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Juddmonte pair chase Sir Henry Cecil Stakes success

Derab and Maximal give Juddmonte a strong hand in the Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket.

An intriguing field of six runners has been declared for Thursday’s Listed contest, with the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Maximal setting the standard on ratings after finishing a creditable fourth in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

John and Thady Gosden’s Derab, who is a half-brother to the brilliant mare Enable, was last seen finishing eighth in the French Derby at Chantilly – a race won by Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse hero St Mark’s Basilica.

Barry Mahon, Juddmonte’s general manager Ireland and European racing, said: “At the minute they’re both going to run. We’re keeping an eye on the weather with Maximal because he wants fast ground – so with the risk of thunderstorms, we’ll be monitoring it (the ground) with him.

“Both horses are in good form. It’s not ideal to have the two of them running (against each other), but there’s no alternative.

“Maximal ran a great race at Ascot – and the other horse, to be fair, had a rough trip over to France. He had rough trip in the race, and we threw him in at the deep end a little bit.

“It will be nice to give him a confidence booster close to home and get him back on an upward curve.”

Baaeed, a full-brother to high-class middle-distance performer Hukum, has made a big impression in winning his first two starts – on his racecourse debut at Leicester before dominating his rivals over this course and distance.

Trainer William Haggas said: “He’s just won a maiden and a novice – he’s stepping right up for what is a very strong race for the grade.

“He looks a nice horse, but we’ll see on Thursday how nice.”

Charlie Appleby lowers the sights of One Ruler – who has finished sixth in the 2000 Guineas, sixth in the Derby and seventh in the Hampton Court Stakes so far this term.

“One Ruler has been slightly frustrating so far this year – but dropping back to a mile should suit,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“He will be a major player if he can rediscover his two-year-old form.”

Roger Varian’s Legion Of Honour and Mark Johnston’s Naamoos are the other hopefuls.

Group Three honours are up for grabs in the Bahrain Trophy – a recognised trial for the St Leger at Doncaster in September.

Johnston saddles both Dancing King and Gear Up, while the Gosdens are represented by Queen’s Vase third Stowell.

Yibir is a leading contender for Appleby, having been gelded since chasing home subsequent Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood in May.

“Yibir has some great form in the book this season but has been a bit frustrating, which is why he has been gelded since his last run,” said the Moulton Paddocks handler.

“If he can return to the level of form he showed at Sandown (when third in Classic Trial), it is going to make him very competitive.”

Brian Meehan’s dual winner Mandoob also features.

Enable’s brother Derab going for French Derby gold

Derab and Megallan give John Gosden a strong hand in his bid for back-to-back victories in the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club on Sunday.

The Clarehaven handler, who now trains in partnership with son Thady, secured his first success in the French Derby last season with the brilliant Mishriff, who has since won the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Both Derab and Megallan have some way to go scale those heights, but head to Chantilly with strong claims – albeit neither has fared particularly well in the draw.

Derab, a son of Sea The Stars and a half-brother to Gosden’s wonder mare Enable, opened his account at the third attempt with a runaway success in a Newmarket novice event last month. He is drawn wider than ideal in stall 14.

Megallan was last seen contesting the Dante Stakes at York – running a fine race in defeat to fill the runner-up spot behind Epsom contender Hurricane Lane. He will break next to his stable companion in stall 15.

Thady Gosden said: “Both horses cantered on Friday morning and seem in good form.

“Derab has taken his Newmarket race well and Megallan ran very well in the Dante and has been in good form since.

“Chantilly is a hard enough track to ride without being drawn out on a wing, but it could have been worse. Martin Harley (rides Derab) has ridden there a couple of times and Olivier Peslier (rides Megallan) could go round there in his sleep, I’d imagine.

“They’re forecast quite a bit of rain. Hopefully the ground doesn’t get too soft.”

St Mark's Basilica on his way to ParisLongchamp glory
St Mark’s Basilica on his way to ParisLongchamp glory (Scoopdyga/France Galop)

St Mark’s Basilica bids to join an elite list by notching up a French Classic double, having won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains – the French 2000 Guineas – last time out.

Shamardal doubled up in 2005, the year the race switched distance to 10 furlongs, while Lope De Vega (2010) and Brametot (2017) have also lifted both races in recent years.

St Mark’s Basilica, who also landed the Dewhurst last year, was partnered by Ioritz Mendizabal to Classic glory at ParisLongchamp last month, and he will be in the plate again on Sunday.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “He’s been lovely since the Guineas and it was always the plan to go back to France for the French Derby, so that’s where he is.

“We’re very happy with him since and looking forward to seeing him run. He hasn’t run over that trip, but we’re looking forward to seeing it.”

Van Gogh is Aidan O'Brien's second string
Van Gogh is Aidan O’Brien’s second string (PA)

O’Brien also runs Van Gogh, a Group One winner as a juvenile in France and last seen finishing third behind Mac Swiney in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. Colin Keane takes the ride.

The Ballydoyle handler added: “Van Gogh is a quality horse that won a Group One at the back end of last year and he had a very good run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. For him to run that well, as we took our time on him in not a strongly-run race, we were very happy with him.

“He always works like a horse with plenty of class and with that type of horse you can never be sure (of the trip) until they go there. You would think there is a really good chance he will get a mile and a quarter.

“I don’t think (he needs soft ground) as he had some very nice runs here on nice ground.”

Jean Claude-Rouget fields three, headed by Makaloun, who relinquished his unbeaten juvenile record when only third to Gear Up in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October but returned with a cosy success in the Prix de Guiche last month.

Rouget said: “We made a conscious decision to keep Makaloun under wraps for a considerable period during the winter, as he had run late in the season and on a track that was very demanding on the body. So he went late into training, but quite quickly came to himself in the mornings.

“In the Prix de Guiche, which the colt won, he wasn’t 100 per cent. I don’t think I can have him in any better condition than he is now.”

Rouget also has two unbeaten colts in Saiydabad and Cheshire Academy, who won the Group Three Prix Noailles in the stewards’ room on his only outing so far this term.

Both Makaloun and Cheshire Academy will have to contend with high draws though, in 18 and 19 respectively in a 19-runner field.

Freddy Head expects Adhamo to handle testing conditions
Freddy Head expects Adhamo to handle testing conditions (Steve Parsons/PA)

Adhamo won the Prix La Force in April for Freddy Head, but had to settle for fourth behind Makaloun at Chantilly last time out.

Head expects the 10-furlong trip to suit and is unconcerned by conditions, which were described as very soft on Friday following 32 millimetres of rain.

He said: “The colt is doing very well and I’m very happy with him. The 2,100-metres trip is not a problem and, if it rains it won’t be a problem either.”

Three colts who finished behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Poulains take him on again – Policy Of Truth (fourth), Normandy Bridge (seventh) and Sealiway (eighth).

Dazzling Derab upholds family tradition at Newmarket

Derab, a half-brother to the mighty Enable, blitzed the opposition when losing his maiden tag in the Betfair Novice Stakes at Newmarket.

Runner-up on his first two starts, the son of Sea The Stars made no mistake with a quality display that augurs well for the future.

John and Thady Gosden’s colt was always travelling easily over the Rowley Mile and when Martin Harley pressed the button, the response was immediate.

Derab (10-11 favourite) quickly put daylight between himself and his rivals to win by six and a half lengths from Fireworks.

Gosden senior said: “He has run very well. He ran very well at Ascot first time out, then we ran into a problem in the autumn.

“He came back and he was a bit fresh. We were very keen to settle him at Newbury and we were more interested in settling him than anything else.

“He was much more sensible today and has run a lovely race. He has grown up a lot.”

He added: “We will either keep him at a mile or go a mile and a quarter and look at options over those trips.

“I don’t know if he is one for the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot, as that is a bit of a way off. He has made big bounds now – he has always wanted to be in a hurry about life, but he is doing things in the correct rhythm now.”

A Star Above delighted trainer William Haggas
A Star Above delighted trainer William Haggas (Mike Egerton/PA)

A Star Above reaped the benefit of a good comeback run to take the Betfair Weighed-In Podcast Handicap.

Fourth at Doncaster last month after being off the track for 231 days, the William Haggas-trained four-year-old scooted clear over a furlong out and was not hard pressed to score by a length and three-quarters from To Be Wild.

Haggas said: “It was a good staying performance. He got quite tired first time out but he stayed well today. I think there is a nice staying race in him.

“He ran in the Melrose up at York last year, but he wasn’t quite up to that. He is a nice stayer that is very genuine. I think he will get further than a mile and three quarters, but I’m not sure there is a need to go further.”

Turntable in winning action under Callum Shepherd
Turntable in winning action under Callum Shepherd (Mike Egerton/PA)

Turntable (11-2) built on his encouraging seasonal debut to land the Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Handicap for Chris Wall.

The five-year-old was too good for Jean Baptiste in the closing stages and went on to win by a length and a half in the hands of Callum Shepherd.

Master The Stars was awarded the Betfair Exchange Handicap in the stewards’ room after finishing second past the post.

Good Birthday crossed the line in front by a short head but the placings were reversed following an inquiry.

Master The Stars (7-1), ridden by 5lb claimer Mark Crehan, was winning for the first time since July.

Good Birthday’s jockey Silvestre de Sousa was banned for two days for careless riding.

Clock Watcher: Young Guns

Is that the time? Doesn't it fly when you're having fun? It's been a good while since the previous Clock Watcher episode so high time for another instalment. This time the focus is mainly on two-year-old races which might pan out well - or at least better than markets expect.

When pulling the relevant races from the database - those since 10th August 2020 - and ordering by the sum of Topspeed and our sectional upgrade figure, I was pleasantly surprised and at the same time irked that the top four to have run since recording their good number have all won their sole subsequent start.

Grist to the method mill maybe, but slim pickings unless of course you're one of that desperate band of netherworlders, the after-time police.

For the record, we'll cover the subsequent winners, and then have a squint at the quartet yet to go again; we might call those the 'destined to get beaten' group!

The First Four...

Top of the late summer pops was Dubai Honour, whose effort in narrow defeat at Chester behind an all-the-way winner was substantiated by both a good speed figure and a tidy sectional upgrade. [Click the image below to open a more pixel-perfect version]

We can see from the running lines (race position and distance behind the leader/in front) in the blue boxes to the left that State Of Bliss led all the way, and that at the middle (third) call point, which is the two furlong pole ('4-2' of that section, see data to the right of the blue boxes), Dubai Honour was just about four lengths back in fifth position.

He made up three-quarters of a length and two positions in the penultimate furlong (2-1) and all but a nose of the three lengths deficit from the trailblazing winner in the final (1-0) furlong.

The red filled boxes (in the lilac box to the right - confused?!) tell the tale of the finish: Dubai Honour's final furlong finishing speed percentage was 108.3 compared with the winner's 104.1.

Dubai Honour posted some impressive sectional timing figures when narrowly failing to catch Stat of Bliss at Chester

Next time out, and sent off 5/2 favourite for a similar race at Haydock on 26th September, Dubai Honour made no mistake. Alas, at time of writing there are still no sectional insights for that - or indeed any Racing TV - track. However, I'm given to understand this may begin to happen in the near future; Course Track, a company commissioned by Racecourse Media Group (and their TV channel, Racing TV), have been collecting the data for some time and the challenges they've faced in ensuring the integrity of that data may finally be in harness.

It is a difficult challenge, in fairness, and I sincerely hope that I - and many others - can stop whining and start consuming very soon!

Stepping away from my dangerously worn out soapbox, while Dubai Honour's light is no longer under a bushel he does look the type to improve for a step up in trip; and, out of a Montjeu mare, his pedigree offers hope also.

Without going into fine detail, the other three subsequent winners were Indigo Girl, now unbeaten in two for John Gosden after landing the Group 2 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster; La Barrosa, also unbeaten in two and also a winner in Pattern company since, the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby; and Rising Star, who led all the way to land a Kempton novice event. The last named may be the best chance of a price next time.

The Next Four...

To those yet to run since, and a likely kiss of death for them...

The '85' in the spreadsheet image above is Derab. Trained by John Gosden for Prince Khalid Abdullah, he recorded his number on debut when running up to the aforementioned La Barrosa. Waited with early, his final furlong time of 12.14 seconds on the Ascot incline was clear quickest.

We already know the early merit of that form - the third has also won since, and the fourth, and the 11th (at 125/1!) - and this lad has yet more expectation bestowed upon him as a result of his breeding: by Sea The Stars, he is out of the same mare, Concentric, as Enable!

[Again, click the image to view a clearer version - images containing numbers and text generally blur slightly when forced to a certain resolution]

 

Less obvious - let's face it, almost any two-year-old in training is less obvious than Derab - is Rival, a respectful third behind State Of Bliss and Dubai Honour at Chester. Drawn widest of all, Rival was five lengths off the speed at the half mile marker in that 7½ furlong contest, and closed up to finish best of the rest.

As well as Dubai Honour's impressive subsequent score, the fifth and eighth placed finishers have won their sole spins since giving the form a solid look.

Rival was due to run at Windsor this afternoon before that track got waterlogged. Expect to see him back on track soon.

The first of the brace of 81's belongs to King Zain, who was winning for the second time either side of a pair of Group 2 mild disappointments. The son of Kingman is out of a Dalakhani mare and may prove best at the far side of a mile; here he quickened well over seven and left his closest rivals eating sods in the last quarter mile.

This time the chart (below, click for pixel clarity) shows 'sectional time' by furlong so, of course, the lower the line the faster the time.

The black line is par, which relates that Lingfield seven furlong turf contests are often more quickly run early before slowing up late. This race, as can be seen, was not run like that: rather, it was steady until around the two furlong from home pole and then a sprint to the line.

I've included the second (Incorrigible, green line) and third (Gypsy Boy, mauve) so you can see how King Zain (maroon) matched the runner up before leaving that one behind in the last eighth of a mile. The third plodded on at the one pace and looks flattered as a result of his early position in a slowly run heat.

 

The last of the four yet to go again since their spreadsheet effort is Fools Rush In, by first-season sire sensation, Mehmas (see below, image copied from TheOwnerBreeder.com - click on the image to visit their site).

 

Trained by Tom Dascombe, he had a busy three and a half months where he racked up eight starts between the resumption and mid-September. During that time he was only outside the first four twice: in the Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot and a valuable sales contest at York. Winning, however, has proved elusive with a solitary score to show for his exertions.

In the Chester race flagged in the image above (you know the drill by now, click it for clarity), he suffered mild interference at the start and, though he closed the gap, was unable to recover against a pair of runners that were first and second almost throughout.

The winner has gone in again since and it will be interesting to see where next for Fools Rush In. Ostensibly exposed on a mark of 82, he could be freshened up by a short break and might be interesting in a straight track six furlong handicap.

Takeaways

The bird may have flown in large part with regard to the horses highlighted herein, sadly.

That said, Dubai Honour looks a colt of some promise and is ready for the step up to Pattern company, though a rating of 90 is probably tempting in the handicap context. Derab will also be fascinating to follow for all that he's unlikely to be a punters' pal.

Of the remainder, Rival is less exposed than King Zain and Fools Rush In; having been rained off today, he's entered in a valuable mile nursery at York on Saturday and that more stamina-testing track, off a mark of just 77, may play to the strengths of a horse doing his best work late around Chester's bullring (the winner of that Chester race is now rated 90, and the fifth-placed horse 82).

He'll need a few to come out to make the cut there but, wherever he next appears, he could be worth following.

But the big takeaway is that we might soon have the significant gaps in what may be termed 'official' sectional coverage plugged by the long-awaited publication of Racing TV sectional data. Fingers crossed, that will form part of the next edition of Clock Watcher.

Matt