Social Discourse – 21st July 2019

It was a week in which we argued about the whip (again), Frankie Dettori was the difference between G1 victory and defeat (again), and a US Grade 1 ended with a deja vu stewards’ enquiry (again). It all feels so normal in 2019 but that’s Social Discourse for you, writes William Kedjanyi.

 

  1. Can’t Catch The Star

Death, taxes and Frankie Dettori Group 1 winners. They’re the three certainties of this summer, so perhaps in hindsight Star Catcher’s win in the Irish Oaks shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

I mean, this is the level of form he was in before the off:

However, if there’s one thing you can’t do, it’s give the world’s most in-form jockey any sort of easy lead. Lo and behold then:

 

Can’t Say We Didn’t Warn You: All of the Irish classics this year have been won from the front. The signals were there... 

https://twitter.com/1doublehandful/status/1152614024934281216?s=20

 

Money where your mouth is: The decision to supplement Royal Ascot scorer Star Catcher for the Irish Oaks at a cost of €40,000? Brave at the time, a snip now.

 

The Man Of The Hour:

Marked For Export: Eight of the last 11 winners of the Irish Oaks have been won by UK-trained runners.

 

  1. Whip It And Rip It

These are just a small number of the tweets I’ve read on social media over the issue of The Whip in the past week.

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It is quickly becoming the social issue of the summer for racing and one that is ferociously polarising too.

 

The Big Battle: Perception has never been more key for the sport, and many fear putting off a new generation of supporters. The whip is misunderstood by many, on a number of levels - can minds be changed? And if so, which?

 

Many have accused the BHA of not educating general racegoers – the sort who are non-industry professionals – enough, so it was tremendous to see this from Ellie Hudson, founder of In The Paddock TV going out into the public and educating them. Do please give it a watch:

 

 Thoughts? Do get in touch.

 

  1. Heat And The Haskell

It’s been a hot summer. June was literally the hottest month on record, and July hasn’t been far behind. Indeed, another heatwave is set to come to the UK next week – we could have the hottest day of the year so far. Not a bad time to own a fast ground horse, amongst other things.

In the US, the East Coast has been enduring a heatwave which has sent temperatures into the 90’s, and it affected two of the biggest meetings of the year in the shape of Saratoga’s summer meet and Monmouth Park's Haskell Stakes.

With fans and horses drained, the decision was taken to cancel all non-stakes races after the first two races had been completed.

Political pressure was applied from the governor's office to push back the card, with Gov. Phil Murphy involved at one stage, whilst Saratoga and other East Coast tracks cancelled their Saturday meetings. The Haskell would be delayed, eventually going off at 1:05 am UK time.

 

“Nonetheless, given the heightened concern from the general public in regards to the warmth, and within the curiosity of the protection of the horses and jockeys, we’ve determined to proceed with an abundance of warning, to cancel the remaining non-stakes races and to delay the six stakes races,”  - Dennis Drazin, chairman and chief govt of Darby Improvement, operators of Monmouth Park

 

  1. Maximum Security, Minimum Margin

So after all that, there was a race for the Haskell. And because it’s 2019, we just simply had to have more drama, so the gods controlling the universe firstly gave us:

  • A thrilling stretch duel where Maximum Security hit the front a full three furlongs from home and then fought off Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto to take the win

 

And then……

  • Another stewards’ enquiry – yes, another one –was called when he impeded the retreating King for A Day, who had beaten Maximum Security in his prep race. The stewards were kinder this time, however, and he kept the race.

 

  • "After I saw a replay, I knew they would not take him down," West said. "The other horse was going backwards. That sort of thing happens in 25 percent of the races, and they don't take 25 percent of the horses down. If they took him down today, I would know for sure that the racing gods had something against me." – Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, speaking to Bob Ehalt of the BloodHorse

  

  1. Elsewhere…
  • Rod Millman's Bettys Hope and Silvestre de Sousa headed Show Me Show Me in the final stride of the Super Sprint at Newbury, with hot favourite Ventura Rebel fourth

  • Roger Charlton's former Cesarewitch and Northumberland Plate winner Withhold defied a nine-month absence in the valuable Marsh Cup at Newbury and is now one of the favourites for the Ebor

  • On the same Newbury card, there was a surprise International win for the Germans as Waldpfad was an impressive winner of the bet365 Hackwood Stakes, winning by a length and three-quarters from Khaadem, with Keystroke a further neck behind in third as The Tin Man disappointed

  • Fox Chairman made up for two luckless runs at Chester and Royal Ascot with a game success in the Steventon Stakes

  • Romanized came with a late rattle to take the Minstrel Stakes, beating James Tate's 7-4 favourite Hey Gaman and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage.

  • Roman Turbo showed a good turn of foot to see off his rivals in the Anglesey Stakes

  • There was yet another big race win for Frankie Dettori as A'Ali was relatively untroubled in an impressive success in the Prix Robert Papin at Deauville

  • And Soffia denied a host of British challengers to take the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday

 

That's all for this week - back in seven days!

- WK

Social Discourse – Monday 15th July

So, this was my planned intro when I started writing:

Every week in this long hot summer of racing brings us something to sink our teeth into, but we are so often reminded of what we have in this great game by the sadness of losing a star. Sincerest condolences to all connections of Beat The Bank, who sadly lost his life despite the best efforts of all involved after winning what had been a thrilling Summer Mile.

That sad note aside, there was a hell of a lot to discuss from a week that gave us a lot of winners, but the biggest of them might have been The Lads. Oh, and a couple of small debates too.

 

Now my intro is: OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE ALL THE SPORTS AND THE THROWS AND THE POINTS AND ISN’T LIFE JUST THE BEST BUT ALSO HOW ARE WE STILL ALIVE!

 

Anyway, let’s begin.

  1. Ten and All Over

It had been a relatively trying summer for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. Royal Ascot brought a string of notable defeats – for all they had a hatful of winners – and whilst O’Brien won theDerby and the Irish Derby, it’s fair to say the latter result was not the most satisfactory for him, and neither was defeat in the Pretty Polly Stakes for Pink Dogwood.

So when it came to the July Cup and Ten Sovereigns, a victory would have been exceptionally timely. The early money that came for him – he was 10/1 on Friday – suggested that we were about to see a return to form. The money was right.

 

From 10/1 the night before, he touched 7/2 on the morning of the race, and despite a drift in the afternoon, went off just 9/2. Going into the last furlong, it was clear that there was only going to be one winner.

 

From The Horse’s Mouth (The Lads Special)

A victory for the sectionals perhaps?

 

We Don’t Need Your Education: The jury is out on this season's three-year-olds at longer trips, but the first five home in the July Cup were from the younger generation (Ten Sovereigns, Advertise, Fairyland, Pretty Pollyanna and So Perfect). The trainer of three of them? You guessed it, Aidan O’Brien.

A number of horses disappointed, including Dream of Dreams, Cape Bryon, and Limato, although it won’t be the last we see of them.

 

  1. Whipping Up A Storm

Even in 2019, there are some things that you don’t quite expect to see. This is one of them.

Yes, indeed, that is Charlie Fellowes arguing that his Royal Ascot winner (Thanks Be, Sandringham Stakes) should have been disqualified. It makes for some reading.

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The Situation: Following a detailed review – not without its own controversies – the whip rules were changed to some of the strictest in world racing a few years ago.

The Bottom Line: “The whip can be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race or eight times in a Jump race. Any more than this will prompt the stewards to review the ride.” - From the BHA

The debate about the whip is ever present, but the penalty that Hayley Turner – the first woman to win a race at the Royal meeting in 33 years – picked up for winning was a nine-day suspension and £1,600 fine, and the age old question came back – what is the right punishment for breaking the rules?

Fellowes evidently doesn’t think that bigger suspensions are the answer, according to his piece in the Post:

“I don't think the threat of a bigger suspension would have made a difference. I don't think the threat of a bigger fine would have made a difference. The only thing that would make a difference is the knowledge that going just one strike above the seven-hit limit would lead to disqualification.”

It goes without saying that we all had something to say, with plenty of coverage on the racing channels.

It is an issue with plenty of viewpoints, and Sky Sports Racing held an interesting set of debates in the week.

 

Something to think about:
“As a young trainer coming through the ranks, I do not see racing as a thriving sport. We are a sport that has to adapt in order to stimulate interest from new people. We need all the help we can get. By maintaining the status quo we are not helping ourselves.”

- Charlie Fellowes, again, in his Racing Post column.

 

  1. The Summer Of Multiples

You know the drill. It’s a big summer racecard, so Frankie Dettori will have a winner. Possibly more than one. And those winners are likely to be a short price. And that spells trouble for bookmakers.

We’ve seen it already this summer, we’ve talked about it already, and guess what, it’s happened again.

https://twitter.com/GamblingHeaven/status/1149686474968838146

 

All’s Well That Ends Well: Withdrawal of Honest Albert, favourite for the 2.20, led to the restrictions being lifted. It all works out in the end.

 

  1. Too Many Races Spoil The Saturday

Three hours and fifteen minutes. TEN televised races on ITV. One Group 1. Four Group races. Three Heritage Handicaps.

Saturday gave racing fans an overwhelming bounty of televised action in the UK – and this was before you got to the overseas action on offer later!

Too much? Or is that impossible? People have been asking the question:

 

Perspective: Yes, perhaps there is overkill in this one day. But we don’t have the figures for the course takings on this Saturday. Chester, for instance, welcomed a full house crowd of over 21,000. And could you have imagined the one unfortunate meeting to be moved to Sunday, the Cricket World Cup final featuring England, of all days?

 

  1. Winners and Losers

Winners:

Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien had suffered a fair few reverses through the summer but in taking the two Group 1’s of the weekend, have perhaps won the most important battles of the summer so far. The victories were particularly notable for Moore, who had been facing scrutiny for a rare slump in his form.

Mark Johnston & Richard Hannon took eight of the 21 races at the July Festival, including two Group juvenile winners between them, along with two heritage handicaps for Johnston.

 

Oisin Murphy took the Falmouth Stakes with a fine ride on Veracious and then was at his strongest to win the Superlative on Mystery Power

 

Chad Brown continued his domination of the American Turf with a 1-2-3 in the Diana Stakes, led by two former Breeders’ Cup winners.

 

Losers:

It might be considered harsh by some to put Godolphin in here, but they would have been hoping for better from Masar, despite Charlie Appleby’s best efforts to put a positive spin on his disappointment, and especially King’s Command, whilst they also had Inns Of Court beaten.

French trainers? Following on from the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, another raiding party took nearly all the races with Marmelo beaten just a head in the Maurice de Nieuil.

 

  1. And This Happened

    Oh, and Japan won. It's alright. We were all too busy but he won the Grand Prix de Paris and the Arc is the target now.

 

- WK

Social Discourse – Monday 8th July

This past week offered us the privilege of seeing the best mare on the planet currently, but also the sadness of losing one of the sport’s TV greats. It was a week of stunning contrast that dominates this edition of Social Discourse, writes William Kedjanyi...

 

  1. All Hail Queen Enable

We  start at Sandown, and focus of the racing world at this point in time, Enable, is now an Eclipse winner on top of her already glittering CV.

On her first start for 245 days, contending with lighting fast summer ground at a ten furlong trip shy of her best there appeared to be, on paper, a hint of vulnerability. But, in the finish, there proved nothing of the sort.

 

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1147516699693985792

 

The Race Recap (In Case You Missed It): Hunting Horn set a decent gallop, with Enable sitting on his heel and Magical in third. The rest of the field, in order of Telecaster, Zabeel Prince, Mustashry, Regal Reality, and Danceteria. Rounding the turn into the home straight, the field began to bunch up.

Frankie Dettori, who had always been travelling nicely, remained motionless as Hunting Horn began to give way, and at one point looked as if he was going to stroll away on Enable, who was showing more zip than rivals who were all proficient at the distance; but, when push came to shove, she kept finding and through the last furlong it was clear – in hindsight – that there was only going to be one winner. Cue an outpouring of love for the majestic five-year-old.

https://twitter.com/rockonxruby/status/1147516772666490880

https://twitter.com/HonestFrank/status/1147516439080984576

https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1147523374232612864

 

Where next? The King George. Tickets to Ascot might be selling rather quickly…

From the trainer, John Gosden:

"It's been a long preparation and she's only started coming to herself the last two weeks. Quite frankly, she's come here at 85 per cent, maybe 90. I was slightly concerned in the last furlong but Frankie looked after her, it was a lovely ride. He always wanted to be where he was, he was keen to sit there and she's an exceptional athlete. To come from an eight-month layoff to win an Eclipse isn't an easy thing. She's done it all herself and the plan is the King George."  - John Gosden, speaking to the Racing Post’s Tom Collins

 

Best Of The Rest: Magical came close, but never really looked as if she was going to seriously threaten Enable, whilst Regal Reality, who once again misbehaved in the preliminaries, was a very creditable third under Kerrin McEvoy. Magical will be given a break and won’t be far away at the top level, and Regal Reality could also be seen in G1 company again next time.

Danceteria ran a cute race to hoover up plenty of cash in a staying-on fourth, and more Group prizes probably await. Mustashry was disappointing again and might need a break, whilst Telecaster was once again well beaten and there are some doubts about him now, though he too may need freshening up. Hunting Horn did his usual good job as the trailblazer.

Zabeel Prince looked as if he was going to be involved before being denied a run, and then faded disappointingly to be last. A return to France could be an option for Roger Varian’s charge.

 

  1. RIP John McCririck (1940-2019)

Racing saw its heroine shine, but lost a man who, to many, was a hero of the betting ring this week as John McCririck passed away on Friday.

The news brought out a huge wave of tributes for a broadcaster who was famous both inside and outside of racing, and with good reason. It is worth starting out with this brilliant tribute from Brough Scott.

https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1147133642520649730

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https://twitter.com/goddamnpal/status/1147081489290604544

 

The best of them, however, might well have been Alistair Down’s obituary in the Racing Post, and Chris Cook's splendid explanation of the difference between people's view of his demeanour and his incredible journalistic skills:

  1. Coral-Eclipsed?

You know the drill. It’s a big Saturday with a Group 1 leading the card. Frankie Dettori has fancied rides. At least one of them is favourite. And people are doing the multiples.

It happened at Ascot, it happens every weekend, and it happened again on Saturday when he lined up with a fine book of mounts for Coral-Eclipse day.

Coral – for whom this is the biggest PR day of the year – made the call to accept multiple bets on Dettori – but only offered odds at starting price (SP) on his mounts in races five and six to punters seeking five-folds and six-folds. This, coming after bet365 and Sky Bet refused certain multiples featuring Dettori's rides, of course, led to be plenty of discussions. Firstly, after the dust has settled, here's James Knight of Coral:

And the views of others:

In The End: Dettori ended up with a treble after wins for Mojito (4-1), Enable (4-6) and Falcon Eight (10-11). 

The Social Discourse View: Betting nowdays is a game all about choice. Whilst Coral took defensive action – and remember how close they were, along with the industry, to being knocked for six at Royal Ascot - others offered a full service. Let the free market decide?

 

  1. Too Darn Hot

Once upon a time, there was a champion two-year-old. He went to his three-year-old season. Pretty soon, he came upon a programme. He knocked and went right into the season.

On the programme, there were three races. Too Darn Hot was keen. He went for the Dante, after an interrupted preparation.

"This comeback came at the wrong time!", his trainer exclaimed.

Nine days later he went to Ireland for the 2000 Guineas there, and finished second.

"This came too soon", his trainer confessed.

So, he went to Ascot and came to win the St James’s Palace Stakes. He came to win, but ended up third.

"This ground is too soft," his trainer said.

So, he went to the next three-year-old Group 1 on offer, this time in France.

"Ahhh, this track and trip is just right," he said happily as his horse waltzed away the Prix Jean Prat.

 

https://twitter.com/RadioEmmet/status/1147933656075423746

Now that is stretching things a bit – and perhaps getting this wonderful website in trouble with the great Robert Southey (look him up) but he also did make short work of his rivals in the Jean Prat, relishing a decent surface, strong pace, and the seven-furlong trip. He beat the rapidly progressive Space Blues, whilst in third, making it a 1-2-3 for the UK, was Fox Champion.

 

From The Horse’s Mouth:

"We saw the real Too Darn Hot today. This is where we are starting our season, we've got a long year ahead." – Lady Lloyd Webber, owner of Too Darn Hot, speaking to the Racing Post’s Scott Burton

 

"His proper distance is 1,400 [metres] up to an easy mile and we'll play to his strengths rather than stupidly playing to his weaknesses. He's not a stamina horse, he's built like a sprinter. I probably should have been running him in the July Cup next week, I've probably got it wrong again." – John Gosden, trainer of Too Darn Hot, also speaking to Scott Burton

"We got in a nice slipstream behind Too Darn Hot and then tried to pick him up late on but he just quickened away from us. He kept galloping and I'm really chuffed with him. He could even come back a furlong because he does travel very well. He is always the last to come off the bridle but he gets the seven very well and a race like the Foret would be perfect for him." – James Doyle, trainer of Space Blues, also speaking to Scott Burton

The Raiders: Far Above landed the Prix Kistena for James Tate under an excellent ride from PJ McDonald, making it yet another group prize that British trainers have landed this summer. The money’s there and for the taking…

  1. A Class Act...

Best wishes go out to the ace Sea Of Class, who has had her career ended by a life-threatening bout of colic. William Haggas’s brilliant daughter of Sea The Stars was one of the highlights of the flat season last year, taking the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks in tremendous style before finishing an extremely close second when almost running down Enable down the Longchamp finish.

https://twitter.com/hoadie77/status/1147935762266169350

https://twitter.com/HattieLFuller/status/1147917109634187269

 

Hopefully, she can beat this awful situation, and give us all something to cheer after a major blow to the likely quality of many fillies' Group 1’s this season, and also the Arc.

    6. Elsewhere....

  • Aidan O’Brien pencilled in Derby winners Anthony Van Dyck and Sovereign are set to represent Aidan O'Brien in the King George at Ascot later this month, and Japan, originally set for Ascot, will instead contest the Grand Prix de Paris next weekend

 

  • Ennbihaar gave John Gosden a record eighth victory in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock

 

  • Falcon Eight took the Coral Marathon for Dermot Weld after a thrilling duel with Ryan Moore and Mekong on the Eclipse card
  • Winless in her three starts since making a winning debut at Yarmouth in September, William Haggas’ Hidden Message set the record straight in the Coral Distaff, fighting hard to beat Encapsulation by three-quarters of a length

That's all for this week. Until next time...

- WK

Social Discourse – Monday 1st July 2019

It was one of the hottest weeks of the year, with more than our fair share of scorching action on the track. And if the racing results didn’t set everyone alight, the off track debate certainly did. We start this week’s Social Discourse with the Irish Derby, writes William Kedjanyi.

 

  1. How’s that for Sovereignty?

Yes, that’s a very good question indeed, Samantha. Well, as the geegeez.co.uk results tell us, Sovereign won.

Wait, Sovereign? The 50/1 outsider? The pacemaker?

Yes. See here.

 

So, as one could see, he led all the way after what appeared visually to be a strong early pace. How could we make sense of this? Maybe, it would be a good idea, to perhaps consult the race timings, data that could be explained by a sectional expert, perhaps.

 

Oh.

 

 

Right.

 

A blind reading of the race would appear to suggest that Sovereign and Norway started strongly, and escaped the third Guaranteed, by which point they then had too much of an advantage before the rest of the field, who got going what appears to be at least a furlong too late.

In Case You Missed It: A timely reminder about Sovereign’s quality here – or at least what Ryan Moore said about him, as told by Tony Calvin:

 

The Fix Is In! Or is it?

A rank outsider who was nowhere at Epsom sets what seems to be an unsustainable pace, thus proving far too good for the Derby winner and the runner up. It might not look great for the form book, but a great deal of observers – many of whom had a financial interest in the race – appeared to think there was something more at play.

 

The Social Discourse View: For all that it was a shock win, there have been more confusing results in racing, and it should be remembered that the jockeys – remember them? They’re quite important – made a major difference. Perhaps those who believe the product is bent... shouldn't be betting on it?

Anthony Van Dyck, who in the chaos of all this, caught and beat fellow front runner Norway by two and a half lengths, appeared to confirm the Epsom form, suggesting that Ryan Moore’s challenge – perhaps not for the first time in this most crucial of months – was not ideally timed.

Madhmoon, who had done so well to sustain his run at Epsom after passing most of the field following a stumble, didn’t have the same zest, but was better than Broome, who fell out of the stalls and finished a limp sixth.

From The Horse’s Mouth:

Aidan O’Brien:

Padraig Beggy:

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“It was a funny race. They went like the clappers and our horse could never really get into contention. Obviously I’m disappointed and I’d say we might drop him down to ten furlongs. I’ll talk to Angus Gold [owner Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager] and we’ll make a plan.” -  Kevin Prendergast, trainer of Madmhoon, talking to the Racing Post’s Tony O’Hehir

"They went off a real strong gallop and I made a plan to follow Ryan [Moore on Anthony Van Dyck], but he was struggling a long way out. The leader had flown, I was never going to make up that ground and Madhmoon probably didn't stay. I think the Irish Champion Stakes is the best race for him." -  Chris Hayes, jockey of Madmhoon, talking to the Racing Post’s Tony O’Hehir

 

 That's Stat-tastic:

Padraig Beggy is certainly a jockey with a unique record:

 

2. Siskinned

Earlier, there was a much clearer case of the best horse winning. Here’s Siskin dotting up in the Railway Stakes:

 

The next target? The Keeneland Phoenix Stakes back at the Curragh is the next aim and he'll take the beating there. Here's Ger Lyons.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait: Lyons made the call to miss the Coventry Stakes despite an excellent form chance, and he was backed by Juddmonte. It has paid off big time for now and might still reap further rewards down the road. Also, speaking of the waiting game...

 

3. A Coronation Fit For A Queen

If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. And again. And again. And then try again eight more times.

Because that’s how long it took the incredibly admirable Coronet to win her maiden Group 1, running down the pace-setting Ziyad and stablemate Lah Ti Dar in the shadows of the post. It was a masterclass from Frankie Dettori, who delivered her just at the right time, to right the ‘wrong’ of her being beaten by Waldgeist in this last year.

https://twitter.com/John143Vincent/status/1145371632082522112

 

It was a moment for persistence, and due reward for a horse whose record in ten previous Group 1's included four seconds, three thirds and a fourth, and she rightly came in for a great deal of praise afterwards.

 

3, The Legends of St George

It was a red letter Sunday not only for John Gosden but also other British trainers, as they took the four feature races on the card.

Gosden’s Mehdaayih quickly made up for a lifetime’s worth of bad luck during The Oaks when becoming the first British-trained winner of the Group 2 Prix de Malleret since Time On in 2006, and she did so in style, coming from well back to waltz clear:

Headman, the winner of the London Gold Cup who had been forced to miss Royal Ascot on account of the ground, breezed past fellow raider Jalmoud with ease to take the G2 Prix Eugene Adam:

Art Du Val, who had previously landed a conditions event in Dubai, landed the Prix de Saint-Patrick for Charlie Appleby and James Doyle to begin the raid:

A bad sign for French racing? Tim Carroll posed the question, and started an interesting debate:

 

5. Who’s Going?

A note to end the weekend’s action. The New Curragh, a huge project for Horse Racing Ireland – at a cost of €80m, over four years – held its first Irish Derby over the weekend, but there were not attendances to match:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday: 

 

What’s wrong here?

Some say a move back to Sunday for the Irish classic is the way to go, but more of a worry would be the complaints about the Saturday experience: "sight of lengthy queues for toilets, as well as food and drink, at the ground level of the new Aga Khan Stand" (quote taken from The Irish Times.) Indeed, he was not the only person to notice:

Indeed, in the same paper, Brian O’Connell’s missive reminds us that there is still work to be done:

“It didn’t matter that backstage the jockeys’ loo was a Portakabin, or that the Members’ bar flapped in the wind like a point-to-point tent, just as it will be irrelevant to TV viewers this afternoon that every element of the new facility is state of the art.”

It's not over yet... watch this space for more updates!

- WK

Social Discourse, Monday 24th June – The Right Royal Round-Up

It was the most Royal of weeks, but anyone who was there knows that doesn’t come even close to covering the full glory of flat racing's finest five days. Everything from Danny Tudhope’s brilliantly timed push to the line on Lord Glitters, to King Power finally getting their oh so deserved winner at the end of the week was captivating, writes William Kedjanyi. Some of the memories might be as fresh as a tall glass of Pimm’s but that just means that they are worth reliving even more.

Here are my favourites, and yours...

  1. The Champagne Moments

Here are a number of your favourite moments over the past week, beginning with a right thriller:

https://twitter.com/ItisNotCricket/status/1142842403243601921

https://twitter.com/zaarito/status/1142811068982550528

 

Personal Highlights: The swagger with which James Doyle appeared alongside Kachy on Blue Point, before he set about winning the Diamond Jubilee.

 

  1. The On-Track Stars

And your best performances too, which was not an area we lacked in this week:

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https://twitter.com/CherryAnalysts/status/1142869871593697280

 

  1. The Eyecatchers

Plenty managed to catch the eyes of racegoers who could see through a throng of hats:

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1141451587761496064

https://twitter.com/Ascot/status/1141393405345435649?s=20

  1. Blue’s Point

In amongst all the performances, it might seem unfair to some that only one horse - and yes that horse isn't Stradivarius - will get a special story all to themselves, but Blue Point’s brilliance in taking the week’s major sprints, and becoming the first to complete the King's Stand/Diamond Jubilee double since Chosir in 2003, was the premium achievement of the week and two of its outstanding moments.

 

 

In the second leg, Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old sat in the slip-stream of the rocket Kachy – and what a thrill Kachy's owner, David Lowe, must have had when he was bombing along – and looked as if he was going to rout the field when James Doyle cruised up alongside Richard Kingscote. He then kicked clear to the tune of two lengths before the progressive Dream of Dreams flew home, almost spoiling the party. He got to within a head, but not past the dual winner. Here's a snapshot of how we all felt:

https://twitter.com/TheRacingJosh/status/1142453068027650050

 

  1. Honours

Frankie Dettori’s four-timer will never be forgotten, especially by the brown-trousered bookmaker fraternity, though Ryan Moore's booting home five winners has somewhat passed under the radar.

But Danny Tudhope had just ten rides, from which he conjured four winners, a second and two thirds at the Royal Meeting in a stunning display. He showed not only timing but also strength to win three of his four prizes by a neck on Lord Glitters (Queen Anne), Move Swiftly (Duke of Cambridge) and Space Traveller (Jersey).

I saw more of the ITV team than I wanted to – not a slight on them, but rather I feel I went home from the track too soon – but all were excellent, even if I will never be as much of a fashionista as Charlotte Hawkins. The production values were world class and the same can be said for NBC’s coverage, which yours truly had the honour of seeing up close!

The bar and racecourse staff were wonderful this week, despite the course being as packed as ever. The personal pop up shops were also an excellent touch.

Frankie Dettori, Aidan O’Brien, and John Gosden, three legends of Royal Ascot:

Mary Ellet, for the Meme of the Week:

Ben Keith, for taking this finish in stride:

https://twitter.com/StarSports_Bet/status/1141362932036620290

Samantha Martin, for this fascinating stat:

It was a truly captivating Royal Ascot, as befits such a pivotal placeholder in the British sporting and social calendar. Luckily for us, there's plenty more action to come this summer!

Until next week, WK signing off...

- WK

Social Discourse – The Royal Ascot One

It’s nearly here. The top hats and tails have been measured. The Pimms has been prepared, the tickets sent out, the badges inscribed.

The Royal Family have had their dresses fitted, the carriages are ready, and an army of racegoers have their best outfits – in their own minds at least – prepared. Yes, Royal Ascot is on its way, and in this edition of Social Discourse we are all about the right Royal Affair, and what you think about it.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

 

  1. Do’s and don’t’s

What rules should you follow and what pitfalls should you avoid?

https://twitter.com/Gem1304/status/1140337030947323906

It is worth saying that some of you were not as enthused about the coming week:

From yours truly:

Do:

  • If you’re headed there for the first time, take comfortable shoes. You’d be surprised at how big Ascot is from end to end
  • If you are trying to get good prices and decent each/way terms, bet the night before or in the morning. Raceday markets shorten massively
  • Think about course form. Ascot rewards repeat performers and other courses can correlate well, especially ones with stiff finishes
  • If you are going and haven’t already yet, buy and take a mobile phone charger. In fact, two if you can carry them
  • Think about where the pace is. It can be crucial in races on the straight mile but every race will be affected by it

Don’t

  • Chase: There are five days of racing here and nearly 30 races. Your week is not over after a bad day, and unless you call it quits when ahead, it’s not over after one winner
  • Go too hard too early. There’s nothing wrong with an early pint, but Royal Ascot days are long ones on course
  • Count out a horse completely because of price or draw. Plenty of big fields, especially over 1m4f, have seen high drawn horses win, and we’ve had big priced winners to boot for a ton of races as readers here know
  • Leave it late, especially if you are heading from London Waterloo – there’s a dispute between South West Railway (SWR) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) over train guards. Some are saying that driving by road might be the best way to do it

 

  1. Memory Lane

Now for a trip down memory lane. Let’s just say that one of you has some rather unique memories of Royal Ascot..

And onto the track based ones.....

 

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And one from the Gentleman's bookmaker......

 

  1. Crown Jewels

With so many top class races – there are eight Group 1’s alone – it’s sometimes impossible to know where to look. But never fear, Twitter’s here for a crowdsourced guide.

 

The Social Discourse Choice: It was surprising not to see more shouts for the Gold Cup, but the sheer amount of talented two-year-olds we’ve seen means The Coventry has to be my pick.

 

  1. Nap Hands

Here are the naps from the great and good of Twitter:

https://twitter.com/chatman_phil/status/1140309799206305793

And last but never least....

Mine? You’ll have to wait won’t you.

 

  1. Things to look out for….
  • As ever, a bumper international crop, including horses from at least nine countries. This includes sprinters Enzo's Lad (from New Zealand) and Lim's Cruiser (Singapore), along with the Japanese mare Deirdre, who has managed to get the race moved for better viewing times at home
  • Included in this is the team of Wesley Ward, eight strong this year and boasts Diamond Jubilee contender Bound for Nowhere amongst a host of juvenile contenders
  • The final crop of the sadly departed Scat Daddy, which includes Sergei Prokofiev (King’s Stand), Qabala (Coronation Stakes), So Perfect (Commonwealth Cup, Jersey Stakes), and Beatboxer (Britannia)
  • The return of last year’s Derby winner Masar, who reappears in the Hardwicke on the final day

 

  1. Horses you can’t wait to see

And if you need any more reason to make today just fly...

 

Good luck, and let the Festivities begin!

- William Kedjanyi

Social Discourse – 10th June 2019

Happy Monday, and welcome to another weekly round up of the pick of the news as seen through the tweet machine lens...

There’s only one place to start this week’s Social Discourse, and that is the fire which could have been a tragedy if not for the extremely quick work of those based at Jamie Osborne's Old Malt House Stables in Upper Lambourn. When flames engulfed the yard at 4am in the morning, destroying the tack room, a bungalow and mercifully nothing more, it was thanks not only the quick thinking of Osborne but of all those involved, and the kindness of - amongst others - Stan Moore, who stabled some of the affected horses for a day afterwards. See some of the events below:

 

 

Tweet Of The Week: This says it all. What a man Jamie Osborne has been, and what a team he’s got behind him.

 

  1. All Rise for Sir Winston

This has been a rather dramatic Triple Crown year. It’s only six weeks or so ago that we had the first disqualification in Kentucky Derby history. Then, in the Preakness, the middle leg of the Triple Crown, we saw a riderless horse (having unshipped Johnny Velazquez, no less) stealing America’s heart, perhaps gaining more love than the winner. And in the third and final leg, we had another surprise as Sir Winston nipped up the rail to record an upset in the Belmont Stakes.

 

Making his Classic debut for Mark Casse, who was training a second of the three Triple Crown winners, Sir Winston travelled like he’d been at this level for just as long as any horse in the field. Held up early, he moved into contention smoothly in the run-up to the far turn; thereafter, jockey Joel Rosario had to hold his nerve when he was briefly boxed in, but when the gap came he scooted up the inner for what was a perfectly timed winning run. The Twittersphere had plenty to say about the race, the rides, and the tactics.

https://twitter.com/Calim1701/status/1137499938542182402

 

Any later, and it’s possible that favourite Tacitus, fourth in the Kentucky Derby before skipping the Preakness, might have got there in time, whilst Japanese contender Master Fencer appeared to finish fastest of all (just as he did in the Durby), but the glory went to Sir Winston.

A shout out to Master Fencer's connections, who have taken the Triple Crown in stride, and hopefully they will be back very soon.

 

  1. Judge, Jury and Mr Adjudicator
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Tory leadership contenders talking about taking drugs, taxes and Willie Mullins winning the Prix la Barka. They’re three certainties in life and we’ve had all of them this weekend, with Mullins continuing the Closutton domination of this French Grade 2 hurdle. This time, Mr Adjudicator denied stablemate Bapaume in that one's quest for back-to-back wins.

https://twitter.com/AtTheRaces/status/1137813615791071232

Mullins had won the last three renewals, with Un De Sceaux and Shaneshill scoring prior to Bapaume 12 months ago, and he'd entered over half the field on this occasion.

Elsewhere on the card, the Prix des Drags was a race of contrasting emotions; joy for Isabelle Pacault and dedicated ally Jonathan Plouganou after Jubilatoire's win, and despair for the Mullins brigade after the loss of Irish Grand National runner-up Isleofhopendreams, who was fatally injured at the water jump in front of the stands.

The Prix Questerabad saw Irish interest in the shape of French Made, but she was a blowout when fourth behind L’Autonomie, an impressive winner.

 

  1. Santa Anita-Close Down

Breaking: As I write this newsletter...

The consequences: Obviously massive. California’s premier racetrack – and arguably the premier racetrack in America, if not the most famous one – has been here before, and the first question that comes to mind especially for many readers here, will be what happens to the Breeders’ Cup, which took place at Churchill last year but which was set to return to Arcadia in 2019.

https://twitter.com/ArsenioHall/status/1137969596433162241

This is another reputational disaster for racing – there have already been nationally uncomfortable questions – and once again, questions to which the authorities do not have the answers will be asked, especially PETA, on a national stage (see the New York Times tweet above). Where do we go from here?

  1. Elsewhere at Belmont

Heading back to America, it was a truly top class card at Belmont to entertain on Saturday.

  • Bricks and Mortar, now firmly established as the best turf horse in the US, added to his Pegasus Turf win with a cosy success in the Manhattan Stakes

https://twitter.com/HorseRaceSite/status/1137479973135179779

 

  • Mitole took a thrilling and extremely high-class renewal of the Metropolitan Mile Handicap, holding off the late and unlucky challenge of McKinzie with Thunder Snow a fine third over a trip short of his optimum. The latter will stay in America for a summer campaign, perhaps heading to Saratoga next.

 

  • Thanks to a meltdown early pace, Hog Creek Hustle sprung an upset in the Woody Stephens, beating fellow outsider Nitrous, and an objection from the stewards as they debated whether the winner caused Mind Control to lose any chance in the lane when he shifted in his stretch run.

https://twitter.com/WHR/status/1137455811322683392

  • Guarana showed herself to be a horse of immense promise when graduating straight from maidens into Grade 1 company, breaking the track record as she slammed Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress by six lengths in the Acorn Stakes.

https://twitter.com/WorldRacing_/status/1137442373288505344

  • World Of Trouble had no trouble in taking the Jaipur Invitational Stakes.

  • Midnight Bisou got the better of Come Dancing in impressive style when landing the Odgen Phipps Stakes.

  • Rushing Fall started what would be a Grade 1 treble for Chad Brown when landing the Just A Game Stakes.

 

  1. A Right Royal Treat, Part 1

With just over a week to go, some of the best racing days of the year are on their way, and there’s so much to look forward to. 

On the Tuesday:

  • The Queen Anne will see a host of names which fought out the Lockinge Stakes meet again, with Mustashry favourite to beat Laurens, Accidental Agent and Le Brivido amongst others
  • Last year’s 1-2-3 will meet again in the King’s Stand, with Blue Point, Battaash and Mabs Cross re-opposing
  • In the St James’s Palace, there’s the chance we might get to see Magna Grecia – if he can recover from the pulled muscle which saw him disappoint at the Curragh – take on Phoenix of Spain, bringing together the English and Irish Guineas winners
  • There are more Coventry contenders than one can count, in what looks set to be one of the most open races of the week

 

Wednesday:

  • Sea of Class and Waldgeist could be joined by last year’s Derby winner Masar and Crystal Ocean in what looks a potentially belting Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Thursday

  • The Gold Cup sees last year’s Champion, Stradivarius, take on Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter, and 2018 Derby fourth and improver since stretching out, Dee Ex Bee

https://twitter.com/Punters/status/1137947074752786432

 

Friday

  • Dual 1,000 Guineas winner Hermosa is now likely to take on the wide margin Newbury winner Jubiloso in the Coronation Stakes

  • In the Commonwealth Cup, Ten Sovereigns heads a field packed with speed and potential, including Jash, with whom he clashed in last year's Middle Park

 

Saturday

  • Invincible Army, a very impressive winner of the Duke of York Stakes, takes on Godolphin's French raider Inns Of Court, who was different class in the Prix du-Gros Chene, as we conclude the week’s Group 1’s in The Diamond Jubilee

Tip top stuff, of which more next week.

Meanwhile, this is WK signing off...

- William Kedjanyi

Social Discourse: Monday 3rd June

This week’s Social Discourse revolves around the four European Group 1’s of the week, and especially the three Classics. They provided more than enough controversy, drama and performance for even the most demanding racing thrill-seeker, and if you happened to miss any of it, look no further. Twitter was abuzz this week... 

  1. Anthony Van Did It

It’s a magnificent seven for Aidan O’Brien, and what a race it was.

At the end of 2 minutes and 33 seconds, this was all that separated the first five:

Credit to the magnificent Laura Wooton for the above shot.

 

 

The Heroes Of The Hour:

First, let’s give the groom, Sumith Pathrannelage his due – it almost didn’t happen in The Oaks, but more on that later.

Secondly, Seamus Heffernan, take a bow. The 46-year-old, riding in his twelfth Derby, finally came across the line in front, and did so the hard way. Off a slow gallop, Anthony Van Dyck was being rousted along before they even came to Tattenham Corner, with Sir Dragonet going best of all whilst a host of fellow Irish challengers made their big moves.

He didn’t get a run for about a furlong as Heffernan had to manoeuvre past the retreating Circus Maximus and Telecaster, before Mhadmoon and Sir Dragonet’s challenges, before then taking the time to divert to the inside rail and force himself past a wall of four challengers.

It must rank as one of his best ever wins, alongside his Breeders’ Cup steal on Highland Reel, his all-out drive to win the 2012 Oaks on Was, or his Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes wins for So You Think.

 

It was apt that he earned O’Brien this triumph, given that the trainer had five of the first six home, but might have failed had it not been for Anthony Van Dyck, Mhadmoon running a sterling race to take second by a nose from Japan.

 

https://twitter.com/LauraKingDXB/status/1134855410693955585

Heffernan’s quick thinking and strength were also instrumental, as three-quarters of a length separated the first five home; what experience can do for you, even after spending millions and decades at the top, eh?

 

The Race In Review:

1 Anthony Van Dyck stayed on strongest to get the better of a whole host of runners under a superb Seamie Heffernan ride, giving Aidan O’Brien a seventh Derby, and he’s as short as 6/1 for the King George and 9/1 for the Arc

2 Madhmoon ran a screamer for Kevin Prendergast, preventing O'Brien equalling Michael Dickinson's achievement of training the first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup; failing by only half a length, he has a very bright future, especially at 10 furlongs

 

3 Japan ran a mighty race after an interrupted season, defying another major raceday drift and leaving his Dante fourth well behind despite Wayne Lordan dropping his whip. He has potential to be better than this again.

4 Broome came with a rattling late run, as is his custom, and might well have a future going further than this, like a number of the Ballydoyle horses

5 Sir Dragonet did not disgrace himself at all in finishing a close fifth, having come with a powerful and sustained run down the outside, and after just three runs it would be no surprise if he was able to go forward from this too

6 Circus Maximus didn’t handle the track according to Frankie Dettori, but given the way he folded in the last two (after being bumped a couple of time to boot), might also be a 10 furlong horse.

7 Humanitarian was the best British horse, something which will alarm some observers for all that he might well have been the only home-trained contender to run anything like his best form. We might not have seen his best days and he too could be better over further.

8 Norway finished roughly the same distance behind Sir Dragonet as he did at Chester, suggesting he might not be much better than this.

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https://twitter.com/MaybeSoYouThink/status/1135087102541074435

9 Line Of Duty was reported to need an ease in the ground by James Doyle but this was a second disappointing run and the way he faded late suggests 10 furlongs might be in order

10 Sovereign struggled to get up to the lead early and didn’t appear to set a fast early pace before dropping away

11 Hiroshima wasn’t good enough for the bump he got leaving the stalls to do him any real harm 

12 Bangkok was very keen early and according to Silvestre De Sousa he didn’t handle the track. He’s not one to give up on for the rest of the season

https://twitter.com/TheRacingJosh/status/1134847009263955968

 

13 Telecaster was the race’s big disappointment, having been keen early with a horse to follow, before settling nicely at the head of the field. He went into the home straight with a decent chance, but was quickly going backwards before being eased. Oisin Murphy said he just ran flat, but he was beaten too far for that only to be the case and this effort can be forgotten.

 

https://twitter.com/AtTheRaces/status/1135256485196206080?s=20

 

  1. Anapearler

24 hours before, the Ballydoyle team wouldn’t have been in such a good mood, as his great rival John Gosden got the better of him when Anapurna edged out Pink Dogwood in a tremendous tussle for the Oaks.

Another competitive race on paper proved to be a thriller, with the front two only a length and a half clear of the fast-finishing Fleeting in third and Manuela De Vega in fourth.

https://twitter.com/UAE_Racing/status/1134484113229045760

 

There was only a neck in it at the end, so no surprise that people focused on the jockey’s rides. There were strong opinions to be had...

https://twitter.com/Mr___Ed/status/1134485618145280000

The Verdicts:

 

The Take: The strongest stayer – and only just – won the race. That’s not necessarily down to jockey error. The best horse… might well have finished eighth (Maqsad).

 

The Credit and The Glory:

If you’re reading this, it’s possible you know who Taufique Alam is. For the uninitiated, he is the groom of Anapurna, although you wouldn’t have known it from the immediate aftermath of the race:

Quite rightly, many people were up in arms about this, but who saved the day? John Gosden and Rachel Hood.

 

In behind we had a rough race.

Tarnawa and Pink Dogwood had a bumping match; Mehdaayih then got squeezed by Delphinia; Manuela De Vega, coming under a drive, also slammed into the unlucky on the day favourite. Along came Maqsad, who slammed into Manuela De Vega, ending the chance – if anything – of the unlucky Mehdaayih, with Delphina and Frankellina getting a good shunting for their trouble.

 

Poor Robert Havlin got no luck, and will have other days, whilst Maqsad, who travelled best into the race, will surely have a bright future dropped back in trip.  Don’t forget Frankellina, who came with a good late run down the outside and who is still very much growing after just the three runs.

 

  1. Defoe Shoots, Defoe Scores

There was a turn-up in the Coronation Cup, when Defoe clawed back Kew Gardens to cause something of a shock, at least according to the betting, and fulfil a promise that had been years in the making.

When Ryan Moore took Kew Gardens from the very rear to the front of the race, he looked set – as a St Leger winner – to see it out and give Ballydoyle yet another Coronation Cup. However, Defoe snuck up the inside and finished the stronger to emerge the highlight of an Andrea Atenzi treble on the day.

Guess what people were talking about after the race. I’ll leave it to you to find out.

 

  1. Too Much……. Sottsass

Yeah, I know, that name confused me too, but there was nothing unclear about the method of Sottsass’s victory.

In what was another rough and tumble renewal, Persian King, the Poulains winner and hot favourite, cantered through the race and loomed on the outside, going best with two furlongs to go. He went on and started winning a duel with Motamarris, who ran well to be third, but Sottsass was beginning to find his top gear and when he did so, Cristian Demuro found an impressive response, with the son of Siyouni remorseless in eating the ground ahead of him. He ran out what could eventually be called a comfortable winner.

 

 

Motamarris ran a good race in third off a strong pace and enhanced his reputation in losing his unbeaten record, whilst Cape of Good Hope ran on very well for fourth, suggesting 12 furlongs could be on the cards. He improved a good deal on his Epsom Derby trial win.

C’est Genius: Best wishes to Jean-Claude Rouget, who had his fourth Qipco Prix du Jockey Club winner and a third in four years despite being taken ill earlier in the day. Anything Aidan O’Brien can do…..

- William Kedjanyi

Social Discourse – 27th May 2019

Another weekend, another set of top-class races to review through the window of social media. This week’s edition is going to focus on the races that defined the weekend – namely the three Group 1’s and the small matter of two big British sprints that brought different results for the favourites, writes William Kedjanyi.

 

  1. Rise of The Phoenix

Before a hoof had been set on the rebranded Curragh – and how glorious it does look now - the Irish 2,000 Guineas narrative was all about two horses. In the purple corner, Magna Grecia, the impressive winner of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. In the pink corner, Too Darn Hot, second in the Dante and an extremely impressive champion two-year-old last season, who had won the Dewhurst and earned himself a rating of 126.

If you’re reading this, you probably know that neither won, as no horse in the race could touch the mightily impressive Phoenix Of Spain, who was smartly away and always in front to the far side.

When the challenges came – and there were plenty who wanted a crack, most notably Too Darn Hot – he had all the answers and eventually ran out an impressive winner.

https://twitter.com/RadioEmmet/status/1132380888057229315

https://twitter.com/HattieLFuller/status/1132371577180446721

Too Darn Soon?

Too Darn Hot loomed up before Spencer and Phoenix really kicked on, and eventually finished second, a very creditable performance given the short amount of time since his Dante second – in itself a hard race on his seasonal comeback.

John Gosden himself admitted this was hardly a tried and tested route for a top horse of his, when speaking to the media in the week:

"Obviously his programme was turned upside down in the spring. He never made the Greenham; he never made the Guineas and he spent quite a long time walking.

"As I told everyone when he went to the Dante, he was 85 per cent and he ran a good race. The distance was a little too far, but he probably laid back a bit far off our pacemaker. I thought the winner won well.

"It was not my intention to go to Ireland, but I thought he came out of the race in great order. He was eating well and was full of himself.

The Bottom Line: It’s entirely possible we’ve not seen the best of this horse yet this season, for all that people will miss the horse of last year.

The Rest: Decrypt ran a fantastic race to take third on the line from Skardu, who also ran with big credit. The pair have just eight runs between them and bright futures ahead, and both ran much better than Magna Grecia, who was one of the first off the bridle and who failed to respond to Ryan Moore’s urgings.

Targets aren’t known for the third and fourth yet, but Ascot could beckon, with either the St James’s Palace or the Jersey Stakes realistic targets. It remains to be seen what was up with Magna Grecia….

 

  1. Blast From The Battaash

 On this side of the Irish Sea, there was a force of nature somewhere in the Northwest, where Battash was back to his best and once again blazing the turf in the Temple Stakes. Let’s enjoy the closing stages once again.

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1132301347263590400

Charlie Hills’ five-year-old was making it back to back successes in the Temple Stakes, and in doing so brought back a great deal of shine to his reputation, which had taken slight knocks in defeats at the highest level towards the end of last season.

https://twitter.com/robynfrommars/status/1132300817996963840

https://twitter.com/lad_racing/status/1132300771792433153

Alpha Delphini was a creditable second and Mabs Cross was third under her penalty, having also lost a shoe.

https://twitter.com/3furlongsout/status/1132566562676846594

The next step? It’s time to get your top hats on once again. The King's Stand beckons.

 

  1. Well Hello, Youmzain

One of the feature attractions of a super Saturday of racing was Calyx, the 2018 Coventry winner who was unbeaten in three starts and the favourite for the Commonwealth Cup. He was expected to extend his sequence to four on his way to Royal Ascot with ease – indeed he went off 2/13 to beat three rivals in the Sandy Lane Stakes – and all looked well until… Robert Havlin pressed the button.

Your first 30 days for just £1

 

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1132292583613452288

 

Calyx shifted further left than Jeremy Corbyn in the 80’s and suddenly Hello Youmzain, who quickened impressively, was away and not for catching.

The winner is now a dual Group Two winner who is single figures for the Commonwealth Cup – a nice position for Kevin Ryan, who’s excellent with his sprinters – and he goes to Ascot with a genuine claim of being involved.

 

John Gosden’s View:

From the horse’s mouth: "At the end of the day, we can't be afraid of one horse. It would be too soon to write (Calyx) off - but we're just delighted with ours. We had to try the Greenham, to see if he stayed - you only get one crack at these Classics. It was pretty clear he didn't (stay), so this was the next logical step.

"He's won two Group Twos now - all he's going to do is keep improving. He's been like that since day one - the more racing he gets, the more he's going to mature. We hope there's plenty to come. He's still learning the game. He's in that [Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot] - it's the logical step. Let's enjoy today, we'll have a chat with the owners and everyone involved."

 

Spare a thought...... For those who had Calyx let them down on short Saturday accas...

But not those who were stupid enough to boo a horse. Yes, that's right, boo a horse.

https://twitter.com/James_Watson98/status/1132291269944926208

  1. Hermosa and Hosed

Aidan O’Brien had suffered a rare G1 disappointment on Saturday with Magna Grecia, but Hermosa never looked in danger of failing to complete her own Classic double as she took the Irish 1,000 Guineas in style. And boy, Twitter did like what they saw.

https://twitter.com/SportingLife/status/1132671084682256384

Hermosa, who is now the fourth horse to have completed a Guineas double after Attraction (2004), Finsceal Beo (2007) and Winter (2017), is headed on her travels again – to the Prix de Diane.

Her next challenge? Siyarafina, who won the Prix Saint-Alary in cool style under a relaxed Christophe Soumillon.

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1132657587814576129

 

https://twitter.com/mulldog/status/1132657309732212737

Of the rest? 

East was a disappointment, finishing  nearer last than first, with many blaming the quickest ground she’d run on.

 

Pretty Pollyanna ran a great comeback race to finish a good second, ahead of Foxtrot Liv, who outran her odds to finish a fine third

Iridessa disappointed at Newmarket but stayed on well in the fashion of a horse who now needs at least 10 furlongs.

Fairyland never got into things and might not be a miler, whilst Just Wonderful was well backed but appeared to fold and was a disappointment once again.

 

  1. Magic In The Horse, But Not The Race

Magical is a wonderful horse, and it’s exciting to think that we might not have seen the very best of her just yet despite her having had plenty of runs already for a top class flat horse.

https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1132661151899291649

 

It’s also fun to see her strut her stuff on the racecourse. However, it’s generally more fun to see her test herself against proper opposition in the right circumstances, and today’s Tattersalls Gold Cup didn’t match that.

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1132661392740356096

In what was essentially an exercise gallop, Flag of Honour set a strong pace, followed by his stablemate, and the other three were out of the race by the time they’d come halfway down the hill. It was not the most riveting spectacle for the racing Twitteratti.

 

Is the Gold Cup going to stay much longer as a Group 1? Many think it shouldn’t:

https://twitter.com/wild_julian/status/1132657576682885120

Too many races spoil the broth: The d’Ispahan (see below) being run on the same day doesn’t help matters, whilst the Coronation Cup is also in near direct competition just a week after. The Brigadier Gerard Stakes was run earlier in the week and when you add in the Lockinge, there’s an awful lot of options around this distance. Some might even say too many, but it’s not my place…

 

  1. The Prince of Paris

Siyarafina was an impressive winner of the Prix Saint-Alary, and she wasn’t the only Group 1 winner in Paris yesterday.

In complete contrast to the Tattersalls Gold Cup – sorry Magical – this was a properly contested Group 1, with five top-level winners slugging it out, and Zabeel Prince fought hardest and fought best to get the better of Study of Man, who came with a withering late run to take second.

It was a breakthrough Group 1 for him but it had been on the cards based on his win in the Earl of Sefton Stakes, form which is arguably the hottest in Britain so far this year. Forest Ranger has won the Huxley Stakes, Mustashry the Lockinge, and Elarqam has taken a listed contest at Goodwood in good style since.

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1132675560709267457

 

Best of the rest;

Second Study of Man will be aimed at August prizes after two good runs to start his season.

Trais Fluors was disappointing at Sandown but can hopefully come back to this sort of form for the rest of the season, and Intellogent, a former Jean Prat winner, ran a good race.

Godolphin's two representatives, Dream Castle and Wild Illusion, finished only fifth and sixth but were not on their best form and better can hopefully be expected.

Until next time...

Social Discourse: Monday 20th May

The late spring has been spoiling racing fans and, with group racing on four consecutive days, flat aficionados really got their fill as we head to a summer of blockbuster racing. For the jumps boys and girls, there was arguably the biggest shock of the year so far – and it came off the track – along with a dynamite performance, writes William Kedjanyi.

We start with Group 1 flat action...

 

  1. Mustashry The Best? 

This year’s edition of the Lockinge Stakes, won in impressive style by Mustashry for Sir Michael Stoute, was perhaps as notable for the horses in behind as it was for the impressive winner.

 

An open renewal had always promised to leave us with some questions as well as answers, but there was no doubt that the best horse won on the day, making a clear statement in a division that some might say is up for grabs.

In the aftermath of the race, which provided Stoute with an eighth Lockinge, 33 years since his first, there was much attention on the rest of the field.

Second placed Laurens, making her return, had travelled like the best horse in the race, and fought on well to repel a host of late chargers after being the last to come off the bridle.

They included Accidental Agent, who came from nearly last to take a fine third and better his sixth-placed finish last year en route to Queen Anne glory.

https://twitter.com/bishopcharlie12/status/1129780655561367552

https://twitter.com/1doublehandful/status/1129760217279942657


Romanised
, last season’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, wasn’t far behind, but spare a thought for Le Brivido, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, having to go behind and then around the retreating Without Parole before flying for fifth.

Where do they next meet? In the Queen Anne Stakes in what is fast shaping to be one of the most exciting Royal Ascot meetings of recent years. 

Star of the show? Jade RansleyB who has looked after Mustashry all his life. Sir Michael Stoute was free flowing with his praise, and rightly so when speaking to the Racing Post’s Lewis Porteous:

"We knew he was in very good shape but Jade has made this horse. She looks after him like no other could and puts a lot of work into this horse. He's had a lot of niggles over his career but I don't think we've ever had him in better form. You can't do it without staff like Jade – she is particularly dedicated."

 

  1. Too Darn Good

Much like a Victorian painting, the equine masterpiece that we call The Derby is never quite finished – or appreciated – until the big splash, that being the race itself, but we now have a clear picture of the Epsom Blue Riband.

That canvass is probably a portrait of Aidan O’Brien, with a dash of black and orange thanks to Telecaster, who got the better of a thrilling Dante battle with Too Darn Hot to stamp his name right into the reckoning for Epsom.

The previous nine-length maiden winner was always front rank, taking a spot behind the early pacesetter, Turgenev, and travelling with comfort into the race down the home straight. When it became clear that the outsider was about to fold, Hughie Morrison’s charge was not for stopping and Too Darn Hot – the only horse to get within hailing distance – was snugly repelled in the end.

The Champion 2-year-old of last season had been widely expected to maintain his unbeaten record, despite missing both the Greenham and 2,000 Guineas – and he was backed from 7/4 into 10/11 on the day to do so. He lost nothing in defeat, as plenty noticed here.

The next step? Back down to a mile for Too Darn Hot in the St James's Palace;

 

As with all trials, we have plenty of fascinating questions:

Will Telecaster’s owners, the Castle Down Racing syndicate, supplement him for the Epsom Classic on June 1 at an expense of £85,000?

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If he is supplemented, how will he handle the 16-day gap that separates the Dante and the Derby this year?

We won’t know until the very last moment, but Matt Butler of the Racing Post looked into the gaps between the prep run and the Derby for the last 20 winners and calculated the average period – 27.4 days. The two to win with less than a three-week gap were Authorized, who doubled up with the Dante, and then New Approach, who came from the Irish 2,000 Guineas to swoop down the inside.

Another titbit Butler notes is that Telecaster is a son of New Approach, and out of Shirocco Star, who was an agonizingly close second to Was in the 2013 Oaks off… a 14-day gap.

As for the rest?

Surfman ran encouragingly, having come from last to finish third and promise better over 1m4f, especially going a stronger gallop. He might now head to Epsom for the Derby.

 

Aidan O’Brien didn’t win this Derby trial, but he still would have headed home happy from York, where Japan was a decent fourth despite essentially starting from the same position. His effort has to be marked up given that he’d missed a number of trials and had been on the ‘easy list’ at Ballydoyle due to a number of setbacks. Also caught out when the pace increased, he was tenderly ridden and should enjoy a step up in trip although we don’t yet know his next destination.

 

  1. Not So Giggy With It

A dual Grand National winner. 91 Grade 1 wins. 162 winners over the last season. A seventh owners’ title.

Why anyone with that amount of success would ever want to leave racing would be a mystery, but that’s what Gigginstown will be doing over the next five years in a move that came as a great shock to the jumping fraternity.

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1128278320737599488

https://twitter.com/NiallEarls/status/1128271357471612929

However, the news came right from the horse’s mouth:

"We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we've enjoyed over the past decade, but as my children are growing into teenagers I'm spending more and more of my time at their activities and I have less and less time for National Hunt racing, a situation that will continue for the foreseeable future.”

"I hope that by running down our string over an extended four-or-five-year period it will give our trainers ample time to replace our horses without disruption."

 

So, what happens now?

The changes will be gradual yet seismic for Irish racing. The announcement actually came on the very same day that the store sale season was commencing at Tattersalls Ireland, with the news sending shock waves through the sport and even making bulletin headlines in the UK, too.

 

Quotes (from the Press Association, and Racing Post):

Gordon Elliott: "Gigginstown have been very, very good to me all through my career so far. They've really supported me, and we've been lucky to have some great horses and great days together. It is a blow, obviously - they have plenty of horses with us. But there are a lot of other owners in the yard, and we've proven we can train - so hopefully some other owners will come in." 

Ruby Walsh: "It might take them four or five years to get out, but the ramifications will be felt as soon as this morning. I don’t think anyone will benefit from this situation. It’s a loss for Irish racing. There is no winner."

Colin Bowe (Ireland’s leading point-to-point trainer): "I will certainly miss them. They have bought plenty of nice young horses off me and I suppose the best of them was Samcro. It's a massive blow to the point-to-point industry. Not only was it great to see them in the sales ring when you were selling one at Cheltenham, but they also added a bit of depth to the point-to-point races too."

Oh, and some people weren't so shocked. Or at least one person:

Oh, and there's no better time than a crisis to sell:

https://twitter.com/Racing_Scarves/status/1128283860708593664

 

  1. The Emerald City

Anyone who reads these pages will know that you can’t keep any Irishman down in this sport, and there was yet more Irish jumping success, this time in the City of Love.

A number of the esteemed Twitter racing community, including this man – you might know him as The Racing Blogger – went for one of the best days French racing has to offer yesterday, and some did the double of both Saturday and Sunday.

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1130078788329648128

Firstly, we had the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil – otherwise known as the French Champion Hurdle, although run over 3 miles and half a furlong. De Bon Coeur, the wide margin winner of the race last year – and by 16 lengths no less – was sent off 2/5 with the local public expecting to see their heroine dot up.

She met her match however, in the Irish (or now Irish) supermare Benie Des Dieux, who was going further than she ever had on her first start against geldings in eight starts, but you would never have noticed that from the way that she powered home after the last to beat De Bon Coeur by six lengths.

 

https://twitter.com/HattieLFuller/status/1129766922948681728

https://twitter.com/Matt_Rennie13/status/1129768853536485379

The second big Irish success of the week came in the shape of a wonderful victory for Davy Russell, who had one of his biggest and perhaps easiest wins as Carriacou ran out a wide margin and deeply impressive winner of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. Brilliantly trained by Isabelle Pacault, who became the first woman trainer to win the “Grand Steep”, he sauntered into the race between the last two and romped home by nine lengths from the favourite Bipolare.

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1130127107839987714

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1130121041479647233

https://twitter.com/HonestFrank/status/1130153386307936263


Luck of the Irish:
Was not in here, jockey aside, with Irish National winner Burrows Saint doing the best of Mullins’ five. He was too free off the slow gallop but didn’t disgrace himself in fifth. Total Recall, Rathvinden and Pleasant Company were all outpaced in the final circuit in a race where the gallop changed regularly.

A Sight For Sore Eyes:

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1130119387548180481

 

  1. Rest of The Week

Elsewhere…..

War of Will got the fortune that he was missing when he gave Mark Casse a first Triple Crown win in the Preakness, beating Everfast and Owendale. The real show stealer was Bodexpress, who unseated John Velazquez at the start and ran an extra lap before being caught:

https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1129887112919052288


Aidan O’Brien – yes him, again – had a four-timer at Naas as he strengthened his Royal Ascot hand yet again, with victory for So Perfect in the Lacken Stakes, Pistoletto in the Gustav Klimt Race, Etoile, who made a winning debut in the Group Three Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies' Sprint Stakes, before Ferretti took the Royal Ascot Trials At Naas Handicap.

All of them deserved credit, although for Pistolettto to overcome a bitten tongue and two lost shoes – as well as a hip bang - was notably impressive.

So too was Etoile winning on debut as she did:

At Newbury, a thrilling renewal of the London Gold Cup saw Headman defy top weight and a wide draw to win the London Gold Cup in an exciting finish for Roger Charlton; Temple of Heavens got the better of a battle with Fort Myers and Well Of Wisdom to win the Olympic Glory Conditions Stakes; Queen Power ran down Lavender’s Blue to take the the Haras de Bouquetot Fillies' Trial, and Khaadem began his three-year-old career in style when landing the Listed Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes, entering the Commonwealth Cup picture in so doing.

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1129750059418103810

 

During the Dante meeting, Champion stayer Stradivarius made a successful reappearance when getting the better of a tug of war with Southern France in the Yorkshire Cup; Lah Ti Dar made a successful comeback in the Middleton after a sustained duel with Rawdaa; Invincible Army was deeply impressive in the Duke of York Stakes; and Nausha held off the challenges of Entitle and Frankellina in a thrilling Musidora Stakes.

Oh yes, the Summer racing festivals are bubbling up nicely! Until next week...

- WK

Social Discourse: 13th May 2019

We are into the thick of the flat season now, and that means taking some international trips for what is a big recap edition of Social Discourse. There's plenty to look forward to this week, but in case you were gripped by the weekend's football - and let's be honest, there's no shame in that - here's what you might have missed.

  1. Kings and Castles

Anything Coolmore can do, Godolphin can do… just as well?

A fortnight on from Coolmore’s Guineas double, Godolphin landed their own brace of successes in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Pouliches with two horses of immense promise for the season ahead.

It was also a momentous milestone for the Boys in Blue, who passed 300 Group 1 winners worldwide – and judging by these two exciting Classic winners - they will be adding to that total this summer.

Persian King had been all the rage for the Poulains, following his impressive win in the Prix de Fontainebleau, that following on from a game victory over 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, but there was one big unknown – heavy ground.

 

The surface at Longchamp was very testing – in line with the surface for much of the week’s racing in Europe – and Persian King, like most of the field, was untried on anything slower than good to soft.

However, he was punted as if defeat was out of the question – indeed he went off 2/5 t- and the money turned out to be right as he responded with tenacity to Pierre Charles-Boudot’s drive at the cutaway, and impressed what already looks like a legion of fans, including one extremely notable fellow...

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1127576124911960064

This first Classic winner for Kingman showed a decent turn of foot in the circumstances and no small amount of grit to get the better of Shaman, the only other heavy ground winner in the field, in a performance which augured well for a future step up in trip, and the Prix du Jockey Club appears to be the next target according to connections:

https://twitter.com/racingtom_/status/1127574310460248064

From the trainer: "He would prefer good ground. The Jockey Club was the long term plan so we'll see. The other option is to wait for Ascot but we'll decide with Sheikh Mohammed and Diane Wildenstein. The Jockey Club seems the obvious target." – Andre Fabre speaking to Scott Burton of the Racing Post

Best of The Rest: San Donato ran a big race to be third on his return, especially as he was making his seasonal debut and running on ground so heavy for the first time. Grainges, third in the Jean Luc Lagardere and perhaps unlucky not to take the Djebel, might have a future up in trip too.

 

Not less than half an hour later, the Royal Blue was in front again as Castle Lady poured her heart out to get the better of Commes by a nose in the Pouliches.

https://twitter.com/racingblogger/status/1127583859158257664

The daughter of Shamardal, who received a fine ride from Mickael Barzalona, got the victory by just a nose from Commes as the two flew past the line together, with Kevin Ryan’s East (more on her later) a fine third.

Her progression has been a story in itself: she was once with Charlie Appleby, but was then switched to Alex Pantall, and in the space of just under three months she’s gone from Chantilly maiden winner to Group 1 filly.

With Commes, a daughter of Prix du Jockey Club winner Le Havre, set to head to the Prix Diane, Royal Ascot could well be on the cards for the winner, who “won’t stay the Diane trip” according to her trainer.

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East, who was drawn very wide, finished to strong effect and has a bright season ahead of her.

https://twitter.com/robynfrommars/status/1127582996243124227

 

  1. Trials And Tribulations

Ladies First - The Oaks is developing into a hell of a renewal, isn’t it?

  • Already set to head there, we have Hermosa, the 1,000 Guineas winner who did her best work late:

https://twitter.com/3furlongsout/status/1125124689989447687

  • Mehdaayih, the uber-impressive winner of the Cheshire Oaks who is surely set to be supplemented

  • Maqsad, the brilliant winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes

https://twitter.com/SportingLife/status/1125067331854655495

  • Anapurna, the wide margin winner of Lingfield’s Oaks Trial

  • Blue Wind Stakes winner, Pink Dogwood

  • Happen, the Athasi Stakes winner and daughter of Alexandrova

Also:

In the Musidora Stakes at York this week, we will see the unbeaten Frankellina and Sandown winner Sparkle Roll.

https://twitter.com/ChampionsSeries/status/1121804023420653568

 

  1. The Ballydoyle Six

The Derby picture is developing too, although it seems to be tilting itself towards one man. You know his name: Aidan O’Brien has six Derby's and five of the top six in the betting for this year's Epsom renewal.

  • Top of the list is Sir Dragonet, the eight-length (yes eight-lengths) Chester Vase winner, who was so powerful late on that he covered the final circuit two seconds quicker than Mehdaayih

  • Ballysax and Derrinstown Stakes winner Broome

  • Japan, the Beresford Stakes winner who reappears in the Dante (see below)

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1046434745964474368

  • Anthony Van Dyck, the winner of the Lingfield Derby trial at the weekend

 

The only horse who isn’t from Ballydoyle and in the top five? Too Darn Hot, who runs in...

 

  1. Dante’s Inferno

There’s just over a fortnight to go until The Derby, and the last trial arguably has the potential to shake things up the most – the Dante.

The York Trial is traditionally one of the strongest, and this year that will be the case once again with what looks like a very deep field.

Taking to the Knavesmire will be:

  • Champion 2-year-old and Dewhurst winner Too Darn Hot

https://twitter.com/SportingLife/status/1051112150809436161

  • Beresford Stakes winner Japan
  • Surfman, subject of a big gamble and a 14 length novice winner at Newcastle

  • Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Line of Duty, hoping to strike one for TV's AC-12

https://twitter.com/WorldRacing_/status/1058472395743346688

  • Telecaster, second to subsequent Bet365 Trial winner Bangkok on debut before then winning by nine lengths at Windsor

https://twitter.com/ODDSbibleRacing/status/1117813773421764609

 

Also running….

  • Sandown maiden winner Almania, the representative of Sir Michael Stoute, Mark Johnston’s Nayef Road, Kadar, Turgenev, Dark Vision and Western Australia. Whoosh!

 

  1. Elsewhere
  • Cape Byron held off the gallant Kynren to land the Tote Victoria Cup at Ascot

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1127303110068789249

 

  • Salouen took the Carey Group Buckhounds Stakes in style on the same cards

  • Pretty Baby overcame the widest draw and the slowest ground she’d raced on to claim a game victory in the Chartwell Stakes at Lingfield

 

  • At Chester, Making Miracles won the Chester Cup by six lengths, beating Who Dares Wins and Whiskey Sour, with Cambridgeshire winner Low Sun in fourth

 

  • Circus Maximus won the Dee Stakes, beating stablemate Mohawk with Fox Chairman unlucky in third

https://twitter.com/WorldRacing_/status/1126480505266941952

  • Hazapour took the Amethyst Stakes, coping well with the drop down to a mile
  • Morando stormed to victory in the Ormonde Stakes, beating Kew Gardens by no less than eight-lengths, with last year’s Chester Cup winner Magic Circle in third

https://twitter.com/ODDSbibleRacing/status/1126501853489876994

 

  • Hamariyna was a taking winner of Leopardstown’s 1,000 Guineas Trial

  • Hazapour took the Amethyst Stakes, coping well with the drop down to a mile

Phew! That's all for another packed instalment. Tune in again next week - same time, same place - for more of the same. Until then, this is William Kedjanyi signing off...

Social Discourse: 7th May 2019

It was a week with just about everything that racing can give, writes William Kedjanyi. But there's really just one place to start for this Special Edition of Social Discourse. To the land of the Free and The Home of The Brave, because where else would we go?

 

  1. Maximum Disqualification

It all looked so simple. The winner of the Kentucky Derby was Maximum Security, who was always on the front end and then kicked on down the straight, having received a canny ride from Luis Saez to become another unbeaten horse to win the Derby, in the process providing a first victory in the great race for stalwart racing supporters, Gary and Mary West.

 

 

And then the objection came.

 

 

Recap: You may know this by now, but one more time for fun: as the field made their way around the final turn, Maximum Security stepped out, nearly bringing down War Of Will, and ended the chances of the retreating Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress, who were squeezed and stopped respectively.

Country House, coming widest of all and passing horses, was forced to go even wider, but wasn’t stopped in his momentum like the others. Down the straight, Maximum Security kicked on, and the Derby was won – or so we thought.

The stewards were on the scene, and so were the tweets.

 

20 minutes passed, with stewards looking at five separate angles, although it felt like an hour given the tension involved.

 

And then, the announcement.

 

By now, what had seemed like a – by Kentucky Derby standards - relatively normal renewal was engraved in the history books when the PA at Churchill Downs announced that, for the first time in the race’s history, the winner had been disqualified.

 

People had opinions:

https://twitter.com/MattBisogno/status/1124815446686011392

 

The technical stuff: The ruling that made the difference: “a leading horse or any other horse in a race swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with, intimidate, or impede any other horse or jockey.”

 

People Had More Opinions:

  

The Right Call?

Most observers – from what yours truly was able to see - were firmly against the decision, but a couple of voices do think it was the right call. Indeed, some of them even shared their thoughts with us:

“Personally, I had backed the 1 horse, War Of Will.  He was coming with his run and got smashed by Maximum Security – it effectively stopped him and another horse - then he veered back down and bumped Code of Honor, and then went back into War Of Will, who knocked into Country house. CH has suffered the least out of the horses. But in American racing every day of the week that gets stood down. In the UK some will agree or disagree that the result would have stood. In France, he would be placed behind the affected horses. Was he the best horse in the race? Probably, but you wouldn’t know for sure, and given that he then drifts across the lanes down the track to finish as well? In my opinion, he cost one horse a place minimum. It was hard to watch the winner get taken down, but I said he’d lose it as he crossed the line. Universal rules needed? Maybe.”

Mick Doonan (@tensovs2kg)

 

“I was going to stay quiet about this but have been getting a few texts and messages so might as well jump into the fire ... I think the Kentucky Derby DQ was the right call. While I think it should have been DQ'ed on a steward's inquiry instead of a rider objection, the sport is in a pivotal spot right now. Leaving a horse up when he made a dangerous move like that just because it was the Derby would have sent the wrong message in a time when our message/sport is already being questioned.

I do however think Country House is the luckiest creature alive right now. He wasn't impacted by the whole thing but did get the win because of it. That's the definition of lucky - but he also put himself in a spot to finish second (and ultimately get promoted) so luck and talent both played a part.”

Melissa Bauer-Herzog 

 

They weren’t the only ones who did actually agree with the call, either: 

Of course, one person who is notoriously short on opinions is the quiet and easy-going US president, Donald Trump. Naturally he had a take on this, and of course, he made a typo in his first tweet, which he had to delete (we've all been there) 

 

 

 

Winners Closer to Home

The result wasn't a shock to everyone, though. Our very own editor had flagged the chance of Country House as a late runner tied into the (absent ante-post favourite) Omaha Beach / Improbable (favourite on the day) form - Country House had run 3rd from an impossible position behind them on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, a key prep for Churchill Downs.

 

Taking The Ball and Going Home 

Gary West – remember him? – told NBC’s Today Show that:

  • Firstly, he’d appeal the decision:
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  • Secondly (see above), Maximum Security wouldn’t be going to the Preakness, with the Triple Crown off the line: “When you’re not going for the Triple Crown, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to wheel the horse back in two weeks,” West said to the AP

 

Don’t Forget: In a race where the early speed was strong but Luis Saez and others cannily cooled it down the back straight, a number of horses ran very well from behind. Tacticus, the more fancied Bill Mott runner, did a fine job to be the first of the held up horses, passing four horses in the final furlong. The future is bright for him.

Don’t give up on Game Winner, who was bodyslammed leaving the gate and ended up second last around the first turn, sat more than five lengths off the back. He made two big moves, the first to catch up to the field, and then the second to come widest of all round the third turn, and he then closed almost as well as Tacticus to finish sixth (placed fifth). He’s still got a big future.

Master Fencer was even further behind, having also been affected by the barging match at the stalls, and he took a long time to get going but when he closed he was lethal, with his final quarter-mile split of 24.31 seconds is the fastest by any horse in a Kentucky Derby since Animal Kingdom’s sub-24 final quarter in 2011.

 

  1. Luck of the Draw

In case you’d forgotten, there were four other Classics that took place over the weekend, and the feature event of Saturday afternoon – the 2,000 Guineas – went the way of Aidan O’Brien yet again as Magna Grecia ran out a comprehensive winner from King Of Change and Skardu.

Except visually, that wasn’t the case at all, as Magna Grecia was two and a half lengths clear of King Of Change and Shine So Bright, with the three having dominated the Guineas as a lone trio down by the near side from the very start.

 

 

Shine So Bright, who had previously won The Free Handicap, made the running at a brisk pace, ensuring Magna Grecia and King Of Change had a good tow, but with 16 going down the middle and only three down the near side, it’s fair to assume that most people would have been happier to have their horse in the bigger group. But that was not how it turned out.

Let’s just say that plenty of people noticed what was up.

https://twitter.com/HawkWing2002/status/1124685448515923977

Meanwhile, In The Centre: In all of this, it should not be forgotten that there were a number of excellent runs. Skardu actually won the race down the middle, just beating Madhmoon to the post for third and fourth respectively. Ten Sovereigns, who was heavily backed into 9/4 favourite, was in front of them with half a furlong to go, but was just run out of things late on – he’s set to go sprinting again, a tremendously exciting prospect as the Middle Park winner is likely to prove tough to beat amongst the speedsters.

Great Scot, the subject of a number of tips – yours truly included – during the week, came out just a touch too keen, and probably ran better than a position of 9th suggested. He might want a drop back in trip whilst Kick On, the Feilden Stakes winner, will go well at ten furlongs and further.

Onwards: Advertise disappointed when running no sort of race but he’s already got his passport stamped for Paris, with the French Guineas next.

 

  1. The Walsh Memories

8,692 days.

Over 2,500 winners.

Over 200 Grade 1 winners.

11 Cheltenham Festival Jockeys’ Titles.

59 Festival winners.

Seven Punchestown Gold Cups.

Six Punchestown Champion Hurdles.

Five Supreme Novices’ Hurdles.

Four Ryanair Chases.

Three Arkles.

Two Grand Nationals.

One Ruby Walsh.

 

After taking yet another Grade 1 victory, aboard Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Walsh bowed out right at the top, and tributes from the jumping world flowed on in. Readers of this newsletter will have a huge amount of Walsh memories – I mean who doesn’t? And I've shared some of the best here.

 

  1. The Town Like No Other

All last week at Punchestown there were more Grade 1’s than there were pints of Guinness to be drunk (OK, maybe not quite), and a number of highlights.

On Saturday, Fusil Raffles took the Four-Year-Old Champion Hurdle, atoning for the cut he picked up in the Adonis.

 

Benie Des Dieux put a dramatic fall at Cheltenham behind her to lead home a whitewash for Willie Mullins in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle

 

On Friday, Buveur D’Air bounced back when storming to success in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle

 

Colin Tizzard ended his season on a high when Reserve Tank won the Grade 1 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle, jumping the last well to get the better of Sams Profile, as Ballymore Hurdle winner City Island disappointed

 

The extremely exciting Chacun Pour Soi dominated an extremely exciting renewal of the Ryanair Chase and had Willie Mullins as excited as we’ve seen it. A lot of excitement!

https://twitter.com/ODDSbibleRacing/status/1124007989529186305

 

Harry Fry’s Unknowhatimeanharry rolled back the years to win the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, beating Bacardys and Bapaume in a thrilling finish

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1123991235415375877

 

Colreevy came back to the Festival for the second time as a Bumper horse, giving Willie Mullins yet another Punchestown Champion Bumper, beating off three Gigginstown horses in the process

 

Minella Indo gave Rachael Blackmore another big winner as he doubled up on his Albert Bartlett win in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle, beating Allaho and Carefully Selected

https://twitter.com/GoRacing/status/1123629311968333824

 

Delta Work handed a big compliment to his RSA conquerors as he sauntered home in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase, smashing Discorama and A Plus Tard

 

Un de Secaux also rolled back the years to get the better of Min by four lengths in an emotional Champion Chase

 

Klassical Dream confirmed his Supreme Novices’ form with Felix Desjy, winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle with ease

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1123248865807826944

 

And, of course, Kemboy gave Ruby Walsh a fantastic second off in the battle of Willie Mullins’ Grade 1 chasers in the Punchestown Gold Cup, claiming the scalp of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo

 

  1. Elsewhere

Phew! It was a busy week... Elsewhere, Aidan O’Brien completed his fourth Guineas double – taking both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the same year – with Hermosa’s all the way victory over Lady Kaya in the 1,000 Guineas complementing Magna Grecia's triumph the previous day. The daughter of Galileo, who was one of four Ballydoyle runners in the field, fought hardest to repel fellow Irish raider, Lady Kaya, and the fast-finishing Roger Varian-trained Qabala

https://twitter.com/TheJockeyClub/status/1125049372369137665

 

The Kentucky Oaks was won by Serengeti Empress, who grabbed the early lead and wasn’t for passing despite a spirited late challenge from Liora, as a number of favoured contenders disappointed

 

On the same card, Newspaperofrecord, the extremely impressive winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles Turf, suffered a shock defeat in the Edgewood Stakes after setting extremely strong fractions and then being run down by Concrete Rose

 

The picture for the Oaks (the British version) is developing quickly, following not only Hermosa’s win but also Maqsad’s domination of the Pretty Polly Stakes, smashing the Fillies Mile fourth, Shambolic

 

Communique received a brilliant ride from Silvestre de Sousa to get the better of Defoe when springing an upset in the Jockey Club Stakes

Mabs Cross made a brilliant return in the Palace House Stakes, defying a penalty to get the better of Equilateral by a neck, with Sergei Prokofiev a running on fourth

 

Calyx maintained his unbeaten record with a superb return in the Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes at Ascot, and he will now go for the Commonwealth Cup itself at Royal Ascot

 

Dee Ex Bee made an impressive debut as a stayer when he ran out a ready winner of the Sagaro Stakes, earning himself quotes as short as 12/1 for the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting

https://twitter.com/ODDSbibleRacing/status/1123602342924959744?s=20

 

Ventura Rebel shocked odds-on favourite Lady Pauline in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes at Ascot, outstaying the American raider to make it two from two.

 

Magical is now unbeaten in two this term after taking the Mooresbridge Stakes, beating Flag of Honour again (also 1-2 in the Alleged Stakes).

 

On the same card, Ickworth was an impressive winner of the the First Flier Stakes, sprinting away from the 2/5 favourite and previous Dundalk winner, King Neptune

 

Shelir came with a wet sail to take the Tetrarch Stakes, retaining her own unbeaten record in the process, and might be headed to the Irish 2,000 Guineas

 

Happen came from last to first to steal the Athasi Stakes on the line, with Ryan Moore in inspired form to get her home by a neck from Dan’s Dream; she will now head to the Irish 1,000 Guineas

 

And that's us up to date on what was a stellar week of action on both sides of the globe and on both sides of the codes. Stay tuned for more of the same next week. For now, though, this is William Kedjanyi going for a long lie down...

- WK

Social Discourse: 29th April

So here we go again, as the dust settles on the 2018/19 UK jump season, writes William Kedjanyi. Seems a bit odd that we have Punchestown this week, but such is the shadowing-but-not-total-overlap of the British and Irish seasons...

  1. The Season That Was 

358 days, 515,520 minutes, and 8592 hours later, we are done. The 2018/19 British jumps season has had its fair share of engrossing stories both on and off the racecourse, and it is little surprise that, fresh after the jumping finale at Sandown Park, on a day when the deserving champions of the season where crowned, people had plenty of highlights.

 

 

The Roll of honour reads:  

Champion Trainer

Paul Nicholls (135 winners, £3,307,171.58)

 

Champion Jockey

Richard Johnson (200 wins, £2,258,652)

 

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1122056769142968323

 

Champion Conditional

Bryony Frost (49 wins, £957,516)

https://twitter.com/WomenInRacing1/status/1122506520107859971

Champion Owner

JP McManus (94 wins, £2,147,993.55)

Racing Post jumps horse of the year

Tiger Roll (Boyne Hurdle, Cross Country, Grand National)

https://twitter.com/SportingLife/status/1114566537124438017

 

We had plenty of exceptional moments, not least Tiger Roll’s Grand National win, but also the super Thursday at the Festival (as said above) with Frodon and Paisley Park. Let’s not forget some of the early season highlights too, like Buveur D’Air’s brilliant Fighting Fifth win (when it looked as if the whole hurdling world would be his oyster), a sensational set of staying novice chases, and the two ridiculously powerful performances of Cyrname at Ascot to name a few. And who knows what could be on the way next season? 

 

  1. Altior - A New Frontier

Had it not been for the extraordinary Tiger Roll, it would have been hard not to deny Altior as the horse of the season. The now dual Champion Chaser took his third Celebration Chase, having once again had to come through a tough battle up the short but steep Sandown hill.

He was facing Sceau Royal once again, the two having clashed at Cheltenham for a previous dramatic late battle, and this time it looked as if a shock was on the cards. Things would have been even tighter if Sceau Royal hadn’t basically walked into the second last. As it was, they were still level after the last – much like at Cheltenham in the Champion Chase – but the customary powerful finish of Altior's took him three and a half lengths clear by the line. Do enjoy this mega leap, captured by Luke Elder, though;

https://twitter.com/Lukeelder13/status/1122140702652104704

 

1,252 days ago, Chepstow saw the debut of a future Champion as Nicky Henderson’s charge won by 34 lengths. That was to be the first of a 19 race winning streak, all over 2 1/4 miles or less, but this season’s performances – and the fact that he’s conquered all there is to conquer over the minimum distance – has finally seen connections opt for a step up in trip.

 

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https://twitter.com/matt_h4/status/1122140940154691587

https://twitter.com/Banger40/status/1122140896496181253

 

The King George is set to be his main aim for the first half of next season, something which trainer, jockey and owners all agree on.

“He’s very good at telling you things. He told you one thing today: ‘Go further!’ – Nicky Henderson, speaking to The Guardian’s Chris Cook in the aftermath of Altior’s success 

 

Three miles? No problem! - “He’ll switch off,” Henderson said. “That’s going to be the beauty of it. He’s no tearaway. Nico [de Boinville] said he was having to boot him the whole way today.”  Henderson once again, speaking to Chris Cook.

 

The View From The Saddle:

  

Where next?

The Racing Post’s Maddy Playle has been looking at the potential next steps….

 

  1. The Grand Finale

The Irish Jumping season ends with a five-day spectacular at Punchestown, with 39 races from tomorrow to Saturday in the beautiful setting of County Kildare. 12 of them are Grade 1’s, and we will be reflecting on a great deal of them here next week, but we have confirmed fields for the first three, which take place on Tuesday.

 

  • Klassical Dream, the extremely impressive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, will go for a double, facing four of his stablemates including Quick Grabim (Paul Townend), Aramon (David Mullins) and Mister Blue Sky (Danny Mullins), along with Gordon Elliott' Felix Desjy, and Nicky Henderson's British challenger, Champagne Platinum.

 

  • Delta Work aims to take yet another Grade 1 over fences in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase, facing the widily impressive Cheltenham winner A Plus Tard, and Getabird, who was narrowly beaten in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase at Christmas

 

  • Devastatingly impressive Ryanair Chase winner Min bids to end his season on a high note in the BoyleSports Champion Chase, facing last year’s winner and stablemate Un De Secaux, as well as Great Field, Castlegrace Paddy, Hell’s Kitchen and Ordinary World

https://twitter.com/TheRacingJosh/status/1114180459708260353

 

  1. Meanwhile, On The Level

The European flat season is already well underway. In Britain, we had a fine card at Sandown on Friday, and today we had the first French Group 1 of the season, the returning Oaks favourite in Ireland, and four Group 1 races in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong gets it’s own spot later on but let’s try and cover the best highlights from Europe to start with.

  • The first Group 1 of the French season, the Prix Ganay, went to Waldgeist, with last year’s Arc fourth cannily ridden to show a fine turn of foot that would see him cosily beat the 2018 Prix Du-Jockey Club winner, Study of Man, and the odds-on favourite Ghaiyyath, an extremely impressive winner of the Prix d'Harcourt previously.

 

  • Ghaiyyath, the 1/2 favourite, had been sent to the lead, presumably in an attempt to try and repeat the same front running win as last time, but Study Of Man and Waldgeist were always travelling better in behind; and when Christophe Soumillon asked him, the last named had plenty in reserve and eventually won quite easily.
  • Much of Twitter was not impressed with what they saw as a below-par performance, as you can see, but Charlie Appleby reckons a step up in trip should do the trick for him

In Ireland, it was a tale of two races for Aidan O’Brien. He will be very happy to have another string to his Classic bow in the shape of Pink Dogwood, who is now a stronger favourite for the Oaks following her win in the Salsabil Stakes, whilst Capri was a well beaten fifth in the Vintage Crop Stakes, where Southern France was also beaten into third. 

  • Pink Dogwood travelled well into the Salsabi, before being made to work very hard by Noel Meade’s recent Clonmel scorer Encapsulation, with the two pulling away. She got the better of the argument by half a length, with Ryan Moore driving away but not using his whip. She’s now as short as 5/1 for the Oaks, and that has split opinion

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1122512861132152838

https://twitter.com/Steeley99/status/1122512394343858177

  • When Aidan doesn’t win, Joseph now so often does, and whilst the result of the Vintage Crop Stakes was in doubt until the very end, Master Of Reality produced a fine front-running display to cause a major upset for Joseph. He’d looked set for second before rallying to beat Mustajeer by a head

https://twitter.com/TimeformLive/status/1122521602254680066

 

  • Capri faded badly into fifth, having never looked quite as comfortable, and Southern France sweated up beforehand but ran with some promise in third; Aidan O’Brien did say that both were big and that plenty of improvement was expected

Back in time, to a place called Sandown...

  • Crystal Ocean took his second, and Sir Michael Stoute’s tenth, victory in the Gordon Richards Stakes on Friday, with the manner of his victory suggesting he can land at least one Group 1 this year. He had too much for the pleasing runner up Knight To Behold, but Trais Fluors and Thundering Blue were both disappointing in behind.

 

  • Beat The Bank took yet another race at Group level with a gutsy win in the Bet365 Mile, responding brilliantly to Silvestre de Sousa’s power-packed drive late on and showing enough to just repel Sharja Bridge

 

  • Silvestre de Sousa and King Power had yet another success as Bangkok showed a smart turn of foot to take the bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown, beating the Martyn Meade-trained Technician, who probably didn’t get the gap to challenge when needed

https://twitter.com/Sandownpark/status/1121777780688064512

 

  • Masaru defied top weight and looked smart in doing so when bet365 Esher Cup Handicap as Migration was a big eye-catcher in second place

 

  1. The Beauty Of Our Generation

There were three Group 1’s in Hong Kong on Sunday but the star of the show was undoubtedly Beauty Generation, who put on a brilliant performance in the FWD Champions Mile

  • The six-year-old was barely asked to come out of an exercise canter to beat Singapore Sling by a length and a half, and so impressive was his previous eight-race winning run that he went off 1/20 in a display that has to be seen to be believed (so I’ve put it for you below).

  • For those asking the inevitable – where will we see his talents next? – Japan’s Yasuda Kinen has been all but confirmed, as one can see from rider Zac Purton’s tweet:

 

In the Chairman’s Sprint Prize…

  • Beat The Clock took his second Group 1 and eighth win when leading home a a one-two-three for Hong Kong-trained horses, with hot Australian favourite, Santa Ana Lane, a slightly disappointing fourth.

 

In the QEII Cup….

  • Win Bright took a first Group 1 success, at 47/1 ! He held off the late runs of Exultant and and Lys Gracieux in a course record time of 1min 58.81secs.

https://twitter.com/Racing/status/1122422909144748033

 

That's all for this week. I'll be back next week - same time, same place - with a round up of the Punchestown Festival and the Guineas. Stay tuned!

- William Kedjanyi

Social Discourse: 23rd April 2019

An Irish special this week, as the Emerald Isle’s Easter Festival gave us some amazing action yesterday and Sunday.

 

  1. St Burrows of Fairyhouse

There aren’t many races that Willie Mullins hasn’t won before, but rather surprisingly for a man with his strength in depth and experience, both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Irish Grand National were gaps on his CV – until this year.

 

In an amazing 38 days for the Closutton handler, he took the Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo and, for much of the last circuit, it was never in doubt that he would complete a double and fill what were probably the last two existing gaps in a glittering CV.

Favourite Burrows Saint, who put in a peachy round apart from two errors, was going supremely well coming out of the long back straight and as he faced the final two fences the race was down to a simple matter of whether he’d be able to back up his strong-travelling nature. He was.

He had enough to fend off the remarkable 12-year-old Isleofhopendreams (20/1), who was beaten a head in the 2018 renewal and again had to settle for second, with Acapella Bourgeois (18/1) third, giving the trainer a 1-2-3 on the occasion when he broke his duck.

Snugsborough Benny, a previous course and distance winner, finished best of the rest in fourth, with Mullins snaring fifth for good measure with 25/1 chance Bellow Mome. Roaring Bull fared best of the Gordon Elliott battalion in sixth.

There was plenty of love on social media for what was a classic Ruby Walsh win.

 

What next? Aintree beckons. Speaking to Gary O’Brien on Racing TV, winning rider Ruby Walsh said: "I’d say now we’ll run him away over hurdles, and we'll have a go at Tiger Roll. He’s French, even the way he jumps – he’s accurate, he’s low, he’d be my horse for Aintree.”

Something to note: Burrows Saint is just six, which means he will be trying to improve the truly dreadful record of seven-year-olds in the Grand National, but there is little else not to like.

 

2. No Jiggy for Giggy

At the end of this day, I don’t think that Michael O’Leary will be too upset with how his season went, but he might not want to remember the Irish Grand National too much.

Gigginstown had 12 runners, the overwhelming majority of them running for Gordon Elliott, but the best of them finished sixth, as Roaring Bull made it three six-year-olds in the first six. It’s fair to say that his fact did not go unnoticed...

 

The Guessing Game: As well as dominating the final fields, fans, punters and commentators can have a nightmare when trying to identify their best chance, with an army of caps needed, as this shows:

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Spotting your runner can be nigh on impossible, but this idea from Sky Sports’ Racing’s Kevin Blake was of interest and sparked some fascinating conversation.

Some have suggested a cap on the number of runners that an owner can have in a race, limiting them to perhaps three or four, and it will be interesting to see if such calls actually grow over the next couple of season. This, of course, is anti-competitive; but then so, some will argue, is one owner having half the field in a race on a regular basis.

https://twitter.com/Michael58827854/status/1120280995620708352

JP McManus, who didn’t have any horses in the first six, ran five and has run more in Irish Nationals previously, is the other owner who routinely gets the caps out.

On one hand…. When over half the runners in the season’s biggest handicap are connected to just two owners, it can reflect badly upon the state of the game.

On the other…. These two behemoths are arguably the power behind Irish racing and their support to the sport is simply priceless.

 

  1. It’s a Rachael Sunday

A defining feature of this jumps season has been the performance of younger jockeys. Plenty have made their name on the biggest stage, and arguably the biggest breakout star has been Rachael Blackmore.

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1119965544776634368

Blackmore, who features regularly in this column – and with good reason – has 87 Irish  winners, a tally beaten only by Champion Jockey elect Paul Townend, and the most important of them came on Sunday, when she steered the tremendously exciting Honeysuckle to victory in the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final. It was the best result all round for racing and the punters, with her growing fan club overjoyed.

 

https://twitter.com/RaviSaggo16/status/1119964757304459264

 

Blackmore was cool, composed, and kicked at the right time to put the race to bed, something she does as second nature now; it was reminiscent of her ride on A Plus Tard at the Cheltenham Festival, leaving nothing to chance at all, and the victory was that of a serious talent.

Honeysuckle ended up beating the same owners’ Elfile, cannily ridden for a place, by five and a half lengths, and to show her talent, Cheltenham Festival winner Eglantine Du Seuil was beaten eight and a half lengths in third.

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1119970722674356226

 

What they said: "It's incredible, unbelievable really. This mare is a bit special and to be associated with her is fantastic. It's hard enough to be able to get rides in Grade 1's, so to be on a horse good enough to win is brilliant. She was fantastic and made my job easy. She's got a very exciting future. She didn't put a foot wrong." – Rachael Blackmore speaking to the Racing Post’s David Jennings

 “It was very frustrating at the time when she missed Cheltenham, but the owners said you have to do what’s right for the mare and thankfully their patience has been repaid. She just went a bit flat and we weren't happy with her, but she was back in good form about two weeks after Cheltenham." – Henry De Bromhead, also speaking to David Jennings

 

  1. The Helter Skeltons

200. That’s the magic number for Dan Skelton, who became just the second National Hunt trainer in history to register 200 winners in a single season.

 

To record a double century of winners is a monumental achievement, but of all the ways to do it, a six-timer on Easter Sunday is spectacular. Perhaps even more remarkably, that six-timer was split across just two courses, with a four-timer at Market Rasen thanks to Montego Grey, Present Ranger Gortroe Joe, and Zamparelli, whilst Istimraar and Kereman won at Plumpton.

Only Martin Pipe has done this before and the great man has predicted that Skelton will be the person to break his record, if anyone can.

 

It has been a season with sparks of quality – think of Roksana and Mohaayed – supported by an army of handicappers who have been smartly targeted from the summer to the spring; and this season has been a masterclass in placing, as well as a superb shift from Harry Skelton (176 winners) in the saddle.

 

https://twitter.com/horse_on/status/1120267254195728384

 

  1. Meanwhile…..
  • Voix Du Reve got the better of stablemate Real Steel in the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup, giving Willie Mullins with a one-two and a second consecutive win in the race.

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1119988011729608705

 

  • Mullins had another Graded winner as French Made reversed Cheltenham form with Gardens of Babylon (2nd) and Coeur Sublime (3rd) as she came forward from her Triumph Hurdle run to take the Grade 2 Glenview Studs Juvenile Hurdle.

 

  • The popular and likeable (see the commentary) Rashaan took the Strawberry Hurdle for Colin Kidd and Davy Russell, springing an upset from Not Many Left with Off You Go in third.

 

  • Jett jumped his rivals into the ground to end a 14-month losing streak in the Grade Two Devenish Chase.

With just Punchestown to come, that's almost the end of the Spring Festivals. Hereafter, it's mostly flat racing all the way. Until next week...

- WK

Social Discourse – Winx Farewell Edition (Monday 15th April)

There were tons of good races over the weekend, but only one horse will be talked about for decades afterwards, so this is the Winx Farewell Edition of Social Discourse.

  1. Winx and you’ll miss her

Here are the numbers. 43 starts. 37 wins. 33 successive wins. Four years unbeaten. 25 group 1 wins, and £14,564,743 in earnings.

Even those astonishing numbers don’t quite do justice to the remarkable story of Winx’s career, which at one point seemed like it would never actually end – but all good things have to come to a close (to steal and paraphrase some words) and her amazing career finally concluded when – for the 33rd time in a row – she rolled through the straight with a customary late turn of foot to take the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

 

48,333 racegoers packed into Randwick, but this mare has captured so many more hearts and minds than that, and for the last time a small army of people woke up in the dead of night or at the crack of dawn to see one of the outstanding horses of the 21st Century.

 

 

https://twitter.com/4Nini/status/1117199506267750401

 

https://twitter.com/7horseracing/status/1116932981321420802

 

  1. The Legacy

There are many things that make the Winx story special, but after the Lord Mayor’s Show the online debate turned to the great mare’s legacy. There were many strong views on show.

 

 

It’s clear that she has left a deep mark in history – indeed in a modern era where Black Caviar raced less than a decade ago, that Australia has another supermare is absolutely remarkable – and that she’ll be remembered for decades to come, but where does she stand with the on-track ranking?

 

 

 

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One of the features of Winx’s career has been a fierce debate about the value and quality of her opposition and, by extension, middle distance Australian racing. This was exacerbated by the fact that, unlike Black Caviar, she never came to the Northern Hemisphere.

 

Winx does have much less to answer on that score than most Australian horses. Her last Cox Plate win involved a brilliant and easy defeat of Benbatl, a previous Epsom Derby fifth who had a rating of 124 thanks to an impressive win in the Dubai Turf in March 2018, and in one of her Cox Plate victories she also had a certain Highland Reel well beaten in third.

When assessing her on track ability, it should be remembered that there was ample opportunity (and also financial incentive) for top-class European horses to go over to take her on, and only a couple did; but also that she is a fundamentally different horse to the middle distance champions we have been so blessed to enjoy recently, as a versatile horse who possessed a sprinter’s speed in a country where the majority of races are won with a late burst, a completely different style of racing to European racing, where races are hotly run across a number of undulating courses.

https://twitter.com/myracingtips/status/1116987135167467520

Many critique the class of horse that she faced, but being so dominant – and also racing in a country with plenty of Group 1 races – was understandably going to scare off plenty of her opposition, and perhaps her greatest asset is one of her most underrated, her longevity.

 

 

https://twitter.com/TracksideMikeN/status/1117050509423271936

 

Racing until the age of seven – even more a mare – and doing so 43 times is a remarkable achievement and privilege for a horse that was so good and Chris Waller’s choice to extend her career by avoiding some of the other challenges is likely to have benefited Australian racing in the long term too.

 

Whatever one thinks of her form on the track, we know that she has left a huge impression on the history books.

 

  1. Newbury

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that there was a lot of other racing on this weekend from my opening two missives, but we had a packed weekend of racing both on the level and over the jumps. At Newbury, Classic Trials day saw a number of fine performances for the season ahead:

  • Mohaather emerged as a genuine 2000 Guineas contender with a clear-cut success in the Greenham Stakes, showing an impressive turn of foot to get the better of Great Scot, also giving Marcus Tregoning perhaps his best shot at a Classic since Sir Percy.

 

  • Rockfel second Dandhu prevailed in a blanket finish for the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, getting the better of Tom Dascombe’s Iconic Choice, Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect and Richard Hannon’s Star Terms, having previously looked set to win with something in hand

 

  • Melbourne Cup runner-up Marmelo came home much the best to make a winning return to action in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Stakes, passing Aspetar, Laraaib and Defoe in the last furlong.

 

  • Chatez was rejuvenated for coming back to the flat with a 16/1 success in the Spring Mile, denying The Dominic Ffrench Davis import, Indeed, by a neck and giving jumps trainer Alan King a big flat winner.

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1117072310563950592

 

  1. Scotland

Jumps fans, fear not – the Scottish National is clearly not forgotten in these virtual notes and this year’s renewal saw an upset at Takingrisks won at 25/1 for Nicky Richards, with jockey Sean Quinlan producing a fine sit over the very first fence to keep the partnership intact.

 

This was another recent big win for Richards, the son of two-time Scottish National winner Gordon Richards, who trained the legend Monet’s Garden and went through a rough patch before coaxing plenty of fine performances out of the likes of Simply Ned, Guitar Pete and Baywing.

Travelling well in behind a very strong gallop set by Cogry and Vintage Clouds, he was always moving like a contender and, in the end, stayed on powerfully for a comprehensive win over Eider Chase winner Crosspark with the Trevor Hemmings-owned Cloth Cap in third whilst Big Big River ran a fine race in fifth after losing a lot of ground mid race.

Vintage Clouds was a creditable sixth, having forced the pace very hard from early on.

 

Looking Ahead: It’s only been a week since Tiger Roll won the Grand National but could both these two be headed to Aintree next April? Nicky Richards has already mentioned it for Takingrisks and Crosspark, who is a year younger and would look a natural for the Aintree.

Nicky Richards, trainer of Takingrisks: "I considered running Takingrisks in the race after he won at Carlisle last month as the cheek pieces seemed to improve him a bit. I don't see why he couldn't be an Aintree horse, he jumps and stays, and although he went on this quick ground it was heavy when he won at Carlisle."

 

Also at Ayr….

  • Verdana Blue took advantage of fast ground to rout her Scottish Champion Hurdle rivals, with 7lb claimer Connor Brace taking the biggest victory in his fledgling career

 

  • Secret Investor looked a very smart horse when he provided Paul Nicholls with his seventh win in the Future Champion Novices’ Chase despite bulldozing a number of fences on the way round

  • Azzurri landed a massive week-long gamble to win the Scotty Brand Handicap Chase by nine lengths, going off 5/2 favourite after starting 8/1

 

  1. Meanwhile, around the globe...

Persian King laid a big marker as he outclassed his rivals in the Prix de Fontainebleau at Paris Longchamp, giving Godolphin yet another classic contender

 

  • Magical, last seen pushing Enable to the limit at Churchill Downs in the Breeders’ Cup, was an impressive winner of the Alleged Stakes (once sponsored by geegeez.co.uk - Ed.), beating classic winners Flag Of Honour and Latrobe

 

  • Monarch Of Egypt became a first winner for his sire, American Pharoah, the former US Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic winner, from his first start, for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, with Royal Ascot now on the cards

 

  • Saturnalia maintained his unbeaten record in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas), winning a thriller from Velox, who got first run in the straight

https://twitter.com/WHR/status/1117352637433810944

 

  • Omaha Beach fended off the late charge of Improbable to take the Arkansas Derby, in a result that sealed Kentucky Derby spots for the 1-2-3 (Country House was third)

  • Rushing Fall made a winning debut against older horses when grinding out a very creditable success in the Jenny Wiley Stakes, her fourth success from four starts at Keeneland

  • Delta Prince took his first Grade 1 with a deep rally from last place to win the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile Stakes, also at Keeneland

 

Racing is a truly global sport, and I hope this wrap of the week's action sets the tone for various national and international narratives in the weeks and months to come. You'll be able to track the stories right here in your weekly dose of Social Discourse...

- William Kedjanyi

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