter’s jockey Kieren Fallon reported concern at his fillies action through the race.

Godolphin also run Prussian from the Mahood Al Zaronni team with Mickael Barzalona on board. She’s a transferee from the Mark Johnston team over the winter who won a few decent handicaps when trained in England but this is a big step up on those efforts especially considering her last twelve runs have been over longer distances than this.

Two Irish fillies make up the line up. Pat Shanahan let’s Colliding Worlds take her chance after opening her Carnival effort with a run in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 where she was well behind Barbecue Eddie.

Ger Lyons also steps up Lily’s Angel the winner of the Carnival opener.

She looked very decent over 7 f on the Tapeta surface coming through a gap to easily sprint clear off an inside draw. Since leaving Richard Fahy’s yard last summer she has thrived in the Irish countryside benefitting from the quiet life at Glenburnie. She was an easy winner of a premier handicap at Leopardstown first time out for Ger then built on that with two fine displays at Dundalk including at Listed level before coming to Meyden. She was an obvious for the Cape Verdi over the mile but connections rejected that in favour at a tilt at this 9f. This will be the furthest she will have ever travelled but you’d have to think its a smart move. She’s not in on World Cup night however a supplementary entry for the Godolphin mile is an option after the handicap run. Now they look to find out if the Duty Free door can open.

With Sajjhaa having had a tough run and previously shown herself best when fresh and with Igugu having to overcome a year long lay off and a trip short of ideal then the filly on the up drawn 1 gets a great chance to lie up and then dictate 2 f out. If she stays the 9 f they’ll find it very difficult to pass her.

The question is, will she stay?

As they say in her adopted homeland, no bother, no bother at all.

Recommendation: Lily’s Angel (Best Morning Odds)

Al Maktoum Challenge R2 (Group 2)

Twelve go to post in Round 2 of the Challenge.

With the exception of the Mike De Kock pair of Await The Dawn and Mushreq they’re all locals with the spearhead coming from Godolphin (four from the Saeed bin Suroor stable and one from the Mahood Al Zarooni stable) with A Al Raihe throwing in two and Doug Watson, S Seemar and M bin Shafya one each.

Mike De Kock took the headlines last week with a treble and he sends Mushreq, wearing the first colours of Hamden Al Maktoum (running three), back into battle for another quick return having won last week in a handicap over 10 f on turf. He’s been busy this year, this will be his fourth run at the Carnival having run on tapeta at the first meeting, then a run on turf the week before last and back to tapeta last week. He’s improved with each of those run’s to get top spot in the enclosure last week. Steered by Paul Hannigan, who partners again, he got a clean run having looked unlucky in his previous attempt. This is his first test in Group company and last weeks effort suggests he’ll cope with the step up in class.

Await The Dawn has an entirely different profile. The ex Aidan O’Brien colt took the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011 for Ballydoyle. He was then third in the Group 1 Juddmonte International and went to Churchill Downs for the Breeders Cup Turf where he finished down the field. He returned for last years Duty Free on World Cup night but after setting a decent gallop he shuffled down the field to finish a distance last. We haven’t seen him since so is this a mission to see if he retains his ability? Or something more.

Of the Saeed bin Suroor four you have to like Hunter’s Light. He’s won three from his last four visits to the track, the loss coming in the Prix Dollar beaten 9 l by Cirrus Des Anglais. Last time out in the Italy he took a Group 1 on heavy ground in Rome over 10 f.

Mendip, another bin Suroor inmate returns to the Carnival for the fourth year. He’s won five times previously including this race last year. He then disappointed in Round 3 of the Challenge and in the World Cup itself.

Saint Baudolino was dispatched from the Andre Fabre yard over the winter to the Al Zaronni barn. He highlighted 2012 with a second in the maddeningly run French Derby. He then ran third in the Grand Prix De Paris to Imperial Monarch and on his only other outing he beat his then stable companion Aesop’s Fables (fourth in a Handicap here last week) in a Group 2 at Deauville over 10f.

Jamr and Mufarrh bring the form of Round 1 of the Challenge to the party. The former ran sixth to the latter’s fifth behind Barbecue Eddie over the mile. Jamr then stepped up to 10 f in a handicap running second to Elderly Paradise. Mufarrh who last year ran second in the Godolphin Mile was doing all his best work at the finish in Round 1 will surely benefit for the run and the step up in distance.

Choices, between the De Kock pair,staying local focusing on the Goldolphin spearhead or taking a chance on the one of the lesser fancied home team?

The latter is the choice in the shape of Mufarrh (recommended in R1) who can step up on the work put in then.

Have a look at the video.

Recommendation : Mufarrh 10/1 win

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Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (Group 2)

Not as competitive as in the past.

Fanunalter and Fulbright are both previous scorers at this level in England last year, the former in the Summer Mile at Ascot the latter in the Challenge Stakes over 7 f at Newmarket.

Fanunalter had a short spell with Michael Wigham (winning the Ascot race at 33/1) but is now back in the hands of Marco Botti. He has displayed ability before actually in the same race when second to Dick Turpin in the 2011 contest.

Fulbright has transferred from the Mark Johnston stable to Goldolphin and now is in the care of Mahood Al Zaronni. He displayed the typical attributes you’d expect from one under the care of his former handler. A hard tough sort alway’s thereabouts in big handicaps. You can see why he was moved and is an exciting prospect for the Carvinal for the hosts.

Opposing is the inform Barbecue Eddie who has won his last three at Meyden, two minor events (in the lead up to the Carnival) and a big handicap last March. Jamr is another local inform clocking up 4 from 5 at Meyden though he hasn’t run since last February. Other locals Muraweg and Rutland Boy all have form albeit in minor events.

Tajaaweed a one time Derby fancy for Michael Stoute (having won the Dee Stakes) makes a comeback having had only the one run at the Carvinal last year. As an eight year old it will be interesting to see if he retains his talent.

Mufarrh, two years younger ran a cracker in the Goldophin Mile on World Cup night last year chasing home Skysurfers with Red Jazz a 1/2 L back in third. His form ties in well with Fulbright who had the same opponent a neck behind in the Challenge Stakes.

The two unexposed are Out Of Bounds and Colliding Worlds. The former won the Sham Stakes a Grade 3 at Santa Anita last January for Eoin Harty while Pat Shanahan sends the latter who was a considered good enough to go from winning a maiden to run in the Irish Oaks when trained by Eddie Lynam.

It’s probably between Fulbright and Mufarrah with the latter preferred having already displayed his ability on the Tapeta surface.

Recommendation : Mufarrah win 6/1