Classic heroines Homeless Songs, Cachet and Mangoustine are among 14 fillies confirmed for a mouthwatering renewal of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday.
The Dermot Weld-trained Homeless Songs is favourite for the Group One contest following her spectacular display in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh last month, while Cachet provided trainer George Boughey with a first Classic success in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Cachet went on to finish a close second to Mangoustine in the French 1000 Guineas and they are set to renew rivalry on the penultimate day of the Royal meeting.
As if a trio of Guineas winners locking horns were not enough, the unbeaten Inspiral is due to make her belated reappearance for John and Thady Gosden.
The daughter of Frankel was the undoubted star juvenile filly of last season, winning each of her four starts, and is poised for her comeback after reportedly being slow to come to hand this spring.
The Gosden team have a potential second string to their bow in Grande Dame, who won on her debut at Ascot before being touched off in a Listed event at York last month, while Ralph Beckett’s Prosperous Voyage was a neck runner-up to Cachet on the Rowley Mile last month.
Jessica Harrington has landed two of the last four renewals of the Coronation Stakes with half-sisters Alpha Centauri (2018) and Alpine Star (2020) and will bid to make it a hat-trick with another sibling in Discoveries.
The Mastercraftsman filly, a full-sister of Alpha Centauri, won the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes in the autumn, but was beaten five lengths into seventh place in the Guineas at Newmarket.
There are two American challengers in Graham Motion’s Spendarella and the Christophe Clement-trained Pizza Bianca, who beat Cachet when winning at the Breeders’ Cup in November.
Henry de Bromhead’s pair of Honey Girl and Star Girls Aalmal, Hilal Kobeissi’s Rolling The Dice, the Andrew Balding-trained Sandrine and Tenebrism from Aidan O’Brien’s yard are the other hopefuls.
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Dermot Weld has warned Homeless Songs will only run in next week’s Coronation Stakes if the ground is suitable.
A hugely impressive winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, she is on target to take part in arguably the most competitive race of the week.
Newmarket Guineas winner Cachet, French Guineas heroine Mangoustine and last year’s champion juvenile filly Inspiral are all set to be in opposition, but Weld has reiterated Homeless Songs will not run at Ascot if the ground is too fast.
“Anything she has done since the Curragh she has done nicely and we are all set for next week provided the ground is suitable,” said Weld.
“I wouldn’t like to see the word firm strongly mentioned in the going.”
Last year’s Chester Cup Falcon Eight got stuck in the mud in the Queen Alexandra Stakes last year but is on course for that race once more.
“Falcon Eight will run in the Queen Alexandra on the Saturday,” said Weld.
“He ran in it last year but the ground had come up very testing by the last race.
“He looks just as good a horse this year and I thought he ran an excellent race this year in the Chester Cup (fifth) with 9st 12lb on his back.
“I think he’s all set to run a very good race.”
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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.
Homeless Songs ran out a hugely impressive winner of the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.
Successful in the Group Three trial for this race at Leopardstown in early April, the Moyglare Stud Farm-owned filly was an 11-2 chance to provide Dermot Weld with a fifth victory in the race in the hands of Chris Hayes.
For a long way it looked like Aidan O’Brien’s 11-4 favourite Tuesday, third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, was in the prime position and she moved to the lead in the home straight.
But having been ridden with restraint, Homeless Songs moved effortlessly into contention and found another gear once popped the question to quickly leave her rivals trailing in her wake.
The daughter of Frankel passed the post with five and a half lengths in hand, with Tuesday just beating her stablemate Concert Hall to the runner-up spot.
Weld said: “My only concern was whether she could carry that speed over a mile, but she relaxed beautifully for Chris and he gave her a most perfect ride.
“I said to Eva (Bucher-Haefner, of Moyglare) if she can carry that speed over a mile, she will win the Guineas.
“I’ll discuss it with Eva, but the Coronation (Stakes) at Royal Ascot would now be a definite possibility. She’s a great filly to have and the next day will tell us even more.
“She’s not the easiest to keep right, but when you have her right she is very good.”
On a poignant note, Weld added: “Pat (Smullen) won at stakes level on her dam and I thought of him today which is also his birthday.
“That is my 27th European Classic and my fifth time to win this race and every Classic is very special and difficult to win. She’s a very special filly.”
Hayes said: “There was talk that she would be better with a bend, and this and that. My only concern coming into today was would I get a clean run of things. Staying a mile and the ground made no difference as she is a special filly.
“It was nice to get the colts’ one (Irish 2,000 Guineas on Awtaad in 2016), now we have the fillies’ one. Any day you ride a Classic winner is a good day.”
Dermot Weld is looking to win the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas for a fifth time with Homeless Songs at the Curragh on Sunday.
The master trainer has won big races all around the world but the victory of Prince’s Polly in the 1982 version provided him with a first Irish Classic.
He went on to claim the fillies’ race with Trusted Partner in 1988, Nightime in 2006 and Bethrah in 2010 – and Homeless Songs appears to have strong credentials to add to his list.
Having impressed in a trial in early April, she was strongly fancied for both the English and French versions, but both were swerved on account of fast ground.
Fiona Craig, bloodstock advisor for her owners Moyglare Stud, said: “She worked on Wednesday and worked nicely, so we’re looking forward to it.
“Her mother (Joailliere) didn’t go on firm ground, so we didn’t go to Newmarket and France wasn’t the right race either.
“It’ll be interesting. If you look at the pedigree, we’re hoping the Frankel influence will get her home over the mile. We won’t know if she gets the mile until we run over it it.
“I’d have no question about a mile around a turn, it’s just that Curragh is a long (straight) mile, but this is where we are and at least we’ve had a bit of rain. She doesn’t need soft ground, she just doesn’t want it like a road.
“It’s going to be a very good race, but all we can do is go and compete and see how we come out of it at the end.”
The Newmarket 1000 Guineas can sometimes be a good guide to the Irish version and with neither Cachet or Prosperous Voyage lining up, it is left to Aidan O’Brien’s Tuesday, third there, to uphold the form.
She was having just her third run having suffered a setback following her only outing at two and O’Brien expects her to continue to improve this season just like her sister, Minding.
O’Brien also runs History, another strong contender as a Group Three winner, and Concert Hall, out of the Oaks winner, Was.
The Ballydoyle handler said of his contenders: “We were delighted with Tuesday at Newmarket, she ran a lovely race.
“She’s been in good form since then and we’ll just take it one step at a time with her (regarding the Oaks) but we were delighted with her at Newmarket and we thought that the Curragh would suit her.
“History has stepped up a little from last year and she won nicely last time. She hasn’t done a lot since then but she’s in good form.
“Concert Hall has been in good form since Navan. She won over a mile and a quarter there and is dropping back in trip, but we thought there was no harm in letting her take her chance. She could possibly be one for Epsom but it’s one race at a time.”
A very interesting contender is the William Haggas-trained Purplepay, who will be having her first outing for the Newmarket-based handler, who is the most in-form trainer on either side of the Irish Sea right now.
Purplepay was last seen finishing third against the colts in the Criterium International for Cedric Rossi before being bought for €2million.
“It’s very much the plan for her to run and she looks pretty useful to me, so we’ll see how she goes – it’ll be very interesting,” said Haggas.
“She doesn’t move like she wants soft ground, but she’s got lots of good form on soft ground.”
James Ferguson is another Newmarket handler making the journey with Mise En Scene, who had been aimed at Newmarket’s Guineas only to spike a temperature on the morning of the race.
“I’m really happy with her. It’s obviously a very competitive race for her first run of the season, but I think we’ve got her A1,” he said.
“It was no secret that Newmarket was our primary target, but you can’t send a horse to the races, especially a Classic, unless they are 100 per cent.
“She did a nice swinger to open her lungs earlier this week and all being well, we’ll travel over and hopefully come back with a trophy.”
One of several lively outsiders is Henry de Bromhead’s Star Girls Aalmal, winner of two of her three outings to date.
De Bromhead may be better known for winning Cheltenham Gold Cups and Grand Nationals, but he does well with his small Flat string.
“It might be an ambitious plan but we said we’d give it a go and see how we get on,” he said.
“She seems in super form so we’re happy with her and we’ll find out plenty more on Sunday.
“She seems good on any surface so, touch wood, it will be nice ground and that will suit her.”
Joseph O’Brien’s Agartha, Fozzy Stack’s once-raced Hermana Estrella and Ger Lyons’ Panama Red are others among the 14-strong field.
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Homeless Songs and Tuesday are among 15 fillies confirmed for the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas.
The Dermot Weld-trained Homeless Songs moved towards the head of ante-post lists for Sunday’s Curragh Classic with victory in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in early April.
A tilt at the French Guineas was subsequently mooted, but connections elected to keep their powder dry for this weekend.
Tuesday, who was beaten two lengths into third place in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, is one of four possible runners for Aidan O’Brien, who has already won the race on 10 occasions.
The Ballydoyle handler could also saddle Group Three winner History as well as recent Listed scorer Concert Hall and Lullaby.
Other contenders for the home team include Fozzy Stack’s Hermana Estrella, who was a shock winner of a Group Three on her only run to date, and Joseph O’Brien’s Agartha, who has finished second to Homeless Songs and History on her last two starts.
The three potential British raiders are Charlie Appleby’s Wild Beauty, the William Haggas-trained Purplepay and Mise En Scene from James Ferguson’s yard.
Purplepay is a fascinating contender on what would be her first start for Haggas, having left Cedric Rossi’s yard and changed hands for €2million in December. She was last seen finishing third behind Ralph Beckett’s Angel Bleu in the Criterium International in October.
Mise En Scene was due to run in the Guineas at Newmarket, but was pulled out on the day of the race after spiking a temperature.
“All being well she’ll go to the Curragh,” said Ferguson.
“She is in good order. Obviously we had to pull her out of the English Guineas, but we’re looking forward to sending her over to Ireland seeing how she gets on.”
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Homeless Songs put a couple of disappointing runs behind her with a smart performance to take the Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes at Leopardstown.
Dermot Weld’s filly had looked an exciting prospect when beating Agartha on her debut here in July, but two subsequent outings did not go as hoped.
She was back to the form of her racecourse bow, however, as the daughter of Frankel displayed a striking turn of foot in sweeping to the front, denying old rival Agartha – who was carrying a penalty – by a length.
Villanova Queen was another three-quarters of a length back in third, with favourite Sacred Bridge, who had to switch when Homeless Songs (6-1) and Chris Hayes made their move, fourth.
Bookmaker reaction was positive, with Betfair and Paddy Power cutting the winner to 12-1 from 33-1 for the Qipco 1000 Guineas.
“It was a very good performance, she had been working extremely well and Chris gave her a very confident ride,” said Weld.
“We have to speak with her owner Eva Maria Haefner and we’ll see where we go with her. She’s in both the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas.
“She has a lot of pace and she’s able to carry it. It was seven (furlongs) today and I’d be very hopeful that she’d be able to carry it up to a mile.
“We’ll see how she comes out of the race and then decide where we go next.
“We just wanted to see how we got on here today. I thought it was very professional, her performance today.
“Chris took his time on her, she settled nicely, and he rode her for speed. You saw yourself the pace she has, she settled it really in three strides.”
He added: “It was a very good renewal, the standard of the fillies in the race was very high. Chris said she just took a blow going to the line, he was always very comfortable.”
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