Standing by the side of the paddock as the generally agreed handsome field for the 2,000 Guineas lined past, Alex Cole, son of trainer Paul and elder brother of joint-trainer Oliver, and Olly Sangster, grandson of Robert, were agreed that the three principals in the market were the biggest and the best-looking, writes Tony Stafford.
“Both Charlie Appleby’s are coming up to 540 kilos and Native Trail already was a giant as a two-year-old”, said Alex. “Dad always said it was better to buy a big horse. As long as you are careful with them, they usually have so much more substance.”
How the Cole stable would love to be back in the same milieu inhabited nowadays only by the likes of Godolphin, Coolmore and the biggest established teams like Varian, Balding, Hannon, Fahey and Johnston (father and son). The five supplied the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth respectively and the only absentees from their “two-hundred club” were William Haggas, and the Gosdens father and son, without a runner in the first Classic race of 2022.
For all the merit of the supporting cast, though, they could not match the three market leaders – the big, very big, three of Coroebus, Native Trail and Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg, of whom everyone immediately afterwards said, “The Derby!” If the old “fourth in the Guineas, first in the Derby” adage needs a little finessing, so be it.
Master Cole, still glowing after the Palace House Stakes success immediately beforehand of Khaadem, owned by Mrs Fitri Hay, to whom he is racing manager, will be an adherent of the formula.
Back in 1991, when Alex was but a lad, Generous, trained by his father for Prince Fahd Salman, finished fourth in the 2,000 Guineas and did indeed go on to success in the Derby a month later. I’m sure that Guineas is engraved on the family’s hearts and it is on mine, too.
As the semi-celebration of a Classic fourth place from the large Saudi entourage developed that day as I’m sure talk of the Derby took root, a tall elegant young gentleman beckoned me over from among the waiting press corps for an early chinwag.
That was Prince Fahd’s younger brother, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, and he told me he would like me to write some articles for the newspaper his family owned and still does three decades later. In Central London, on news-stands, the “green paper” as London’s Arabic community knows Asharq Al Awsat, is to this day highly conspicuous.
I did indeed thereafter write a column – translated of course – every week for a decade and that led to working with the Prince’s Thoroughbred Corporation which was also to win the Derby with Oath eight years later. Many international races also came its way including five consecutive US Triple Crown races (but oddly no Triple Crown) and many Breeders’ Cups. Then, in 2002, his sudden and untimely death, almost exactly a year after Prince Fahd’s, both men had been in their forties, ended an era.
For both Charlie Appleby and Coroebus’ rider James Doyle, this was a 2,000 Guineas first and, for Doyle, an initial success in any UK Classic. It must have been a wonderful family occasion all round and one that William Buick did not begrudge his friend as he filled second place on the favourite Native Trail.
Charlie’s mum, Patricia, and James’s mother, Jacqui, are constant companions on the racetrack at the major meetings. Former trainer Jacqui has been the biggest and strongest support for her son and elder daughter Sophie, riding with great success in the US for the last few years. Her pride in their success can only be exceeded by the knowledge that she has produced two wonderful, modest human beings.
When she was training in Lambourn at around the turn of the century, her biggest financial supporter was Tom Ford, coincidentally my former opening partner in the Eton Manor cricket side of the late 1960’s, but by then a big financial player in the City. Tom and Jacqui split after a few years’ intermittent success, and the way she battled to bring up her kids and kept going through various difficulties was more than admirable.
Long before those days, my former next-door neighbour in Hertfordshire, Roger Anderson, knew Jacqui from the pointing field and I remember chatting to her with Roger at Huntingdon races while the two very young children would be running around, playing in front of the grandstands.
On Saturday, James Doyle had his first British Classic. Yesterday, in the manner of London buses, a second comes along right after and, in guiding Cachet to an all-the-way success, he was returning the favour by giving George Boughey his initial Classic triumph in only his third full season with a licence.
Boughey’s rise from the time he was assistant to Hugo Palmer has been, to coin a hackneyed phrase, meteoric and anyone who thought it was only Amo Racing’s horses which represent football agent Kia Joorabchian that has got him there, think again.
It was fine that Godolphin and Coolmore would fight out the colts’ Classic ahead of the rest of the domestic major teams, but this was a victory for the small – probably not for long – man. George was listed with 104 horses in the latest Horses in Training and that is sure to go up – probably already has at the breeze-ups with some more to come.
This filly has modest antecedents as a daughter of the £6k National Stud stallion Aclaim, a horse raced and trained by Martyn Meade to win seven of his 15 starts, including the Group 1 Prix de la Foret on Arc day in his final race.
The £6,000 fee in 2022 is just below half his starting point and Cachet, a member of his first crop, is alone going to be responsible for sending him into orbit and providing Martyn with a healthy dividend for his massive investment in the sport. The biggest commitment has been the purchase of Manton, which even put a strain on Robert Sangster’s finances three decades ago.
When Cachet came up for sale as a yearling, she attracted a bid of 60,000 guineas and became one of the many successful Highclere purchases, master-minded by Harry Herbert and his brother-in-law (and Her Majesty’s racing manager), John Warren.
I have friends who have been with Highclere all along since they started and I’m hoping, Andrew, that you came into this one although I fear you probably did not. But again, a win for a syndicate horse of prosaic origins can be the life blood of the sport going forward.
James Doyle only rode at Newmarket for two of the three days of the Guineas meeting – he had a success at Goodwood on Friday – and he preceded Coroebus’ victory with a well-judged win on 22/1 Ian Williams-trained Cap Francais in a valuable nine-furlong handicap.
As he welcomed the former Ed Walker inmate into the enclosure, he reflected on what could have been at Ascot earlier in the week when Enemy got squeezed up the rail by the tough Irish mare Princess Zoe which allowed Quickthorn to pinch second place close home.
“At least we know now I was on the right track with Enemy”, said Williams on Saturday. “He’ll run in the Henry II at Sandown at the end of the month, then I’ll give him a long break before he travels out to Australia for the Melbourne Cup. He’ll have his prep as the best Australians do just before in the Caulfield Cup. You might as well run for a couple of million if you’re going to have a trial,” he said.
Before that for Williams and everyone else, it’s the small matter of Chester. Friday’s Chester Cup fell to his last Melbourne Cup challenger, Magic Circle, four years ago when he also won the Henry II Stakes. He fears the Cup may be beyond him this time but he has a plethora of possibles in Friday’s finale, and the Plate for Cup eliminations. I will be shocked if he didn’t win it but don’t ask me (or Ian probably) with which one!