Tag Archive for: Bruce Raymond

Derby hero Desert Crown backed to shine over shorter trips

Bruce Raymond thinks Derby winner Desert Crown will get quicker with age, as he is prepared for a possible tilt at the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

The son of Nathaniel was one of the most impressive winners of the Epsom Classic for many years and while trainer Sir Michael Stoute is playing his cards close to his chest, the mile-and-a-half showpiece at Ascot on July 23 is the next likely landing spot.

Desert Crown became the second Saeed Suhail-owned colt trained by Stoute to prevail in the Derby following Kris Kin’s success in 2003.

Former top jockey Raymond, who serves as racing manager to Suhail, feels the master of Freemason Lodge will head down a traditional route with the colt this summer.

“I am just guessing, but I think Sir Michael will go for the King George, then to York for the Juddmonte International and then the Arc,” said Raymond. “That is what I am guessing, but it is all guesswork.

“It was a very good performance at Epsom, but I just feel the more racing he has, the faster he will get.

“I think he is a mile-and-a-half horse, but his best trip will end up being a mile and a quarter. He is a very good horse, that’s all we know.”

Raymond also had news of Hala Hala Athmani, who produced a fine run on her seasonal bow in the Group One Commonwealth Cup, finishing just three and a half lengths behind Perfect Power at the Royal meeting.

The Kevin Ryan-trained daughter of Dabirsim had won a Carlisle fillies’ maiden on her debut last August for owner Jaber Abdullah, before finishing a close-up third to Nazanin in the Group Three Firth of Clyde at Ayr a month later.

Though sent off an unconsidered 80-1 chance at Ascot, Abdullah’s racing manager said she had her supporters.

Kevin Ryan thinks a lot of Hala Hala Athmani
Kevin Ryan thinks a lot of Hala Hala Athmani (Tim Goode/PA)

“Wasn’t it a good performance?” said Raymond.

“We fancied her quite a lot. We fancied her when she went for that Group Three at Ayr on her second run last season and she was a little bit behind and was a bit disappointing in many ways. Though she was beaten three-quarters of a length, we thought she was a bit better than that.

“We thought she would go well the other day. There was obviously no money for her, but we thought she had a good chance.

“I’ve no idea where she will go next, but she is decent and Kevin thinks a lot of her.”

Stoute looks to Desert Crown to deliver evocative sixth Derby success

Memories of great days in Epsom history will come flooding back when Desert Crown bids to give Sir Michael Stoute his sixth victory in the Cazoo Derby.

Stoute first won the premier Classic – which is this year being run in memory of Lester Piggott – with the legendary Shergar in 1981 and in the 41 years since has added a further four Epsom victories thanks to Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003), North Light (2004) and Workforce (2010).

Now into his 50th year in the training ranks, the Barbadian has the chance to end a 12-year barren spell in the Classics since Workforce’s Epsom triumph.

Desert Crown caught the eye with a taking five-and-a-half-length victory on debut at Nottingham last November and defied an interrupted spring when impressing in the Dante Stakes on just his second start at York.

That catapulted the son of Nathaniel to the head of the Derby betting and he will be partnered at Epsom by Richard Kingscote, who is having just his second ride in the 12-furlong Classic.

“Desert Crown is workmanlike. He is not spectacular at home. This fella has a very good mind and is a very relaxed horse, and he’s done nothing wrong on the racecourse – in fact, he’s done rather well,” said Stoute.

“He is probably the most inexperienced horse we have sent to the Derby, because he has only had two starts and I think they all had more than two.

“It would have been nice to have had two two-year-old races or even three – or two this year, rather than one.

Michael Stoute File Photo
Sir Michael Stoute is looking for his sixth victory in the Cazoo Derby (Tim Goode/PA)

“But York was a pleasing performance and a good, solid time. He does not have to improve much. If you win the Dante, you don’t have to improve too much more to win the Derby.

“As for the trip, he has got to do it. He has some speed in the dam’s side. He is a nice athlete with a lovely temperament. He is very chilled.

“He is a good-looking, good-actioned horse with a good temperament, but we had to learn something about on him on a racecourse (at York) – and it was a positive.”

Desert Crown could become the second Saeed Suhail-owned colt trained by Stoute to prevail in the Derby following Kris Kin’s success.

Given one of the great Derby rides by Kieren Fallon, Kris Kin’s win is regarded as one of Stoute’s finest training performances, although victory for this year’s favourite, on just his third start, could match that achievement.

Bruce Raymond, who serves as racing manager to Suhail, is bullish about Desert Crown’s chance and believes the Freemason Lodge handler is the perfect man to have him peaking on the big day.

He said: “I think he is a good horse, dare I say it, as Sir Michael Stoute doesn’t like people talking about his horses.

“He is a good horse and I’m pretty confident he is the best horse going into the race, but coming out of it is different, isn’t it? He has to go to the start, he has to behave himself – and he will behave himself – will he get the luck in running?

“I think he will probably turn out to be the best horse in the race afterwards for sure. I think he’ll win.

“Whatever, I think he is a very good horse. He will finish up being very good, whether it is back-end of this year or next year or whatever. He is definitely a good horse.

“He quickens well. You’d be cautious that he has not had that much experience, but he is trained by a genius, even though he would rather have got another run into him, of course.

“I don’t go and say, ‘I think this horse would prefer easy ground’, you wouldn’t say he won’t go in fast ground. I just don’t think you should look for excuses before the race.

Kris Kin Derby winner
Kris Kin with trainer Michael Stoute before winning the 2003 Epsom Derby (Rebecca Naden/PA)

“Epsom always produce perfect ground. They look after it very well. There are no concerns.”

He added: “We gave Kris Kin a chance after Chester (Dee Stakes). But this is a better horse than Kris Kin. He was just a horse. This is a classy horse, this one.”

Of all Stoute’s victories in the Derby, it is perhaps his first which remains the most famous when the incomparable Shergar sauntered to that 10-length success in 1981.

Shergar went on to do the Derby-double when adding the Irish equivalent at the Curragh and also picked up the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot before finishing his career with defeat in the St Leger.

Stoute looks back fondly on a horse he describes as a “machine” and also recounts the time the Aga Khan’s colt decided he preferred the scenery at Warren Place to his home at Freemason Lodge.

He said: “Shergar did it in the mornings and the afternoons, that’s for sure. Shahrastani was a very reliable work horse, too.

“Shergar was a machine. (Sir) Henry (Cecil) did a better job with Frankel than I did with Shergar as I shouldn’t have run him in the St Leger.

“He was bombproof and had a wonderful temperament in addition to being a well-balanced, medium-sized athlete.

Walter Swinburn and the incomparable Shergar
Walter Swinburn and the incomparable Shergar (PA)

“He was never a problem, he would just spin around every now and again. You remember the famous story when he spun around and got rid of his rider.

“In those days you could do all your work in the winter. We used to go into Moulton and up the hill to Warren Place and on his own, that was the route he went.

“He stopped and was picking one of the hedges outside of Warren Place, so he obviously wanted to go in there! We were very lucky there was no long-term damage.”

Bruce Raymond hails ‘hero’ Lester Piggott

Bruce Raymond says Lester Piggott had “that bit extra” that made him a hero to many.

Piggott, who died peacefully in Switzerland at the age of 86 on Sunday morning, having recently been hospitalised, was a great friend and rival of Raymond’s during a halcyon period of racing and jockeyship in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Raymond, who serves as racing manager to Saeed Suhail, owner of Cazoo Derby favourite Desert Crown, said his long-time weighing room colleague was revered and feared by all but a couple of jockeys.

Lester Piggott died on Sunday in Switzerland
Lester Piggott died on Sunday in Switzerland (Fiona Hanson/PA)

“There were a lot of great jockeys around – I thought Willie Carson was a great jockey. Pat Eddery, too, John Reid, Yves Saint-Martin was absolutely brilliant, and Freddie Head. They were fantastic jockeys. Lester had just that little bit extra and it doesn’t take much,” he said.

“I don’t know much about football, but he might have been like Sir Alex Ferguson, playing these mind games. You don’t need much to find that bit extra – you only have to find half a length, don’t you?

“I think he just had that bit extra. If you asked Yves Saint-Martin if Lester was he better than him, he would say, ‘Of course not!’.

“Because he was our hero, everybody tried to model themselves on the champion jockey at the time, as he is someone you look up to. Everyone was copying Kieren Fallon at one time, and Pat Eddery before that.

“There are lot of jockeys riding like Pat now – although not so polished. Pat was probably the only jockey who wouldn’t give him anything.

“Lester would go around the changing room asking questions, and you’d be thinking, ‘Why did I tell him that?’, but Pat would just say, ‘I’m not telling you anything!’.

“We all had so much respect and we were in awe of Lester, though.

“Ask him why he was the way he was, he would not be able to tell you. Some people will tell you they are geniuses, but Lester would not be able to tell you why he was. He just was.”

Hala Hala Athmani takes plunge in Firth of Clyde

Hala Hala Athmani steps straight from her promising debut success into Group Three company when she lines up for the Virgin Bet Firth of Clyde Fillies’ Stakes at Ayr.

The half-sister to Group One-winning sprinter Hello Youmzain came from last to first to score by five and a half lengths in a 12-runner Carlisle maiden a month ago.

Connections sense the Kevin Ryan-trained juvenile will not be out of place in Saturday’s competitive Pattern race.

“She’s well thought of and she won well first time out at Carlisle – she looked good and came from way back,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Jaber Abdullah.

“You’ve got to go for those races and try to get a bit of black type while you can.

“Maybe a little more experience would help her, but she won first time out after overcoming difficulties. I think she’s got a good chance.”

Hellomydarlin has been running with credit in Listed and Group races, and her connections are expecting another decent run.

The daughter of Galileo Gold, owned by Nick Bradley Racing, did nothing wrong when runner-up to Flotus in the Ripon Champion Two Year Old Trophy on her latest start.

Bradley said: “She’s a very tough filly, who ran a huge race in Ripon last time.

“She’s improved with every run and goes there with a good each-way chance.”

Others in the mix include Deauville Listed winner Choux, from the David Evans stable, Clive Cox’s Group Three-placed Crazyland and William Haggas’ Canonized, who was fourth in a Group Three at ParisLongchamp this month.

There is a sole Irish-trained contender in Ger Lyons’ unbeaten Listed scorer Head Mistress.

Perfect Power camp eye Middle Park next

Perfect Power is on course for the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket next month, after opening his Group One account in Deauville’s Prix Morny.

The Richard Fahey-trained colt showed impressive acceleration to land the spoils by a length and a quarter from Trident.

That emphatic triumph made up for an unlucky run in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, and was a return to the form he showed in winning the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“He looks like being a decent horse. Any horse that quickens like that has got a huge advantage over anything else,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum.

“I think he was a bit unlucky in the Richmond. They didn’t go much pace, and poor Paul (Hanagan) couldn’t get anywhere. He got stopped wherever he went – and then the race was over.

“I expected him to beat all those that ran in the Richmond. It was good.

“It will be the Middle Park next, and then we’ll see about next year.”

Dream Of Dreams will return next year

Dream Of Dreams is set to race on next year, despite suffering a recurrence of an old injury which is likely to keep him out for the rest of this season.

Sir Michael Stoute’s seven-year-old won last month’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, but has since been affected by the return of ankle problem which has forced him to miss Saturday’s Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

Dream Of Dreams was not given an entry in the Sprint Cup at Haydock in September, which he won last year, suggesting connections are resigned to him being sidelined for the rest of 2021.

“He’s obviously missed the July Cup. He’s very sore and will probably be out for the season,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail.

“It’s not a serious injury. It’s a small one, but a bad one for a sprinter. It’s the recurrence of an old ankle injury.

“He’ll be coming back next year definitely – he’s a gelding.

“Winning at Ascot was the main one.”

Dream Of Dreams out to cap breakthrough season

Dream Of Dreams bids to cap an excellent couple of months with victory in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.

The six-year-old had gone close in many big races, including finishing second in the last two Diamond Jubilee Stakes, before lifting the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock – having previously demolished the opposition in Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes.

Those two wins came after a gelding operation, but connections feel that is not the only reason Sir Michael Stoute’s charge appears to have improved.

“The gelding operation has helped, but most sprinters improve as they get older – and he’s the same,” said Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Saeed Suhail.

“I wouldn’t say he was fragile, but he used to come back from his races a bit sore and things, and he’s just more mature now.

“I think he’s a worthy favourite. He had a little breeze on Wednesday morning under Ted Durcan, and he was very happy with him.

“I don’t think he would want really heavy ground, but soft ground is fine.”

The Archie Watson-trained Glen Shiel stayed on well to get within a length and a quarter of Dream Of Dreams at Haydock.

The Pivotal gelding, the mount of Hollie Doyle, carries plenty of confidence on Saturday.

Glen Shiel has struck up a good partnership with Hollie Doyle
Glen Shiel has struck up a good partnership with Hollie Doyle (Dan Abraham/PA)

Cosmo Charlton, head racing manager for owners Hambleton Racing, said: “He’s in great form – his last few bits of work have been really good, and Archie has been very happy with him since Haydock.

“The more rain they get, the better. The ground will be fine for him, I’m sure, but we know he handles heavy ground particularly well and will stay further.

“Hopefully he’s going there with a good each-way chance. We’re massive fans of Hollie’s, and it would be brilliant if we could provide her with her first Group One winner.”

A below-par Oxted was forced to bypass the Merseyside challenge, but trainer Roger Teal reports his July Cup hero to be ready to return to action.

“We were unfortunate to miss Haydock, but he seems back on song now. Conditions are probably going to be his biggest hurdle,” he said.

“It suits other horses like Dream Of Dreams and One Master. They have got solid form on soft ground – but if we do handle conditions we’re in with a fighting chance.

“You’re a Group One horse now, so you have to go where the opportunities are. It’s either that, or we don’t run at all.

“The owners are keen to find out – and I’m keen, and he’s in good shape. It’s fingers crossed he handles it and he can put up a performance and mix it with the best of them.

“He’s only had two races this year so we’ve been pretty steady with him and he’s a horse who runs well fresh.”

One Master was runner-up in this race 12 months ago and showed her well-being when winning the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp for the third year running.

Her trainer William Haggas expects she will do herself justice.

“She should run a good race. She’s done her bit now,” said the Newmarket handler.

“This is a bonus, but she ran such a good race last year and she seems in really good form. She’s got a chance.”

Starman is the unknown quantity in the line-up, having won all his three starts to date in impressive fashion.

The three-year-old claimed the scalp of the smart Dakota Gold in a Listed race at York last time out, and trainer Ed Walker cannot wait to see how he fares in this elite company.

“He’s done nothing wrong – and Dakota Gold, who he beat at York last time, has won the Bengough and the Rous Stakes since,” said Walker.

“To go into a Group One like this on his fourth start is a big ask, but he deserves to take his shot – he’s in great form, and this has been the plan since he won at York.

“The ground probably won’t be ideal, but we’ll see. There was cut in the ground when he won at York, but this will be different again.

“It’s exciting, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Art Power demolished his field at Royal Ascot signalling better things to come
Art Power demolished his field at Royal Ascot signalling better things to come (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Tim Easterby is happy with Art Power as the Sprint Cup fourth returns to the scene of his eyecatching triumph over five furlongs at the Royal meeting.

“He seems in good form. We’ve been happy with him since Haydock and we’re looking forward to it,” said the North Yorkshire trainer.

“It’s a good race – and he has a bit of ground to make up on those that finished in front of him (in the Sprint Cup) – but he’s won at Ascot before, and six furlongs there should be OK for him.

“He’s in good form anyway, so we’ll see.”

Silvestre De Sousa partners Art Power meaning the ride on Andrew Balding’s Happy Power, also owned by King Power Racing, has gone to James Doyle.

“He’s a nice spare – his last run at Newmarket was pretty good,” said Doyle.

“He’s coming in having won his last three starts – it was a good performance the last day. Obviously he’s backing up quite quickly, but the team must be happy to let him take his chance.”

Lope Y Fernandez was only seventh at Haydock, but Aidan O’Brien has not lost faith and is hoping this stiff six furlongs on testing ground may help him.

The son of Lope De Vega was one of the O’Brien horses unable to run during Arc weekend because of issues with contaminated feed.

“We always thought he was a very smart horse. We just weren’t sure about his trip – whether he wanted six or seven furlongs or a mile,” said the Ballydoyle trainer.

“He probably wants a very strongly-run mile, and we thought the seven furlongs in the Foret might have been ideal for him.

“The plan was to go for the Foret and then maybe go for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, (but) when he didn’t have the run in France we left him in at Ascot, thinking the ground might be heavy and the six furlongs might be more like seven furlongs.”