Luxembourg underlines Derby claims with cosy Futurity verdict

Luxembourg cemented his position at the head of the ante-post lists for next year’s Derby with a clear-cut victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien had saddled nine previous winners of the final Group One of the British Flat season – one short of the record by the late, great Sir Henry Cecil.

Among that number were a pair of Derby winners in High Chaparral and Camelot, a St Leger hero in Brian Boru and two subsequent 2000 Guineas winners in Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia.

Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, was the 4-6 favourite to add his name to the illustrious roll of honour, having looked every inch a top-class colt in the making in two previous starts.

Previously successful on his Killarney debut and in the Group Two Beresford Stakes at the Curragh, Ryan Moore’s mount travelled like a dream up the straight mile on Town Moor before readily extending clear.

Sissoko, trained by O’Brien’s son Donnacha, did his best to make a race of it, while Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst third Bayside Boy finished strongly after a slightly troubled run.

But Luxembourg left nobody in any doubt he was much the best horse in the race as he passed the post with almost two lengths in hand.

Paddy Power swiftly trimmed the winner’s odds for next year’s Derby at Epsom to 4-1 from 8-1, while he is 6-1 from 8-1 for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Ryan Moore was delighted to strike aboard Luxembourg
Ryan Moore was delighted to strike aboard Luxembourg (Tim Goode/PA)

Moore said: “I’m delighted with him. He’s a really smart horse, very scopey. He travelled easy. I lost my cover at halfway and I had to keep going. He took me to the front. When I asked him the question, he just waited a bit.

“I grabbed hold of the him the last 100 yards and he found a bit more.

“That’s three races and three wins. We’re delighted with what he’s done and he’s an exciting horse to look forward. It couldn’t have gone smoother and there’s more improvement to come.”

O’Brien raised the possibility of Luxembourg running in both the Guineas and the Derby next season.

He said: “He would have preferred a stronger gallop, but he’s a high cruiser and he got there a little bit after halfway. He was very babyish in front, but he’s a lovely horse. You’d have to be delighted.

“The lads will decide, but what he’s able to do over four furlongs at home says that he probably wouldn’t have any problems starting in the Guineas if that’s what the lads wanted to do.

“He’s been coming along slowly an he’s got a lot of class. Ryan was impressed with him.

“He’s always been very exciting. The work he’s been doing he shouldn’t have been able to do over four furlongs, but that is what good horses usually do.

“He has a big, open stride, but that’s what good horses have. Like human beings – the good athletes cover the most ground, don’t they?”

Aidan O’Brien talks with Ryan Moore following Luxembourg's victory
Aidan O’Brien talks with Ryan Moore following Luxembourg’s victory (Tim Goode/PA)

Reflecting on the season as a whole, the trainer added: “We’re very happy with the year. Someone told me that was our 18th Group One and we have won seven Classics.

“We lost loads of races, we won a few – that’s the way it is. It has to go around and everyone has to live, everyone has to get a bit of it and we’re delighted when we do get a bit of it.

“I might have made mistakes with horses this year. Maybe we ran them in the wrong races, sometimes horses were disappointing and sometimes they surprise you. There are a lot of different variables.”

Asked for his highlight of the season, O’Brien said “The filly (Snowfall) was very special at Epsom, but it has to be St Mark’s Basilica. We haven’t had the like of him since Galileo, and we might never have the like of him again. We were so lucky to find him.”

Roger Varian remains keen on a tilt at the 2000 Guineas with Bayside Boy
Roger Varian remains keen on a tilt at the 2000 Guineas with Bayside Boy (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Wayne Lordan was delighted with the performance of runner-up Sissoko, saying: “Donnacha has always thought he was a very nice colt.

“He only won his maiden a week and a bit ago. It was huge step up, but he looked like he could run very well and Donnacha was duly right.

“He feels like he’s going to be a better three-year-old. It was a very good run going into the winter with prospects for next season.”

Roger Varian said of the third placed Bayside Boy: “He’s a smart colt and ran a good race.

“He was a touch unlucky. When he needed room he didn’t have any. I don’t think it stopped him winning, but he’d have been a good second with a clear run.

“We’ll winter him and aim him at a Newmarket Guineas because I think he deserves that.”

Tenebrism all class in Cheveley Park

Tenebrism produced a brilliant performance in coming from virtually last to first to win the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge had just one previous run under her belt, winning a Naas maiden back in March, but she shrugged off her 181-day absence in some style with a power-packed finished.

Flotus led them up the stands side in the six-furlong contest, setting a sound pace in front as Ryan Moore was out the back on 14-1 shot Tenebrism.

It looked as though Simon and Ed Crisford’s Flotus had the measure of her rivals with a furlong to run, as favourite Sacred Bridge and her main market rivals Sandrine and Zain Claudette were all making little impact on the leader.

However, Tenebrism was responding in kind for Moore and found an extra gear to sweep by Flotus and win going away by a length.

Sandrine kept on for third, beaten a further three lengths in the Group One heat.

Tenebrism, who boasts an exceptional pedigree as a daughter of Caravaggio out of top miler Immortal Verse, is 8-1 for the 1000 Guineas with both Betfair and Coral.

O’Brien said: “I didn’t think it was possible for her to do that, not because of ability but because of the lay-off she’d had.

“She had a setback after the last day and was off for a long time. She was just literally ready to come racing and I had a knot in my stomach whether it was fair to be running her or not.

“But there is only one Cheveley Park and you don’t get horses with the speed and the turn of foot she has very often. That’s why she’s here really.

“Her dad had a terribly good turn of speed as well and that’s what she has. I said to Ryan ‘just get her to relax and find herself and see what’s going to happen’.

“She did the very same thing in her maiden – it’s a rare thing when you see them able to quicken like that.

“How far would she stay is the next thing. I had her entered over seven furlongs at the weekend and usually if they get seven they might get a mile.

“Wherever she is, you’ll be riding her for speed. You have to train her now as a Guineas filly and you can come back in trip any time.”

He added: “I would say if she’s going to go again this year it will be in America. The lads will decide if they want to go to the Breeders’ Cup. It will depend how she comes out of today.

“For next year, to go travelling (now) would be a great experience. I’d say if she comes out of it well and the lads want to do it, we’d be delighted to go – it’s definitely something we’d have to think about.”

Of the gallant runner-up, Ed Crisford said: “I thought there was nothing coming out of the pack to catch her, and then you just saw Aidan’s filly coming and I thought ‘oh, no!’.

“She ran a huge race and showed what we’ve been seeing at home. She’s a proper filly.

“We’ll see how she is. There’s not that many options left this year. Whether we go to America or not, I’m not sure.

“She’s definitely got the size and scope to make a three-year-old, which is exciting.”

Toro strike proves notable for Fahey at Goodwood

Toro Strike boosted his chances of contesting the Breeders’ Cup with a record-breaking performance in the Weatherbys Hamilton Supreme Stakes at Goodwood.

The four-year-old covered the seven furlongs in one minute 23.62 seconds to take the Group Three prize and go one better than 12 months ago.

Toro Strike was the first leg of a 15-minute across-the-card double for trainer Richard Fahey, with the victory of the Al Shaqab Racing-owned colt seeing the North Yorkshire handler reach 100 winners for the 14th year in a row – and it was not long before Kingson made it 101 at Beverley.

The son of Toronado was steered home by Ryan Moore, who was in action in New York on Saturday night when he was second on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Japan in the Grade One Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga.

He delivered the 7-2 shot with a powerful run to storm past Double Or Bubble in the final furlong and land the spoils by two lengths.

“That’s the 14th year in a row we’ve had 100 winners, it’s amazing,” said Fahey.

“Toro Strike just loves fast ground. We’ve been a bit unlucky with him. Sometimes we’ve entered him and it’s not worked out. On his day he’s pretty smart – when he gets everything right and comes off a strong pace it always seems to suit him.

“The Breeders’ Cup has been discussed. I’ve been talking about it with Alison (Begley, Al Shaqab’s racing manager), but we needed a good performance to get in it. We think it would suit him well.

“The Foret, you imagine, the ground (at ParisLongchamp) would be too slow for him. He loves quick ground and he seems to want a bit of time between his races.”

Atalanta’s Boy (10-1) registered a fifth course success when winning the Handicap for the second year running.

David Menuisier’s seasoned sprinter broke well from the stalls to lead early and maintain the gallop to score by half a length from Able Kane in the hands of 3lb claimer Thomas Greatrex.

Menuisier said: “He’s had his issues with stalls and being a bit too wound up before his races, so we’ve been working hard on this in the last month and it’s paid off. I’m delighted.

Atalanta’s Boy registers a fifth win over Goodwood's six furlongs
Atalanta’s Boy registers a fifth win over Goodwood’s six furlongs (Steven Paston/PA)

“He loves the course, he goes on any ground. Unfortunately he is his own worst enemy when he loses concentration, but on a good day he’s very hard to beat.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do next because of his problems with the stalls, so we take it step by step. I would probably avoid those big handicaps from now on and keep him in smaller handicaps or even try him in better opposition.

“He could go to France. Sometimes those races can be a bit weak at times. I’d be happy to try him there.”

Able Kane’s jockey Oisin Murphy was banned for two days (September 12 and 13) for using his whip above the permitted level in the final two furlongs.

Berkshire Rebel (right) nails the odds-on Firth Of Clyde to make a winning debut in the  tote EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes at Goodwood
Berkshire Rebel (right) nails the odds-on Firth Of Clyde to make a winning debut in the tote EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes at Goodwood (Steven Paston/PA)

Murphy made amends on Berkshire Rebel (9-1), who caused a surprise on his debut when overturning 4-7 favourite Firth Of Clyde in the tote EBF Restricted Maiden Stakes.

Andrew Balding’s Sir Percy colt got the verdict by a short head after a terrific tussle in the closing stages of the one-mile event.

The champion jockey doubled up on Aggagio (13-8) in the Selling Stakes for trainer Sophie Leech.

The three-year-old gelding was snapped up for 23,000 guineas afterwards as an “impulse buy” by Gary Robinson – whose wife was in the toilet at the time and returned slightly bemused at the news.

Archie Watson’s Luna Magic (4-1) was awarded the tote Placepot First Bet Of The Day Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap following an inquiry after being beaten a short head by first past the post Zlatan, trained by Ed de Giles.

The stewards found Zlatan had drifted left-handed carrying Luna Magic, ridden by Brodie Hampson, off his intended line. The placings were reversed and Zlatan’s jockey Sophie Smith was handed a two-day ban for careless riding.

Robert Havlin was another jockey to be handed a two-day ban for using his whip above the permitted level, after winning the Chichester City Handicap on Highland Rocker (2-1) for John and Thady Gosden.

Snowfall in August delights York racegoers

Superstar filly Snowfall continued her relentless march towards Paris in October with another demolition job in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

While trainer Aidan O’Brien insists the daughter of Japanese ace Deep Impact has always been held in high regard by those closest to her at Ballydoyle, her juvenile form suggested she was nowhere near the top of the yard’s Classic brigade.

A comeback trial win in York’s Musidora Stakes put her in the picture, but few could have envisaged the jaw-dropping 16-length thrashing she would give her rivals in the Oaks at Epsom, while she was similarly stunning in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.

Snowfall was the 8-15 favourite to complete a treble last achieved by the brilliant Enable four years ago on the Knavesmire and produced another sensational performance that left even her trainer wondering just how high her ceiling of ability lies.

O’Brien said: “She’s a very exciting filly, isn’t she?

“She’s getting very relaxed and is really going to be ready for the autumn.”

Although her odds made this latest task seem a formality, on paper at least this was a far from straightforward assignment for Snowfall, with a multiple Group One-winning older filly in David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight representing her biggest test to date.

Just for a moment rounding the home turn it looked as if Ryan Moore had given his big rival plenty of rope, but Snowfall made up the ground in a matter of strides before finding a gear few thoroughbreds possess to leave both Wonderful Tonight and the rest trailing in her wake.

Connections of Snowfall following another sensational performance
Connections of Snowfall following another sensational performance (Nigel French/PA)

“She was very responsive when Ryan asked her to go there,” O’Brien added.

“Ryan said he saw William (Buick, on Wonderful Tonight) gone and when he asked her (Snowfall) to go with William he ended up being there in two strides.

“I think she caught Ryan out a little bit when he asked her to quicken.”

Just like Enable in 2017, Snowfall’s big aim will now be to beat the boys in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

But while Enable headed straight for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest off the back of victory at York, O’Brien raised the possibility of his filly getting an early taste of the Paris air in an Arc trial next month.

He said: “I’ll have to talk to the lads (owners) and see what they want to do, but we could go to the Arc trial in Longchamp. If we want to have her run in between now and the Arc, that’s where she’ll go.

“This filly has always been exceptional. She’s not ground dependent, trip doesn’t bother her and she has a great mind and relaxes.

“She has really kept thriving since the last day. Physically she’s got very strong and has gone way up on the scales as well.”

It is hard to believe now, but Moore decided against riding Snowfall at Epsom in June in favour of stablemate Santa Barbara.

He was back on board at the Curragh, though, and it is a measure of just how impressive she was in completing the Oaks hat-trick that the usually reserved Moore was left wondering if he has ever enjoyed such a thrilling moment in the saddle.

Moore said: “The race started falling apart at the five-and-a-half (furlong marker) really, but as soon as I asked her to go after Wonderful Tonight she got there very quickly.

“She gave me an exceptional feel from the four down to the two and the race was over very quickly.

“Today, the performance was as good as anything I’ve felt.

“She definitely felt like today she was better than when I rode at the Curragh. Hopefully that’s a good sign and she continues to do that into the autumn.”

Snowfall in June, Snowfall in July and now Snowfall in August – it will be a brave man who bets against Snowfall again dominating the headlines on the first Sunday in October.

Snowfall dazzles again in Yorkshire Oaks

Snowfall gave another brilliant display when adding the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York to her two Classic victories this summer.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained filly surged away from the opposition in the final two furlongs to land a third Group One after completing the English and Irish Oaks double in spectacular fashion.

The race went to plan for the O’Brien camp through the early stages, with stablemates La Joconde and Divinely occupying the first two places in the early stages and keeping the gallop honest.

Wonderful Tonight, considered the main rival to the 8-15 favourite, tried to stamp her authority on matters but the faster ground was against her and she could not quicken.

Snowfall was going easily and cruised into the lead in the hands of Ryan Moore to seal it in a matter of strides. Albaflora finished well to claim second place, with La Joconde third.

O’Brien said: “She’s a very good filly and has always done everything very easy.

“She quickens very well and now she’s laid back, she’s starting to really thrive and put on weight.

“She’s going to be really ready for the autumn, I think. She travels very well, gets there very easy and then waits.

“We always thought she was good. Last year was a bit of a mess with everything and she was probably rushed a bit too much.

“She did very well over the winter and she’s by Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare, so she’s got a very good pedigree and was always going to get better.”

Snowfall now heads the market for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and O’Brien added: “I’ll see what the lads want to do, but it’s very possible she could take in another run (before the Arc).

“We’d be very happy to take in another run, I’d imagine. It depends what the lads want to do – whether they want to go to an Arc trial or go straight to the Arc.”

“I’ll see what the lads want to do, but it’s very possible she could take in another run (before the Arc).

“We’d be very happy to take in another run, I’d imagine. It depends what the lads want to do – whether they want to go to an Arc trial or go straight to the Arc.”

Of Albaflora, Ralph Beckett said: “I’m chuffed to bits. There was a great deal of discussion whether we were even going to run (because of the ground), but she was really well and thriving at home. When the ball is at your feet you have to kick it.

All smiles for connections of Snowfall
All smiles for connections of Snowfall (Nigel French/PA)

“We didn’t win, I’m not sure we ever thought we were going to but I was pretty sure she’d run well if things went our way. She enjoys being ridden like that.

“To go and do that today when she’s really a soft ground filly as well is great. We’ll relax and then have a think about where next.”

Wonderful Tonight was fourth under William Buick, but David Menuisier was taking positives from her run.

He said: “William’s report was that she’s not the same filly on good ground as she is on soft. I told him before the race if he felt she wasn’t going on it to look after her. The plan today was to give her a good blow before the next step with the Arc as the target, and that’s what we did.

“I’m really happy with the run, considering the conditions were not in her favour so I think there was no harm done.

“Last year when she ran in the Vermeille on good to firm ground she ran a similar race to today, we know when the ground gets softer she can easily improve by 10 lengths or more. She’s basically the same filly she was last year on this sort of ground and that is why I’m not disappointed.

“We had to give it a go as I wanted her to have two races before the Arc as we saw at Goodwood that when she gets fresh she is keen.

“She switched off lovely today after a furlong and a half so she’s done nothing wrong, it’s just when it comes to the crunch she can’t find the gears whereas on soft she has another two gears – that’s the difference.

“Her next race will be at Longchamp, but it could be the Prix Foy rather than the Prix Vermeille because the fillies are better than the colts this year!”

Point Lonsdale impresses with Tyros triumph

Point Lonsdale had no trouble stretching his unbeaten record to three with a comfortable success in the Japan Racing Association Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Chesham Stakes scorer at Royal Ascot pulled clear of his four rivals in the straight to give trainer Aidan O’Brien an eighth straight win in the Group Three over seven furlongs and 15th in all.

The full brother to Group One winner Broome just had to be rousted along in the early strides by Ryan Moore to get a good position as Gabbys Girl set the pace.

Travelling better the further they went, the 1-8 favourite set sail for home two furlongs out and was not hard ridden to score by three lengths from the staying-on Maritime Wings with Unconquerable third of the five runners.

“We’re delighted with him. It was his first time to race around a bend and Ryan was very happy with him,” said O’Brien.

“He’ll probably go to the Futurity next. It was nice for him to get a lead there and he would have learned a bit more today.

Point Lonsdale after his Leopardstown success
Point Lonsdale after his Leopardstown success (Gary Carson/PA)

“That’s his ground, he’s a very low mover. He won in soft ground last time but that would have to be his favourite ground. He’s lovely and low and his head goes down.

“He was even a bit green when he got to the front here today.”

Point Lonsdale was cut to 10-1 favourite, from 12-1, for the Qipco 2000 Guineas and 9-1 favourite, from 10-1, for the Cazoo Derby with Paddy Power.

Order Of Australia returns to winning ways in Minstrel heat

Breeders’ Cup hero Order Of Australia made the most of having his sights lowered in the Romanised Minstrel Stakes.

The four-year-old was a shock winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland in November before going on to finish sixth behind Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty at Sha Tin.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge weakened out of contention on his return to action in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, but had far less on his plate back on home soil and was the 2-1 favourite under Ryan Moore.

Order Of Australia was soon bowling along in front and had kept enough in the tank inside the last of seven furlongs to repel the challenge of Njord by a length and a quarter.

O’Brien said: “His first run this year at Ascot was just a bit of a mess as they jumped out and they hacked. It was the first time we decided to sit him in, being his first run of the year.

“He has plenty of speed and he’s able to quicken. Ryan was happy going out if someone wanted to give him a lead and if not he was happy to make his own running. He is very straightforward.

Order Of Australia in the Curragh winner's enclosure
Order Of Australia in the Curragh winner’s enclosure (Alan Magee/PA)

“He’s made like a sprinter/miler – at halfway he really started to turn it on and Ryan gave him a good ride.

“He’s a horse that takes his racing well so we were thinking of coming here and then going for the Sussex Stakes. He has plenty of speed and gets a mile well.

“He’s a horse to look forward to and can go to America later in the year and maybe races after that as well.”

Concert hits winning note at the Curragh

Concert Hall followed in the hoofprints of esteemed stablemate Snowfall with a determined victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh.

Dual Oaks heroine Snowfall opened her account at the third attempt in last year’s renewal of this seven-furlong contest and Concert Hall was the 11-8 favourite to add her name to the roll of honour, having filled the runner-up spot at Fairyhouse less than a fortnight ago.

The daughter of Dubawi looked booked for minor honours again after being joined and headed by newcomer Voice Of Angels, but Concert Hall battled back against the far rail to prevail by half a length under Ryan Moore, with Shamiyana just a neck further behind in third.

O’Brien said: “Wayne (Lordan) rode her the first day around a bend in Fairyhouse and said when she was turning she got a bit lost and the winner got away on her.

“She’s tough and genuine and Ryan was very happy with her. The dam (Was) won the Oaks, so she should stay.

“We’ll look at one of the seven-furlong races with her, maybe the Debutante Stakes.”

The Ballydoyle handler doubled up with Order Of Australia in the Group Two Minstrel Stakes – a feat matched by his son Joseph O’Brien, who landed the next two races on the card.

I Siyou Baby and Declan McDonogh in the clear
I Siyou Baby and Declan McDonogh in the clear (Brian Lawless/PA)

I Siyou Baby justified 5-2 favouritism with a comprehensive success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden in the hands of Declan McDonogh, after which 11-4 chance Emphatic Answer struck gold in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap under Shane Crosse.

“She (I Siyou Baby) won well and is improving with each run. Hopefully she can keep progressing,” said the trainer.

“She ran well in Naas the last day and was just beaten. She’s improved again from that and liked the track.

“Emphatic Answer won well in Killarney the last day and had a little hold-up after that. She won well today.

“Her form previously was on softer, but we were always hopeful that being a No Nay Never she would have no problem with that ground and she really enjoyed it.”

Yarrawonga made it three winners on the day for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore
Yarrawonga made it three winners on the day for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore (Brian Lawless/PA)

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore went on to complete a treble on the card, with Yarrawonga (9-2) getting off the mark in the Cavalor Equine Nutrition Maiden.

O’Brien said: “He stays well and Ryan was very strong on him. He made plenty of use of him and he kept on well.

“We always thought he was nicer than he ran. He’ll probably stay further.”

Jessica Harrington’s 3-1 favourite Hell Bent gave weight and a beating to his rivals in the Sycamore Lodge Equine Hospital Handicap, with Shane Foley the winning rider.

Snowfall pours it on at the Curragh for Oaks double

Snowfall gave another blistering performance to became the 15th filly to complete the English/Irish Oaks double at the Curragh.

Aidan O’Brien’s filly had blitzed her rivals at Epsom to win by a record margin of 16 lengths and she produced a similar display on home soil in the Juddmonte-sponsored Irish equivalent.

Having scared off a lot of the opposition, Snowfall was the 2-7 favourite and she did not disappoint.

The early running was made by one of her three stablemates, La Joconde, in the eight-runner line-up, with Nicest and Willow close up.

Ryan Moore had Snowfall just off the pace until the field turned for home and it was not long before she made her move – and once she hit the front two furlongs out there was only going to be one outcome.

Snowfall opened up and was simply away and gone from the others, scoring by eight and a half lengths to provide O’Brien with a sixth triumph in the race.

Divinely was second to give the Ballydoyle handler a one-two. Nicest, trained by O’Brien’s son, Donnacha, was half a length away in third.

Snowfall was cut to 4-1 from 5-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Coral and 4-1 from 11-2 with Paddy Power.

O’Brien said: “She’s very smart and she has a lot of quality.

“We purposely let her down a little bit from Epsom because the season is going to roll on and it was soft ground at Epsom.

“The plan was to come here, go on to the Yorkshire Oaks and then she’d be ready for the autumn.

“I’m delighted with her and she’s done very well from Epsom physically, she’s got very big and strong.

“Ryan said she has a lot of speed. She goes very strong and she finishes out very well.

“We’ll go one race at a time now, the Yorkshire Oaks first.”

On her two-year-old form, O’Brien said: “She’s a filly that always had a lot of natural ability and we had to get her to relax a little bit so we didn’t worry too much about it as we were always concentrating on switching her off.

Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh
Snowfall looks a picture at the Curragh (PA)

“Things went against her. Her first run was over five and a half furlongs in Navan and Mother Earth was second.

“Then she came back here to a maiden and Seamus (Heffernan) nearly fell off her. That’s why it took a few runs to win a maiden and it might have been a blessing in disguise as she became very mature and grown up from it mentally.

“Because she was busy early in the season it might have took its toll at the end of the season – even though she was perfect mentally, physically she had a good few runs.

“Herself and Mother Earth ran in the Fillies’ Mile and we were nearly siding with her over Mother Earth. That’s what we always thought of her.

“She’s a home-bred for the lads as well, she has some pedigree.

“We always thought fast ground was her thing and I was very worried in Epsom about her with that ground.”

Japan holds on for narrow Meld Stakes verdict

Japan just clung on in a thrilling three-way finish to claim the Green Room Meld Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s charge was dropping back to nine furlongs for his Group Three assignment – the shortest trip he had faced since his juvenile days.

However, the five-year-old rose to the task, racing handily for Ryan Moore as Snapraeterea set out to make all under Shane Crosse, before assuming control inside the final two furlongs.

Japan tried to stride on, but Maker Of Kings and Sinawann were both finishing with purpose from behind, forcing a photo.

The 15-8 favourite prevailed by a short head on the line, with Sinawann a further neck back in third.

“I was happy with him coming back in trip, I was probably in front too early really,” said Moore.

Japan (second right) just got the better of Crystal Ocean in the 2019 Juddmonte International
Japan (second right) just got the better of Crystal Ocean in the 2019 Juddmonte International (Nigel French/PA)

“He was just waiting there and he found more when the second came to him.

“The ground is beautiful and he showed plenty of speed throughout. I just felt I was in front too early on him.”

Japan won both the Grand Prix de Paris and the Juddmonte International as a three-year-old and Paddy Power left him as a 20-1 shot to regain his title at York next month.

Lights On waltzes to Pipalong Stakes success

Ryan Moore headed for the rail on Lights On and waltzed clear to win the Weatherbys Bloodstock Pro Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract in splendid fashion.

Sir Michael Stoute’s filly had been in good form this season, winning at Nottingham and Ascot, and had excuses when eighth in the Kensington Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.

Drawn wide on that occasion, Moore could never get into the position he wanted – but in this much smaller field he was able to manoeuvre his mount into exactly where he needed to be.

However, his task was made much easier than it might have been when four of the six runners shunned the near side rail, which is heavily favoured when the ground rides soft.

Sent off a 3-1 chance, the Siyouni filly had the race almost won by the turn into the straight when the jockeys who had decided to take the normal racing route, including David Egan on the favourite Waliyak, realised they were way of the pace.

As the stagger evened itself out, Lights On was a long way clear and she came home in splendid isolation, beating Agincourt, the only other runner to take the same route as the winner, by 10 lengths.

It was a fifth win in the race for Cheveley Park Stud, after Chorist (2004), Red Bloom (2005), Exhort (2019) and Romola last year.

Lights On ridden by jockey Ryan Moore stuck tight to the rail
Lights On ridden by jockey Ryan Moore stuck tight to the rail (Nigel French/PA)

Managing director Chris Richardson said: “Ascot just didn’t work out, she was drawn too wide and Ryan looked after her.

“Ryan gave her a lovely ride today and she was really impressive. She’s continuing to improve and that’s three wins on the trot in this race.

“I think we’ll look at the Valiant Stakes at Ascot next. She goes well at Ascot and a Group Three is the next logical step.

“I think she would have won on any ground today, but she clearly handles soft with the Pivotal and Siyouni coming through.”

St Mark’s Basilica brilliant in Eclipse victory

St Mark’s Basilica put up a hugely impressive display to beat top-class older horses Addeybb and Mishriff in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

Winning his fourth successive Group One race, St Mark’s Basilica was giving trainer Aidan O’Brien a sixth Eclipse triumph.

Sent off the well-backed even-money favourite, the three-year-old son of Siyouni powered away from his talented opponents in the final furlong under Ryan Moore.

Tom Marquand had sent Addeybb into the lead straight from the stalls, with Mishriff for close company. St Mark’s Basilica was held up in third, with El Drama last of the four as they travelled in single file.

There was no change in the order until David Egan on Mishriff drew alongside Addeybb and hit the front. It was a short-lived lead, however, as St Mark’s Basilica stormed past the pair and quickly put the race to bed.

He won by three and a half lengths from Addeybb, who rallied past Mishriff to take second place.

O’Brien said: “We couldn’t believe when Ryan asked him to quicken how well he did quicken. He quickens and has a great mind – he does everything.

Celebration time for connections of St Mark's Basilica
Celebration time for connections of St Mark’s Basilica (Nigel French/PA)

“We felt he had stepped up since the last day and Ryan gave him a beautiful ride. I’m delighted for everybody.

“He’s a relaxed traveller and doesn’t use any energy. He comes on slowly and when you go for him he really turns it on. He has the mark of a special horse.”

Asked about targets, the Ballydoyle trainer said: “The lads (Coolmore owners) will decide what they want to do, obviously he’d have options of maybe going to York (Juddmonte International) or Leopardstown (Irish Champion Stakes).

“I’d say something like that, depending on what the lads want to do.

“He’s a horse with a lot of pace and a lot of quality.”

Of Addeybb, a delighted William Haggas said: “It was a fantastic run. He fought hard as usual and he’s a very consistent, genuine horse. When it’s slower ground they don’t quicken like that.

“The winner is obviously a very smart horse, but he fought back to beat Mishriff. It wouldn’t have suited him making the running, either. He needs a good gallop.

“He might go for the King George, but he needs soft ground.”

His rider Tom Marquand added: “He gave everything. He’s an absolute superstar – giving that weight to the best three-year-old in Europe, and probably the world. I’m really pleased with him and he’s pulled up great. No doubt William will have some nice targets for him throughout the rest of the year, and possibly into next year too, knowing him.

“I jumped and rode the race as I saw fit, and he winged the lids and showed willing. I was left alone to find a nice rhythm, and while we haven’t won he’s run a super race. For him on his return that was a big effort.”

Winner of the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic, as well as last year’s French Derby, Mishriff could have a rematch with his Sandown conqueror at York.

John Gosden said: “He was just a bit keen early, it was his first run for a while and the ground is soft enough for him. I expect him to come on a good deal for that.

“We will head to the Juddmonte at York next, but the winner was very impressive.”

David Egan was in the saddle on Mishriff and said: “On the ground over the stiff mile and a quarter on what was his first run in Britain he just got tired in that last half a furlong. He has run a good race, but he should come forward for that and progress.

“For sure I think (he has a Group One in Britain in him) as the way he travelled into the race shows how classy he is and there will be more to come.”

Roger Varian, trainer of fourth-placed El Drama, said: “I thought between the two and the one (furlong) we might go and trouble the second and third, and I don’t think he’s quite got home over this stiff 10 (furlongs) on this ground.

“He wasn’t disgraced and he’ll be an interesting horse over an easy 10 or a stiff mile. I’ve nothing in mind, but I’ll speak with the Sheikh (Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum) about which direction we go now. He’s a Listed winner, and after two shots at Group One I should think we’ll look for a Group Three.”

Katara bounces back to form with Pontefract Listed verdict

Katara claimed a second Listed race when taking the Sky Bet Pontefract Castle Fillies’ Stakes at the Yorkshire track for Ryan Moore and Sir Michael Stoute.

The four-year-old raced at the rear of the field and struck late to pass race leader and runner-up Golden Pass just as the two horses approached the post.

The winning distance was recorded as a head, with third-placed Urban Artist (15-8 favourite) a further two and a half lengths back.

The victory follows a previous Listed win in August last year, when the bay took the Chalice Stakes at Newmarket.

“It wasn’t a dream run, I ended up where I didn’t want to be,” Moore told Racing TV.

“She was in good form last year, she was an impressive winner at Newmarket.

“She’s in good shape, I’m glad she could come back and win today, hopefully she can build on that.

“(She’s a) nice filly, good pedigree, you’d like to think there’d be more to come.”

Karl Burke enjoyed back-to-back successes as horses from his yard took both divisions of the Northern Commercials Iveco “X” Way Tipper EBF Fillies’ Restricted Novice.

Almohandesah was victorious in the first section of the contest when starting as 9-4 favourite under Tom Marquand, with Favourite Child then the winner of the second division at 6-1 for Clifford Lee.

The Flying Ginger took the Volkswagen Van Centre Ltd Fillies’ Handicap as the 6-4 favourite, prevailing by a length and a half ahead of Majestic Tejaan after making all of the running.

“She tried hard, she stays well,” Tudhope said.

“With the other horses in the race, there were stamina doubts for a few of them so I wanted to make sure it was a good test of stamina, she’ll probably suit 10 furlongs.

“It’s very hard to peg them back here so if you can take control, it’s hard to make up ground.

“She’s run into form today, but you can flatter yourself here. I don’t think she’s won with a lot in hand but she’s a grand filly, she’s going places and there’s a lot to look forward to.”

Let Me Be tallied a fifth win this season when triumphing in the Sky Bet Pontefract Cup Handicap for Keith Dalgleish and Callum Rodriguez.

The five-year-old crossed the line a length ahead of his nearest rival after starting as 11-4 favourite.

“He’s a very economical horse, he only does as much as he needs to all the way round and then you see when he hits the front he only does enough as well,” said Rodriguez.

“He just keeps progressing and he’s obviously going the right way.

“We were keen to give him a go over this two-mile-two (furlong trip), we thought he would be tailor-made for these sort of races and he’s proved he is.

“He’s a brilliant horse and if he keeps on progressing, there should be more races to be won with him.”

Mullins and Moore again the perfect combination at Royal Ascot

Ryan Moore teamed up with Willie Mullins to win the Queen Alexandra Stakes yet again – this time with Stratum.

Following on from the victories of Simenon in 2012 and Pique Sous in 2014, Ireland’s champion National Hunt trainer yet again called upon the services of Moore and he delivered on the 4-1 shot.

Stratum had been placed in the 2018 Ascot Stakes as well as winning the 2019 Cesarewitch, and looked well suited by the conditions of the race.

Stratum still looked to have a fair bit of ground to make up when Richard Hughes’ Calling The Wind hit the front, seemingly travelling best.

However, once Moore gets down into the drive position there are few – if any – who do it better, and Stratum came with a run from which he was not to be denied.

He ended up pulling three and a quarter lengths clear and was a ready winner in the end. The Grand Visir was third, while the pace-setting Stag Horn was fourth.

Mullins said: “It’s just a huge advantage having Ryan riding horses for you and I’m delighted.

“I thought Paul Roche had the horse looking in superb order and he subsequently told me he won the best turned out. I’ve never seen the horse look as well and he ran liked he looked.

“Even though the ground wouldn’t have suited him he probably handled it better than most horses.”

Dream Of Dreams comes good in Diamond Jubilee

Dream Of Dreams finally won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes after two previous near-misses in the final day feature of Royal Ascot.

Sir Michael Stoute – who has trained more winners at the meeting than anyone else – was recording his 82nd success at the fixture and having been beaten in two photo-finishes in the past two runnings, he will be delighted to have won with the chestnut.

Blue Point edged him out in 2019, while 12 months ago it was Hello Youmzain, and he was sent off the 3-1 favourite to make amends.

Tim Easterby’s Art Power – a winner 12 months ago in handicap company – set out to make it a real test and by halfway had most of his rivals in trouble.

They included Glen Shiel – successful on Champions Day last season for Hollie Doyle – but to his credit, he battled all the way to the line.

As Art Power’s stride began to shorten Ryan Moore sensed the time was right to attack on Dream Of Dreams, and despite having two lengths to make up when he started his challenge with a furlong to run he was almost on terms.

Glen Shiel did not go down with a fight, and Art Power stuck on gamely, but with Moore in full cry and a willing partner there was only going to be one outcome as the seven-year-old prevailed by a length, with three-quarters back to the third.

For Glen Shiel’s trainer Archie Watson it was a second agonising reverse of the week having had Dragon Symbol lose the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room on Friday.

Stoute said: “The horse really deserved it. He’s a top-class sprinter and the previous two years one more stride and he wins, but that is not what it’s about. You’ve got to get there first. I’m really happy for him today.

“I was pretty hopeful from two out. He finishes well and he’s very effective at seven furlongs as well.

“He won a Group One last year at Haydock and he’s won Group races, but it has been frustrating because he has been beaten so narrowly in the past.

“He’s such a good racehorse and as he’s got older and mature, he’s relaxed more and got better.

“The team have done a great job, as have the two that ride him out, and he’s not run many below-par races but he is probably a little bit better now. That is because he is more relaxed.

“He was my last chance of the meeting. Group Ones have never been easy and it’s probably a little harder now and experience often gets beaten by these young pups.

“I don’t know where he’ll go next. He’s in the July Cup, but he didn’t go there last year as the ground was too quick. I don’t like running him on fast ground.”

It was thrilling finish to the Diamond Jubilee
It was thrilling finish to the Diamond Jubilee (David Davies/PA)

Moore said: “Any winner here is important, but especially a prestigious race like this.

“(Sir) Michael has been great to me my whole career, but he’s got this horse to perform in this race three times in a row so fair play to him.

“He’s been a great horse, he’s got better every year but a stiff six furlongs with cut in the ground is perfect.”

Doyle was pleased with Glen Shiel, who was returning to his best having been fourth on his reappearance in Ireland.

She said: “That was a pleasing run and shows the horse is back to his best.”

Easterby said of Art Power: “It was a cracking run, he was out on his own and just got a bit tired in the last half a furlong. He ran to the line.

“I wouldn’t be against bringing him back to five for the King George at Goodwood.”