Welcome to April and the first Social Discourse of the Spring and, consequently, the flat turf season. I'm William Kedjanyi, and here is my perspective of the past week (and the coming days) through the eye of the tweet machine...
First things first: today is the first day of the reduced FOBT Maximum Stake, which is now £2 from £100, and also my last day writing this column, as I am leaving to join BBC Newsnight as their new sports editor, with a focus on racing. Thanks to Matt for his very hard work, faith and dedication, and to you for all the memories.
- Blue Planet Live
It’s a Godolphin world, and we’re all just living in it. The Men in Blue are at the top of the sport again after a time in the relative wilderness, and they look here to stay for the foreseeable future.
They have had some brilliant moments in the past year or so, but the Dubai World Cup is arguably the most important meeting of all for them: they duly smashed it out of the park, with a brilliant four-timer on the card.
— Nacim Dilmi (@nacimdilmi) March 30, 2019
Melbourne Cup Winner, Cross Counter, took the Dubai Gold Cup with a late charge, Blue Point bossed the Al Quoz Sprint with his customary class, Old Persian was a comprehensive winner of the Sheema Classic, and of course, the incredibly admirable Thunder Snow nailed The Dubai World Cup for the second time, the first horse to win it twice.
The winning started at 5.30 am, as Avilius won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes at Rosehill in Australia, and they didn’t leave out Britain either, thanks to Auxerre’s demolition job in the Lincoln, which was very much the performance of a Group winner in waiting.
One week. Two Group 1 wins. Avilius is sensational once again, as he dominates the G1 Tancred Stakes. pic.twitter.com/TRVG6TUwaJ
— TVG (@TVG) March 30, 2019
That makes it 9 Group 1 winners for them so far this season, and that before the dew has dried on the first morning of April, with a number of good returning juveniles to come and, potentially, an extended campaign for their Dubai World Cup night winners too.
This shouldn’t be the peak for them, either: one would think that we will see still further improvement from Cross Counter and Old Persian, and Thunder Snow looks bound for the US and a campaign focused on the Breeders' Cup Classic once again.
Everyone Benefits: The rivalry between Godolphin and Coolmore is well and truly back, and fans and bettors can both benefit from more clashes over the season to come.
Blue Point wouldn’t be far off the best sprinter in the world. Cross Counter looked a machine over here even before he won the Melbourne Cup. Old Persian has already won at Royal Ascot and will be one of the Hardwicke favs I’d imagine.
— Charlie Sutton (@sutts109) March 31, 2019
- Almonds and Rubies
Despite all those heroics, the winner of the day on the international stage was Almond Eye, the latest in a long list of Japanese superstars to take their talents abroad, including to Dubai.
Almond Eye fans couldn’t have had higher expectations ahead of the Dubai Turf, and she would have pleased even the most demanding of fans as she cruised through three quarters of the race; but, as she went to the front of the race – and about a length clear – on the bridle, she didn't quite pick up in the way it looked likely, in what was ultimately a less impressive victory. Accounting for the travel and that she'll come on a ton for the run, she can be marked up notably, however, and expect a bigger showing next time out.
It was a performance that her fans and the market expected, confirming once again the remarkable speed that she possesses, beating the previous winner Vivlos and the consistent Lord Glitters with a length and a quarter to spare on her first run for four months.
That was something special. When Almond Eye made her move effortlessly on the outside in upper stretch, got some chills.
— Jeremy Balan (@jeremybalan) March 30, 2019
Currently looking at flights to Paris.... Almond Eye what a superstar #DubaiWorldCup
— Jake Matheson (@TwoBackTheRail) March 30, 2019
Destination Paris: As with the other Japanese greats before her, including Deep Impact and Orfevre, a first Arc for her nation is the hope. On this evidence, the Japanese fillies’ Triple Crown winner has her chance, though she'll need to step forward from this 2019 bow.
Unsurprisingly, opinion is split on whether she can take on and beat Enable and Sea of Class, but it promises to be another epic if the three make it there in peak form.
She beat Lord Glitters #perspective
— James (@jamesaknight) March 30, 2019
First up James. Tanking throughout without going ‘boom’ is a sign of needing the run. Will be better for the spin.
— Tim Carroll (@T_J_Carroll) March 30, 2019
Sakae Kunieda, her trainer, speaking to Tony McFadden of the Racing Post: "It was a really great race. She broke well, settled well, got a good position and accelerated well to win well. It was the result I thought we could get and I’m happy she proved us right. I was nervous, I’ve lost my voice. Almond Eye can continue my dreams, so next we’ll go to Europe, our dream is to take her to the Arc."
One to note: Without Parole went off the boil after taking the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last term, but he was a fair fifth on his return here and that potentially hints at better to come this season as a four-year-old.
- Do The Splits
Not all these big days can go off without a hitch, however, and sadly for would be viewers of the Sheema Classic, the ultimate hitch occurred: there was no live coverage!
This took place on Racing TV, but apparently was also the case for Sky Sports Racing; it’s fair to say that neither set of viewers were happy, and rightly so: to miss such a big event on premium broadcasting stations is unacceptable.
So is the Dubai World
Cup meeting not being shown live in the UK?
— Francis Keogh (@HonestFrank) March 30, 2019
— Nick Taylor (@Nickthebat) March 30, 2019
Instead of showing about 10 replays of the 4’oclock at Navan, any chance @RacingTV could show the Sheema Classic????
— Dayna (@rockonxruby) March 30, 2019
This, again: We’ve talked here regularly - like, weekly - about Racing TV’s top class team, but also about the channel's increased commitments and the balance between their jurisdictions as they now have to cope with being the sole provider of racing from Ireland whilst also taking on more UK flat fixtures. This means busier Saturdays, especially during the major international fixtures, and a compromise or solution, whatever one wants to call it, has not yet been found.
- Petrus gave Tom Marquand a perfect 21st Birthday present as he won the Spring Mile at Doncaster, holding off Exec Chef to win by half a length with the pair well clear
- Maximum Security announced himself as a Kentucky Derby contender in the Florida Derby, a key prep, going from the front for a decisive three and a half length victory under a canny ride from Luis Saez for trainer Jason Servis
- Last year’s Champion Apprentice Jason Watson rode his first winner of the year aboard Forbidden Planet in the Rosebery Handicap at Kempton, almost three months after a horror fall at the same track
- Mootasadir maintained his unbeaten record on the all-weather in the Listed Magnolia Stakes on the same card, potentially starting a road to the Melbourne Cup if things go right for him down the road
- Globetrotter Red Verdon bagged his first victory in 13 months in the Unibet Conditions Stakes at Doncaster yesterday, on his first run since being gelded
- To Be Decided
The Grand National Meeting is this week – doesn’t time fly? – and plenty of runners have now had their plans confirmed. They include
Bristol De Mai, and Clan Des Obeaux, who will head to the Betfred Bowl after their Gold Cup efforts; Ch’tibello, who will head to the Aintree Hurdle after his County Hurdle success; David Pipe’s Umbrigado, who could run in either the Sefton or the Mersey Hurdle; Sam Spinner, who will head to the Liverpool Hurdle following his return to form in the Stayers' Hurdle; Festival Plate runner up Janika, who is set to take his chance in the Topham having jumped the National fences well at home; Valtor, who could go to the National or join Janika in the Topham; and Roksana, the Mares Hurdle winner, who will step back into open company in the Liverpool Hurdle.
They, sadly for those travelling to Liverpool, do not include:
- Altior or Santini, who will both be staying home
- Blaklion, who has unfortunately injured himself
- Cyrname, who is more likely to head to the Celebration Chase for a potential clash with Altior
- William Kedjanyi
p.s. I'll see you next week. Sadly, Newsnight can't afford my services, so I'll be continuing here on geegeez.co.uk for the foreseeable future, or until the Beeb up their offer! 😉