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Juddmonte International (Group 1)

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Australia winning The Derby from Kingston Hill.

Can he be beaten?

Mukhadram as a four year old struggled when mixing it at top level. His best performance was here last year over course and distance in the G2 York Stakes. Twice beaten by Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and The Eclipse he’s a different horse at five. Maturity now means he an Eclipse winner himself and he can’t be easily dismissed here as a result. Stretched to the limit of his stamina in the King George he’s now back his favoured trip and he is the benchmark for a 10f test.

Telescope has touched the flame but failed to ignite it. You know it’s there, we saw it at Ascot in the Hardwicke yet there’s a question about his attitude. Twice behind Frankel’s brother Noble Mission this season is still reliable form but does he really want do it at top level?

The circumstance of the race plays a huge part, weight for age matters and the concession to the three year olds is significant at this stage of the season. The last three year old winner of The International was Sea The Stars. Testament to the difficulty of winning the race for the younger horse. You have to be top drawer to do as a three year old. It’s why Ballydoyle are keen to run, to establish a superstar.

The Grey Gatsby winner of the French Derby is in someway the forgotten horse. His last run in the Grand Prix De Paris told us he’s not a 12f horse but the Prix Du Jockey Club showed us his trip is this 10f. The French Derby hasn’t worked out too well with both the second and third also beaten since.

Arod another three year old was no match for Australia at Epsom but yet he remains’ somewhat of an unknown quantity. Peter Chapple-Hyam sent him to Leicester for a 9 L confidence booster over 10f in July which should have him cherry ripe for this.

And then there’s Kingfisher not to be treated as a mug, he’s there on merit. He was an impressive Dee Stakes winner at Chester and he proved himself behind Australia when beaten 2 1/2 L in the Irish Derby. He will most likely be sacrificed as the pacemaker but he may well be very difficult to pass.

The ground will be good to firm which is just what Australia will want. He’s had a mid season break and put on some weight since we last saw him at the Curragh. Aidan has informed us he has a question mark about his level of fitness and this prehaps is the only hole to be found in him. We know how he is viewed in the pantheon of all time Ballydoyle greats and his Derby win’s have confirmed it to the public eye. It could not have been any easier at the Curragh.

The older horses Mukhadram and Telescope will make sure this has to be won. Arod is bound to have come on since Epsom and will get closer while The Grey Gatsby has course experience when winning The Dante here. Kingfisher will ensure this a true test but even if Joseph has to carry a few pounds overweight to match the belly of his mount it’s most likely we’ll see Australia prevail.

Recommendation : Australia 8/11 win

 

 

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The King George And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Group 1)

Ground is a the major factor here.

Ascot got a dumping on the eve of this, the centrepiece of the British flat racing season. A race that some had thought had lost its lustre has been restored over the last few year’s. German thoroughbred’s have had a hand to play with Dandredream and Novelist playing no small part.

Today is about the excitement generated by the John Gosden filly, Taghrooda, set to be crowned the new The Fugue. If she win’s this she’ll wear the mantle lightly.

Her Oaks victory was a commanding performance, never in doubt she wrote class all over it yet the step up here is a brave move not only for her trainer but for owner too. Hamdan Al Maktoum silks have made a welcome return to the Group 1 circle lately but to put out want may be an absolutely talented but inexperienced filly into this company is some statement of intent.

You could argue there’s a hole on the incline in the road. The filly second at Epsom, Tarfasha, ran poorly at the Curragh last weekend although Volume threw in a tough and honest run to uphold the form when holding on to be third.

That’s the thing about throwing a three year old filly into the bear pit against the older males. She might get scared of them and let then dominate her through sheer inexperience or she might hold them like putty in her hand, a thing to play with till she decides to show them how it’s done.

These boy’s are no mugs, there led by Telescope the impressive winner of the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot over the same trip last month. If you had a horse like him with the potential he showed you would feel very comfortable that patience would be rewarded. His trainer Sir Michel Stoute can do master classes in how to turn near misses into block busters. His general level of form says nearly but his last run suggested superstar.

There’s another hot three year old in the hands of John Gosden. Eagle Top destroyed Adelaide in the King Edward VII over this trip. He’s unknown to us in reality when we’re talking this level and fit’s into the category of could be anything.

Magician hasn’t given us that Breeders Cup moment this year though that’s benchmarked against a 1 3/4 L downing to The Fugue at Ascot. Trading Leather this year is considered a bit last year in the fashion sense. That doesn’t mean he can’t still dress for the big occasion. Jim Bolger call’s it on himself and while the first run was trainer error the second was just beaten by a better horse.

Between the Oaks and this the meat in the sandwich is the Eclipse. Mukhadram is considered to have got the better of the field when the pilot’s were asleep at the back but that denies the truth of his authoritative performance. He took it on and burned a hole in all bar Trading Leather who battled to try to create a fight.

Romsdal brings the Derby form to the contest, (and a shiver to the spine if you thought of Australia being here). He was only beaten 4 1/2L at Epsom.

If Taghrooda is as good as she looked at Epsom then she’s the one to beat but back to where we started, the ground.

These are horses who so far have shown a preference for a quick surface to show their best and finger’s crossed that’s what we’ll get but if the thunderstorms appear and with the word soft appearing in the going description then a horse who can win a Curragh maiden in October by 6 L as a two year old on heavy ground shouldn’t be discounted.

Recommendation : Magician win 5/1 win

 

 

The Breeders Cup (Grade 1) Day 2

The Fugue on Irish Champions Stakes Day

The Fugue on Irish Champions Stakes Day. Photo Pattern Racing.com

A bumper day of Grade 1 action with 9 top level races in Santa Anita on day 2 of the Breeders Cup 2013.

European horses struck gold in 3 out of the 5 on day 1 and come into the day 2 with some real big guns. Again there’s not a lot of depth to the challenge with only 7 European runners.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Dank will go off favourite in the Fillies and Mares Turf over 10f with with Romantica from the Andre Fabre team priced up second favourite. The Stoute filly has already won in America when last time out she took the Beverely D Stakes on Arlington Million day. The Fabre filly won the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville in August before running 12 L behind Treve in the Arc. Opposing are the ex Irish trained Laughing and the ex French trained  AlteriteLaughing certainly benefited from the move to the States having won her last 4 including 2 G1’s The Diana Stakes and last time out the Flower Bowl Invitational where she beat Tannery who then franked that form taking the G1 EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.

In the Turf over 12 f The Fugue has very strong claims proving herself top drawer this summer taking the Yorkshire Oaks against her own sex and then following up in the Irish Champion Stakes beating the colts Al Kazeem and Trading Leather. She’s joined by the Irish Guineas winner Magician who rattled home on firm at the Curragh. Last years first and second are back Little Mike and Point Of Entry. The former looked to have lost his way a little but bounced back to form in the Joe Hirch Invitation while the latter has only run twice since. Both were winning Grade 1 performances. In February he beat Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and in June he won the Woodford Reserve at Belmont. This has been his target all year.

In the mile Aidan O’Brien runs Cristoforo Colombo who would look to be up against it and Richard Hannon runs Olympic Glory who must have an outstanding chance if he can handle the ground. He put in a great performance when just touched off by Moonlight Cloud in the Jacques Le Marois and capped that on champions day winning the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes on soft ground. Wise Dan is probably the most consistent turf horse in training at the moment. Since winning this last year he’s added 5 G1’s since but was surprisingly beaten by Silver Max in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keenland at the beginning of October.

The most consistent dirt horse is Game On Dude who will go off favourite in the Classic the finale event. He held the same status this time last year when beaten by Fort Larned but has run and won six times since with the highlight being the Big Cap here at Santa Anita when he simply looked awesome. Two European challengers come into the field with Ballydoyle sending Declaration Of War and Marco Botti sending PlanteurThe Coolmore bound Declaration Of War has not been seen since winning the International at York in August. This will be his last run and it was revealed he went to work on Southwell’s fibre sand to get some experience of the kickback he’ll have to cope with here. He worked with two G1 winners sitting in behind before readily pulling clear. The manner of the workout was enough to convince Aidan O’Brien that this was his best chance of capturing the classic since Giant’s Causeway who was so narrowly touched off by Tisnow in 2000. If he can handle the dirt he has the class to beat Game On Dude.

Recommendations :

Fillies and Mares Turf Laughing PMU Price win and place

Breeders Cup Turf : Point Of Entry 5/1 Win

Breeders Cup Mile : Wise Dan 1/1 Win

Breeders Cup Classic : Declaration OF War PMU Price win and place

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