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Social Discourse – Monday 8th July

This past week offered us the privilege of seeing the best mare on the planet currently, but also the sadness of losing one of the sport’s TV greats. It was a week of stunning contrast that dominates this edition of Social Discourse, writes William Kedjanyi...

 

  1. All Hail Queen Enable

We  start at Sandown, and focus of the racing world at this point in time, Enable, is now an Eclipse winner on top of her already glittering CV.

On her first start for 245 days, contending with lighting fast summer ground at a ten furlong trip shy of her best there appeared to be, on paper, a hint of vulnerability. But, in the finish, there proved nothing of the sort.

 

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1147516699693985792

 

The Race Recap (In Case You Missed It): Hunting Horn set a decent gallop, with Enable sitting on his heel and Magical in third. The rest of the field, in order of Telecaster, Zabeel Prince, Mustashry, Regal Reality, and Danceteria. Rounding the turn into the home straight, the field began to bunch up.

Frankie Dettori, who had always been travelling nicely, remained motionless as Hunting Horn began to give way, and at one point looked as if he was going to stroll away on Enable, who was showing more zip than rivals who were all proficient at the distance; but, when push came to shove, she kept finding and through the last furlong it was clear – in hindsight – that there was only going to be one winner. Cue an outpouring of love for the majestic five-year-old.

https://twitter.com/rockonxruby/status/1147516772666490880

https://twitter.com/HonestFrank/status/1147516439080984576

https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1147523374232612864

 

Where next? The King George. Tickets to Ascot might be selling rather quickly…

From the trainer, John Gosden:

"It's been a long preparation and she's only started coming to herself the last two weeks. Quite frankly, she's come here at 85 per cent, maybe 90. I was slightly concerned in the last furlong but Frankie looked after her, it was a lovely ride. He always wanted to be where he was, he was keen to sit there and she's an exceptional athlete. To come from an eight-month layoff to win an Eclipse isn't an easy thing. She's done it all herself and the plan is the King George."  - John Gosden, speaking to the Racing Post’s Tom Collins

 

Best Of The Rest: Magical came close, but never really looked as if she was going to seriously threaten Enable, whilst Regal Reality, who once again misbehaved in the preliminaries, was a very creditable third under Kerrin McEvoy. Magical will be given a break and won’t be far away at the top level, and Regal Reality could also be seen in G1 company again next time.

Danceteria ran a cute race to hoover up plenty of cash in a staying-on fourth, and more Group prizes probably await. Mustashry was disappointing again and might need a break, whilst Telecaster was once again well beaten and there are some doubts about him now, though he too may need freshening up. Hunting Horn did his usual good job as the trailblazer.

Zabeel Prince looked as if he was going to be involved before being denied a run, and then faded disappointingly to be last. A return to France could be an option for Roger Varian’s charge.

 

  1. RIP John McCririck (1940-2019)

Racing saw its heroine shine, but lost a man who, to many, was a hero of the betting ring this week as John McCririck passed away on Friday.

The news brought out a huge wave of tributes for a broadcaster who was famous both inside and outside of racing, and with good reason. It is worth starting out with this brilliant tribute from Brough Scott.

https://twitter.com/TracksideJay/status/1147133642520649730

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https://twitter.com/goddamnpal/status/1147081489290604544

 

The best of them, however, might well have been Alistair Down’s obituary in the Racing Post, and Chris Cook's splendid explanation of the difference between people's view of his demeanour and his incredible journalistic skills:

  1. Coral-Eclipsed?

You know the drill. It’s a big Saturday with a Group 1 leading the card. Frankie Dettori has fancied rides. At least one of them is favourite. And people are doing the multiples.

It happened at Ascot, it happens every weekend, and it happened again on Saturday when he lined up with a fine book of mounts for Coral-Eclipse day.

Coral – for whom this is the biggest PR day of the year – made the call to accept multiple bets on Dettori – but only offered odds at starting price (SP) on his mounts in races five and six to punters seeking five-folds and six-folds. This, coming after bet365 and Sky Bet refused certain multiples featuring Dettori's rides, of course, led to be plenty of discussions. Firstly, after the dust has settled, here's James Knight of Coral:

And the views of others:

In The End: Dettori ended up with a treble after wins for Mojito (4-1), Enable (4-6) and Falcon Eight (10-11). 

The Social Discourse View: Betting nowdays is a game all about choice. Whilst Coral took defensive action – and remember how close they were, along with the industry, to being knocked for six at Royal Ascot - others offered a full service. Let the free market decide?

 

  1. Too Darn Hot

Once upon a time, there was a champion two-year-old. He went to his three-year-old season. Pretty soon, he came upon a programme. He knocked and went right into the season.

On the programme, there were three races. Too Darn Hot was keen. He went for the Dante, after an interrupted preparation.

"This comeback came at the wrong time!", his trainer exclaimed.

Nine days later he went to Ireland for the 2000 Guineas there, and finished second.

"This came too soon", his trainer confessed.

So, he went to Ascot and came to win the St James’s Palace Stakes. He came to win, but ended up third.

"This ground is too soft," his trainer said.

So, he went to the next three-year-old Group 1 on offer, this time in France.

"Ahhh, this track and trip is just right," he said happily as his horse waltzed away the Prix Jean Prat.

 

https://twitter.com/RadioEmmet/status/1147933656075423746

Now that is stretching things a bit – and perhaps getting this wonderful website in trouble with the great Robert Southey (look him up) but he also did make short work of his rivals in the Jean Prat, relishing a decent surface, strong pace, and the seven-furlong trip. He beat the rapidly progressive Space Blues, whilst in third, making it a 1-2-3 for the UK, was Fox Champion.

 

From The Horse’s Mouth:

"We saw the real Too Darn Hot today. This is where we are starting our season, we've got a long year ahead." – Lady Lloyd Webber, owner of Too Darn Hot, speaking to the Racing Post’s Scott Burton

 

"His proper distance is 1,400 [metres] up to an easy mile and we'll play to his strengths rather than stupidly playing to his weaknesses. He's not a stamina horse, he's built like a sprinter. I probably should have been running him in the July Cup next week, I've probably got it wrong again." – John Gosden, trainer of Too Darn Hot, also speaking to Scott Burton

"We got in a nice slipstream behind Too Darn Hot and then tried to pick him up late on but he just quickened away from us. He kept galloping and I'm really chuffed with him. He could even come back a furlong because he does travel very well. He is always the last to come off the bridle but he gets the seven very well and a race like the Foret would be perfect for him." – James Doyle, trainer of Space Blues, also speaking to Scott Burton

The Raiders: Far Above landed the Prix Kistena for James Tate under an excellent ride from PJ McDonald, making it yet another group prize that British trainers have landed this summer. The money’s there and for the taking…

  1. A Class Act...

Best wishes go out to the ace Sea Of Class, who has had her career ended by a life-threatening bout of colic. William Haggas’s brilliant daughter of Sea The Stars was one of the highlights of the flat season last year, taking the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks in tremendous style before finishing an extremely close second when almost running down Enable down the Longchamp finish.

https://twitter.com/hoadie77/status/1147935762266169350

https://twitter.com/HattieLFuller/status/1147917109634187269

 

Hopefully, she can beat this awful situation, and give us all something to cheer after a major blow to the likely quality of many fillies' Group 1’s this season, and also the Arc.

    6. Elsewhere....

  • Aidan O’Brien pencilled in Derby winners Anthony Van Dyck and Sovereign are set to represent Aidan O'Brien in the King George at Ascot later this month, and Japan, originally set for Ascot, will instead contest the Grand Prix de Paris next weekend

 

  • Ennbihaar gave John Gosden a record eighth victory in the bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock

 

  • Falcon Eight took the Coral Marathon for Dermot Weld after a thrilling duel with Ryan Moore and Mekong on the Eclipse card
  • Winless in her three starts since making a winning debut at Yarmouth in September, William Haggas’ Hidden Message set the record straight in the Coral Distaff, fighting hard to beat Encapsulation by three-quarters of a length

That's all for this week. Until next time...

- WK

Monday Musings: Too Darn Confusing

The Temple Stakes at Haydock, like all the races on next Saturday’s card sponsored by Armstrong Aggregates and Amix Concrete, the Bolton-based businesses run by David and Emma Armstrong, is building up to being a very warm affair, writes Tony Stafford.

Yesterday Charlie Hills revealed that last year’s winner Battaash will begin his 2019 campaign, aimed in the short-term to the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, in the Haydock race. Last year he shrugged off a 5lb penalty, earned with his four-length demolition of Martha in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp the previous October at its temporary home of Chantilly while Longchamp was gaining some new stands and an extra two syllables turning it as if by magic to Parislongchamp. Do even the French bother to call it that?

Penalties, 3lb for a Group2, 5lb for a Group 1, only kick in from August 31 last year. Battaash escapes the extra burden this time as his final win as a four-year-old came in the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood on August 3 where Take Cover respectfully followed him home, four lengths back.

His later odds-on fourth in the Nunthorpe to Alpha Delphini (40-1) and Mabs Cross and then fourth again as an 11-10 shot behind Mabs Cross in a bunched finish to the Abbaye, betrayed recurring hints of temperament issues which Charlie seems to believe he has overcome.

Apart from Blue Point, freshening up after dominating the massive sprint pots during Dubai’s Carnival over the winter, and also the conqueror of Battaash and Mabs Cross in last year’s King’s Stand, we can expect a field chock-full of potential King’s Stand contenders.

Mabs Cross, winner of half her 14 races in the Armstrong red and white colours which mimic the livery of their lorries and concrete mixers travelling around the country, particularly in the north-west, will be there as a standard-bearer once again.

Last year carrying 9st 1lb she stayed on strongly into fourth behind Battaash (9st 9lb), Washington DC (9st 4lb) and now a stallion with Terry Holdcraft, and Kachy (9st 4lb), a minor co-star in the Haydock race for the past three years but once again this winter the star of all-weather sprinting.

In 14 starts, Mabs Cross has won seven times and not since her debut has she ever been beaten more than two lengths in any of her other six appearances. She was two lengths back, as ever finishing fast in the 2018 King’s Stand and was a paper-thin second in the Nunthorpe, actually looking for all-the-world on the play-back that she’d won.

Earlier this month she repeated her 2018 Palace House Stakes victory, defying a 7lb penalty for the Longchamp win. This suggested, on her return, that she is continuing to improve as a five-year-old. What is not in question is that finishing burst, exhibited in every race. Whether she will be up to conceding 2lb to Battaash rather than, as last year, receiving 8lb and not being quite good enough that time will be the issue for the Michael Dods-trained filly.

Saturday’s Haydock card is the third sponsored by the Armstrongs Group. Up to 2016, when Profitable won the race for Alan Spence from another Dods-trained superstar filly in Mecca’s Angel, the Temple Stakes was the feature on the first of two Haydock late-May cards on successive Saturdays.

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Now there is only a single May Saturday with the latter date moving to early June and run this year the week after the Derby on June 8. The Pinnacle Stakes and John O’Gaunt, both Group 3, are now part of the June date, but the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes for three-year-olds over six furlongs has been added to this weekend’s card which also features the £80,000 added Amix Silver Bowl.

The Group 2 sprint has been a wonderful race for Spence. In Profitable’s year, it was the middle leg of a Palace House/Temple/King’s Stand hat-trick which brought a multi-million pound deal with Godolphin. Profitable is now a stallion with Darley Stud.

The following May, Alan’s filly Priceless, like Profitable trained by Clive Cox, beat off very strong opposition to win the Temple Stakes. Previous Palace House/King’s Stand winner Goldream, trained by Robert Cowell, was second ahead of Alpha Delphini, Final Venture (second at Naas yesterday), Kachy, Washington DC and Take Cover.

I saw Alan at Newbury on Saturday. He tells me he recently went to see his filly foal by Dubawi out of Priceless and is looking forward to the imminent arrival of a full-sibling. Profitable, Priceless – but Alan even YOU don’t always get what you wish for. He may even have to accept second best for Chelsea against Arsenal (in the Mabs Cross red) in the Europa Cup Final.

*

The wait for a decision on whether Sir Dragonet or Telecaster or both will be supplemented for the Investec Derby seems certain to be drawn out until next Monday, the date when the requisite £85,000 must be paid, five days before the great race.

On Sunday at Naas Aidan O’Brien, in between winning four races, put forward the possibility of instead supplementing the unbeaten colt to the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. He has the significantly-backed pair of Broome and Anthony van Dyck to call on as well as Japan and Circus Maximus (and maybe others) at Epsom, so Sir Dragonet might not be needed.

Hughie Morrison and the Weinfeld family have no other colt to challenge for the Derby if the temptation to run Telecaster is resisted, although they do have the six-length Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Anapurna as a strong possibility for next week’s fillies’ Classic.

On my way to York on Thursday with Harry and Alan, the car featured a stream of calls to the former stressing that the Dante “was Too Darn Hot’s Derby” and that “Frankie says he’s unbeatable”, coming in from different people, but possibly, in the way of racing, emanating, via Chinese Whispers, from a single original source.

Again in the way of racing, the reaction to a first-ever defeat of the champion 2018 juvenile, was that “he didn’t stay” or “he wasn’t ready”. Maybe it was just a case of “he didn’t win”.

John Gosden reckoned he had been “too free” in the early part of the race, while various observers referred to a “muddling pace”. From my vantage point, I thought that the pace set by Too Darn Hot’s stable-companion Turgenev was anything but “muddling” and that while it was only Telecaster that went with him, the rest following five lengths or so behind, that horse as his trainer asserts “raced even more freely than Too Darn Hot”.

The favourite wasn’t ridden as though he was too under-cooked for the comeback, for all the fact that he’d missed important work in the build up to the 2,000 Guineas, Frankie being at least if not more vigorous than Oisin Murphy on the winner.

After looking sure to prevail, he was seen off late by Telecaster. What might be worth remembering is that this was the first time the Morrison colt had been asked to win in a contested finish. On debut behind Bangkok at Doncaster, he was looked after in the last furlong by Charlie Bennett but still put impressive distance between himself and the rest.

At Windsor, Murphy sent him into an immediate lead and he trounced 15 other maidens without coming off the bridle. York was his first proper examination. He obviously had a race-fitness edge over Too Darn Hot, but nothing like the experience drawn on from an unbeaten two-year-old campaign.

Further evidence that maybe Too Darn Hot was not too darn exhausted but simply bettered on the day by a superior animal came as the cameras stayed on the front two as they went away from the winning line.

Both Murphy and Dettori initially allowed their mounts to continue to roll along, but round the bend they both began to ask them to ease down. The camera stayed on Telecaster the entire time, briefly leaving Too Darn Hot. A few seconds later he came back into the frame, with the sight of Dettori having almost to strangle him to stop him, at which point the coverage returned to a recording of the finish.

At the time of the departure from the pulling-up coverage, I noted a 36-second interval after they had passed the post. I cannot believe that a horse that lost because of not staying, would take that long to pull up. Usually they would be all too happy to obey instructions and get a much-needed rest.

My conclusion is that Too Darn Hot was beaten by a bit of a freak. The rest of the field was four lengths and more behind. If Telecaster hadn’t been there, Too Darn Hot would have beaten Surfman by four lengths and been odds-on for the Derby. I doubt he’d have been going back to a mile in the St James’s Palace in that case!

Talk of a muddling pace would suggest horses were falling all over each other. Here soon after the turn for home all the rest after the front two were being ridden with various degrees of energy. Telecaster was still on the bridle until being asked to pass the pacesetter. In fact he took a while to realise what to do by which time the favourite was on his inside having quickly cut back the deficit.

He saw him off too and my belief is wherever he runs, be it Epsom or The Curragh, he’ll do some more seeing off. It certainly won’t hurt if Sir Dragonet is not in the line-up wherever he goes.  We probably won’t know any more about either of them until after this periodical appears next week.