Tag Archives: John Gosden

Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe

Golden Horn after winning at Leopardstown

Golden Horn after winning at Leopardstown

Treve’s bid for history has in the last 48 hours gone from some certainty to some doubt judged by the drift in the market from odds on to odds against. Is the market right?

She looked imperious in the Prix Vermille 3 weeks ago when she absolutely smashed the field with the release of her tremendous turn of foot. Thierry Jarnet could hardly contain her. She wanted to cruise, she wanted to travel but those around her were incapable of coming near matching her stride. She made good fillies including Arabian Queen who beat Golden Horn at York look very ordinary. When she was finally given her head she flew and in a matter of strides it was all over. She sauntered up Longchamps home straight digging deep into the very soft turf with each step lifting her further and higher giving her the chance to extend her stride to the full. Magnificent to watch.

Her trainer Criquette Head has timed her season beautifully. Prior to the Vermille she had two spins around Saint Cloud in the Prix Corrida and Grand Prix De Saint Cloud giving her the perfect preparation for this third Arc tilt. Unlike last year everything has gone right and all credit to her trainer as she comes here in the form of her life.

So why has the market got the jitters?

It was after all the same weekend we saw the Champion Stakes and the Prix Vermille. Within 24 hours of Golden Horn’s success at Leopardstown the market decided that Treve’s Vermille performance put considerable distance between her and her all her market rivals. Maybe it was the controversial finish at Leopardstown that clouded the judgement. Golden Horn you felt always had the measure of Free Eagle even if he did put him out of the race.

It’s the ground is the great leveler.

Golden Horn’s owner has expressed the opinion his colt would easily beat Treve on fast ground. Considering last year’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes it’s a statement not without foundation. Treve couldn’t let herself down on the lighting quick ground at Royal Ascot that day and up against a top class filly who totally loved the surface The Fugue easily had her measure.

The issue here is the ground while very much coming the way of the Golden Horn camp it is still not what he really really wants, quick, lighting quick. That’s the surface that brought out the best in him in the Derby and Eclipse when he could hear his feet rattle. It was not so at York when Arabian Queen turned him over in what was akin to Japan’s Rugby World Cup performance against South Africa. John Gosden’s view has been they got the tactics wrong on the Knavesmire rather than the horse just couldn’t reproduce his speed on a surface less than quick.

So the ground, likely to be good, won’t be either’s first love, the questions are then who’ll like it more than the other and will that be enough to floor the rest of the field.

As ever the Arc produces the best middle distance horses of the last few years to compete against each other. This year is no different. It’s regrettable no Japanese challenger has emerged however New Bay who was given an impossible task in the French Guineas when trying to come from last to first (nearly making it) then showed his class by winning the French Derby. He’s since won on heavy at Deauville and put in a very smooth performance in his prep over course and distance in the Prix Neil.

Free Eagle surely can’t keep revving the engine in the last two furlongs. When he came upsides Golden Horn at Leopardstown he looked to be in top gear and it’s hard to imagine his stamina will stretch another two furlongs. Found will pose more of a threat. She was forgotten in the controversy but she ran a fine race to be second and will surely benefit from the step up in trip. She’ll also benefit from the weight for age and fillies allowances from the field. Mention must also be made of Tapestry the Yorkshire Oaks winner of last year (where she beat Taghrooda) who made a highly encouraging return to the track in the Blandford Stakes.

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Found leaves the ring at Leopardstown

Of the others Flintshire returned to winning ways in America in the Sword Dancer having chased down Treve here last year. The three-year old Erupt did exactly that in his first four runs but hated the soft ground in the Prix Neil. Eagle Top was beaten a nose by Postponed in the King George who then ran a faster time than Treve in the Prix Foy. There all good horses.

As ever the Arc will produce a cracking race. Treve has to match Corrida (1936 & 1937 winner) as the only mare to win it as a five-year old. Golden Horn or New Bay on the other hand would join a long list of winning three-year old colts. Should either prevail they would be the 47th to do it. Found would be the 13th three-year old filly. History is not on Treve’s side.

The draw often is a feature in the Arc. Treve is drawn in the middle in stall 8 which means she might encounter traffic problems. Golden Horn and Found must overcome wide draws from 14 and 15.

With the pacemaker drawn in 2 New Bay breaking from stall 5 is given a considerable advantage. He can break and track the pacemaker and when she falls away take control of the race and steal a march on them. If Treve’s trapped in a pocket there’ll be serious questions asked of her turn of foot. She’ll no doubt answer and with Golden Horn, Tapestry and Found coming there too it promises to be mouth watering finish. New Bay can hold on.

Recommendations: New Bay 5/1 win 

                                        Found and Tapestry coupled on the pari mutual e/w

 

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The Lennox Stakes (Group 2)

Glorious Goodwood with the most picturesque backdrop in racing kicks off with the highlight of the first day being the Group 2 Lennox Stakes over 7 furlongs.

It’s attracted a field of twelve headed by Aljamaaheer the recent winner of the Summer Mile at Ascot. He provides a decent benchmark having run third to Farhh in the Lockinge and second to Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne, both Group 1 events over a mile.

Producer, the choice of Richard Hughes is one of three from the Richard Hannon yard. He has the scalp of Aljamaaheer over 7 f in April at Listed level and last time out at Group 3 level in the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket he stepped up further to beat Red Jazz 3/4 L.

Of the other Hannon runners Libranno hasn’t shown the form this year that saw him win three times at Group 2 level. His last win over this distance was in the Park Stakes last September while Professor the third Hannon runner has won four of the last five, the last two at Listed level.

Ryan Moore gets the leg up on Garswood from Richard Fahey. He didn’t make an impression in the Guineas when beaten 9 1/2 L by Dawn Approach but did better when fourth to Gale Force Ten in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes.

John Gosden’s Fencing has been somewhat of a disappointment . Tried at top level on at least four occasions (never up to it) he has only ever won at Listed level.

Casper Netscher, a triple Group 2 winner, makes his seasonal racecourse apperance for David Simmcock. He ran an absolute cracker last year in the Prix Jacques Le Marois when running fifth to Excelbration going down only 2 L. Cityscape, Elusive Kate and Moonlight Cloud also finished in front of him. All of them proven Group 1 winners. He is also a winner first time out as a two year old and three year old.

Krypton Factor is by far the biggest money winner here having banked over £1.2m already but this 7 f will surely test his stamina to the limit. Having broken the gate in the July Cup forcing his withdrawal, he was then below par the following week when dropping in class in the Hackwood Stakes over 6 f when third to Heeraat.

It’s hard to make a case for Boom And Bust as he’s only ever won at a mile while Pastoural Player has 12 1/2 L to make up with Aljamaaheer on Summer Mile running.

Joint top rated on official ratings on a mark of 116 are Aljamaaheer and Casper Netscher. The former is 5/2 while the latter is 10/1. A reproduction of the Deauville form would put the Dutch master on top.

Recommendation : Caspar Netscher 10/1 win

The Park Hill Stakes (Group 2)

Run over the St Ledger distance of a mile and 6 furlongs this race is restricted to fillies and mares three years or older. Nine go to post with the Sir Henry Cecil trained Wild Coco top rated on 113. A belated return to the racecourse for the Group 3 Lillie Langtry Stakes over the same distance at Goodwood suggests Henry always had an autumn campaign in mind for her. She had run in the same race the year before, after two good wins, going off favourite but didn’t do herself justice. It would appear a year’s break did her all the good in the world and she’d no problem putting the race to bed to win comfortably by 2 3/4 L.

On rating The Queens Estimate is next best off a mark of 110. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute she was third to Wild Coco at Goodwood having previously won the Queens Vase over 16 f and the way she’d stayed on at Goodwood suggests 14 f may have been a bit on the sharp side for her.

Kailani was an impressive winner of the Pretty Poly Stakes and as a result went on to represent Godolphin in the Oaks. It didn’t happen for her as she was held up out the back and when she came with a run suffered interference with Maybe effectively ending her chances. A quick return for the Ribblesdale didn’t work where slow out of the stalls again effectively ended her chances. She’s a daughter of duel Oaks winner Kazzia (suggesting stamina not an issue) and having been put away since Ascot, if she can regain her spring form she’s not out of this.

Ambivalent is a filly on the improve, backed to win off a mark of 72 in a Nottingham handicap she duly obliged. Roger Varian stepped her into Listed company after that in the Aphrodite Stakes where market exuberance sent her off favourite but inexperience at the level saw her run well in third. She followed up in the Chalice Stakes, Listed class again, this time getting the better of the favourite Set To Music. The question with her is how she’ll cope with the extra 2 f on quick ground.

Cracking Lass, the oldest mare in the field at six has only managed three wins in twenty one attempts. Arguably the best of her form came in this race last year when beaten 11 L and connections have decided to give it another try on the back of an encouraging third in her comeback run in the Galtres Stakes. Bite Of The Cherry was a L behind having previously been a 5 L winner of a Newmarket handicap over 13 f.

Hazel Lavery won the Aphrodite (Ambivalent in behind) and was then sent to contest the Lillie Langtry won by Wild Coco but didn’t fire. She may not have coped with the track at Goodwood and Doncaster may suit better.

Gallipot is a winner of two recent all weather Kempton handicaps both over 11 f. She’s a daughter of Galileo out of a Spinning World mare and unlikely John Gosden would pitch her in here unless she had a chance of doing herself justice. That remark also applies to Monshak the second string of Sir Michael Stoute. She refused to race last time out but her three previous runs suggest she has talent. Before refusing she had won her previous two starts and her debut run saw her run second to Great Waters (beaten 3 L) since the winner of the Irish Oaks.

This is a trappy contest from a punting point of view where measurement of class will come with hindsight. Nevertheless Kailani at 8/1 represents value if the spring form can be replicated.

A day for the boys in blue.

Recommendation: Kailani 8/1 win

The Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1)

I was there when Grandera pipped Hawk Wing by the slimmest of margins. When I walked out of the room in the top of the stand the hairs on the back of my neck had refused to go down. Distracted I walked too quickly bumping into an individual whose excitement levels were even higher than my own. With adrenalin pumping through my veins having witnessed a magnificent contest I just about got my head up to apologise to Sheik Mohammed.

That’s the capability of this race, it produces epic encounters in Indian summers. Galileo and Fantastic Light, High Chaparral and Falbrav.

This year Nathaniel comes to Leopardstown having won an Eclipse and going down so bravely in attempting to retain the King George when Danedream got the better by a nose. He displayed all the quality suggested in his maiden run when Frankel stretched a 1/2 L beyond him and maturity now only adds that extra ingredient to bring out the best in him.

Snow Fairy is an absolutely wonderful mare. Her classic season included two Oaks, Epsom and the Curragh as well as Group 1’s in Japan and Hong Kong. Last year was a little frustrating for connections having to wait until a return to Kyoto for the defence of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup before registering her first win. She was also placed in the Nassau, here in the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and the Champion Stakes. This year she hit the ground running taking the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville three weeks ago from the Gosden inmate Izzi Top.

The home defence in a race where the home team have dominated over the last ten years falls to St Nicholas Abbey. Again he’s a cracker of a racehorse. Two Coronation Cups and a Breeders Cup Turf in the bag. Again maturity has played it’s part showing the quality displayed in winning the Racing Post Trophy as a two year old has stood the test of time. Granted we watched Frankel pass him as if he wasn’t there at York in the Juddmonte though he battled for second only to lose out by a nose to Farhh. He’s never won over 10f albeit his first real attempt was at York so its intriguing Aidan asks him to come out here for another crack at the distance.

Born To Sea disappointed behind Famous Name in the Royal Whip having previously improved from race to race. John Oxx will be hopping that was an aberration and he can return to the road of improvement. The 2 L defeat to Camelot on desperate Curragh ground in the Irish Derby was a very good performance where he had Light Heavy 9 L further adrift.

Daddy Long Legs began the year in great style nailing the UAE Derby at Meyden in March. A trip to Kentucky for the Derby backfired and he was brought back to headquarters for the Irish Guineas where he finished a 2 L fourth to Power. He was brought back to the States for the Secretariat where tactics didn’t work out and he finished last.

The sun has shone for more than a week over Leopardstown and with the moisture retained from the summer deluge we’re guaranteed a beautiful surface. This should set up an enthralling duel when they turn into the straight. A more prominently ridden St Nichloas Abbey off a strong pace will fight it out. With him on the bend will be a closely knit field . Nathaniel, Snow Fairy and Born To Sea will chase but pace will tell and on the run to the line the stretching St Nick will just hold off the by the shortest of margins the sustained effort of Snow Fairy.

Indian summers again. No Sheik Mo to bump into, pity.

Recommendation : St Nicholas Abbey 4/1 win