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Tattersalls Gold Cup target for Love

Love is likely to make her seasonal reappearance in this month’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly was the outstanding performer of last year’s Classic generation – winning the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks.

She was being prepared for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the autumn, but heavy rain in Paris put paid to those plans.

Love on her to victory in the Oaks at Epsom
Love on her way to victory in the Oaks at Epsom (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

The Ballydoyle handler initially nominated the Mooresbridge Stakes as a possible comeback date – but that race has been and gone, so Love could now start off in the 10-and-a-half-furlong Group One on May 23.

“We’re looking at the Tattersalls Gold Cup with Love,” said O’Brien.

“It’s not been totally confirmed yet. But that’s what we are looking at, and we’ll make a final decision closer to the time.”

1000 Guineas Trends and Stats

First run back in 1814, the 1,000 Guineas is a Group One flat race run over 1m just for 3 year-old fillies. The contest is one of the five English Classics and staged at Newmarket racecourse in late April or early May each year.

It’s the second of the five English Classics with the 2,000 Guineas run the day before being the first, while winners of this race often go onto run well in that year’s Epsom Oaks the following month – the last horses to land both races in the same season was Kazzia in 2002 and Minding in 2016.

Here at GEEGEEZ we look back at recent winners and gives you the key stats to take into the 2021 renewal – this year run on Sunday 2nd May.

Did you know? 17 of the last 19 1,000 Guineas winners finished in the top three last time out?

 

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Recent 1,000 Guineas Winners

2020 - Love (4/1)
2019 – Hermosa (14/1)
2018 - Billesdon Brook (66/1)
2017 - Winter (9/1)
2016 – Minding (11/10 fav)
2015 – Legatissimo (13/2)
2014 – Miss France (7/1)
2013 – Sky Lantern (9/1)
2012 - Homecoming Queen (25/1)
2011 – Blue Bunting (16/1)
2010 – Special Duty (9/2 fav)
2009 – Ghanaati (20/1)
2008 – Natagora (11/4 fav)
2007 – Finsceal Beo (5/4 fav)
2006 – Speciosa (10/1)
2005 – Virginia Waters (12/1)
2004 – Attraction (11/2)
2003 – Russian Rhythm (12/1)
2002 – Kazzia (14/1)

Note: The 2020 running was staged in June (Covid-19)

1,000 Guineas Betting Trends

17/19 – Placed in the top 3 last time out
15/19 – Had won between 2-3 times before
14/19 – Had won a Group race before
13/19 – Drawn between 2-13 (inc)
12/19 – Yet to win a race over a mile (or further)
11/19 – Won their previous race
11/19 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less
11/19 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
11/19 – Had raced at Newmarket (Rowley Mile) before
9/19 – Returned a double-figure price
9/19 – Ran at Newmarket last time out
9/19 – Won on their seasonal reappearance
8/19 – Favourites unplaced
8/19 – Irish-trained winners
7/19 – Had won at Newmarket (Rowley Mile) before
6/19 – Drawn in stalls 7 or 8
6/19 – Previous Group One winners
5/19 – Went onto win the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot
4/19 – Won by a US bred horse
4/19 – Won by the favourite
4/19 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
3/19 – French-trained winners
3/19 – Went onto finish fourth in the Epsom Oaks
2/19 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
3/19 – Went onto win the Epsom Oaks (Kazzia 2002, Minding 2016, Love 2020)
Just one horse placed from stall 1 in the last 13 runnings
9 of the last 13 winners came between stalls 2-8 (inc)
The average winning SP in the last 19 years is 13/1

1,000 Guineas Facts

Owner Hamdam Al Maktoum has won the race 5 times (1990, 1991, 1995, 2000 & 2009)
Frankie Dettori has ridden the ridden the winner 3 times (1998, 2002 & 2011)
Ryan Moore has ridden the winner 4 times (2012, 2015, 2016, 2020)
Godolphin have won the race 3 times (1998, 2002 & 2011)
Aidan O’Brien has trained six winners, Virginia Waters (2005), Homecoming Queen (2012), Minding (2016), Winter (2017), Hermosa (2019), Love (2020)

 

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Love set to wait for Mooresbridge Stakes

Love is likely to wait a little longer to make her eagerly-awaited return to action.

The dual Classic-winning filly features among the entries for the Alleged Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday – but Aidan O’Brien is instead set to run stable companion Broome, who was an impressive winner of the Listed Devoy Stakes at Naas last month.

O’Brien said: “Broome is likely to run in the Alleged at the Curragh on Saturday. He’s already had a run, and Love might wait for the Mooresbridge (May 3, at the same course). It’s a long year, and we might wait a bit longer with her.”

Ryan Moore with Love after victory in the Yorkshire Oaks
Ryan Moore with Love after victory in the Yorkshire Oaks (David Davies/PA)

As well as winning the 1000 Guineas and Oaks, Love put the Yorkshire Oaks on her CV last season – on her last run of the campaign.

A planned outing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was abandoned because of heavy ground at ParisLongchamp.

Broome was returning to winning ways with his victory at Naas. Among his efforts over the past two years were fourth-placed finishes in the Derby and Coronation Cup.

Ground will be key to start of 2021 campaign for Love

Ground conditions are likely to dictate where Love will kick off her 2021 campaign.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly enjoyed a flawless 2020 – recording a pair of Classic victories with brilliant performances in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom.

After dominating her rivals once more in the Yorkshire Oaks, the daughter of Galileo looked poised for a mouthwatering clash with Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but was ruled out Europe’s premier middle-distance contest on account of the prevailing testing conditions.

And while a trip to America for the Breeders’ Cup was briefly mooted, O’Brien ultimately decided to give Love an extended holiday ahead of what he hopes will be an exciting four-year-old season.

Speaking via Zoom at the British Horseracing Authority’s two-year-old classifications press conference, O’Brien said of his top-class older filly: “She’s very well and cantering away at the moment.

“She will be ready for all those mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half races.

“She likes better ground and where she’ll start, I suppose, will depend on that.”

He added: “There’s the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, but we probably wouldn’t go unless it was nice ground.

“She should be there for all those nice middle-distances races during the summer and into the autumn.

“Physically, she’s done very well.”

Magical likely to be retired as O’Brien looks forward to exciting 2021

Aidan O’Brien believes there is a “good chance” Magical will be retired following her narrow defeat in Hong Kong last weekend.

The brilliant mare looked set to start her broodmare career this year after rounding off her 2019 campaign with victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot.

However, she was brought back as five-year-old this season and it has proved a wise decision, with the daughter of Galileo claiming another three Group One wins to extend her top-level tally to seven.

She finished a close-up third in the Hong Kong Cup – and while O’Brien initially offered brief hope that she could return to the track in 2021, he now expects her retirement to be officially confirmed before the new year.

Magical in winning action at Ascot
Magical in winning action at Ascot (Simon Cooper/PA)

Speaking on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme, O’Brien said: “I suppose there’s a good chance that she won’t (stay in training).

“We were delighted to have her from last year. She’s back from Hong Kong and seems in good form.

“I suppose there’s every chance that she won’t come back, but the lads (owners) will decide next week what they want to do.

“She’s incredible really. What makes her unusual is she’s been running at the top level since she was two and she’s as sound as a bell.”

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The undoubted heir to Magical’s crown as the top older filly at Ballydoyle is Love, who completed a Classic double with brilliant displays in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom earlier this year.

Having added the Yorkshire Oaks to her tally during the summer, she looked set for a mouthwatering clash with Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but was withdrawn due to the prevailing testing conditions in Paris.

O’Brien ultimately ended up having no runners in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, or any of the supporting races that weekend, due to fears over contaminated feed.

Much will be expected of dual Classic winner Love next season
Much will be expected of dual Classic winner Love next season (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Of Love, O’Brien said: “She’s a very special filly. It’s easy to forget what she did in the Guineas and then what she did in the Oaks.

“She’s very uncomplicated and something to really look forward to for next year. She had a canter this morning, everyone is happy with her and she’s done very well physically.

“She had a little break after Arc weekend as she was trained for the Arc like there was no tomorrow. When you do that, they do need a little bit of a rest, so she got that and she’s just back cantering away slowly.”

Other three-year-olds rising four the trainer is looking forward to next season are Hong Kong Vase hero Mogul and Serpentine, who was the subject of much debate after winning the Derby at Epsom in June under an enterprising ride from Emmet McNamara.

“The late start to the season didn’t suit Mogul. We had planned on getting two runs in before the Derby, but obviously that wasn’t to be and everything was a little bit forced and a little bit rushed,” O’Brien added.

“He’s a big, powerful horse and the more racing he got the better he got – we did get him there in the end.

Serpentine was a surprise winner of the Derby
Serpentine was a surprise winner of the Derby (Bill Selwyn/PA)

“Serpentine is a very relaxed horse who stays very well. He’s very uncomplicated and very balanced and a very well-bred horse – we did believe that it could happen (winning the Derby).

“He had to be a good horse to do what he did.”

O’Brien will also possess plenty of strength in depth in the three-year-old division, with Dewhurst one-two St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley, Battleground and the hugely exciting Derby favourite High Definition all proving their worth as juveniles.

O’Brien said: “We have some nice two-year-olds. Because the season was such a mess, the two-year-olds kind of got lost in the middle and we had to run some of them a little bit more than we wanted to – Wembley would be an example of that.

“Like every year there’s horses that are going to make good improvement and some might not make the improvement that we hope. It will be interesting to see what the spring will bring.”

Of High Definition, he added: “He was always very special. He’s a big, long, scopey horse with a great mind. The plan was always to give him two runs and he was seriously impressive in the Beresford Stakes – it was unbelievable.

“He’s always been a very exciting horse and the plan was always that he would be trained for the Derby next year. He’s had his two runs for education at the Curragh and would have learned a lot.

“It’s possible (he could run in the 2000 Guineas), but not definite. We’ll see how he trains in the spring and whether it’s the right thing to do or not. I don’t think he’d have any problem with it pace-wise as he’s a high cruiser who gets the trip really well.”

High Definition set to head into winter as Derby favourite

Aidan O’Brien is looking forward to a Classic campaign with High Definition in 2021, after confirming the unbeaten colt is finished for this campaign.

The son of Galileo heads the market on next year’s Derby, having followed up his Curragh maiden win in August with victory back at the Kildare track in the Beresford Stakes – finishing to great effect on both occasions over a mile.

O’Brien’s charge does hold an entry in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday week, but the Ballydoyle trainer said: “The plan always with High Definition was to give him two runs. That was his maiden and the Beresford, and we haven’t changed off of that.

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“The plan was then to bring him back and train him for the Classics next year.

“We’re very happy with the way he has come out of his last race and that’s the way we are looking with him next year.”

Another high-class juvenile for O’Brien is Battleground, who has not been seen since adding the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood to his Chesham Stakes victory at Royal Ascot.

By War Front out of O’Brien’s Arc-winning mare Found, he is set go to the Breeders’ Cup.

O’Brien said: “Obviously he didn’t go to the Dewhurst, so the plan at the moment is we’re thinking of going to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with him. He seems to be in good form at the moment.”

Battleground has looked a high-class colt in the making
Battleground has looked a high-class colt in the making (Hugh Routledge/PA)

O’Brien recorded a one-two in the aforementioned Dewhurst with St Mark’s Basilica and Wembley, and added: “I think St Mark’s Basilica is probably finished and we’ll make a decision on Wembley probably during the week, but it’s very possible they might be finished.

“We’ll see about Wembley during the week, but I’d imagine St Mark’s Basilica might be finished for the year.”

As expected, dual Classic-winning filly Love will not go to the Breeders’ Cup, but will stay in training next year.

O’Brien said: “I don’t think Love will go to the Breeders’ Cup. At the moment we’re thinking that she’s had a busy enough time and we trained her hard for the Arc.

“Obviously that was her big target in the autumn and she was trained hard for it, and with a view to keeping her in training next year I think the lads are maybe leaving her for this year.

“So there’s a strong possibility that she won’t run any more this year.”

Love not certain to head to Breeders’ Cup

Aidan O’Brien has suggested his dual Classic winner Love may skip the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland next month.

The filly has been imperious throughout her three-year-old campaign, having been busy in her juvenile season with seven runs.

She began by winning the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and was even more impressive at Epsom in the Oaks, beating stablemate Ennistymon by nine lengths.

Given a mid-season break, the daughter of Galileo then won the Yorkshire Oaks at York, a run that was meant to put her spot on for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, only for very heavy ground in Paris to scupper that plan at the 11th hour.

As fate would have it, she would have been a non runner in any case due to the well-documented problem with contaminated feed which led to the Ballydoyle handler withdrawing his runners from last Sunday’s card at ParisLongchamp.

The Arc was won by Sottsass with In Swoop a close second, the latter having been behind O’Brien’s Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris.

When asked if Mogul would head to the Breeders’ Cup with Love, O’Brien replied: “Mogul is a possible for Champions Day at Ascot or the Breeders’ Cup.

“Love might be finished for this season with next year in mind.”

2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Betting Trends

Run over 1m4f the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is one of Europe’s most valuable Group One contests that is open to horses of either sex that are aged 3 or older and staged at Longchamp racecourse.

In recent years the contest has been dominated by the younger horses with 11 of the last 18 winners being aged 3 years-old, while 13 of the last 18 - came here off the back of a last time out victory. Last year we saw the John Gosden-trained Enable, who had won the race in 2017 and 2018, finish runner-up to the Andre Fabre runner - Waldgeist - which was trainer Andre Fabre's eighth success in the race.

Enable will be back for more in 2020 though, as she will be looking to become the first horse to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times.

Here at Geegeez, we are on-hand with all the key stats for the 2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – this year run on Sunday 4th October.

 

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Recent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Winners

2019 – Waldgeist (131/10)
2018 - Enable (Evs)
2017 – Enable (10/11 fav)
2016 – Found (6/1)
2015 – Golden Horn (9/2)
2014 – Treve (11/1)
2013 – Treve (9/2)
2012 – Solemia (33/1)
2011 – Danedream (20/1)
2010 – Workforce (6/1)
2009 – Sea The Stars (4/6 fav)
2008 – Zarkava (13/8 fav)
2007 – Dylan Thomas (11/2)
2006 – Rail Link (4/7 fav)
2005 – Hurricane Run (11/4)
2004 – Bago (10/1)
2003 – Dalakhani (9/4)
2002 – Marienbard (158/10)

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Betting Trends

17/18 – Had won a Group 1 race before
16/18 – Had won over 1m4f before
14/18 – Had 4 or more runs that season
14/18 – Drawn in stall 8 or lower
13/18 – Priced 10/1 or shorter in the betting
13/18 – Drawn in stall 6 or lower
13/18 – Had won at least 5 times before
12/18 – Won last time out
12/18 – Had run at Longchamp before
11/18 – Had won at Longchamp previously
11/18 – Aged 3 years-old
10/18 – Placed favourites
9/18 – Won by a French-based yard
8/18 – Ran at Longchamp last time out
8/18 – Female winners
5/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Won by a UK-based yard
3/18 – Trained by Andre Fabre (won the race 8 times in all)
2/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (2016, 2007)
3 of the last 11 Epsom Derby winners that season have won
The average winning SP in the last 18 years is 15/2
Trainer John Gosden has won 3 of the last 5 runnings
Since 1976 we’ve seen just 3 winners aged 5 or older
18 of the last 26 winners were aged 3 years-old
Jockey Olivier Peslier has won the race 4 times
Jockey Frankie Dettori has won the race 6 times

 

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Ground concerns lead to Love missing Arc showdown with Enable

Love has been taken out of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe following the final forfeit stage.

Aidan O’Brien had warned the dual Classic heroine would not be at home on the predicted very soft ground and has taken the decision to withdraw her.

The Galileo filly was the only withdrawal on Thursday morning, with the John Gosden-trained Enable standing tall against 14 rivals.

O’Brien told the PA news agency: “We had to make the decision today because there was no other stage after this.

“If Ryan (Moore) was declared to ride her he then couldn’t ride anything else (if Love was later taken out), so we had to make the decision today.

“It’s 4.1 on the penetrometer at the moment and there is a lot of rain forecast, it could get to 4.5 so we had to make a choice.

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“Sadly I don’t think there’s any prospect of the ground improving much.”

Mogul will be the mount of Ryan Moore in the Arc
Mogul will be the mount of Ryan Moore in the Arc (Dan Abraham/PA)

O’Brien is still represented by Derby hero Serpentine, who was supplemented on Wednesday at a cost of €72,000, Sovereign, Japan and Mogul – winner of the Grand Prix de Paris and who will be ridden by Moore.

The Ballydoyle handler is unsure how his other runners will handle the testing ground.

“We just don’t know how the others will go on it. When the ground gets that soft you just can’t predict,” he said.

“It’s a shame the ground has gone like that, but that is the way it goes, nobody can control it.”

Enable – seeking an unprecedented hat-trick of Arc victories – is one of two contenders for Gosden along with Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.

Enable will break from stall five
Enable will break from stall five (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Frankie Dettori had been hoping for a draw between one and eight and he will be happy to leave from stall five, having broken from stall six in 2018 and two in 2017.

However, stablemate Stradivarius will have to defy stall 14 – just like Golden Horn did in 2015.

Of O’Brien’s contenders, Mogul drew stall three, Japan (Yutaka Take) is in 11, Serpentine (Christophe Soumillon) 15 and Sovereign (Mikael Barzalona) in 10.

Andre Fabre’s Persian King is in seven, with Jean-Claude Rouget’s Sottsass, who was third last year, in four.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing later in the morning, O’Brien pointed to the Breeders’ Cup for Love – and confirmed she is set to stay in training as a four-year-old.

“It would be unusual if the ground came up good on Champions Day (at Ascot), it is usually soft or heavy so it would be wrong to carry on with her for another two weeks and then the same thing happen,” he said.

“So we’ll give her a little time now and give her a nice run in the Breeders’ Cup.

“The plan is to have her in training next year, so that’s something to look forward to.”

O’Brien sounds Arc ground warning for Love

Aidan O’Brien has raised doubts about the participation of Love in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, amid the prospect of significantly testing conditions in Paris on Sunday.

The Galileo filly has carried all before her this season, claiming the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket before adding the Oaks at Epsom and Yorkshire Oaks at York.

She has been aimed at the Arc since her victory on the Knavesmire in August – and with it an eagerly-anticipated showdown with the John Gosden-trained Enable, who is looking to make history as the first horse to win the Arc three times.

But with the going reported to be very soft and an unsettled forecast before the weekend, O’Brien told the Daily Mirror: “When you start getting into extremes – especially when you start talking about heavy ground in France – we have to be realistic.

“We have to make a decision at 9.30am on Friday. Nothing is on or off until we believe things are right.”

Love showed all her class in the Oaks
Love showed all her class in the Oaks (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Frankie Dettori, meanwhile, insists the pressure is off as he prepares to bid for racing history again aboard Enable – 12 months on from what he describes as the worst disappointment of his career.

The brilliant mare will face a maximum of 15 rivals, after O’Brien’s Derby hero Serpentine was the only further entry at Wednesday’s supplementary stage.

Enable failed to complete an unprecedented Arc hat-trick last year, having to settle for second when agonisingly reeled in on rain-softened ground by Waldgeist deep inside the final furlong.

But as the Italian jockey prepares to try again, against a field set to contain Gosden’s own three-time Ascot Gold Cup hero Stradivarius, he explains last year’s deflating experience is helping to keep him calm.

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“We have already achieved something historic by winning the King George for a third time,” he said, reflecting on the six-year-old’s successful 2020 campaign to date.

“Frankly, the pressure involved is less than last year, and it’s not because there will be fewer people in Paris (during Covid-19 crowd restrictions).

“It’s because we have already experienced disappointment. The three hours which followed last year’s defeat were the worst in my entire professional career, and I think that Enable was similarly downcast.”

As for the task ahead this time, Dettori – speaking before concerns about Love’s participation emerged – is mindful again of the challenge of anticipated soft ground – and respectful of the opposition.

“I’m praying that we will get drawn somewhere between one and eight,” he said.

“Rain is forecast, and the ground will most likely be heavy (but) I hope that we won’t experience extremes of going, as happened last year.

“There are two horses that like to go to the front – Serpentine and Sovereign.

“So taking up a good position will be ‘de rigueur’.

“The ground is a very important factor, and Enable has already shown that she can handle it.

“It’s a big plus – a bit like the (7lb) filly’s allowance that Love will be receiving.

“She will be coming into the Arc de Triomphe a bit like Enable did as a three-year-old, but having trodden a different path.”

Dettori predicts ground conditions will play a major part in everyone’s tactics, and may not in particular be to Love’s advantage.

“I hold her in high esteem, like everyone else,” he added.

“I have spoken with my colleagues and racing analysts – they say that a heavy track could count against Love, because her low-to-the-ground, fast action is better suited to good ground.

“Genuine heavy ground will turn the Arc into a stamina test – that will play to Stradivarius’ strengths – and, on the contrary, the distance may prove a bit long for Persian King, although anything trained by Andre Fabre warrants respect.

Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp
Stradivarius will relish a stamina test at ParisLongchamp (Dan Abraham/PA)

“There are other horses which shouldn’t be underestimated (too), such as Sottsass. He hasn’t had a hard campaign and boasts prior experience in the Arc de Triomphe (in third last year).”

O’Brien added Serpentine to his team at a cost of 72,000 euros, after being pleased with his first run since his runaway triumph at Epsom.

Serpentine blew away the cobwebs on his first public outing for 71 days when fourth to stablemate Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris over the Arc course and distance two and a half weeks ago.

Mogul, Japan and Sovereign complete the Ballydoyle trainer’s raiding party.

Fabre is the leading Arc trainer with eight victories and he looks to a ninth with Persian King, who will be stepping up to a mile and a half for the first time.

He won the Prix du Moulin from Pinatubo over a mile on his latest start, and it has been announced Persian King will stand at the Haras D’Etreham Stud next year.

Other leading fancies include two more home hopes, In Swoop and Raabihah.

2020 Moyglare Stud Stakes Trends

Staged at the Curragh racecourse, the Moyglare Stud Stakes is a Group One run over a distance of 7f.

The race is for 2 year-old fillies and has been won by leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien a staggering 9 times, including in 2019 with his classy filly Love, who later went onto land the 2020 Epsom Oaks - while the UK-based trainers have won 3 of the last 8 renewals.

We look back at past winners and gives you all the key stats ahead of the 2020 running – this year staged on Sunday 13th September.

 

Recent Moyglare Stud Stakes Winners

2019 – Love (6/1)
2018 – Skitter Scatter (7/2 fav)
2017 – Happily (13/2)
2016 – Intricately (25/1)
2015 – Minding (15/2)
2014 – Cursory Glance (11/8 fav)
2013 – Rizeena (9/2)
2012 – Sky Lantern (7/1)
2011 – Maybe (8/13 fav)
2010 – Misty For Me (10/1)
2009 – Termagant (16/1)
2008 – Again (6/4 fav)
2007 – Saoirse Abu (13/2)
2006 – Miss Beatrix (14/1)
2005 – Rumplestiltskin (2/7 fav)
2004 – Chelsea Rose (9/1)
2003 – Necklace (5/4 fav)
2002 – Mail The Desert (8/1)

Moyglare Stud Key Trends

17/18 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
17/18 – Had won over 6f or 7f before
17/18 – Raced within the last 4 weeks
15/18 – Won between 1-2 times before
15/18 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting
14/18 – Irish-trained
13/18 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
13/18 – Placed favourites
12/18 – Ran at the Curragh last time out
11/18 – Drawn in stall 7 or higher
11/18 – Had won over 7f before
10/18 – Had won a Group race before
10/18– Came from outside the top three in the betting
9/18 – Had won at the Curragh before
7/18 – Won last time out
7/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
6/18 – Winning favourites
3/18 – Ridden by Seamie Heffernan
7 of the last 10 winners were foaled in March or earlier

Monday Musings: Lies, Damned Lies, and…

Don’t look now, but York starts on Wednesday and every year for me that means the beginning of the end of summer, writes Tony Stafford. The nights start to draw in; evening race meetings begin at 4 p.m. and if they want to stage ten-race cards as they have been doing recently, they’ll need to be over by 8 p.m. at the latest, except on all-weather.

I’m still not going racing, instead waiting for the day that, like the French, the British (and Irish) public can attend. Harry and Alan are going up to York and have got a great deal in the Marriott at the mile and a half gate. All they need now are some of the highly-regulated owners’ badges to go their way. Wednesday looks good apparently, but some of the other days are more questionable. It might be a case of watching on the hotel telly.

There’s been a fair amount of goalpost-moving lately. I’m delighted that I can get back from today to ice-rink chauffeuring. In the end Mrs S and her skating chums didn’t have to resort to chaining themselves to the Downing Street railings like latter-day suffragettes to get their pleas heard. Now she needs to see if she can still skate after six months off since her latest leg operation.

But the biggest movement, and one more than relevant to someone who has meticulously – as you all will be aware – kept the Covid-19 UK daily death figures since mid-March, immediately after the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival, is how they are reported.

Spikes and the now seemingly-defunct “R” number have kept us all in check – bar the odd quarter of a million on Bournemouth, Brighton or Southend beaches when it got really hot. But in the middle of last week, suddenly the Government finally proved that there really are “three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies and statistics” as commonly attributed to the American writer Mark Twain, though whose true origin may predate that great wordsmith.

Back in mid-April, in the week to April 12 there were 6,425 recorded Coronavirus UK deaths, an alarming figure that mercifully began to reduce steadily. By mid-July we were in the realms of below 500 a week and still falling. During the same period, testing was increasing exponentially from the starting point of barely 10,000 tests – in other words, at that time people were really only tested when it was obvious they had the virus. But, by July, between 100,000 and 200,000 tests were available every day.

Then suddenly last week, the Ministry – amid renewed local lock-downs where clusters of positive tests were revealed – concluded it would no longer count as Coronavirus deaths, anyone tested as having the virus but who died more than 28 days afterwards.

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So from July 31, when the brave new world came in, and when positive tests were going back up again to 1,000 plus each day the daily deaths in the UK were not. Starting on the last day of July the number of deaths has been 5, 1, 18, 14, 18, 12, 3, 5, 17, 14, 20, 18, 11, 3 and 5. Those numbers are probably smaller than many other routine causes of deaths in a population of 60 million. In all honesty, if that is the basis by which it’s judged, shouldn’t we be getting back to normal?

If they don’t yet have a vaccine ready, shame on them. There have been plenty of people willing to act as paid guinea-pigs, especially if their jobs have disappeared. You might even say if the figures can be presented thus, what’s all the fuss been about?

To the racing. It’s expected to be fast ground at York – amazing news for anyone who has been waiting for the action to start at the Test match at Southampton over the past few days, and they are the conditions I prefer to see on the Knavesmire. Frankie Dettori won’t be there but as the great man approaches his 50th birthday in December, he is showing a rare facility for making correct choices.

While the racing goes on at York, he’ll be staying in Deauville having had the news on Friday that the newly-re-imposed 14-day self-isolation period for people returning from France and some other countries has been modified for elite sportsmen. They, it seems, need only face a seven- or eight-day spell under specific conditions in self-isolation at home before resuming full activity.

Frankie was anxious not to miss either Mishriff, the French Derby winner, impressive again at Deauville last Saturday, or the unbeaten St James’s Palace hero Palace Pier in yesterday’s Prix Jacques Le Marois. That fast-improving colt came through to beat Alpine Star with the older horses led home by Circus Maximus, and best of the home team, Persian King, well beaten off. He is now being lined up for the QE II Stakes at Ascot in the autumn.

Alpine Star had been narrowly pipped in the French Oaks by the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Fancy Blue who went on to take the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood with authority. Jessica Harrington trains Alpine Star, and the two Irish fillies – along with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Peaceful – comprise a formidable trio of mile/ten-furlong star sophomores.

None of them will be at York, but the best of the lot among the Classic generation of females will be.

Potential opposition to Love in Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks again seems to fall principally on Frankly Darling, who disappointingly failed to provide much of a test at Epsom for the Coolmore filly as she added the Oaks to her 1,000 Guineas honours in spectacular style. The four-year-old Manuela De Vega is smart but conceding lumps of weight? Hardly! Dettori’s absence from York – he’s staying en France an extra week – tough! – to wait for a Wesley Ward runner in next weekend’s Prix Morny.

That will still give him time for the requisite eight and a few more days before teaming up with Enable in Kempton’s September Stakes, a cleverly-thought-out target from John Gosden which obviates the need to tackle Love before the Arc. Enable won the September Stakes two years ago as a prelude to her second win in Paris in October. How they would cherish a third as a six-year-old after the shock of being caught close home by Waldgeist last year.

The York meeting opens with another Gosden star, Lord North, the major loss this week for Dettori judged on the four-year-old’s upward-mobility this summer. Winner of six of his nine career races with two seconds and a luckless eased last of eight in the other, Lord North has progressed from a laughably-easy Cambridgeshire winner to outclassing his Prince Of Wales’s Stakes opponents at Royal Ascot. James Doyle is the beneficiary, as he was at Ascot when Dettori rode Mehdaayih. Who’s to say Lord North cannot progress enough to beat Ghaiyyath, as well as the 2,000 Guineas winner Kameko and possibly Magical in the Juddmonte International?

We won’t have Saturday’s Ebor Handicap runners until around 1 p.m. today and I can’t wait to see which potentially top-class horse Messrs Gosden, Haggas or Varian will have lined up to win it. Even though the total prize pool has been slashed from £600,000 to a relatively frugal £250,000 I’m sure there will be enough horses to fill the 22 available stalls. It would be great if a hard-knocking horse from the North could see off the aristocrats from Newmarket.

Another race that I’m looking forward to is Friday’s Nunthorpe Stakes, not least because Wesley Ward is bringing a lightly-raced but clearly talented juvenile to tackle Battaash, Art Power and A’Ali. His Golden Pal, runner-up after making the running to The Lir Jet in the Norfolk Stakes will be going there as a maiden with form figures of 22, having earlier been beaten when favourite for a Gulfstream Park maiden in the spring.

He will be echoing to a large degree the pre-Nunthorpe record 13 years ago of the John Best-trained juvenile Kingsgate Native, a 66-1 debut runner-up in the Windsor Castle Stakes and then second again in the Molecomb at Goodwood.

Backed down to 12-1 (among many, by me!), Kingsgate Native easily beat Desert Lord with future stallions Dandy Man and Red Clubs the next two home. I note the weights will be unchanged from then, so Battaash carries 9st11lb; three-year-olds Art Power and A’Ali 2lb less and Golden Pal only 8st1lb. He will have Andrea Atzeni, who rode him at Ascot, back on board.

I know the other three are highly-talented, and it would be another feather in the Charlie Hills cap if Battaash could win a second Nunthorpe, but I’d much prefer Wesley’s undying love for British racing to get a reward after a couple of less than wonderful years. He certainly seems to have all his ducks in line this time.

So in conclusion, I say enjoy York, if you are, like Harry and Alan, fully documented-up. If not, the wonderful coverage – free and flourishing on ITV though I still doggedly stick to Racing TV – deserves watching for all four days. Please then, start taking off the restraints, Mr Boris. Five months using only two tanks of fuel has been sacrifice enough.

Monday Musings: Rapid Start Far From Flat

The two unbeaten favourites didn’t collect the first two Classics of the UK racing season as many, including the bookmakers, were expecting, writes Tony Stafford. Pinatubo was a slightly one-paced third as Kameko gave Andrew Balding a second UK Classic in the 2,000 Guineas, 17 years after Casual Look was his first in the Oaks. Yesterday, Love made it six 1,000 Guineas triumphs for Aidan O’Brien, four in the last six years, as the Roger Charlton filly Quadrilateral also had to be content with third place.

For quite a while in Saturday’s big event, staged behind closed doors of course, it looked as though O’Brien would be celebrating an 11th “2,000” – from back home in Ireland as he left on-course matters to be attended to by his accomplished satellite team. Wichita, turning around last October’s Dewhurst form both with Pinatubo and his lesser-fancied-on-the-day stable companion Arizona, went into what had looked a winning advantage under super-sub Frankie Dettori until close home when the Balding colt was produced fast, late and wide by Oisin Murphy.

The young Irishman might already be the champion jockey, but the first week of the new season, begun eight months after that initial coronation last autumn, suggests he has a new confidence and maturity built no doubt of his great winter success in Japan and elsewhere. A wide range of differing winning rides were showcased over the past few days and Messrs Dettori and Moore, Buick, Doyle and De Sousa clearly have an equal to contend with.

It was Dettori rather than Moore who rode Wichita, possibly because of the relative form in that Dewhurst when Wichita under Ryan got going too late. This time Arizona got his lines wrong and he had already been seen off when he seemed to get unbalanced in the last quarter-mile. Kameko will almost certainly turn up at Epsom now. Balding was keen to run Bangkok in the race last year despite that colt’s possible stamina deficiency. The way Kameko saw out the last uphill stages, he could indeed get the trip around Epsom a month from now.

The 2020 Guineas weekend follows closely the example of its immediate predecessor. Last year there was also a big team of O’Brien colts, including the winner Magna Grecia, and none was by their perennial Classic producer, Galileo. The following afternoon, the 14-1 winner Hermosa, was Galileo’s only representative in their quartet in the fillies’ race. This weekend, again there were four Ballydoyle colts in their race, and none by Galileo. Two, including Wichita, are sons of No Nay Never. As last year, there was a single daughter of Galileo in yesterday’s race, the winner Love. Her four and a quarter length margin must make it pretty much a formality that she will pitch up at Epsom next month.

Love was unusually O’Brien’s only representative yesterday which rather simplified Ryan Moore’s choice. It will surely be hard to prise her from him at Epsom whatever the other Coolmore-owned fillies show at The Curragh and elsewhere in the interim.

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With Irish racing resuming at Naas this afternoon, attention will be switching immediately to the Irish Classics next weekend. What with those races, which Ryan will sit out under the 14-day regulations, the Coolmore owners and their trainer will have a clear course to formulate their Derby team and Oaks back-up squad. It would appear that the good weather enjoyed in the UK after which so many big stables, notably Messrs Johnston, Gosden and Balding, have made a flying start on the resumption, has also been kind to Irish trainers.

I know that sometimes in the spring the grass gallops at Ballydoyle have barely been usable by the time of the first month of action. The delayed and truncated first phase should continue to be to the benefit of the more powerful yards and maiden races, just as those in the UK, are already looking like virtual group races, especially on the big tracks.

Aidan O’Brien has 11 runners on today’s opening card, including four in the second event for juveniles, where Lippizaner, who managed a run in one of the Irish Flat meetings squeezed in before the shutdown, is sure to be well fancied. A son of Uncle Mo, he was beaten half a length first time out and the experience, which is his alone in the field, should not be lost on him.

The shutdown has been a contributor to a denial of one of my annual pleasures, a leisurely look at the Horses in Training book which I normally buy during the Cheltenham Festival but forgot to search for at this year’s meeting. The usual fall-back option of Tindalls bookshop in Newmarket High Street has also been ruled out, and inexplicably I waited until last week before thinking to order it on-line.

There are some notable absentees from the book and it has become a growing practice for some of the bigger trainers to follow the example of Richard Fahey who for some years has left out his two-year-olds. John Gosden has joined him in that regard otherwise they both would have revealed teams comfortably beyond 250.

Charlie Appleby, William Haggas, Mark Johnston, Richard Hannon and Andrew Balding all have strings of more than 200 and all five have been quick off the mark, each taking advantage of a one-off new rule instigated by the BHA. In late May trainers wishing to nominate two-year-olds they believed might be suitable to run at Royal Ascot, which begins a week tomorrow, could nominate them and thereby get priority status to avoid elimination with the inevitable over-subscription in the early fixtures.

In all, 163 horses were nominated with Johnston leading the way with 11; Charlie Appleby and Fahey had eight each; Hannon and Archie Watson seven and Haggas five. All those teams have been fast away in all regards but notably with juveniles. The plan, aimed at giving Ascot candidates racecourse experience in the limited time available, has clearly achieved its objective.

Among the trainers with a single nominated juvenile, Hughie Morrison took the chance to run his colt Rooster at Newmarket. Beforehand he was regretting that he hadn’t realised he could have taken him to a track when lockdown rules could apparently have been “legally bent” if not actually transgressed. Rooster should improve on his close seventh behind a clutch of other Ascot-bound youngsters when he reappears.

When I spoke to Hughie before the 1,000 Guineas he was adamant that the 200-1 shot Romsey “would outrun those odds”. In the event Romsey was the only other “finisher” in the 15-horse field apart from Love and, in getting to the line a rapidly-closing fifth, she was only a length and a half behind Quadrilateral. So fast was she moving at that stage, she would surely have passed the favourite in another half furlong. The Racing Post “analysis” which said she “lacked the pace of some but kept on for a good showing” was indeed damning with faint praise. Hughie also could be pleased yesterday with a promising revival for Telecaster, a close third behind Lord North and Elarqam in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Haydock despite getting very warm beforehand.

No doubt I’ll be returning to Horses in Training quite a lot in the coming weeks, but just as the long list of Galileo colts and fillies was dominant among the Ballydoyle juveniles for many years, the numerical power of Dubawi among Charlie Appleby’s team is now rivalling it. Last year, when I admit I didn’t really notice it, there were 40 Dubawi juveniles: this year the number has grown to an eye-opening 55. At the same time the yard has gone well past 200, reflecting his upward trajectory ever since taking over the main Godolphin job ten years ago. I’m sure Pinatubo has some more big wins in his locker.

I always look forward to seeing the team of Nicolas Clement, French Fifteen’s trainer, in the book, and he is there as usual with his middling-strength team. Nowadays much of what used to pass for free time for this greatly-admired man is taken up with his role as the head of the French trainers. He confessed that carrying out his duties over the weeks in lockdown and then the changes in the areas in France where racing could be allowed had been very demanding.

This weekend, Nicolas along with everyone in racing had a dreadful shock when his younger brother Christophe, who has been training with great success in the US for many years, suffered a terrible tragedy. On Saturday a Sallee company horsebox, transporting ten Clement horses from Florida to race in New York burst into flames on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing all ten animals. One report suggested that the horsebox had collided with a concrete stanchion. It added that the two drivers attempted to free the horses but were unable to do so.

At the top level, where both Clement brothers have been accustomed to operating on their respective sides of the pond, the rewards can be great. But as this incident graphically and starkly shows, there is often a downside for trainers and owners, though rarely one of quite this horrific finality.

- TS