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Snowfall dominates for Musidora victory

Snowfall led her rivals a merry dance to provide Aidan O’Brien with his first victory in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.

The daughter of Japanese superstar Deep Impact managed just one win in seven outings as a juvenile last season, albeit her final two outings were at Group One level in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile.

She was a generous-looking 14-1 shot on her reappearance, with the market dominated by the impeccably-bred pair of Noon Star – a daughter of Derby winner Galileo and top-class racemare Midday – and Sea The Stars filly Teona.

However, Ryan Moore navigated Snowfall to the lead from an early stage – and having dictated affairs for much of the extended 10-furlong Group Three contest, she passed the post with three and three-quarter lengths in hand.

Noon Star filled the runner-up spot, with Teona doing well to finish as close as she did in third after pulling fiercely for her head for much of the race.

Bookmaker response was immediate, with Snowfall’s odds slashed for the Cazoo Oaks.

O’Brien said: “We always thought the world of her last year, but things just didn’t work for her.

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“On pedigree she was always going to be suited by a step up in trip, (and) Ryan gave her a lovely ride.

“It’s a beautiful pedigree, and we always thought a race like that would suit.

“I would think the Oaks will be the plan, but we’ll all have a chat.

“Things just didn’t work out for her last season – hopefully she goes on and has a good year.”

Kevin Buckley, owners Coolmore’s UK representative, said: “Aidan has always thought a lot of her, and we were fairly hopeful with the step up in trip. Her pedigree suggested that would be to her liking, and those thoughts were vindicated.

“It’s the first time we’ve won the Musidora. We’ve hit the crossbar twice, with Together Forever (2015) and Twirl (2012).

“We were definitely thinking a mile and a half would suit. She’s out of a full-sister to Found by Deep Impact, so there’s everything there to suggest the distance of the Oaks won’t be a problem.

“She showed a really good attitude.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Noon Star’s owners Juddmonte, said: “Obviously the lack of pace was not ideal, to say the least – she’s a filly who does stay and will stay.

“We’ll get her back, make sure she’s ok, make sure Michael (trainer Sir Michael Stoute) and the family are happy – and then we’ll take it from there.

“I don’t think there’s any need for any precipitous decisions at the moment.

“These are trials. This is what they are there for – they are sent to try us.”

Teona’s trainer Roger Varian described himself as more frustrated than disappointed.

He said: “It was a messy race. Unfortunately she reared up in the gates, missed the break – and that meant after 50 yards you sort of knew how the race would be run.

“It’s slightly unsatisfying, but I’ve lost no faith in the filly – I think she’s very nice. Everything that could go wrong today did, but on a positive note she’s had a day out and will come on for the run. She’s been fresh all day today and hopefully she’ll be more professional next time.

“She’s got loads of talent, and I haven’t lost faith because the race was run at a crawl. If we’d broken better maybe we could have done something about it.

“It’s frustrating more than disappointing – judge her more next time. I’ll speak to the owner about the Oaks, but I wouldn’t be discouraged on what happened today. We live to fight another day.”

Noon Star and Teona clash in fascinating Musidora

Noon Star is among those looking to earn themselves a shot at Classic glory in the Cazoo Oaks in what promises to be an informative renewal of the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday.

Sir Michael Stoute’s filly is certainly bred for next month’s Epsom showpiece, being a daughter of the brilliant Derby hero Galileo and top-class racemare Midday, who was beaten a head by Sariska in the Oaks in 2009.

Noon Star, owned and bred by the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, has won two of her three starts to date – most recently impressing on her three-year-old debut in a novice event at Wetherby two and a half weeks ago.

With that form having been boosted by the subsequent Lingfield success of the fourth home Sherbet Lemon, Stoute’s charge is a general 8-1 shot for the Oaks on June 4, but will face a thorough examination at York, with Oaks second-favourite Teona among her rivals.

Teddy Grimthorpe, Juddmonte’s racing manager, said: “If you breed Galileo to Midday, you’re expecting and hoping to end up at Epsom in early June. That would be the aim of anyone, but obviously she’s got to prove that she’s a worthy candidate.

“Midday won twice at York – she won the Middleton Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks. She was only narrowly beaten by Twice Over in the Juddmonte International.”

Noon Star is one of two Juddmonte-owned runners in an eight-strong field along with John and Thady Gosden’s Senita, who wears a hood for the first time after finishing a disappointing last of seven on her seasonal debut at Newbury.

“She’s a work in progress really. She didn’t put it together at all at Newbury and was a little bit awkward throughout,” Grimthorpe added.

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“John has always had a good opinion of her and this is a fact-finding mission to see where we are with her, but she does have talent.

“This will give us a good idea of where we are with both fillies – this is what these trials are for really.

“Sometimes you get surprised and sometimes you get disappointed.”

Roger Varian saddles Teona in the Musidora Stakes
Roger Varian saddles Teona in the Musidora Stakes (John Walton/PA)

Roger Varian’s Teona makes her turf debut following two outings on the all-weather at Newcastle, finishing second on debut before bolting up by nine lengths on her second start in November.

Like Noon Star, Teona is also bred in the purple – being by Derby winner Sea The Stars out of Ambivalent, who won the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland and the Group Two Middleton Stakes at York for the same connections.

Varian said: “She looks a very nice filly at home and we’ve always held her in high regard.

“She’s taken a while to come to herself this spring and I should think the run will bring her forward. That said, her last few weeks of training have been very pleasing.

“She’s a big, rangy filly. I trained her mother, who also took a while to come to hand, and Teona was never going to be a summer two-year-old – she’s all about this year and beyond.

“We like her a lot – it’s well publicised I think, the regard which we hold her in.

“This is a nice starting point and a lovely place to start. If she doesn’t win it’s not the end of the world, but we’d expect her to run well.”

Mystery Angel steps back up to Pattern class after impressing in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket 10 days ago.

While the Nick Bradley Racing-owned filly is not currently entered in the Oaks, connections may consider supplementing should she come up trumps on the Knavesmire.

“She’s a filly who takes her racing very well and we’ll give it a good shot on Wednesday,” said trainer George Boughey.

“We’ll take it one step at a time. I’d say this is as good an Oaks trial as there is, on the pedigrees and the reputations of the two horses in front of us in the market (Noon Star and Teona).

“She would need to be supplemented for the Oaks, which costs the best part of £25,000. I think she would have to win at York to be considered for Epsom, I would say.

“She’s been a star for us and hopefully there’s more to come.”

Snowfall after winning at the Curragh
Snowfall after winning at the Curragh (PA)

The sole Irish challenger is Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

The jockey told Betfair: “This Deep Impact filly maybe didn’t quite progress as expected from her maiden win, though she faced some tough tasks in Group One company. This trip is more in keeping with her pedigree, and I expect her to improve for it.

“There is nothing in here boasting a scary level of form as it stands, though Noon Star is a very promising filly and one I like, and she is race-fit, as is the Newmarket winner Mystery Angel. And Newcastle winner Teona is already second-favourite for the Oaks, I see.”

Aura (Andrew Balding), Glenartney (Ed Walker) and Quiet Assassin (Adrian Keatley) are the other contenders.

Teddy Grimthorpe steps down from Juddmonte role

Teddy Grimthorpe is stepping down from his long-standing role as racing manager to Juddmonte Farms after 22 years.

In a position he took over in 1999, Grimthorpe managed all of the late Khalid Abdullah’s horses in Europe, overseeing such greats of the Turf as Frankel and Enable.

He said in a statement: “I have always felt that the time for me to stand down from Juddmonte would be when Prince Khalid was no longer involved. It has been a huge privilege to work for the Prince and his family, and with the outstanding Juddmonte team, which has been so successful for so long.

The mighty Frankel was one of the horses managed by Teddy Grimthorpe
The mighty Frankel was one of the horses managed by Teddy Grimthorpe (PA)

“Of course I am sad to leave. But, with the Prince’s death two months ago and over 20 years as his Racing Manager, now is the right time. I leave an organisation in great shape, which is supreme at what it does, and I have no doubt Juddmonte will continue to thrive and produce top-class homebred thoroughbred horses competing at the highest level on racecourses across the world.”

Douglas Erskine Crum, chief executive of Juddmonte, said: “On behalf of Prince Khalid’s family and all of us past and present at Juddmonte, I thank Teddy for all he has done to help the organisation be at the very top of its game year after year.

“He will be sorely missed, and we wish him the very best of good fortune for the future.”

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Grimthorpe – who was chairman of York Racecourse for nine years and remains on the board there – envisages spending more time in Yorkshire in the future, but intends to stay involved in the racing industry in some capacity.

He said: “I’ve just had the most tremendous time. It’s been an absolute honour and privilege to have worked for Prince Khalid and his family.

“This just seemed right (time to leave). I still want to remain active in the industry, and there are some things I want to pursue back in Yorkshire. Life will go on.

“Obviously I’ve given it a great deal of thought and I haven’t taken the decision lightly. I’ve been unbelievably lucky, I really have.”

A host of brilliant horses have worn the Juddmonte silks throughout Grimthorpe’s tenure, with sprinters such as Oasis Dream, milers like Kingman and Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce all sporting the colours with distinction.

Two horses stand out for him, though.

Enable has been one of the most successful horses of modern times
Enable has been one of the most successful horses of modern times (Nigel French/PA)

“When Prince Khalid died and we looked back at the big moments, there were so many extraordinary horses who had won serious Group One races who hardly got a mention,” he said.

“I think in terms of special moments, though, Frankel looms over everything. Seeing him develop, Sir Henry (Cecil) became a very close friend, as did all the Juddmonte trainers, but it was just the story around Frankel with how ill Henry was.

“Obviously I’m biased, but the day at York with him was very special – it was a day lot of people remember. Prince Khalid was there, Henry was very ill – and the crowd were beyond belief.

“I was waiting for Prince Khalid to arrive – and normally at York when there is a big crowd a lot of it is coaches – but this wasn’t, this was a case of people getting in their car to go and see the horse.

“I’ve never seen the paddock as crowded – it was like Cheltenham – and of course his his performance was outstanding. People still come up to me to talk about that day.

“Then of course, we’ve had Enable the last few years. She had the most remarkable personality, and her relationship with Frankie (Dettori) was something special too, which all added to the story.”

John Gosden, who trained the likes of Enable, Kingman and Oasis Dream for Abdullah, told the PA news agency: “Teddy Grimthorpe has been a superb racing manager for Juddmonte over the last two decades.

“He has overseen the careers of equine legends, such as Frankel and Enable, as well as the inevitable less talented horses. His detailed knowledge and astute intuition concerning the Juddmonte horses has been invaluable to the organisation.

“I have known him since the 1980s when he represented the BBA (British Bloodstock Agency) in California. His charm, well-known sense of humour and light touch have ensured that he is a rightly popular and valued member of the international racing fraternity.”

Grimthorpe salutes brilliance and longevity of Enable

Teddy Grimthorpe nominated Enable’s first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory as his personal highlight of the mare’s glittering career following her retirement on Monday.

Grimthorpe, who is the long-standing racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, was at ParisLongchamp just over a week ago when the John Gosden-trained six-year-old had to settle for sixth place in her quest for an unprecedented third Arc win, with the heavy French ground taking its toll.

Hopes had been raised of a swansong at Ascot on Champions Day when she appeared on the Newmarket gallops last week, but she will instead be retired and is booked in for a date with Kingman, who is also owned by Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms operation.

Enable won 15 of her 19 races with her 11 Group Ones including three King Georges, the English and Irish Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Grimthorpe believes Chantilly in 2017 provided a special moment.

“I’ve been asked a few times in recent weeks what I think was her best ever performance. I think the Oaks was the first time that she blasted into the stratosphere,” said Grimthorpe.

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“It was a race run in record time through a thunderstorm and she finished five lengths clear of Rhododendron. That really set out her stall as a marker that she was above the average Group One horse.

“Her first two King Georges were special, it’s hard to separate the two, but for me her best performance was her first Arc at Chantilly.

“It was a superb ride by Frankie (Dettori) – he made a manoeuvre early which put her in a great spot so that coming around the bend, you could be pretty confident something good was going to happen.”

Enable (right) went head-to-head with Crystal Ocean down the Ascot straight
Enable (right) went head-to-head with Crystal Ocean down the Ascot straight (Julian Herbert/PA)

The 2019 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes produced a race for the ages, as Enable pipped Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean by a neck after a duel in the Ascot straight.

“Her second King George when she edged out Crystal Ocean was memorable,” said Grimthorpe.

“Depending on how old you are, the King George holds a special place and you remember certain battles – for me it’s Grundy and Bustino, but Enable and Crystal Ocean certainly had elements of that. It was a great tussle. Two great horses and two very good jockeys.

“She was also the first horse to win the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same season. That was the year she didn’t have her first run until September. To do that was pretty special, beating Magical again with the pair well clear.”

There is a tendency in racing to compare eras and while Enable’s record stands up to close scrutiny, an official rating of 128 sees her fall some way shy of fellow Abdullah runner Frankel, who retired with a mark of 140.

However, Grimthorpe does not believe her rating tells the whole story.

“Everyone always talks about ratings and while they are important, what people have to remember is what she gave to racing over five seasons – not many can look her in the eye there,” he said.

“The public following she garnered because of the way she kept coming back is special, but there are so many things that made her special.

“You shouldn’t say these words lightly, but it has been an honour and a privilege just to be around her – she’s meant so much for everyone at Juddmonte, Prince Khalid downwards, she’s given so much.”

Asked who would have come out on top between Enable and Frankel over 10 furlongs, Grimthorpe laughed and added: “We’ll never know!”

‘No immediate decision’ on Enable future

No decision will be made just yet over whether Enable has run for the final time in her exalted career, following her sixth-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

John Gosden’s brilliant mare found the very testing conditions in ParisLongchamp against her, as Sottsass provided master French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget with his first win in Europe’s premier race.

Gosden felt the slow pace dictated by Persian King also worked against his runners, with Stradivarius finishing right on Enable’s tail, and he put that down to the absence of Aidan O’Brien’s contenders, who were dramatically ruled out on Saturday evening due to problems related to contaminated feed.

“If we’d had Sovereign and Serpentine in there it would have been a very different race, but as it was it didn’t work out for her or Stradivarius,” said Gosden.

“Frankie (Dettori) said neither horse liked the holding ground, it would have been better if it was wetter. I did warn people, though.

“They didn’t have a hard race as it was only a little dash. They weren’t blowing, so it was a rather elaborate journey for a racecourse gallop up the Longchamp straight.”

While Enable’s future remains up in the air, Gosden did confirm that triple Gold Cup winner Stradivarius will stay in training.

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He told Sky Sports Racing: “I think Mr (Bjorn) Nielsen is keen for Stradivarius to attempt a fourth Gold Cup.

“With Enable Teddy (Grimthorpe, racing manager) and I will report to Prince Khalid (Abdullah, owner) and he will make the decision whether she has one more race or retires. It will be entirely his decision.

“We know she has a great turn of foot. It was unfortunate she was the meat in a sandwich at one point and once you break your stride in that ground it is difficult to get going again.

“To that extent Frankie never touched her with the stick, same with Olivier (Peslier on Stradivarius), the horses weren’t handling the ground so the jockeys looked after them.

“Both are extremely bright after the race which is extremely good news because you always worry in that ground they might pull something.

“She’s been amazingly consistent. She won her maiden, got boxed in when we ran her in a conditions race which we won with another filly, but after that she won everything apart from last year’s Arc and this year’s Eclipse.

“Her mental attitude and mental strength set her apart, she’s so determined, positive about her training, but she found her training tougher this year.

“It’s a pity it wasn’t good to soft ground and an even gallop, but it wasn’t. We’d been lucky we’d had that in the two years we won and were second, but today was very different and quite frankly that didn’t play to her strengths at all.

“It was Prince Khalid’s decision to try again this year and whether she runs again will be his decision.

“It’s a long time to the breeding season. She’ll tell us and if she gives me the right signs we’ll see. If she seems like she’s had enough of racing then fine, but it didn’t look that way when she came off the track.”

For Grimthorpe there are too many positive memories with Enable for him to feel downhearted.

Teddy Grimthorpe would rather remember the good days
Teddy Grimthorpe would rather remember the good days (Simon Cooper/PA)

“It wasn’t what we’d hoped for, there’s no doubt about that, but we owed her – not the other way around,” he said. “The pleasure she has given us has been exceptional in every way.

“Three King Georges, two Arc de Triomphes, Breeders’ Cup, Eclipse, Oaks, Irish Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks. It’s an extraordinary CV for any racehorse.

“Prince Khalid appreciates keeping horses in training and he accepts (what can happen), it just hasn’t worked out the way we hoped it would.

“The ground was very soft and she didn’t act on it well enough.

“She did get a nasty bump, but they had gone quite slowly and it turned into a bit of a sprint – that’s not an excuse, if she’d been going well enough that sort of thing doesn’t happen, so we can’t say that is why she was beaten.

“She’s been exceptional, but there’ll be no immediate decision – we’ll get her back, look at things, check her out and give it some thought and most importantly come up with an answer.”

Proud Grimthorpe hoping to see Enable sign off in style

Teddy Grimthorpe has highlighted the skill of John Gosden and his team in ensuring Enable arrives in Paris for a fourth successive year in peak condition on Sunday.

Is it rare for a top-class Flat horse to remain in training as a six-year-old, especially a mare – but owner Khalid Abdullah made a sporting decision to keep Enable in training this season having come so agonisingly close to racing history 12 months ago.

As no horse has ever won Europe’s premier race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, three times, the sportsman in Abdullah came to the fore and he delayed the decision to retire Enable to have one more shot at immortality.

“In races like this, it’s such a monumental day you cannot discount any horse – it never turns out how you think it is going to,” said Grimthorpe, Abdullah’s long-standing racing manager.

“We just have to concentrate on her and Frankie (Dettori) is the best man to have.

“Just to even run in the race four times – given how difficult it is to get to a particular race on a particular day – to do it four years in a row, without pre-empting as she hasn’t lined up yet, but all being well to run in four Arcs, it is a tremendous feat by John and everyone at Clarehaven.”

Win or lose this weekend, Grimthorpe does not think there is much more Enable could have achieved with three King Georges, two Arcs, the English and Irish Oaks and a Breeders’ Cup among her 15 victories.

Frankie Dettori returns on Enable after winning a third King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier this season
Frankie Dettori returns on Enable after winning a third King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes earlier this season (Dan Abraham/PA)

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“She had a really busy three-year-old campaign, missed the first half of her four-year-old season but went and won at the Breeders’ Cup after a second Arc,” said Grimthorpe.

“Obviously we are very biased and everyone has opinions about everything, but the only thing I would say is that her CV stands up to the closest scrutiny.

“The amount of Group One winners she has beaten in her career is staggering and we couldn’t have asked any more of her really.”

Not surprisingly, Gosden fears the testing ground could slow Enable down in the final few strides – just as it did last year when Waldgeist reeled her in.

Speaking to talkSPORT2, Gosden said: “She’s in very good form, we’ve designed the whole season around this day. She won a King George then had a prep at Kempton so she’s ready for this.

“Everyone is concerned about the ground, it could be for specialists, but we’ve planned this for a year.

“She handles cut in the ground, but her best races have been on good to soft. Last year it was testing and it found her out in the last 100 yards. Possibly our jockey might be a bit more patient this time. It’s the same for everyone, but it will suit some more than others.

“I’ll leave tactics up to Frankie, though, he’s ridden in 30 Arcs so it’s pointless me telling him want to do. He’ll ride it how he feels it.”

Stradivarius was in a different league to his rivals in the Gold Cup in June
Stradivarius was in a different league to his rivals in the Gold Cup in June (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Asked how he would feel if Stradivarius came to beat Enable, Gosden replied: “You must let every horse take its chance, the owner/breeder Bjorn Nielsen has been keen to run and there’s a history of good stayers running well in the Arc.

“In the conditions it will bring his stamina into play. Even he might find the ground a bit much, though – although we thought for years he wanted top of the ground and he won an Ascot Gold Cup by 10 lengths on soft.

“This is a different ball game but if he doesn’t sink in too far, he doesn’t have the biggest of feet, he’s capable of a big performance.”

Mogul won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood earlier this year
Mogul won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood earlier this year (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Aidan O’Brien is another who must be cursing the weather gods and he felt the ground could be so bad he even took out Love, who had been favourite since July.

Nevertheless, he still runs four, including Grand Prix de Paris winner Mogul and Serpentine, shock winner of the Derby in June. Japan and Sovereign are the other representatives for Ballydoyle.

“We were delighted with Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris and we felt he was slowly starting to come right,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.

“We’d always ridden him fairly close to the pace, but he’d always shown a lot of speed in his work so we decided last time to ride him for speed and Pierre-Charles (Boudot) gave him a beautiful ride and we got a great result, we’ve been happy since. The ground won’t be ideal but his brother, Japan, handles an ease.

“We think Japan will improve from the Irish Champion but we were a little disappointed. A mile and a half will suit him better.

“Christophe (Soumillon) was happy with Serpentine (behind Mogul), he’d had a big break after Epsom. We went to France using it as a prep for the Arc which Christophe knew.

“He’ll go forward, he doesn’t have to lead but he will if no one else wants, he’s uncomplicated. He’s drawn wide (15), but Christophe knows the horse well.

“Sovereign should be suited by the tempo of a mile and a half rather than the Irish Leger last time.”

Logician takes Doncaster return in his stride

Plans have yet to be made for Logician following his successful comeback at Doncaster last week.

The John Gosden-trained grey had been out of action for almost a year after winning last season’s St Leger, having suffered a life-threatening illness during the winter.

He faced only one rival on Town Moor and unexpectedly had little trouble in winning, but despite holding entries at Ascot on British Champions Day over 10 furlongs and two miles, no decision on whether the unbeaten Frankel colt goes there will be made for some time.

“He’s come out of it fine, I’m pleased to say,” said owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe.

“He seems to be in good shape after it and it was everything we could have hoped for actually as a race.

“It was almost a year to the day since he won the St Leger and he had been seriously ill over the winter, so we were going into the unknown a bit to say the least. But the way he came out of it pleased us.

“We’ve got no real plans as such. I think John’s inclination is to go gently and we really wanted to see how he came out of the race and see how he progresses before making a decision.”

A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster
A debrief for the Logician team at Doncaster (David Davies/PA)

With Enable almost certain to be retired following her run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe next month, Logician looks set to be a standard bearer for the team next term.

“He’s an important horse for Prince Khalid and we’re treating him very much with next year in mind,” said Grimthorpe.

“You have to treat each horse on their merits so we’ll keep monitoring him. He’s still unbeaten in six races and is a very exciting horse – hopefully there’s more to come.

“To say it was a two-runner race the other day the time was respectable, all things considered.”