Paul looks at this month’s ma­jor races

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Our tip­ping guru picks his fan­cies for the month’s big races

An im­pres­sive win­ner of the Gor­don Stakes at Glo­ri­ous Good­wood, CRYS­TAL OCEAN can re­ward Sir Michael Stoute’s pa­tient approach by pro­vid­ing the trainer with a sec­ond St Leger, nine years on from Con­duit’s suc­cess.

The Sea The Stars colt had pro­gressed steadily from win­ning a Not­ting­ham maiden in April, fin­ish­ing third be­hind Per­mian in both the Dante atYork and the King Ed­ward VII Stakes at Royal As­cot. Things didn’t go to plan that day – caught wide and rushed up to chal­lenge on the long sweep­ing bend for home – and he re­versed form with the run­ner-up when stay­ing on strongly to score with plenty in hand at Good­wood.

He proved that day that soft ground isn’t a prob­lem and, though his stamina isn’t guar­an­teed, he looked bet­ter the fur­ther he went last time. Hav­ing skipped the Derby and been brought along steadily by Stoute,Crys­tal Ocean re­mains open to fur­ther pro­gres­sion.

This year’s St Leger looks a strong re­newal, with joint mar­ket-leader (at the time of writ­ing) Capri ex­pected to line up in the GreatVoltigeur – where he will take on Cracks­man – while this fea­ture goes to press. The York con­test is sure to prove a piv­otal trial and the Ir­ish Derby win­ner is another who ought to have lit­tle prob­lem with the 1m6f trip. The grey was rid­den pos­i­tively at the Cur­ragh last time – hav­ing been caught wide through­out in the Ep­som equiv­a­lent – and a bold show­ing at York is likely to see him head the mar­ket for this.

One that has stamina as­sured is the rapidly-im­prov­ing De­foe who rates a se­ri­ous dan­ger and looks the each-way an­gle in the race (spon­sors Wil­liam Hill best priced 9/1 in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of his Ge­of­frey Freer suc­cess). Roger Var­ian’s Dalakhani colt be­gan the sea­son by win­ning hand­i­caps at New­bury (the valu­able Lon­don Gold Cup) and York, be­fore beat­ing sub­se­quent Rose Of Lan­caster win­ner Frankuus in the Listed Glas­gow Stakes at Hamil­ton. He stepped for­ward again when scor­ing over 1m5½f at New­bury – again rel­ish­ing soft ground – where he trav­elled like a dream for the ma­jor­ity of the race.

Clearly on a sharp up­ward curve, he is very much one to take se­ri­ously, espe­cially if the ground is gen­uinely soft.Out of a Piv­otal mare, he is un­beaten in three starts on soft ground and looks a most pro­gres­sive young stayer.

Another who han­dles test­ing ground and has al­ready proven him­self in Group com­pany against his elders is Good­wood Cup win­ner Stradi­var­ius who also be­gan the sea­son in hand­i­cap com­pany. He rel­ished the step up to this sort of trip when win­ning the Queen’s Vase at Royal As­cot and stayed on stoutly to beat Big Orange last time, al­beit in re­ceipt of 13lb.

John Gos­den, who first took this with Shan­tou back in 1996,also won it on three oc­ca­sions in the space of five years be­tween 2007 and 2011 with Lu­carno, Arc­tic Cos­mos and Masked Marvel who rep­re­sented the same con­nec­tions as Stradi­var­ius. He is another to hold solid claims in what could well be a crack­ing con­test,should the main four pro­tag­o­nists make it to the Town Moor.


The week be­fore the fi­nal Clas­sic of the sea­son,Hay­dock stages the 32 Red Sprint Cup, for which Harry An­gel heads the ante-post mar­ket. Clive Cox’s three-yearold burst onto the sprint­ing scene with a pol­ished dis­play in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes over this course-and­dis­tance and, fol­low­ing his nar­row de­feat be­hind Car­avag­gio at Royal As­cot,he ran out an im­pres­sive win­ner of New­mar­ket’s July Cup.

Given that he won the Mill Reef on good-

to-soft ground at New­bury last Septem­ber, the ground won’t be too much of a con­cern for the Dark An­gel colt, even if the wet end to Au­gust con­tin­ues into ear­lySeptem­ber. Harry An­gel is another who looks on a sharp up­ward curve and this looks the ob­vi­ous race en route to As­cot for the Qipco Bri­tish Cham­pion Sprint.

Third in the July Cup – beaten 1¾ lengths – Brando has since won the Prix Mau­rice de Gheest over 6½f at Deauville and he rates the ob­vi­ous dan­ger. Again, soft ground (should it turn out to be on the easy side) isn’t a prob­lem for Kevin Ryan’s five-year-old and his sta­ble is in much bet­ter form now, than it was when he de­fied his big odds to hit the frame at New­mar­ket.In fact,the Piv­otal colt prefers a bit of juice in the ground and this also looks the ob­vi­ous race for him.

Another course-and-dis­tance win­ner – won a soft ground hand­i­cap at the Mersey­side venue in Septem­ber 2015 – he is 4lb bet­ter off at the weights with Harry An­gel and he rates a vi­able each­way al­ter­na­tive at the odds (11/2 as op­posed to the 6/4 about the mar­ket leader).


Over in Ire­land, Leop­ard­stown stages a crack­ing card on the same day, with su­per-filly Win­ter hold­ing entries in both the Ir­ish Cham­pion Stakes and the Ma­tron Stakes. Cur­rently as big as 13-2 for the for­mer, it would be ex­cit­ing to think that she could face the boys for the first time, hav­ing proven her stamina over the trip when win­ning the Nas­sau Stakes at Glo­ri­ous Good­wood.

At the time of writ­ing – on the eve of the Ebor meet­ing – it is hard to be too dog­matic about Bal­ly­doyle plans for the Ir­ish Cham­pion, given that both Churchill and Cliffs Of Mo­her are ex­pected to take their chance in the Jud­dmonte In­ter­na­tional. If ei­ther go close in that event, the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion would be to head to Leop­ard­stown, but if things don’t work out, it could be that Win­ter is given the goa­head.

In all like­li­hood,the high-class grey will stick to her own sex and drop back to a mile to con­test the Ma­tron.If she does,she will prove dif­fi­cult to beat and should com­plete the Group 1 five-timer. I would love to see her in the Ir­ish Cham­pion, how­ever, as she could eas­ily be up to the task.

I’ll be turn­ing my at­ten­tions to the jumps ac­tion for next month’s mag­a­zine – my Ten To Fol­low for the 2017-2018 Na­tional Hunt sea­son will be un­veiled – but one horse I want to keep on­side in the

One that has stamina as­sured is the rapidly-im­prov­ing De­foe who rates a se­ri­ous dan­ger and looks the each-way an­gle

clos­ing weeks/months of the Flat sea­son is the Karen McLintock-trained Dubawi Fifty, who has won both starts this term.

Af­ter mak­ing a be­lated win­ning reap­pear­ance at Ayr in late-July, the lightly-raced four-year-old fin­ished strongly to land a Not­ting­ham hand­i­cap re­cently, de­spite the slight drop in trip. Given the strong pace of the race and how he fin­ished, a fur­ther step up in dis­tance should be right up his street and he went straight to the top of likely types for the Ce­sare­witch at New­mar­ket dur­ing Oc­to­ber.

Given that Paul and Clare Rooney own him – pre­dom­i­nantly Na­tional Hunt based own­ers – Dubawi Fifty might well be one that could be sent hur­dling in the au­tumn, espe­cially given that he has en­joyed a rel­a­tively light cam­paign on the level.Should he go and win at New­mar­ket, con­nec­tions might be tempted to keep him for the bet­ter stay­ing races on the level next sea­son, but he looks to pos­sess plenty of size and he could eas­ily de­velop into a smart dual-pur­pose per­former in time.

On the same Not­ting­ham card, Sir Michael Stoute in­tro­duced a smart look­ing two-year-old, in the shape of the Ham­dan Al Mak­toum-owned Eqti­daar who wasn’t missed in the mar­ket and ran out a tak­ing 2½-length win­ner,with a fur­ther 3½ back to the third.

A half-brother to Mas­saat – run­ner-up in the 2015 De­whurst Stakes and the 2016 2,000 Guineas,and re­cently re­turned from in­jury to win the Hunger­ford Stakes – the In­vin­ci­ble Spirit colt looked a po­ten­tial Group-class ju­ve­nile and it will be in­ter- es­t­ing to see how deep his trainer opts to pitch him in next time. Con­sid­er­ing that the yard also have the hugely ex­cit­ing Ex­pert Eye to fac­tor in – he was im­pres­sive at New­bury on de­but and was just about the most im­pres­sive win­ner at Glo­ri­ous Good­wood when run­ning out a stunning win­ner of the Vin­tage Stakes – it could be that Stoute has an ex­cit­ing crop of twoyear-old colts on his hands. In­ci­den­tally, Ex­pert Eye has been handed entries in the Na­tional Stakes (Septem­ber 10), the Cham­pagne Stakes (Septem­ber 16) and the De­whurst Stakes (Oc­to­ber 14). He al­ready heads the bet­ting for next year’s 2,000 Guineas and it would be fas­ci­nat­ing to see him head to Ire­land to take on the pick of the O’Brien ju­ve­niles in the Na­tional Stakes.


Crys­tal Ocean


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