Tag Archive for: Ghostwriter

French Derby target for Guineas fourth Ghostwriter

They often say fourth in the Guineas, first in the Derby – and Clive Cox hopes that rings true for the French equivalent as well, as he eyes a trip to Chantilly for Ghostwriter following his fine effort in the 2000 Guineas.

Unbeaten as a two-year-old, the son of Invincible Spirit was sent off at 14-1 in the hands of Richard Kingscote for the opening Classic of the summer, overcoming a stumble exiting the stalls and also becoming unbalanced entering the dip to finish a respectable fourth behind impressive winner Notable Speech.

It was a performance that suggested Ghostwriter will thrive once upped in distance and although the colt holds an entry for the Betfred Derby at Epsom, Cox is keen to stick to 10 furlongs and place a bullseye on the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on June 2.

“I don’t think there was any doubt we saw a very impressive winner, but I’m very happy he ran very well,” said Cox.

“Things didn’t go entirely smoothly for him, but it’s certainly not a disappointing reflection. He just stumbled coming out of the stalls and also got a bit unbalanced coming into the dip as well.

“He’s come out of the race very well and I think as a mile winner at two who has undoubtedly done very well over the winner, I was very pleased with the performance, and I now think he will be helped by going a mile and a quarter at this stage.

“That would be our intention as long as he is fit and well. He’s done a very gentle canter this morning and I’m thrilled he has come out of the race really well.

“I hope he will continue his progress and I would say, after speaking with Jeff (Smith, owner) this morning, that the French Derby is going to be our likely target.”

Ghostwriter also holds an entry in York’s Dante Stakes later this month, but with a short span of time between the the Guineas and his French Classic assignment, Cox is willing to forego a fact-finding mission over 10 furlongs and cross the Channel with a freshened-up Derby contender.

Clive Cox was thrilled with Ghostwriter's Guineas efforts
Clive Cox was thrilled with Ghostwriter’s Guineas efforts (John Walton/PA)

“The Dante comes soon enough and although the Dante would be ideal, we were very keen to run in the Guineas and he justified that with a really solid run,” continued Cox.

“York will come soon enough and then the timeframe between the Guineas and the French Derby is probably going to be much more suitable.

“He’s a very nice horse and I’m just very pleased he has come out of the race well and we can now look forward to him going a mile and a quarter.”

Smith excited by double chance of ending Classics hoodoo

Owner Jeff Smith is still searching for that elusive Classic victory, but could have his strongest-ever hand to play in this season’s Guineas, as Ghostwriter and See The Fire head to Newmarket in pursuit of big-race glory next weekend.

Smith’s famous purple and blue silks have been made popular by the likes of Lochsong and Persian Punch down the years, while Chief Singer went closest to breaking the Hampshire-based owner’s duck in the year’s most prestigious races when finishing second in the 2000 Guineas four decades ago.

However, he has now been given cause to dream once again by this year’s aspiring three-year-olds, who head to Newmarket with leading claims.

First up for his shot at Classic honours is the Clive Cox-trained Ghostwriter, who was unbeaten during his two-year-old campaign, finishing off by dazzling over the Guineas track and trip when claiming the Royal Lodge.

That kind of profile has Smith excited for when his son of Invincible Spirit returns to the Rowley Mile to do battle against the likes of odds-on favourite City Of Troy and Rosallion.

He said: “I haven’t seen him for two weeks but Clive is very upbeat and couldn’t have the horse in better condition, given there is only a week to go – and we’re extremely hopeful.

“He’s an unbeaten two-year-old with cracking form and we would go there with every chance. If you take the favourite out of the colts’ race, then it is wide open.

“Chief Singer came second but Norse Dancer came third and was beaten slightly less, so you could argue that was better. I’ve had the second, third and fourth, so it’s time for that to change.”

Chief Singer finishing second in the 1984 2000 Guineas
Chief Singer finishing second in the 1984 2000 Guineas (PA)

It is 40 years since Chief Singer’s silver medal in the colts’ one-mile showpiece, but the Littleton Stud owner still speaks fondly of the horse, who may have narrowly failed to scoop Classic honours but would go on to strike in three of the summer’s biggest contests.

Trained by Ron Sheather, Chief Singer would win the St James’s Palace Stakes, the July Cup and the Sussex Stakes at three to earn a special place in his owner’s affections.

“He was very special and I was very lucky to get him very early on in my time owning horses, it was just amazing,” said Smith.

“I think at the time, I realised how lucky I was, but if I didn’t then, I certainly realise how lucky I was now.”

See The Fire (right) in action against Ylang Ylang last season
See The Fire (right) in action against Ylang Ylang last season (Nigel French/PA)

More recently, it was Alcohol Free who excelled in Smith’s colours and although only fifth when sent off 5-2 joint-favourite for the 1000 Guineas in 2021, she would follow in the footsteps of Chief Singer and go on to strike at both Royal Ascot and in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

Alcohol Free was trained by Andrew Balding, whose family have long been custodians of Smith’s finest equine talent, with the Kingsclere supremo in charge of preparing See The Fire for her 1000 Guineas tilt.

A daughter of Sea The Stars, out of Smith’s Group One-winning mare Arabian Queen, she is bred for the role of top-class performer and showcased her ability when placed in two hot contests at the end of last season.

It is Andrew Balding preparing See The Fire for Classic action
It is Andrew Balding preparing See The Fire for Classic action (Mike Egerton/PA)

She has a length and a quarter to find with ante-post 1000 Guineas favourite Ylang Ylang from when the two clashed in the Fillies’ Mile, with Smith feeling See The Fire has just as good a chance as Ghostwriter of adding her name to the Classic-winning roll of honour.

He continued: “They are two proper chances, I’m extremely hopeful of both and I know all owners are balmy and optimistic and so on, but Ylang Ylang is favourite and we were beaten just over a length.

“On that occasion, we came too early if you look at it retrospectively and hung across the course, so why would that be favourite and we be much bigger? I think we go there with a great chance.

“We’ve never had a hand as good as this and if you can’t be enthusiastic about two Classic runners with chances, you may as well give up.”

Ghostwriter gallop sparking Cox’s Classic dream

Clive Cox has been buoyed by a racecourse gallop ahead of Ghostwriter’s Qipco 2000 Guineas bid, confident his smart Newmarket form can prove a positive in the opening Classic of the season.

The son of Invincible Spirit was unbeaten throughout his two-year-old season and finished 2023 with a statement victory on the Rowley Mile in the Royal Lodge Stakes.

With that experience under the colt’s belt, Cox was happy to forego an early-season trial in favour of a pipe-opener at Kempton, with Ghostwriter – a general 14-1 shot to claim the scalp of Aidan O’Brien’s odds-on favourite City Of Troy on May 4 – reported to have thrived over the winter.

“I’m very happy with Ghostwriter and he has his Newmarket course form,” explained Cox.

“I’m very pleased he has done exceptionally well over the winter and we will be going there with a racecourse gallop under his belt. He’s done very well and that is why he hasn’t run in a trial.

“He’s been to Kempton and he’s a very athletic, clean-winded horse who has done well over the winter and we think that will have benefitted him far more than racing on testing ground, with his previous experience at Newmarket hopefully holding him in good stead.”

Another star juvenile for the Beechdown Stables team last season was the Kennet Valley-owned Dragon Leader, who suffered defeat just the once in five starts in 2023 as he proved a real money-spinner for connections.

Dragon Leader has been a real money-spinner for connections
Dragon Leader has been a real money-spinner for connections (PA)

Big victories at York and Redcar sandwiched a near miss in a valuable Doncaster event and Cox is eyeing stepping the son of El Kabeir up in trip this term when ground conditions allow him to return to action.

“He was a very productive runner last year earning over £300,000 in prize-money,” continued Cox.

“I’m pleased to say he’s wintered well, but he’s definitely better with a dry surface and we wouldn’t be making any concrete plans at the minute. When the ground gets a little bit quicker you will see him.

“Last year he was looking like seven furlongs would help him and I would be very hopeful he will get a mile. We kept him at six last year simply because he was so well qualified for those races. Six and a half was no problem for him at Doncaster though in the Weatherbys race.”

Cox undecided on Guineas trial for Ghostwriter

Clive Cox is “open-minded” as to whether to give his unbeaten colt Ghostwriter a prep run ahead of the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The son of Invincible Spirit won each of his three starts as a juvenile, completing his hat-trick with a taking Group Two victory in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket in September.

Cox is delighted with how his charge has wintered and is now readying the Jeff Smith-owned three-year-old for a tilt at Classic glory on the first Saturday in May.

“Ghostwriter is really pleasing me, we’ve had a great winter with him and he’s trained well through the spring,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.

“I’m not sure about a trial, I think we’re open-minded. We definitely need to have him on fire for the Guineas in the first week of May and the going will play a part in whether we do have a trial or whether he has a racecourse gallop.”

Ghostwriter also holds an entry in the Derby at Epsom on June 1, with Cox optimistic he will stay further than the straight mile of the Guineas.

He added: “He won over a mile at two and being out of a Champs Elysees mare, I think he could stay a little bit further.

“He’s got an entry in the Dante as well, so we’ve got longer trips in mind, but obviously he’s got a bit of class to win like he did at two and we’ll feel our way as we go regarding that (trip).

“I think he’s quite versatile ground-wise, but he’s only run on a quicker surface.”

Cox eyeing 2000 Guineas goal for Ghostwriter

Clive Cox has the Qipco 2000 Guineas in mind as an early goal for his exciting unbeaten colt Ghostwriter.

The three-year-old is by Invincible Spirit and runs in the familiar purple and blue silks of Jeff Smith, whose most recent top-class performer was the multiple Group One winner Alcohol Free.

Ghostwriter made his debut at Newmarket in a July course maiden last August, prevailing by three and a half lengths over seven furlongs.

He then headed to Ascot for a novice event over the same trip, again winning comfortably when making the running and coming home a length and a quarter ahead of the runner-up.

His third and final outing of the season was on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket, where he stepped up in grade to contest the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes.

Ghostwriter striding to victory in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge
Ghostwriter striding to victory in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge (Tim Goode/PA)

There he encountered some promising rivals, including the Ballydoyle contender Capulet – a Group Two runner-up ahead of the race having finished only half a length behind stablemate Diego Velazquez in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

Cox’s runner was well able to step up to the mark, however, succeeding by a length and a quarter in a taking run under Richard Kingscote.

Naturally that performance has brought the Classics into focus for connections, particularly now the bay is proven over the Rowley Mile – home of the 2000 Guineas in May.

“He’s done really well, he had a super break and he’s been back cantering for three or four weeks,” Cox said.

“We’re thrilled with the way he’s developed over the winter, he’s looking even stronger.

“We were delighted with the campaign we enjoyed with him last year and we’re all looking forward to this season.

“I’m very much hoping to go to the Guineas, the first week in May is uppermost in our minds.

“Especially with him winning on the track at Newmarket, on the July course, of course, but crucially the Rowley Mile.

“We would be very excited about him with those Classic races in mind.”

Ghostwriter firing Cox’s winter Classic dreams

Clive Cox is excited to see what the future holds for Ghostwriter following his taking success in Newmarket’s Royal Lodge Stakes.

Having impressed in his first two outings, the son of Invincible Spirit took the step up to both a mile and Group Two level in his stride to run out a convincing winner in the hands of Richard Kingscote when up against a useful cast on the Rowley Mile.

The victory puts the colt in the picture for next year’s Classics, with the youngster as short as 16-1 for both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby and his handler has been delighted with his progress throughout his juvenile campaign.

“He showed improvement from his first run with how he ran under a penalty at Ascot and this was a bigger step up again,” said Cox.

“He acquitted himself very impressively and backed up our hopes and thoughts from what we had been seeing at home.”

Ghostwriter’s Royal Lodge success earns him a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf if connections wish, while he also holds an entry for the Group One Futurity Trophy at Doncaster before the season ends.

Although refusing to completely rule out those options, Cox is minded to think to the future with his talented prospect and would have no qualms about now taking stock with the Jeff Smith-owned two-year-old and returning next spring with his 100 per cent record intact.

“I’m pleased to report he has come home well,” continued Cox.

Ghostwriter on his way to winning the Royal Lodge
Ghostwriter on his way to winning the Royal Lodge (Tim Goode/PA)

“We’ll discuss it further with Jeff in the meantime. Most importantly we will follow the horse’s appearance and well-being over the next week or so and that would be the guiding light really.

“While I am happy with him, I think physically, he has a big frame to mature into even more and I would definitely be inclined to be thinking from a physical point of view he will be a better horse next year and I’m really excited about the future.”

On the prospect of heading to Santa Anita next month, he added: “I think at this stage of his life that would be a huge step and with his size and scope and being so exciting for the future, I would just be very proud of what he has achieved so far this year.

“The level of expectation is such an exciting thought going forwards that it is a bigger picture than tomorrow and it is more about thinking further down the line.”

Get Ahead (left) finishing second in the Flying Five Stakes
Get Ahead (left) finishing second in the Flying Five Stakes (Damien Eagers/PA)

While Ghostwriter’s career is only just beginning, Cox will bid farewell to the speedster Get Ahead following her fourth-placed finish in the Abbaye as she heads now heads to the paddocks.

An agonising second in the Flying Five Stakes on her previous start, she was somewhat unfortunate not to finish closer to ParisLongchamp winner Highfield Princess having been short of room at a vital stage.

“I guess that’s racing sometimes and they don’t run in lanes, but we’re extremely proud of what she has achieved throughout her career,” said Cox.

“I think to be second in the Flying Five and to back that up amongst some of the best sprinters in the world at Longchamp is quite rewarding and she will be heading to the paddocks now.

“I’m very proud to have been involved with her and, being related to a Guineas winner (her half-brother is Chaldean), she now has a great record on track to back up her pedigree.

“She’s a filly that will last long in our memories without a shadow of a doubt.”

Also heading for a career as a broodmare is Tregony, who was a star of the Racing League last term, but has taken her form to the next level of late and now bows out after a career-best effort to deny New London in the Listed Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Godolphin Stakes.

Tregony winning the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Godolphin Stakes
Tregony winning the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Godolphin Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

“She’s been impeccable and the courage she displayed on Friday was amazing,” added Cox.

“We had previously felt she had only just got the mile and a half really, but Saffie (Osborne, jockey) gave her such a wonderful ride and managed to settle her into a perfect rhythm through the race that she was able to display that courage and determination she has always had at a crucial stage.

“I’m just thrilled she has that winning Listed success to go with her previous black-type placed effort and she’s now bound for the paddocks and will surely be a very exciting broodmare.”

Ghostwriter looks smart in Royal Lodge victory

Clive Cox’s Ghostwriter remains unbeaten after a taking victory in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

The Invincible Spirit two-year-old was a wide-margin maiden winner at the July course on debut and then took an Ascot novice in convincing style in early September.

Stepped up to Group Two level on the Rowley Mile and ridden by Richard Kingscote, the bay was not hard pressed to ease ahead of eight rivals and prevail by a length at 100-30, in what looked a good renewal. Al Musmak and Capulet took second and third respectively.

The Jeff Smith-owned colt was subsequently given a 16-1 quote by Coral for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Cox said: “That was very special and I’m so thrilled for Jeff. He has been improving with every run and that was a big step to take. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he has carried it out and he looks full of promise going forward.

“The dam (Moorside) won over a mile and a half and I think he has a very good middle-distance plan to go forwards with.

“He was very much in his comfort zone and Richard was able to play him exactly as he felt and he quickened nicely when he met the rising ground there and I couldn’t be more pleased.

“He has always been a nice horse, but he has always been maturing and having a frame to fill while keeping his strength moving forwards. This cements what we thought so far and the dream is very much alive for next year.

“It is really exciting. We are normally known for our sprinting division but in the meantime it is such a joy to have a horse like this on our hands as it does set the pulse racing.”

The Futurity Trophy at Doncaster could be next on the horizon at the end of October.

Cox added: “We will discuss that with Jeff and David (Bowe, racing manager) and see how he comes back, but I’d say the way he is physically developing all the time means I’d probably be thinking about next year.

“We’ve had a couple of entries (in the Derby), but they were foal entries. This is the first potential live chance we could be thinking about going that way.

“I’m just thrilled with what he has done today, and we can discuss that through the winter and make plans accordingly.”

Ghostwriter booked for Royal Lodge challenge

Clive Cox is eager to test the big-race credentials of Ghostwriter in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes after the exciting prospect maintained his unbeaten record on his latest start at Ascot.

The son of Invincible Spirit was sent off at 9-1 on debut at Newmarket, but made a mockery of his odds when sauntering to an impressive three-and-a-half-length victory.

He then confirmed the promise of that performance when making all in encouraging fashion in the hands of William Buick at Ascot, defying his inexperience in the closing stages to pull away for a cosy one-and-a-quarter-length success.

Cox has always had Newmarket’s Royal Lodge earmarked as the place to raise the sights of the Jeff Smith-owned youngster and he is now firmly on course for a step up to Group Two company on September 30.

“With a penalty, to stretch away as pleasingly as he did was great. He is still a bit green and now has a bit more experience under his belt and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress he’s making,” said Cox.

“He’s got size, scope and a wonderful pedigree and he’s come through his first two races with a lot of promise and excitement.

“We entered him for the Royal Lodge with Ascot being the ideal stepping stone if everything progressed as well as it has, so I very much intend, all being well, to head in that direction.”

Jockey Jim Crowley dismounts from Jasour after winning at Newmarket
Jockey Jim Crowley dismounts from Jasour after winning at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

Also on track for Newmarket is Jasour, with the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes – on the same afternoon as the Royal Lodge – the preferred destination for the July Stakes scorer.

The form of that Group Two victory was given a welcome boost when the William Haggas-trained runner-up Lake Forest claimed the Gimcrack, but Jasour has a small point to prove having disappointed at Deauville when seeking Group One riches in the Prix Morny.

However, Cox is confident the son of Havana Grey should be judged on his previous endeavours and the youngster is backed to recover from a minor blip in his fledgling career.

“Jasour is in excellent form,” he added.

“He has a Middle Park entry which would be our intended target. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he has conducted himself at home after a sideways step in the Morny.

“I think we still believe the horse we saw at Newmarket in July is a true witness to what we have really got.”