Tag Archive for: Love

Audarya eyes historic double in Filly & Mare Turf

Audarya is aiming to join Ouija Board as a dual winner of the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup.

James Fanshawe’s five-year-old does not head to Del Mar in quite the same form as she travelled to America last season – but still has the credentials to be a major player on Saturday.

Whereas last year she had won the Prix Jean Romanet and gone down by just a length to Tarnawa, subsequent winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf, in the Prix de l’Opera, this year she has not managed to get her head in front.

There have been signs, however, in three of her four starts that her ability remains fully intact.

Beaten just three-quarters of a length by Love on her return in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, she also went close in the Prix Jean Romanet and the Opera again.

Fanshawe remains optimistic that Audarya can pull off a famous double – although he will not be there in person to witness her effort this time, and will instead watch from his Newmarket base.

He said: “It’s really frustrating – I’d love to be out there. We had such a great time last year, and obviously got the perfect result in the end.

“But it’s just the way things are – I’m afraid (wife) Jacko and I can’t make it. But we’ve got a really good team in place – we’ve got Helen, who does the travelling, and Geoffroy de la Sayette, who rides Audarya every day and knows her really well.

“They were in the team last year, and our son Tom is out there as well.”

Fanshawe concedes Audarya’s preparation is in contrast to her sustained improvement en route to Keeneland 12 months ago – but he is not significantly concerned, and is banking on conditions to suit her.

“It was very different last year. She went from handicaps to winning a Group One in France, and then she just kept on improving,” he said, on a call hosted by Great British Racing International.

“This year, she’s had to start at a much higher level. She ran very well in the Prince of Wales’s, when she was second to Love, and that was the last time she’s had quick ground until now.

“The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare last year broke the track record, so she obviously likes the quick ground.

“She ran very well in the Romanet, when it looked like she’d won and then she got done on the line, and she ran a pretty good race in the Opera – not beaten very far (behind Rougir), on very heavy ground last time.

“So it’s a slightly different preparation, but she seems in good form.”

James Fanshawe
James Fanshawe (Tim Goode/PA)

Audarya is drawn widest of all in the 12-strong field, round Del Mar’s tight track.

Fanshawe said: “The 12 draw isn’t ideal, but we’ve done quite a bit of homework on that.

“I think the Del Mar Handicap was won by a horse (Astronaut) drawn 10 of 10, so we hope it’s not too much of a disadvantage.”

Aidan O’Brien’s Love missed two planned high-profile engagements last month, in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and then British Champions Day at Ascot, since finishing a short-head runner-up in a Curragh Group Two in September.

O’Brien said: “She just got a little bit of a temperature before the Arc, and that’s why she didn’t run.

“Then she could have run on the English Champions Day, but her bloods weren’t quite 100 per cent. The Breeders’ Cup was always going to be on her agenda at this time of the year.

“She put a big one on the board in the Prince of Wales’s and has freshened up nicely.

“I was very happy with the race she ran at the Curragh. A good break is important to her out of the gate, and I’ve found in the last few years we are running more out of Ireland in the States and they are breaking better.

“She could go to Hong Kong after this if everything was well.”

Rougir just got the nod in the Prix de l'Opera
Rougir just got the nod in the Prix de l’Opera (PA)

Pauline Chehboub, racing manager to Rougir’s owners Haras de la Gousserie, said: “She ran a big race in Paris (winning the Prix de l’Opera) and has had a big season.

“We are happy with her – she is a solid filly and she will love the American pace.

“That will be an advantage for her, and she goes on soft ground and normal ground, so that is not a problem for her.

“The advantage for her will be the pace – and she has a good draw (four), which is important here. We are confident she will run a big race again.

“She is in very good form and looks very happy, which is a good point for the end of the season.”

Ocean Road and jockey Oisin Murphy on the gallops at Epsom
Ocean Road and jockey Oisin Murphy on the gallops at Epsom (Adam Davy/PA)

Andrew Balding’s Queen Supreme and Hugo Palmer’s Ocean Road complete the British challenge.

The latter, who has raced just once since struggling in a soft-ground Oaks at Epsom in June, is out in stall 10.

“I was a bit disappointed by her draw,” said Palmer.

“She’s got quite a lot to find on ratings, but she’s been running well in England without winning Stakes races.

“Stepping up into Breeders’ Cup company and a $2million race is a big ask, but she’s shipped over really well and finished third in a Group Three the other day on her first run for a long time.

“She is drawn a bit wide, but if (jockey) Oisin (Murphy) is able to work her into a nice position, she could run a really good race.”

Order Of Australia ruled out of Breeders’ Cup defence

Order Of Australia will be unable to defend his crown in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile after suffering a career-ending injury.

The four-year-old sustained a small fracture that required an operation on Wednesday morning, trainer Aidan O’Brien revealed at a Breeders’ Cup pre-entry media teleconference.

Order Of Australia sprang a 40-1 surprise in the race run at Keeneland last year, when he had stable companions Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez in second and third places.

He added to his tally in a Group Two at the Curragh, but was beaten back at Keeneland earlier this month in what has turned out to be his last race as he now goes to stud.

“He ran some very good races this year. At Keeneland he was a bit slowly away and it didn’t work for him, but he’s had a bit of a setback,” said O’Brien.

“He won’t get to race again. He had a small fracture and had a pin put in it this morning, but the operation and everything went well. He will go off to stud now.”

O’Brien will still be represented in the Mile by Mother Earth, winner of the 1000 Guineas and the Prix Rothschild.

As it stands Love is O’Brien’s only definite runner in the Breeders’ Cup Turf – but he may switch her to the Filly & Mare Turf to allow first reserve Japan to get in the race. He also has Broome, Bolshoi Ballet and Mogul as reserves for the Turf.

“It is very possible that could happen. I think the American handicap system is a little bit different to ours,” said the Ballydoyle trainer.

Love could switch to the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup
Love could switch to the Filly & Mare Turf at the Breeders’ Cup (David Davies/PA)

“It wasn’t on ratings horses were getting in. We have four Group One winners who are all reserves so it is possible we might have to take Love out of it and run her in the Filly & Mares to give the other horses a chance to get into the Turf.

“The horses are due to fly on Saturday. We’ll have an idea by then what chance they have of getting in or not.”

O’Brien also has Glounthaune in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He has recovered from the slight setback that prevented him from running in France last weekend.

“He steps up to a mile for the first time, but we always thought that was within his compass of distances” he added of the Dewhurst sixth.

O’Brien not concerned by prospect of soft ground in Arc for Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien is unlikely to be using soft ground as an excuse should Snowfall fail to add to her already illustrious record in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Deep Impact filly has looked head and shoulders above her generation this season – until last time out when she met with a shock first defeat of the campaign in the Prix Vermeille over the same course and distance she faces at the weekend.

Since a 16-length demolition of her rivals in the Oaks she has been among the favourites for the Arc, with an eight-length triumph in the Irish version coupled with a four-length success at York cementing her position.

However, she lost her spot at the head of the betting with a rather lacklustre showing in the Vermeille when she failed to catch Roger Varian’s improving Teona.

With the ground softening up in Paris it could turn into more of a stamina test – and O’Brien thinks that would suit Snowfall.

“I was worried about going to Epsom on soft ground, but obviously we saw what she did there. I think she’s a filly who stays very well and gets the trip well,” he said.

“Soft ground catches out some horses, but it doesn’t catch her out. Obviously she acts on it given what she did at Epsom. I don’t think she’s ground dependent, I don’t think it really matters too much.”

He went on: “We know that she handles soft ground and we know that she handles fast ground. On her Epsom run you’d say she might be better with a bit of ease.

“Looking ahead, it might be on the soft side, but I couldn’t see that it was going to be heavy or anything. I don’t think it’s to her advantage if it’s soft, but I don’t think it would be a disadvantage either.”

And of her eclipse last time out he said: “We were delighted with her run and we were delighted that we ran her because we saw how she behaved on better ground on a track like Longchamp and that is always an advantage before a big race.”

O’Brien is also planning to run Love, who was strongly fancied for last year’s race only to be ruled out when the ground went heavy.

Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes
Love was a game winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (David Davies/PA)

“I think she’ll be fine on soft, but she’s a very good mover so the better the ground the better it would suit her,” said O’Brien.

“She’s a year older now. We’d planned on running her unless the ground was going to get very bad and hopefully I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Love was also surprisingly beaten on her most recent outing, albeit attempting to give 10lb to the 110-rated La Petite Coco and only going down by a short head, meaning she lost little in defeat.

“Everything has been good since, we used it as a prep for the Arc, she went around a right-handed bend like Longchamp and she seems to have come out of the race very well,” said O’Brien.

Broome is O’Brien’s third-string, but a high-class one as the winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and second in the Prix Foy last time out.

“He was kept in training at five specifically for the Arc. We kept him at a mile and a quarter earlier this season, then went up in trip for the first time at Saint-Cloud and we were delighted with that run, he ran a very good race,” said O’Brien.

“He went to Ascot (King George) and ran well, but missed the kick and ended up a bit further back than we thought. We were then delighted with his run in the Arc trial.

“He gets the trip very well, he’s very uncomplicated and handles all types of ground. He’ll be ridden forwards like always, you can let him bowl along.”

When pressed for his views of the opposition, O’Brien said: “Tarnawa is a very good filly, she’s proven over the trip so you have to have the utmost respect for her.

“The way we go into every race is we totally respect every horse and try to have our own horses as well as we can. The opposition is very good.”

O’Brien happy with Snowfall and Love as Arc bid looms

Aidan O’Brien remains keen to saddle both Snowfall and Love in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday week.

Brilliant in winning the Oaks at Epsom, the Irish Oaks at the Curragh and the Yorkshire Oaks, Snowfall has long been considered a major contender for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest.

And while the daughter of Deep Impact suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Roger Varian-trained Teona in the Prix Vermeille earlier this month, O’Brien remains optimistic ahead of the ParisLongchamp showpiece.

“She came out of the Vermeille very well – we’re very happy with her,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday.

“It was lovely for her to go round the track and we saw the way she coped with it. The ground was quick and we know that she’s very comfortable on soft ground.

“She’s a filly who gets a mile and a half well and it (Vermeille) was more of a trial.

“Frankie (Dettori) was very happy with her. Obviously she didn’t win, but I think her last six furlongs were the quickest of any horse in the race – she was really quickening and was going forward.

“Often in the trial, you’re better to get beat and things not go right than win and everything go right.

“She worked well this morning and we’re very happy with her at the moment.”

Love winning the Oaks at Epsom last season
Love winning the Oaks at Epsom last season (Bill Selwyn/PA)

Love was in a similar position to her stablemate Snowfall 12 months ago, having won the 1000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks and the Yorkshire Oaks – but missed out on a run in the Arc due to the prevailing testing conditions.

A year on, the Galileo filly is set to line up with plenty to prove following three successive defeats – most recently being touched off by La Petite Coco in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh.

“We were delighted with her run (in the Blandford),” O’Brien added.

“The winner was rated 110 and she gave her 9lb, so it was a serious run – on ratings, it wasn’t far off her best.

“We went to the Curragh as a trial for the Arc and we think she’s really gone the right way since then.

“If the ground was nice, we were always planning on going to the Arc with her.”

La Petite Coco foils Love in Blandford Stakes

La Petite Coco lunged late to deny dual Classic heroine Love a return to winning ways in the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Love looked a potential superstar in the making after winning the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks as a three-year-old last season.

But while she came out on top on her seasonal reappearance in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the daughter of Galileo had since failed to run up to expectations in the either the King George or the Juddmonte International, finishing third on both occasions.

Having her first start outside of Group One company in over two years, Love was the 6-5 favourite and everything looked to be going according to plan for Ryan Moore after she went a couple of lengths clear of the field early in the home straight.

However, Paddy Twomey’s progressive filly La Petite Coco (16-5) – stepping up in class after an impressive success in the Group Three Give Thanks Stakes at Cork – gave chase and finished with a flourish under Billy Lee to get up and win by a short head.

Twomey said: “We hoped coming here that she might do something like that. The worry was the quicker ground and dropping in trip.

“I had a plan mapped out for her in my head and this was it. I wasn’t expecting Love (to run), but when she turned up I said ‘we’re not changing course, we’re going forward’.

“Barry Irwin (of owners Team Valor) gave me a bit of a lecture about taking on Love, but I told him I thought she was good and I thought she was good enough to take her on.

“The plan has been to go to Ascot (on Champions Day) for the fillies’ and mares’ race and I think a mile and a half is really her thing, not a mile and a quarter.”

Michael Hussey and Big Gossey (left) winning at the Curragh
Michael Hussey and Big Gossey (left) winning at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

Big Gossey was a surprise winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap.

Charles O’Brien’s 33-1 shot raced close to the pace throughout under Michael Hussey – and after taking over the lead inside the final furlongs, he dug deep for pressure to repel the challenge of Arnhem by three-quarters of a length.

“That was sweet,” said Hussey.

“He travelled throughout and picked up well. I was in front a bit too early on him, but he gamed it out.

“He has plenty of speed and did everything right.”

King X J claimed a lucrative victory
King X J claimed a lucrative victory (Brian Lawless/PA)

King X J justified significant market support with victory in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes.

Michael O’Callaghan’s juvenile was only seventh on his racecourse introduction at the Curragh three weeks ago, but was a well-backed 11-4 chance for this 300,000 euro contest.

British raider Cashew was in front for much of the race, but King X J powered home under Leigh Roche to win going away.

Roche said: “The only concern coming up here was the trip. He’s a seven-furlong/mile horse, but he has a bit of class – I’d say he’s going to be very good.

“He improved plenty from his first run and the nicer ground today helped him.”

Point Lonsdale ready for National service at the Curragh

Point Lonsdale aims to extend the perfect start to his career to five races in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby, Point Lonsdale won the Chesham at Royal Ascot, beating Reach For The Moon, and has handled each subsequent rise in grade with aplomb.

He won a Leopardstown Group Three by three lengths and a Curragh Group Two by four and a quarter, but undoubtedly faces his stiffest test to date.

“He’s done everything he’s been asked so far and seems to be in good form since his last run,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien.

“We’ve just taken gradual steps with him and he’s been coming along gradually.

“We’ve been happy with him since the last day.”

One of his rivals is already a Group One winner, however. Hugo Palmer’s Ebro River had run solid races in England through the summer but journeyed to Ireland to win the Phoenix Stakes and is attempting to complete a double last achieved by Air Force Blue in 2015.

“He’s in good form and we’ll see how he gets on,” said Palmer.

“He’s stepping up to seven furlongs. I think he’d have won the last day over seven, but he’s taking on different horses this time.

“I think it will be nice, good ground by the sounds of it.”

Ebro River has already enjoyed one successful trip to Ireland
Ebro River has already enjoyed one successful trip to Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Colin Keane rides Duke De Sessa for Dermot Weld, who has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the colt.

“We think he’s a very nice horse, we thought a lot of him going to Galway,” said Keane.

“I thought in Galway the only thing that might beat him was the track and that it was his first time out, to be honest, and it turns out it did.

“He rectified that at the Curragh the last day and showed us what he’s being showing us at home. We think he’s pretty smart all right.”

Charlie Appleby has sent Quorto and Pinatubo to win in the last three years and this time relies on Native Trail, winner of the Superlative Stakes last time out.

In the fillies’ equivalent, the Moyglare Stud Stakes, the sponsors are aiming to win the prize for the first time with Homeless Songs.

Fiona Craig, of Moyglare Stud, said: “She looks amazing. She’s only run the once as Dermot chose not to go for the Debutante, just because he felt she didn’t need a tough race three weeks beforehand.

“I think she’s been training very well – the lads seem very happy with her.

“It’s a very competitive Moyglare with some very good fillies there, but I’m sure she’ll run a good race.

“It’s quite exciting. We’ve been second and fourth, but we’ve never won it before.

“It would be a bit of a dream to win it.”

Love was successful at Royal Ascot
Love was successful at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Another star on show is O’Brien’s multiple Group One winner Love, who drops in class for the Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes.

She returned to action this season by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but has been beaten in the King George and Juddmonte International since.

“Things just haven’t quite gone to plan since Royal Ascot, the pace of the races weren’t ideal but she’s been in good form since the last day,” said O’Brien.

While she faces some smart fillies like La Petite Coco and Thundering Nights, it is nothing like the challenges she has come up against recently against Adayar and Mishriff.

Prix Vermeille beckons for Snowfall

Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall will head next to the Group One Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp as she seeks to continue her flawless three-year-old campaign.

The Deep Impact filly has been all-conquering this term, taking the Group Three Musidora Stakes before striding to a memorably emphatic 16-length victory in the Oaks at Epsom in June.

She then won the Irish Oaks at the Curragh by eight and a half lengths, and last month added the Yorkshire Oaks.

Snowfall’s next assignment is likely to be in France – bidding to give O’Brien a first success in the  Prix Vermeille, with stablemate Love also a possible runner in the same contest.

“At the moment we’re going to the Prix Vermeille with Snowfall,” said the Ballydoyle trainer.

“Love is also in that and is also in the Blandford (at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend). We’re kind of letting Love sit there at the moment, without putting her under any pressure, then we can put her in to wherever.

“She’s sitting there for all those big races next weekend, but she doesn’t have to go anywhere.

“She’s a filly we’re trying to keep for nice ground, and obviously the season is long and goes right into December.”

Love was last seen finishing third in the Juddmonte International at York’s Ebor meeting, six and a half lengths behind the brilliant Mishriff – before which she was also third in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Love will run only when conditions suit her
Love will run only when conditions suit her (David Davies/PA)

“The Juddmonte was a bit of a messy race for her,” added O’Brien.

“She’s a filly that likes a high tempo, and we felt we didn’t get that either in the King George or at York.

“She’s a very low action and puts her head out and tries very hard. Usually with those type of horses, it’s very hard for them to get out of the soft ground.

“We want to mind her and will only run her when it suits her.”

O’Brien also provided an update on plans for Santa Barbara, who has collected two Grade One wins in America this summer – in the Belmont Oaks and the Beverly D. Stakes.

“We’re very happy with her – she’s really starting to get it together,” he said.

“She obviously loves nice ground and she loves a flat, fast track.

Santa Barbara is a dual Grade One winner in America this summer
Santa Barbara is a dual Grade One winner in America this summer (PA)

“She’s a great traveller – that’s what she’s always shown us here.

“She’s in good form, and the plan is that she might go away for a racecourse gallop and then she might go back to Keeneland for a fillies’ race over nine furlongs – that is about four or five weeks away.

“We obviously have an eye on the Breeders’ Cup with her, and we just want to get a run into her between then and now.”

On English soil, O’Brien is considering sending a handful of runners to Doncaster for the Cazoo St Leger.

“We have plenty of possibilities,” he said.

“We have a lot of those horses that ran in (the Great Voltigeur at) York, and I’d imagine that is where it’s going to come from.

“We have the horse Frankie (Dettori) rode (Sir Lucan). We could have three or four in it.”

O’Brien eyeing Irish Champion date after setback rules St Mark’s Basilica out of York

Aidan O’Brien is hopeful St Mark’s Basilica will return to action in time to run in next month’s Irish Champion Stakes after being forced to rule him out of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International at York.

The Siyouni colt has carried all before him in three previous starts this season, completing a Classic double with victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before producing a brilliant display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

St Mark’s Basilica was odds-on across the board to continue his winning streak on the opening afternoon of York’s Ebor Festival, but will not make the trip across the Irish Sea after suffering a setback.

O’Brien told the PA news agency: “Yesterday (Sunday) morning he lost a front shoe and it came back and hit his hind leg – his near-hind joint.

“We didn’t think a lot of it, but this morning there was a little bit of swelling in it – and when we took bloods off him, his bloods came back and it was a little bit infected.

“We were a bit taken aback when we saw it this morning, but when we did the bloods then we didn’t have any choice as he needs to go on antibiotics and the antibiotics that he’s going to go on obviously he couldn’t run on.

“Hopefully we’ll be back on target towards the end of this week and if we are, we’ll be able to train him for the Irish Champion.”

Love will now run in the Juddmonte International
Love will now run in the Juddmonte International (David Davies/PA)

In St Mark’s Basilica’s absence, O’Brien will instead rely on dual Classic-winning filly Love in the Juddmonte International.

The Ballydoyle handler had planned on sending the daughter of Galileo to France this weekend for the Prix Jean Romanet, but she will now bid to play the role of super-sub on the Knavesmire.

“It’s four or five days earlier than we’d planned for her – the plan was to go for the Romanet on Sunday,” O’Brien added.

“When St Mark’s came out, we decided we’d let her run here instead.”

Love made a successful start to the campaign in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but suffered her first defeat since the autumn of 2019 when only third in the King George at Ascot on her latest appearance.

The daughter of Galileo will renew rivalry with John and Thady Gosden’s King George runner-up Mishriff, who had previously finished third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse.

Andrew Balding runs stable star Alcohol Free, while William Haggas saddles both Mohaafeth and Alenquer.

Alcohol Free tests the water over a mile and a quarter for the first time after enjoying two Group One wins over a mile in the the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.

Mohaafeth was beaten for the first time this season when third in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, while Alenquer drops back in distance after placing third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The field is completed by Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano and the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Love takes International test as St Mark’s Basilica misses out

Aidan O’Brien will rely on Love in the Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday after being forced to rule out hot favourite St Mark’s Basilica due to a reported injury.

St Mark’s Basilica has carried all before him in three previous starts this season, completing a Classic double with victories in the French 2000 Guineas and French Derby before producing a brilliant display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month.

The Siyouni colt was odds-on across the board to continue his winning streak on the opening afternoon of York’s Ebor Festival, but will not make the trip across the Irish Sea.

St Mark’s Basilica misses out at York
St Mark’s Basilica misses out at York (Nigel French/PA)

O’Brien had planned on sending dual Classic-winning filly Love to France this weekend for the Prix Jean Romanet, but she will now bid to play the role of super-sub on the Knavesmire.

The four-year-old made a successful start to the campaign in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, but suffered her first defeat since the autumn of 2019 when only third in the King George at Ascot on her latest appearance.

The daughter of Galileo will renew rivalry with John and Thady Gosden’s King George runner-up Mishriff, who had previously finished third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse.

Andrew Balding runs stable star Alcohol Free, while William Haggas saddles both Mohaafeth and Alenquer.

Alcohol Free tests the water over a mile and a quarter for the first time after enjoying two Group One wins over a mile in the the Coronation Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.

Mohaafeth was beaten for the first time this season when third in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, while Alenquer drops back in distance after placing third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The field is completed by Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano and the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Monday Musings: The Apples of Charlie’s Eye

I finally made it to Ascot on Saturday, my first visit to a racecourse since the last day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, writes Tony Stafford. As I drove the last few miles the excitement was almost making me breathless and I was delighted that by waiting until there was an element of normality, my trip was just as I remembered all those wonderful big-race summer afternoons.

The best part, apart from seeing a great winner of a very good King George, was the thing that I, as a now very senior citizen, always regarded as my private, exclusive club. When you’ve been racing in a sort of professional role you get to know hundreds, probably into the thousands, of people in the same narrow environment.

When loads of them stop to ask, “How are you? Long time, no see!” and variations of those sentiments having been stuck mostly at home for 16 months, it is so energising. I always used to say, “Most people my age probably see half a dozen people a day if they are lucky. I go racing three or four days a week and see maybe an average of a hundred or more that I know.”

And Ascot on Saturday was as normal as it ever was. Bars, restaurants and boxes open and fully extended, the always beautifully attired Ascot crowds basking in the better than predicted weather and fast ground befitting the middle of summer.

One person who didn’t make it was the “You’ve been pinged!” trainer of the brilliant Adayar, Charlie Appleby, who had neglected to do what people increasingly have been doing, removing the app from their phones.

Not too many Derby winners have followed their Epsom success with victory in the same year’s King George. It was more commonplace in the first 50 years of the race’s existence after its inauguration in 1951. But in this century, until Saturday only Galileo, Adayar’s grandsire via Frankel, had managed the double.

Appleby therefore made it four mile and a half Group 1 wins since the beginning of June with his two Frankel colts, the home-bred Adayar and his stablemate Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris hero, bred by Philippa Cooper’s Normandie Stud.

Both horses won maidens in the last part of October, Hurricane Lane on debut and Adayar second time out. Both therefore were far less trumpeted at the beginning of this season when again Hurricane Run started with more precocity, indeed until he finished third to Adayar, the apparent third string at Epsom, he was unbeaten.

Adayar’s juvenile victory came in the Golden Horn Maiden at Nottingham, the race name being awarded to the great Derby winner the year after his Classic triumph. Previously it was known as the Oath Maiden Stakes in honour of the 1999 Derby hero owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, who won the same maiden to get his career on the go the previous autumn.

I thought I would have a look at Charlie Appleby’s 2021 three-year-old complement courtesy of Horses in Training. Charlie had 70 horses of that age listed at the start of the season, 21 fillies and 49 male horses. Of the 21 fillies, eleven are by Dubawi, also the sire of 27 Appleby colts and geldings. Surprisingly, as many as 12 were already gelded at the start of the campaign and at least a couple more have subsequently experienced the unkindest cut.

Appleby had three colts by Dubawi as major candidates for the 2,000 Guineas: Meydan Classic winner Naval Crown, who beat Master Of The Seas that day; Master Of The Seas himself, who went on to win the Craven Stakes; and One Ruler, runner-up to Mac Swiney in the 2020 Vertem Futurity, also went to the Guineas. Master Of The Seas did best, losing out in a desperate thrust to the line with Poetic Flare and, while that Jim Bolger horse has gone on to run in both the Irish (close third to Mac Swiney) and French (easy winner) Guineas, and then dominated the St James’s Palace Stakes, we are yet to see Master Of The Seas again.

Another Dubawi colt to do well has been Yibir, winner of the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July meeting, while the geldings Kemari (King Edward VII) and Creative Force (Jersey Stakes) both at Royal Ascot have been to the fore.

It is noticeable that several of the gelded group have been either difficult to train or simply very late developers.

Meanwhile, the five-strong team of Frankel sons have been nothing short of spectacular. It will be of great satisfaction for the organisation that Adayar is out of a Dubawi mare and not an especially talented one.

What of the other three? One, Magical Land, has been gelded. He won the latest of his seven races for Appleby and has an 80 rating. The others have not been sighted this year. Fabrizio, placed as a juvenile, is a non-winner but Dhahabi is an interesting horse I’d love to see reappearing.

At 3.1 million guineas this half-brother to Golden Horn carried plenty of expectations. He won on debut and, last time in the autumn, was third to One Ruler in a Group 3 at Newmarket. Just the five Frankels, then, and I bet Charlie wishes he had a few more. The list of juveniles shows 48 sons and daughters of Dubawi and 11 by Frankel.

For many years the ultra-loyal and ever agreeable Saeed Bin Suroor was the only and then the principal Godolphin trainer. His stable is now increasingly the junior partner with half of the 140-odd complement listed as four years of age or older, and many of these are probably more suited to the structure of racing in Dubai over the winter. Saeed has three Dubawi three-year-old colts and one filly this year, but none by Frankel. The juveniles listed reveal one by each stallion.

How ironic that in the year of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s death in January, the all-conquering owner of Juddmonte Farms never saw the crowning of Frankel, already the greatest racehorse certainly of the past half-century, as a Derby-producing sire.

He will surely progress again from this situation and, now with Galileo also recently deceased, is in position as the obvious inheritor of his sire’s pre-eminence.

The other younger contenders will take time to earn their prestige and it can only be good for racing that a horse that went unbeaten through 14 races has made such a statement at the top end of the sport.

To win his King George, Adayar had to see off the challenge from the tough Mishriff, stepping forward from his comeback third to St Mark’s Basilica in the Eclipse Stakes. His owner, Prince Abdulrahman Abdullah Faisal, was one of the people I’ve known for half a lifetime that greeted me on Saturday. Also, Adayar had to consign Love to her first defeat for 21 months. The concession of so much weight to a younger colt by an older mare – 8lb – is never easy, but her race didn’t go as expected either.

Her pacemaker Broome missed the break and then only gradually moved into the lead. In the straight Love looked poised and then Mishriff tightened her up on the outside as Ryan Moore was beginning to move her into a challenging position. Having to change course, as the Coolmore filly did halfway up the short Ascot straight, is never the recipe for success.

It is fair to say, though, that Adayar would have won whatever. It will be interesting to see how Appleby shuffles his pack. Someone suggested the St Leger. If you wanted to make Adayar a jumps stallion, that’s what you would do. He won’t go anywhere near Town Moor in September. With due deference to the fifth Classic, he will have much bigger fish to fry.

- TS

Love and Adayar clash in classic renewal of King George contest

Superstar filly Love and Derby hero Adayar lock horns in a mouth-watering renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

The midsummer highlight invariably throws up a clash of the generations – and this year’s renewal at Ascot on Saturday is no exception, with Classic form from last year and this put to the test.

Aidan O’Brien’s Love dominated her rivals when completing a Classic double in the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks last season, while victory in the Yorkshire Oaks was supposed to set her up for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The daughter of Galileo ultimately missed out on a trip to Paris – but having looked as good as ever when making a successful return in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, she is a hot favourite to provide her trainer with a fifth King George success.

O’Brien said: “We were delighted to be able to give her the run in the Prince of Wales. She ended up making the running, but she’s very straightforward and very genuine – and everything has gone well with her since.

“She’s very versatile – she had the pace to win a Guineas and seemed to get the Oaks trip very well.

“For any Flat horse, you want nice ground – and she’s a nice mover.”

The Ballydoyle handler has a second string to his bow in the form of Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George
Broome (left) joins stablemate Love in the King George (PA)

“He’s been running very well all year and gets a mile and a half well,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He loves to bowl along. In an ideal world you’d like to get a lead, but he is a horse who likes an even tempo. We’d be delighted if someone gave him a lead – if not he’d bowl along himself, I suppose.

“He’s in good form and seems to have come out of his last race well.”

Adayar was the least fancied of three runners for Charlie Appleby in last month’s premier Classic, but could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of Adam Kirby.

That form has been boosted by stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has landed both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third at Epsom – giving Appleby hope Adayar can become the first horse since Galileo 20 years ago to complete the Derby-King George double.

He said: “It hasn’t been done since Galileo, so to take Adayar there is a huge occasion.

“What surprised us at Epsom was the turn of foot he showed halfway up the run-in, because we’d never seen it before. Post-race we analysed it, and Hurricane Lane probably wouldn’t have been able to quicken like Adayar did.

“We’ve seen what St Mark’s Basilica did for that generation in the Eclipse at Sandown, and now the three-year-olds go into the big-boy division over a mile and a half.

“I’d love to think he’s still developing. It will be interesting to see what the paddock watchers say on Saturday – but he looks fantastic, and I’d be confident if you didn’t know who he was you couldn’t pick him out as a three-year-old among the older horses.”

The other three-year-old in the six-strong field for the Qipco British Champions Series contest is the Martyn Meade-trained Lone Eagle, who was denied in the shadows of the post by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby a month ago.

Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane
Lone Eagle (left) fights out the finish to the Irish Derby with Hurricane Lane (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

With his rider Frankie Dettori bidding to add to a record tally of seven King George wins, hopes are high that Lone Eagle can etch his name on the illustrious roll of honour.

Meade said: “It’s all systems go, and we hope he can go one place better (than in the Irish Derby), but if we learned anything at the Curragh it was to put up with disappointment.

“It was just the worst thing, getting done on the line. He was so far clear two out, and we were just about reaching for the champagne at the furlong marker, so it was hard to bear.”

Mishriff enjoyed a hugely lucrative start to 2021 – completing a big-race international double with victories in the Saudi Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.

He had to make do with minor honours in third on his return from a break in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago, but is expected to strip fitter for the run.

Thady Gosden, who trains Mishriff in partnership with his father John, said: “He’s doing well. It’s obviously a tough race – most of the top horses around seem to be heading there.

“He’s come on for his run at Sandown and goes there in good enough form.

“He obviously ran in February and March, and it’s a long time to keep them going all season, so we thought we best give him a break before the summer.”

Six declared in classy King George

Hot favourite Love is set to face five rivals in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Last season’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is a warm order to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a fifth victory in this weekend’s midsummer showpiece.

The Ballydoyle handler will also saddle the ultra-consistent Broome, who has won four of his six starts this season and was last seen breaking his duck at the top level in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud three weeks ago.

Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom
Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

The opposition is headed by Charlie Appleby’s Derby hero Adayar.

The Frankel colt was a surprise winner of last month’s premier Classic, but the form has been significantly boosted by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who has won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris since finishing third Epsom.

The other three-year-old in Saturday’s field is Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle, who was beaten a neck into second by Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby four weeks ago.

David Menuisier has declared stable star Wonderful Tonight. The Newmarket-based Frenchman has expressed doubts about running his pride and joy on fast ground and will be hoping one of the forecast thunderstorms arrives in Berkshire.

The small but select field is completed by John and Thady Gosden’s Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic victor Mishriff.

The son of Make Believe can be expected to improve from his first start since his globetrotting exploits when third in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks ago.

Love and Adayar top nine hunting King George honours

Superstar filly Love and Derby hero Adayar are among nine confirmations for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

A dual Classic winner last season having left her rivals trailing in her wake in both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom, Aidan O’Brien’s Love made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

O’Brien has also left in Broome, Japan and Mogul as he goes in search of a fifth King George success following the previous triumphs of Galileo (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke Of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016), but Love is very much his chief hope.

Adam Kirby and Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom
Adam Kirby and Adayar winning the Cazoo Derby at Epsom (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

With Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver taken out after suffering a setback, Love’s biggest threat appears to be the Charlie Appleby-trained Adayar, who was a brilliant winner of the Derby at Epsom in early June.

That form has been well advertised since by his stablemate Hurricane Lane, who was third in the premier Classic and has subsequently won both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris.

Love will have to concede 8lb to Adayar due to the weight-for-age allowance.

Martyn Meade is set to saddle the narrow Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, while the William Haggas-trained Addeybb and John and Thady Gosden’s Mishriff could renew rivalry after finishing second and third behind St Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Connections of Mishriff are hoping he can improve from what was his first run since adding to his Saudi Cup success in February with victory in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March.

Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, said: “I talked to John after Mishriff worked on Saturday and he was very happy with him. It has very much been left up to John where he runs next and, having discussed it with the Prince, Ascot looks the likely target.

“I thought Mishriff was a bit gassy at Sandown in the first half of the race, which happens to a lot of horses after some time off, and I just wondered whether he needed a race under his belt to get him spot-on. He seemed to run very well backing up from Saudi to Dubai.

“St Mark’s Basilica is clearly a very good horse and I think it is going to take a very good horse to beat Love on Saturday.

“We want to win a Group One in England with Mishriff and you can’t win one unless you run in them. He has beaten some very good horses from around the world and now is the time to see what he can do against the big battalions from England and Ireland in particular.”

The potential field is completed by David Menuisier’s stable star Wonderful Tonight, who enjoyed successive Group One wins last autumn and looked as good as ever when making a winning start to the current campaign in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

Monday Musings: The Middle Distance Ranks Are Massing

Until Wednesday evening in Paris it was all plain sailing for Aidan O’Brien, writes Tony Stafford. He could pick his Group 1 spots for the rest of the year with his team of Classic colts and more plentiful top fillies and wait to see what presumably ineffectual opposition Europe’s other major stables would be able to throw at them.

But then along came Hurricane Lane, only third to lesser-fancied stable-companion Adayar in the Derby at Epsom but subsequently a workmanlike winner in the face of a good late challenge by English-trained Lone Eagle (Martin Meade) in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Neither run could have prepared us for the Frankel colt’s storming performance on Bastille Day (14 July) as he ripped away the home team’s barricades <couldn’t help myself> beating the Prix du Jockey Club also-rans with possibly more ease than St Mark’s Basilica had managed a month earlier.

Die-hard traditionalists have already been put in their place in France. In the old days the Jockey Club was 2400 metres (12 furlongs) in line with Epsom and The Curragh and was reduced to its present distance of 2100 metres in 2005.

That move coincided with the moving up to a mile and a half of the great Fête Nationale celebration race on a movable feast of an evening card at Longchamp. The Grand Prix de Paris, until the arrival of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1920, had been the most prestigious and valuable race in France and was run over 3000 metres (15 furlongs), and even 3100 metres for a shorter intervening period.

In 1987, though, it was reduced significantly in distance to 2000 metres (1m2f) and it was at that trip that Saumarez won the 1990 race prior to his victory in the Arc that October. Previously trained to place in the Dee Stakes at Chester by Henry Cecil, Saumarez made Nicolas Clement, who had recently taken over the stable when his father Miguel died, the youngest-ever trainer to win France’s greatest race.

It works for France because, as Hurricane Lane showed so eloquently, a horse could run in and even win either or both the Epsom and Irish Derby, or indeed the Jockey Club, and there would still be time to prepare him for the Grand Prix.

That is just what Charlie Appleby did with such skill and the most notable element of it was how much he had in hand of the William Haggas colt Alenquer whose form with Adayer in the Sandown Classic Trial over ten furlongs in the spring appeared to give him a collateral edge on Hurricane Lane.

Alenquer not only beat Adayer on the Esher slopes but afterwards comfortably won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. But he was put in his place as Hurricane Lane stormed <that verb again!> six lengths clear of Wordsworth, first home of the O’Brien trio. It looked at first appraisal a major improvement on The Curragh but closer inspection reveals that Wordsworth had been beaten slightly further in his home Classic.

So where does that leave Adayer? Well, according to a conversation Charlie Appleby had with a friend who visited his luxurious stables in Newmarket before racing on Saturday, Adayer is fancied to run a very strong race as he faces up to last year’s O’Brien Classic superstar, Love, in Saturday’s King George.

The filly has the edge in the market after her comeback win over an inadequate ten furlongs in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot but Appleby, mindful that the weight-for-age scale favours three-year-olds, is by all accounts confident he will do so. Love concedes 8lb to the Derby hero while William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Coronation Cup hero Pyledriver gives him 11lb. Ascot is also the probable target for Lone Eagle.

Like O’Brien, Appleby is a modest man who often deflects praise to the people around him. Indeed as my friend left, Charlie said, “If you couldn’t train horses from here, where could you?”

Guesses that maybe St Mark’s Basilica might step up in distance on Saturday have been scuppered by his trainer’s single-mindedly pointing him towards the Juddmonte International. Those three days in York next month will also feature the next step towards the stars of Snowfall, following in the footprints of Love from a year ago by taking in the Yorkshire Oaks.

By the way, Jim, get my room ready! I’ll see how my first day back racing on Saturday at Ascot goes and then I might take the liberty of giving you a call. Where have I been? Too busy with all this Covid lark, mate, but I have been thinking of you!

However short a price Love was on what was to prove her last run of 2020 after the easy wins in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks, the latter by nine lengths, 4-9 will be looking a gift if that is available about Snowfall. Could be 1-5!

Many felt the exaggerated superiority, indeed a UK Classic record-winning margin of 16 lengths, could in part be ascribed to the very testing ground at Epsom. Just as many were predicting that on faster ground in Saturday’s Irish Oaks she might go for economy.

Leading two furlongs out under Ryan Moore, delighted to be riding her for only the second time – he was on board for the shock Musidora win at York on May 12 three weeks before Epsom and that Frankie Dettori benefit – she drew away by eight-and-a-half lengths in majestic style.

As we know, the Coolmore boys like all the boxes ticked and the opportunities covered, but I can categorically tell you that they did not expect her to win at York. Even when she did, the beaten horses’ connections were dreaming up reasons why you could not trust the result.

After all she was rated only a modest 90 on the back of her juvenile exploits, the most memorable apart from winning a small maiden race was the mix up when she wore the wrong colour hat when well behind in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket last autumn.

After the Epsom and Curragh regal processions there is only one place you would consider for a soft-ground loving but equally comfortable on quicker turf three-year-old filly of her status - the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It took me a while – having discarded my European Pattern Races 2021 book with hundreds of others in advance of a hoped-for downsizing move – to work out why she had not been one of the dozen O’Brien horses entered for the Arc.

Six older male horses – Mogul, Broome, Armory, Serpentine, Japan and Inisfree (where’s he been for 20 months?) – are supplemented by Love. The five three-year-olds are the colts St Mark’s Basilica, along with domestic Classic flops Bolshoi Ballet, High Definition and hard-working Van Gogh whose dance in four Classics (the UK and Irish Guineas, when third behind Mac Swiney, and French and Irish Derby) brought that one positive result.

That left room for one filly and, considering Santa Barbara took until last week to gain Grade 1 winning honours in the New York Oaks while four of her supposedly inferior female counterparts beat her to it, the evidence is there. They did indeed think she was far and away the best.

At least that was the case until 3.15 p.m. on the afternoon of May 12. The Arc closed at France Galop’s HQ around four-and-three-quarter hours earlier.  Now they have to wait until September 27 to get her in and pay a heavy penalty to do so.

In all, 101 horses made it. I am sure that date is writ large on the Racing Office wall and, if she enjoys another exhibition round back at the Yorkshire track she first consented to tell her trainer and owners how good she is, the supplementary entry will be made. Chances to win the race do not come along very often.

For all his and his owners’ successes in big races around Europe and in the US, the Arc has proved elusive. Two victories, with four-year-olds Dylan Thomas in 2007 and the brilliant filly Found five years ago, leave him still with a blank to fill. No Ballydoyle three-year-old has won the race since the days of Vincent O’Brien, who took the first of his two Arcs with Alleged in 1977. His second win, doubling up for Lester Piggott the year after followed Ballymoss in 1958, showed once again just how tough a race it is to win.

As mentioned, two O’Brien fillies are entered, Love and Santa Barbara. The latter might continue to make up for her earlier limitations in the Nassau Stakes next week but, as we know, a trio of Classic-winning alternatives, Joan Of Arc, Mother Earth and Empress Josephine, are equally qualified to step in and possibly pick up the Goodwood fillies’ Group 1.

Meanwhile Kevin Ryan has been exploiting the early juvenile Group contests in France with Atomic Force. Beaten first time out and gelded before a win in a small race at Hamilton, Ryan took him to Longchamp last month and he won Group 3 Prix du Bois nicely.

Returning yesterday for the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin, he started 2-1 on and bolted up. He will probably return for the Prix Morny at Deauville next month. Having watched that win the Sky Sports Racing team suggested the Nunthorpe might be an option given how much weight juveniles get from their elders. This year though that could be a hot race if newcomers on the Group 1 sprinting scene like Ed Walker’s Starman and Tim Easterby’s flying filly Winter Power turn up.

- TS

Love on target for King George date

Superstar filly Love remains on course for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Last year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks heroine made a successful return from 10 months off the track in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month and is set to return to the Berkshire circuit for next weekend’s midsummer showpiece.

Speaking at the Curragh on Sunday, trainer Aidan O’Brien said: “The plan at the moment is that we’re looking at running Love in the King George. Mogul and Broome are also there, but Love is the most likely to run. Something else could run but I’m not sure just yet.

“Everything has gone well with her since Ascot.”

Love’s likely rivals include Charlie Appleby’s Derby winner Adayar, Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle and Coronation Cup victor Pyledriver.

Plans are less certain for O’Brien’s hugely-exciting colt St Mark’s Basilica.

St Mark’s Basilica stretches clear in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown
St Mark’s Basilica stretches clear in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (Nigel French/PA)

Like Love a dual Classic winner, having won the French 2000 Guineas and the French Derby, the Siyouni colt comfortably beat his elders for the first time with an impressive display in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

O’Brien confirmed the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown as potential targets, adding: “The lads haven’t really decided yet what they want to do but York and Leopardstown would certainly be races we’ll be looking at.

“We’ll probably know more in another week where we are going.”