He might have got the 2,000 Guineas the wrong way round for UK punters, but Native Trail’s defeat by stable-mate Coroebus left the way clear for the vanquished Newmarket favourite to gain his own piece of Classic hardware at The Curragh on Saturday, writes Tony Stafford.
In between, of course, Charlie Appleby, who trains both colts for Godolphin, also stopped off in France. There, he saddled Modern Games, the third of his elite three-year-old milers, to annex the Poule d’Essai Des Poulains and become the first trainer to win all three one-mile colts’ Classics in the same season.
Each is very talented and while for a time it looked as though Native Trail might have to be fully extended in the Irish “2,000”, he was well on top, going away steadily, at the finish. He beat two longshots, Sheila Lavery’s New Energy, almost two lengths behind, and Imperial Fighter (28/1), who was three-quarters of a length further back in third for Andrew Balding.
One trainer who would have been heartened by the result was William Knight, who went into the 2,000 at his home course of Newmarket with high hopes for the previously unbeaten Checkandchallenge. His colt made his move at the same time as William Buick on Native Trail – on the opposite (stands) side of the course to Coroebus – and got squeezed out by him and then hampered as he dropped into the pursuing pack.
He had beaten Imperial Fighter previously at Newcastle and Saturday’s result would have encouraged Knight in advance of Checkandchallenge’s likely target of the Jersey Stakes over a furlong shorter at Royal Ascot.
Appleby has only the three horses entered in the St James’s Palace Stakes on June 14, the first day of Royal Ascot, and the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas winner is usually the prime contender for that Group 1 prize for the colts. With the other pair running (and winning) more recently, one would expect Coroebus to be the one to take his chance.
No doubt their trainer will have more than a passing interest in the meeting’s opening contest where Baaeed transports his unbeaten record to the Queen Anne Stakes for trainer William Haggas and owner, the Shadwell Estate Company. Interviewed during a string of winners from his stable earlier in the week, Haggas, quite realistically talking about his present form and how that will go forward to the biggest meetings, simply said: “They might not be in that form then!”
Saturday proved a rare blank but a Group 1 international double yesterday with Alenquer in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on The Curragh and Maljoom in the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (German 2,000 Guineas) in Cologne brought his tally over the past fortnight to 17 winners.
This was a third success in a row for the unbeaten Maljoom, who made his debut only two months ago. The unbeaten Caravaggio colt may carry Ahmed Al-Maktoum’s colours in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
I enjoyed a nice chat during the sales at Newmarket earlier this year with Dermot Weld, one of the very senior Irish trainers but still one to target the big prizes over jumps as well as on the flat. Yesterday, in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, his filly Homeless Songs sprinted away from the Aidan O’Brien pair Tuesday, the favourite, and Concert Hall, winning by five-and-a-half lengths with the rest trailing way behind.
As the field approached the last two furlongs, Chris Hayes on the Weld filly could be seen coasting along on the outside and the daughter of Frankel, out of a Dubawi mare, accelerated from there and won pulling the proverbial cart.
Whatever preconceptions might be held by connections of Emily Upjohn, they will not be reassured unless Dermot decides not to send his filly to Epsom. Here was a performance to match that of Love in the same Classic race two years earlier although, to be fair, Love had already won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Love clearly made spectacular progress from two to three and Homeless Songs is making similar strides. Seven weeks ago she beat Agartha, a filly she also overcame when making a winning debut last year, by a length. Yesterday, the margin to the fifth-placed Joseph O’Brien filly was more than six lengths.
Love of course won by nine lengths at Epsom and last year’s Ballydoyle winner Snowfall extended that to a record 16 lengths. It would need her owners, the Moyglare Stud Farm, to fork out the supplementary fee to allow her to run. Her near-at-hand entries are the seven-furlong Ballychorus Stakes on June 4 and the Coronation Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot.
Dermot seems to be treating her as a miler, but the sign that that might be a moving feast is suggested by later entries in the ten-furlong Pretty Polly and eventually at last over a mile-and-a-half in the Irish Oaks.
There was never a moment to question the veracity of Homeless Songs’ victory but there was plenty of questioning of the York stewards on Saturday when they allowed Believe In Love to keep the Group 3 Bronte Stakes after she weaved across causing interference to a couple of her rivals.
Inside the last two furlongs, Believe In Love, who at that point was on the inside of the whole field in the middle of the wide expanse of York, started to edge to her right. Admittedly Ray Dawson had his whip in his right hand, but when his mount continued to veer over, she was causing considerable discomfort to Ed Walker’s Glenartney who was carried all the way to right under the stands rails.
The measure of the stewards’ disapproval of Dawson’s ride – he didn’t take any corrective measure, say, stopping using his whip and grabbing hold of his mount’s reins to try to arrest the drift – was the eight-day ban he received.
Because the winning margin over strong-finishing runner-up Urban Artist was just over a length, the verdict was allowed to stand, but Believe In Love’s errant course gave Glenartney, who did well in the circumstances to finish third, no chance to win the race so badly was she discomfited.
Both Walker and Urban Artist’s trainer Hughie Morrison were considering appealing the result – and with £51k rather than £19k for second and £9k for third at stake, you can understand their irritation, not least with the kudos of a Group 3 win on the board for an older staying filly being denied them.
This rule of thumb whereby any interference in the case of a win of more than a neck is not normally reversed is like many issues in racing, a flawed convention. I still would prefer in the case of a horse badly interfered with by another, the offender should be placed behind the horse to which it caused that interference.
If that means, as in this case, the runner-up getting the prize, too bad. Without the ground towards the rails where she raced being badly compromised by the antics of the winner, Urban Artist could have won the race judged on how she finished once off the rail and getting a little clear running room for the last half furlong.
When Torquator Tasso won last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, it woke up many people to the talents of German horses and horsemen. The five-year-old is among the entries for this year’s Arc – yes, they’re out already! He will begin his season with runs at Baden-Baden a week today and then at Hamburg during the weekend of the German Derby according to his trainer, Marcel Weiss.
Meanwhile, yesterday in Rome at the Cappannelle, another talented German trainer, Markus Klug, sent Ardakan, a son of Reliable Man, to win the Derby Italiano and a prize of £244k. There was no English challenge for a race which in the past was always a target for horses perceived to be just short of winning at Epsom. Maybe we’ll be seeing him over here later in the year, or perhaps supplemented for the Arc.