Tag Archives: Richard Hughes

The Japan Cup (Group 1)

The Japan Cup is the top class premier middle distance race for older horses in Japan.  It’s the east’s version of the King George or the Arc but wrapped into one. The early years of the race were dominated by international raiders whose superior breeding gave them a strong edge.

Not so now as Japan’s home breds are up there with the very best in the world. The king in the breeding barn is undoubtably Deep Impact the 2006 winner of the race. He’s represented by three offspring Verxina, Demon and Ruby and the likely favourite and defending champion Gentildonna who’ll be partnered by Ryan Moore.

Gentildonna beat Orfevre a nose in winning last year and has run three times since getting beat in all. In March she went down 2 1/4 L to St Nicholas Abbey in the Sheema Classic at Meydan. In June back on home turf at Hanshin she ran third off a wide draw going down to 3 1/2 L to Gold Ship in the Takarazuka Kinen and in October in prep for this over 10 f in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) she found Just A Way 4 L too good.

Her conquerer at Hanshin Gold Ship will rival her closley in the market. This colt last year as a three year old won the Japanese version of the the Guineas, the Satsuki Sho and also the St Leger, the Kikuka Sho.

Of the other home team Eishin Flash third in this year’s Tenno Sho (having previously beaten the winner) and the 2012 Tenno Sho winner Tosen Jordan need to be considered.

Three Europeans travel. Marco Botti sends Joshua Tree on the back of defending his Canadian International over this trip at Woodbine in October. With Ryan committed to Gentildonna this year’s Mr Confidence Johnny Murtagh comes in for the ride.

Dunaden and Simenon take the scenic route home from the Melbourne Cup.

Dunaden Melbourne Cup winner of 2011 looks to have had his best days behind him. His early season form was very promising, third at Epsom in the Coronation Cup behind St Nicholas Abbey. He followed that up with a second in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud to the King George winner Novellist however his Prix Foy run and Melbourne Cup leave him wanting to find top level form again.

Simenson who again will have Richard Hughes in the plate has been a revelation this year running second in the Ascot Gold Cup and although the drop in trip here would suggest this would be too sharp he did run a cracker before the Melbourne Cup when running third to Sea Moon at Caufield over 12 f.

There’s negatives to all here. The top Japanese haven’t come with top recent form. That doesn’t mean that Gentildonna hasn’t been primed for this and next month’s equally important Arima Kinen. Gold Ship equally has been hit and miss this year. Two of the Europeans had as their primary season target their last race, the Melbourne Cup and while it would be unfair to say this is an after thought it is definitely a bonus.

The one coming here with the positive is Joshua Tree, a winner of his last race he has the benefit of Johnny Murtagh whose been riding big races like the best pound for pound boxer in the world.

One of those top flight successes was Chiquita in the Irish Oaks who went through the ring at Goff’s yesterday for a European record of €6 million. The seller Paul Makin should recall in gratitude how she violently veered to the left in the final furlong. That was no bother to the pilot who still saw her home in his ice cool manner. Don’t be surprised if he does it again on Joshua Tree whom incidentally he rode to win his first ever race back in the day when both were Ballydoyle inmates.

Recommendation: Joshua Tree 16/1 ew


The Juddmonte International (G 1)

Yorks premier meeting starts with a bang delivering its most important race on the first day of the Ebor festival.


Jim Bolger will give Kevin Manning the leg up on Trading Leather today in the Juddmonte International Stakes

Last year the question was would Frankel stay 10 f ? It was emphatically answered in a stunning performance when he brushed aside Farrah and the ill fated St Nicholas Abbey who surely would have been here but for sustaining that injury prior to the King George.

The loss of the Ballydoyle colt and the failure of Camelot to reproduce his three year old class means Declaration Of War is now top dog in the Aidan O’Brien yard.

The lowering of the Camelot colours this season came in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh when Al Kazeem easily beat him 1 3/4 L in May. The theory was that the Irish horse had not yet fired and the ill effects of the bout of colic he contracted last year were still lingering. Whilst no one was saying Al Kazeem was not deserving of his victory there was a belief order would be restored in the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot. Camelot went off favourite with the Roger Charlton colt playing second fiddle in the market. There was little fire in the belly of Camelot and he trailed in fourth to Al Kazeem who had a neck to spare over Mukahadram and 3 1/2 L over The Fugue with a further 1/2 L back to Camelot.

Two nil to Roger Charlton’s team meant the Ballydoyle team would change strikers in the next match. Come Sandown and the Eclipse the Queen Anne winner Declaration Of War was tasked with taking on Al Kazeem. He failed by 2 L with Roger Charlton’s colt again asserting his superiority. Three Group 1’s in quick succession puts Al Kazeem as the most prolific of the top middle distance performers in training however his success has failed to put him on top in international ratings where his efforts have been awarded a mark of 124.

Ahead of him is Toronado given a mark of 126 for his Sussex Stakes display where he got the better of Dawn Approach by 1/2 L in a pulsating battle with Declaration Of War outclassed 3 L in third over the mile. At the two furlong marker the O’Brien colt looked to be travelling supremely well but as Dawn Approach injected a lethal burst of pace he was found wanting. Under another magnificent ride from Richard Hughes Toronado came with a late kick to nail Dawn Approach.


Toronado bypassed a rematch in the Prix Jacques Le Marois where Dawn Approach’s excretions looked to have caught up with him when trailing in a well beaten fifth behind Moonlight Cloud.  The French race was one of the best so far this season and Declaration Of War arguably ran his best race of the season finishing fourth.

Jim Bolger sends Trading Leather who has already shown versatility over a range of distances. Second here in the Dante in the spring over this trip, third in the Irish Guineas over a mile, winner of the Irish Derby over a mile and a half.

In the King George he ran his best race when only finding Novellist (rated 128 for the win) too good going down 5 L to the German horse who is undoubtedly top drawer.

The lightly raced Hillstar was a further 3/4 L behind. It’s surprising Sir Michael Stoute has chosen to bring Hillstar back in trip at this stage of his career but that in itself is a statement of his belief in his charge. You’d worry inexperience may be a factor here.

All in all this looks as it should be, a cracker on paper. We won’t reach the heights of Frankle last year but we still in for a treat.

Al Kazeem rightly stands at the head of the market and as they round the bend and sweep into the straight you would expect James Doyle to kick Al Kazeem on saying to the others catch me if you can. Richard Hughes will tuck away Toranado hopping to slipstream the chasing pack to deliver the late kick. His fear will be that kick won’t be there come those last two furlongs.

Two riders will feel the 10 f will be their horses best trip. Joseph O’Brien and Kevin Manning can both tail along in the straight and if Al Kazeem remains one paced with oxygen depleting in the lungs of Toronado then Trading Leather and Declaration Of War could pounce. The O’Brien colt has more mileage up this year but is a hardy animal who can take his running. The Bolger colt is improving with every run and is in receipt of a three year old weight allowance.

That may well be key come the line at the Knavesmire.

Recommendation : Trading Leather 7/1 win

The Sussex Stakes (Group 1)

This race has been eagerly anticipated since the Saint James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot when Dawn Approach just got the better of Toranado by a short head.

The anticipation goes back further to the spring and the Guineas when the clash first happened.  They went off favourite and second favourite at Newmarket. Dawn Approach had come as champion two year old where his juvenile season had been beautifully crafted by his astute trainer Jim Bolger. Five wins including the Jersey, National and Dewhurst. A rock solid champion in expectation going into the first classic. Then Richard Hannon unleashed Toranado in the Craven. Real opposition had been thrown into the Guineas mix.

Come the big day and Toranado miscued while the Irish colt fluffed no lines. The anticipated match didn’t happen and a general sense of disappointment permeated across us all watching. Even though Dawn Approach was a super winner we were left deflated by the lack of battle in Toranado.

Come Royal Ascot and Hughie’s talking up his colt we were a little disbelieving. In the meantime huge doubts had been built up about Jim Bolger’s colt. It seemed ridiculous that in just seventeen days Dawn Approach who had run out of control at Epsom could revert to the mile, relax in the hands of Kevin Manning and then have enough speed to win. The Derby disaster had to be forgotten, as had the flat run of Toranado in the Guineas. No sense of anticipation really with both colts on a retrieval mission.

The real sense was more that neither would be capable of turning it around.

Toranado looked too wounded after Newmarket and the skepticism in us said the Craven was a flash in the pan. He had looked impressive against mediocre horses but on the big stage he was found out.

Then two furlongs out at Ascot and our levels of excitement ratcheted up. As Dawn Approach stretched Toranado was bearing down on him in full flight. In the last 100 yards it was still undecided. Toranado had suffered a bump at a crucial stage and slightly lost his stride. Dawn Approach prevailed, just. Richard Hughes was sure he lost the race because of that bump. Ascot roared a declaration of war between the two.

So now the rematch.

Did the bump do enough to stop Toranado gunning down Dawn Approach or was the Irish colt holding him. Had he enough in the tank to repel him if needed?

Anticipation and licking of lips at the thought of this is now eager in all our minds. Any skepticism we had is well buried not even in the back of our minds but dispelled completely from the body altogether.

It’s easy to forget but it’s not a match as five other colts line up. Leitir Mor and Reply are there to do a job. Set a fast pace, burn quick fractions. In the case of Leitir Mor his sacrifice will be for Dawn Approach while Reply will be there to set it up for Declaration Of War.

The Queen Anne winner came to Ballydolye with a tall reputation from Jean Claude Rouget. The weight of money behind him in the ring at Newbury for the Lockinge suggested that reputation would not be let down. He ran like Toranado in the Guineas failing to fire leaving that tall reputation in tatters.

Come the Queen Anne and a blow away performance in a time quicker than that run by Dawn Approach later in the day and a reputation restored to full glory. He had Gregorian was back in third with Trade Storm in fifth. He then went to the Eclipse where only Al Kazeem got the better of him.

Anticipation now includes three.

In cold analysis we can say the classic bunch are ordinary. Garswood raised the flag in the Lennox Stakes yesterday but on the whole they haven’t looked great. At a mile the two who do look top drawer are the two here. As for the four year old, reputation stands tall but with the American Animal Kingdom more interested in his stud career than racing that day we have got to wonder was it a weak Queen Anne.

The clock said not so while we will have a three year old battle royal we might find a real Declaration Of War.

Recommendation: Declaration Of War 5/1 win

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