Deauville Legend could take on defending champion Pyledriver in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, with trainer James Ferguson confident he will take “a huge step forward”.
Fourth in the Melbourne Cup on his previous run at Flemington, the lightly-raced four-year-old produced a fine run on his return from a 235-day break when beaten just under three lengths by Pyledriver in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
A head runner-up in last year’s King George V Stakes, Deauville Legend went on to take two Group races and his Newmarket handler is happy to meet Pyledriver again in the all-aged Group One contest at the Berkshire track on July 29.
“That was huge after an extremely long lay-off,” said Ferguson.
“We knew it would be a tough ask and he just went for his girths half a furlong from home, and he will probably take a huge step forward from that.
“Deauville Legend will probably go to the King George. He’s had two solid runs at Ascot now and it is a track he obviously likes.”
Zoology almost made it a meeting to remember for the young trainer, the three-year-old stepping up on his fourth-placed effort in the Greenham to run Age Of Kings to a length in the Group Three Jersey Stakes on vastly different ground.
He stayed on nicely inside the final furlong to claim the runner-up spot under Oisin Murphy, and Ferguson feels he may be ready to go up in trip.
He said: “I’ve always been confident in the horse and I’m very grateful to have a Zoustar of his calibre.
“He has just done better with age and he’s developed mentally as well as physically. He looks a different horse to the one we had six months ago – he’s changed that quickly.
“I thought he ran really well and potentially he could step up to a mile.
“The Greenham at Newbury was on terrible ground. He is genuine. That’s Zoustars for you – they are genuine and very honest. But I can’t tell you where he will go next.”
Likewise, Canberra Legend, who was beaten three lengths by Waipiro in the Hampton Court, could also be upped in trip next time.
A son of Australia, he had previously disappointed in York’s Dante Stakes, finishing ninth of 11 to The Foxes.
Ferguson was happy to see him bounce back to something like his best at Ascot and has pencilled in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood on August 3 for his next outing.
“Just put a line through the Dante,” he insisted. “We saw the real Canberra Legend this time and he will probably step up to a mile and a half. He will probably go to the Gordon.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/267776416-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-06-29 08:31:392023-06-29 08:31:39Deauville Legend set for Pyledriver rematch at Ascot
Canberra Legend and Deauville Legend look set to lead trainer James Ferguson’s small but select team into battle at Royal Ascot next week.
The Newmarket handler had Classic aspirations for Canberra Legend following his victory in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket in April, but a disappointing run in last month’s Dante at York led to connections deciding against a tilt at Derby glory.
The Australia colt has instead been kept fresh for the Royal meeting, with the King Edward VII Stakes viewed as his most likely target.
“Canberra Legend showed his class in the Feilden and showed that the further he was going, the better he was going,” Ferguson told Sky Sports Racing.
“We’ve put a line through the Dante at York. He showed his inexperience, it was a big occasion, hopefully he’s grown up and learned from it.
“From the minute he went down to the start, I think we knew it was not going to be his day and we move on. We’ve taken him for an away-day at Chelmsford and he’s shown me all the right signs at home that we’ve got him back to where we were with the Feilden.
“He’ll be entered in the King Edward and the Hampton Court. We’re probably lining him up for the mile-and-a-half option to be honest and I’d say he’s going there with a real live chance.”
Deauville Legend was narrowly denied in the King George V Stakes at last year’s big meeting, after which he went on to win the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket and the Great Voltigeur at York before rounding off his campaign by finishing fourth in the Melbourne Cup.
The son of Sea The Stars is set to make his four-year-old debut in what looks a strong renewal of the Hardwicke Stakes, but Ferguson is pleased with his condition.
He added: “He’s in great order and we’re really looking forward to getting him back out.
“We’ve been very patient with him. We decided to give him a bit of a break after his international travel for the Melbourne Cup, where he ran very well on ground which went very soft and he probably didn’t stay the two miles with the weight he was given.
“He lost nothing in defeat and the way he won the Voltigeur shows that from the older horse category over a mile and a half, he’s one of the best around.
“He’ll be going to the Hardwicke, which is a hard place to start your campaign if Hukum and Pyledriver go there, but I certainly think he’s capable of competing at that grade.
“I’m fairly confident we’ve got him fit enough to go the races, but whatever we see from him, he will come on for the run I’m sure.”
The trainer’s Ascot squad also includes impressive Doncaster handicap winner Wonder Legend, who will bid to go one better than Deauville Legend in the King George V Stakes.
“He showed his true class over further (at Doncaster), so we’re going in off 94 and stepping up to a mile and a half,” said Ferguson.
“You’ve got to have a Group horse to win these handicaps and I feel we’re going in with one. I’d like to think he’s better than his mark and can go on to bigger and better things after this race.”
Land Legend also has the King George option, but is more likely to step up in distance and class for the Queen’s Vase, while Ferguson considers his Greenham Stakes fourth Zoology as a serious contender for the Jersey Stakes.
He added: “I think Land Legend is crying out for a mile and six furlongs. The Queen’s Vase is going to be a very competitive race and he’s probably on a low enough mark where he could be competitive in a handicap, but I do think the extra two furlongs will bring out a lot more in him.
“Zoology ran very well in the Greenham and he’s a super horse. I really like him, he’s genuine and he’s honest and I really don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of him.
“He ran well in the Greenham on ground that was fairly unsuitable for him. I’d like to think on a flat track and a good surface we’ll see a massive improvement from him.
“I’d be very hopeful he can go and run a big race.”
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/271812127-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngGeegeez News2023-06-15 12:12:442023-06-15 12:12:44Ferguson banking on a pair of Legends to break his Ascot duck
Last week I made a couple of trips to Newmarket sales where I marvelled at the seemingly never-ending stream of - mainly overseas - buyers keen to pick up second-hand UK and Irish thoroughbreds, writes Tony Stafford. Not just pick them up, but happy to pay handsomely for them.
The Australians set the pace and it was just two days after the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training sale ended with record receipts that the penny finally dropped.
As I waited for the afternoon’s high-class jumping at Ascot and Wetherby and Newmarket’s final day’s action of 2022 with a couple of Listed races, to begin, I had a quick look at the early results. Two Australian venues had been in operation, Flemington in Melbourne and Rosehill in Sydney as far as the newspaper was concerned – there are umpteen tracks going on Down Under all the time at a lower level of course that we never hear about.
There were results for nine races at Flemington, many of them Group events including two at G1 level, with the Victoria Derby and its first prize of £736k leading the way. The total of winners’ prizes alone, in Racing Post monetary calculation, was an eye-watering £2,360,000 so the total value of the races as the Spring Carnival continued, with the highlight being the Melbourne Cup tomorrow, would have been nearer £5 million.
The Post carried only three results from Rosehill, but the main race of the day, the XXXX Golden Eagle over seven furlongs, carried a full field of 20 runners. It comprised 18 Southern Hemisphere four-year-olds and two Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds having their first runs in Australia and accompanied to ride them by Jamie Spencer and Frankie Dettori.
The winner was a gelding called I Wish I Win (wishes can come true!), trained by Peter Moody, who had bought into the horse after his first three races (no wins) and ridden by Luke Nolen. The jockey, of course, is best known here for his narrow Royal Ascot win on Black Caviar ten years ago when he gave the great mare’s many backers a scare before getting the verdict, and he was again enjoying the best of a desperate finish at Rosehill Gardens.
Second, a nose behind, was the filly Fangirl, trained by Chris Waller and ridden by Hugh Bowman, the team behind the great Winx, who had by all accounts a successful birth recently after some difficult experiences at stud since her retirement from the track.
Talking about Royal Ascot, I had sat next to Waller at lunch a couple of hours before his outstanding sprinter Nature Strip obliterated the opposition in the King’s Stand Stakes on the opening day of the meeting. This was the 21st victory of his then 40-race career. He has won and been third in two more big sprints at home since returning to action this Australian spring.
The difference between victory and defeat has rarely been as stark as in this race, especially considering the cigarette paper thin margin. The winner’s prize was a massive £2,833,333 – second got £1,075,268, not bad but almost £2 million less than the winner! As to how Messrs Spencer and Dettori got on, Jamie will have been content with his sixth place, beaten barely two lengths on the former David Simcock-trained Light Infantry. Sixth prize was £94,086 for the colt now trained by the team of Ciaron Meyer and Englishman David Eustace.
Third to fifth were respectively £537,634, £268,817 and £134,408. Dettori was seventeenth on Welwas, previously with Jean-Claude Rouget in France. He and the trio finishing behind him, still picked up £5,376, more than the winners of the opening two-year-old maidens at Newmarket on Saturday and comfortably more than any of the seven Wolverhampton all-weather contests that evening.
Total money for the one race was a remarkable £5,270,000. The winner got almost half a million quid more than tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup hero, but there are umpteen European connections in the race that stops the nation. I make it that half the horses in the 24-runner line-up have emanated from the UK mostly, France or Ireland, and the favourite at 5/2 is trained by James Ferguson, son of former Godolphin king pin and now agent, John, and in just his third full season with a licence.
Ferguson’s representative is Deauville Legend, winner last time out of the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. Again, one of only two three-year-olds in the field, he will be trying to emulate the 2018 winner, Cross Counter, trained by Charlie Appleby, who beat Hughie Morrison’s Marmelo after running a close second in the same York race that Deauville Legend won.
One familiar name is the five-year-old gelding Serpentine, two years after his surprise Derby win for Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore. Now a gelding, he ran a good second in a minor prep race at Flemington on Saturday. He carries 3lb less than the favourite!
We mentioned the other three-year-old, Hoo Ya Mal, last week. The Derby second to Desert Crown was sold for £1.2 million at the boutique Kensington Gardens auction on the eve of Royal Ascot. From then until his dispatch to Australia, Hoo Ya Mal was in the care of George Boughey, tasked to handle the colt’s preparation after the sale until his departure.
Occupants of properties in a town with restricted accommodation can be a moving feast. I’m pretty sure though that eight of tomorrow’s field are trained by young men (including Boughey), generally assistant trainers at the time, who shared a house owned in Newmarket by George Scott a few years back.
Boughey, Ed Crisford, Ferguson and the brothers David and Harry Eustace were all at one time common tenants in Scott’s house. Harry Eustace, 22 winners on his card this year on only his second full season, is not involved tomorrow save cheering on his brother, but the others are.
Crisford junior trains, with father Simon, the other long-time former Godolphin mainstay. He, unlike Ferguson senior, still has plenty to say in that operation although none of the father-son duo’s horses are in Godolphin ownership. Their runner, Without A Fight, is a five-year-old gelding, winner of seven of his 17 starts. He is a son of Teofilo, as was Cross Counter.
That takes us to three, but step forward David Eustace, elder son of former dual purpose trainer James. He and his co-trainer, the extravagantly attired Ciaron Maher, have five representatives in the line-up, one more than last year when fourth and sixth places earned £275k for the stable’s owners.
One man determined to be there was Richard Ryan, racing manager for Teme Valley, fresh from the win of Bayside Boy, owned in partnership with Ballylinch Stud, at 33/1 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot.
Requiring to be in Berkshire prevented Ryan’s presence in Australia for Numerian’s prep race in the Caulfield Cup in which he was a close fifth. Numerian, once with Joseph O’Brien, is now in the care of Annabel Neasham, one of the main buyers at last week’s sale. When asked whether she had an owner for one of her expensive acquisitions, she suggested there might be 200 potential owners champing at the bit! I bet some of her counterparts at Newmarket found that hard to take.
After Melbourne, of course, it’s off to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, far from the favourite venue for my friend Harry Taylor who prefers some Californian heat at Santa Anita. Sorry mate, at least you have the chance to see the astonishing Flightline in the Classic. Baaeed’s fall from grace in the Champion Stakes at Ascot leaves the way clear for a coronation, US style, late on Saturday. It’s being shown on ITV 3 on both Friday and Saturday and will be well worth waiting up for. [The Classic is due off at 9.40pm, so not too late - Ed.]
The American horses trying, in vain most likely, to match Flightline in the Classic are being left to their own devices, and in the other dirt races, too, apart from some Japanese challenges. But in the turf contests they will hard pressed to keep the lid on what looks like a stronger European challenge than for some time. Kinross and Modern Games set a decent standard in the Mile, while Charlie Appleby looks to have a stranglehold on the Turf with Nations Pride and Rebel's Romance heading the market.
I pass on a humorous note about one rider going off to the meeting with an obvious chance. Jason Hart, who rode Safe Voyage at Keeneland in 2020, is pleased to take that experience with him for his ride on the remarkable Highfield Princess in the Turf Sprint. The three-time Group 1 winning five-year-old vies for favouritism with Wesley Ward’s speedball Golden Pal.
Hart won last week at Newcastle on the Wilf Storey-trained Going Underground, delighting owner Herbert Hutchinson in the process. When told Hart would be unable to ride him at Newcastle this Friday night as he was going to the US, Mr H asked can we not claim him? Afraid not Herbert, you’ll have to make do with Kevin Stott!
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/DeauvilleLegend_GreatVoltigeur_2022.jpg319830Tony Staffordhttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/geegeez_banner_new_170x78.pngTony Stafford2022-10-31 08:31:562022-10-31 08:31:57Monday Musings: Down Under
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