ALTIOR (Nico De Boinville) wins The Unibet Desert Orchid Chase Kempton 27 Dec 2018 - Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

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)

 

 

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)

 

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;

 

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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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

 

  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

  • 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

 

  • 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

 

  • 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.

 

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

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