If Ryan Moore is having the odd nightmare these days, I reckon it’s coming in the form of a spectre-like being going by the name of “The Beggy”, writes Tony Stafford. It first came into his consciousness in the last 50 yards of the Investec Derby at Epsom, careering past him on the outside on Wings Of Eagles to deny Cliffs Of Moher close home.
Then five weeks later, down the road at Sandown, it was the same Padraig Beggy, this time on the designated pacemaker Taj Mahal, whose slight move into the rail around the seven-furlong marker in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, led to the same luckless Cliffs of Moher suffering severe interference from which he could never recover. Wonder what Ryan thinks of the eight-day ban?
The problem with writing these words at the unearthly hour I do, is that otherwise easily checkable facts cannot be satisfactorily ascertained. Thus when I needed to find the whereabouts of Seamie Heffernan, fresh from yet another Group 1 win on Capri in the Irish Derby as Wings Of Eagles suffered a career-ending injury during the race last weekend, I could not.
The simple fact is that he has not ridden in public since Thursday and has no booked rides according to the Irish racing web site for the coming days. So whether he’s injured, suspended, or just taken a holiday to spend some of the Capri money, I’ve no idea.
There are plenty of jockeys in Ballydoyle. Two of the more frequent, after Moore and Heffernan, are Wayne Lordan and Colm O’Donoghue, but both were in action at Belmont Park at the weekend, O’Donoghue principally for Jessica Harrington, his main employer these days.
Apprentice Donnacha O’Brien rode three winners on Saturday’s Naas card, two for his father and one for elder brother Joseph, while Ana, out of luck in an international lady riders’ event in Sweden during the week, rode a single unplaced runner for Joseph the same afternoon.
So Beggy, reformed scallywag, was back again in the big time, and there seemed to be a fair degree of input from the first jockey before the race as to what he thought Beggy’s role should be.
What could go wrong? A nice-sized field set off at a reasonable pace, but then came the moment the stewards were later to blame Beggy for initiating. As he edged into the rail on the first bend, he interfered with Decorated Knight, who in turn hampered Cliffs of Moher, causing him to hit the rail and almost come down.
Cliffs Of Moher could never regain full momentum, managing just a laboured fourth place as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Ulysees continued the Niarchos big-race revival by edging out Barney Roy in a thriller.
This first middle-distance big-race clash between the generations therefore ended narrowly in favour of the older brigade, 1-3 with Ulysses and Decorated Knight against 2-4-5 for the three-year-olds: Barney Roy, all but making a winning start at 10 furlongs, the vanquished favourite, and Frankel’s son Eminent, who showed a tendency towards aggression with an attempt to take a chunk out of the third’s neck.
If the Frankels are not quite getting there yet at the top level, the Galileos certainly intend staying there and Ulysses was yet another top-level winner for the super stallion – 66th in all – being the product of Coolmore’s blue-blood and Oaks winner, Light Shift. A job at the Niarchos family stud clearly awaits, while Godolphin will have lofty expectations too for Barney Roy.
The coming week is always important for Darley Stud and Godolphin, and many of the leading lights in the business will be in attendance at the Darley Stallion Parade and lunch during the July meeting, which also features three days of sales along with three days’ exceptional racing.
Darley/Godolphin may well have another potential stallion in Thunder Snow, like Barney Roy beaten in a 2,000 Guineas by Churchill. He won the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly yesterday and is now fully rehabilitated after his inexplicably mulish display at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Derby.
Having gone close to a quick follow up with Barney Roy after he reversed Newmarket form with Churchill in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, another recent Godolphin acquisition will be stepping out quickly for revenge.
The Clive Cox-trained Harry Angel, denied only by the flying Caravaggio in the Commonwealth Cup and now in line for a rematch with the unbeaten Ballydoyle sprinter in the Darley July Cup on Saturday, is the beast in question. With the Bunbury Cup and Superlative Stakes, the last pair supported by bet365, this is indeed a brilliant card.
Unfortunately, the continuing resistance to what at one time appeared a willingness on the track’s part to revert to a midweek (at least Wednesday to Friday) date means once again the ridiculous triple clash with York’s £200,000 added John Smith’s <Magnet> Cup, Silver Cup and City Walls Stakes and Ascot’s £130k Summer Mile clogs up the afternoon, while Chester is totally off the radar.
In the old days, when the Stewards’ Cup first moved from Tuesday – the first day of the Goodwood Summer meeting – to the Saturday, I was silly enough to make a futile protest and go instead to Newmarket for a few years on that day.
It is probably unthinkable that I might swerve two races that I look forward to more than most – the July and Bunbury Cups – but it is equally likely that York, Chester and Ascot couldn’t care less anyway as all three are likely to attract bigger crowds than the day’s premier fixture.
Clive Cox seems to be a level-headed enough type of trainer, so for him to relish another crack at Caravaggio with Harry Angel is at least interesting. I saw him (the trainer) close up the other morning and he is clearly taking great care in the preparation of the juvenile that Raymond Tooth has with him. Hopefully, when that part of Berkshire sees a little rain, this big son of Mount Nelson could be getting a run.
We were up in Shropshire at the stud on Thursday, running the rule over the yearlings and foals, when the decision was made not to put any in the sales, for this year at any rate. With a handful of two-year-olds, like Cox’s Nelson River yet to run, we are in holding mode for the most part.
The exception is Equiano’s son, Stanhope, quite impressive when opening his account at the ninth attempt on the July Course late last month. The handicappers were hardly kind, putting him up a full 8lb. They can obviously say that was shown to be fair enough when three-length runner–up Hart Stopper, left alone after our race, popped up nine days later at Haydock with a win for Michael Bell. The Queen’s trainer had another winner, runner-up the previous time in the past few days. That one was raised 1lb and bolted up! Micky Quinn wants to know his secret.