Two year olds
Ian Heitman sees O’Brien bag four juvenile Group 1 wins as he chases Bobby Frankel’s record
Aidan O’Brien is closing in on Bobby Frankel’s record
Aidan O’Brien moved closer to breaking Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade 1 wins in a calendar year with six Group 1 victories in recent weeks, four coming from two-yearolds leaving him just one short of the record.
It seems just a matter of time before the record is broken and if he hasn’t managed to do on Champions Day at Ascot on October 21st, he will no doubt have a strong hand in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on October 28th and at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in California on November 3rd and 4th when there are 13 Grade 1 races spread over the two-day meeting.
NEWMARKET CAMBRIDGESHIRE MEETING
Churchill got the ball rolling in 2017 with victory in the 2000 Guineas in early May and his full-sister CLEMMIE became the 18th Group 1 winner of 2017 when she landed the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 30th, the third day of the Cambridgeshire meeting.
Before looking at day three, there were Group races for two-year-olds on the first two days of the meeting with the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes the feature two-year-old race on the opening day. ELARQAM justified strong market support to maintain his unbeaten record with a comfortable two and a quarter length victory from TIP TWO WIN who proved his Doncaster Listed win wasn’t a fluke with a good run to be second. Elarqam is a good-looking colt with a top-class pedigree and he has the scope to progress well over the winter and develop into a Group 1 performer at three and could be good value at 16/1 for the 2000 Guineas given what happened in the Dewhurst a couple of weeks later.
The Group Two Rockfel Stakes was the one of the feature races on the second day with NYALETI looking to go one better than her second in the May Hill Stakes on her previous start and she was the 2/1 favourite to do so. LIGHTNING QUICK who had made a promising winning debut at Leopardstown 20 days earlier, didn’t impress in the paddock, only medium sized, was second favourite at 4/1 with GAVOTA (very fit) and BUTTERSCOTCH at 5/1.There wasn’t much pace early on, Frankie Dettori aboard JULIET CAPULET took the lead with five furlongs to go and she stayed on well inside the last furlong, holding off the late challenge from Nyaleti to win by a head with Gavota running on from the rear but having little chance in third. This was John Gosden’s second win in the race, his only previous winner, Lahan in 1999 went on to win the 1000 Guineas and whilst this was a good performance from Juliet Capulet it would be a surprise if she were to go to land the 1000 Guineas.
Day three of the Cambridgeshire meeting got underway with the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes and with Aidan O’Brien’s runners arriving late at the course, it was no surprise to see pre-race favourite NELSON get warm in the paddock. He faced four rivals with Listed winner, MILDENBERGER, and unbeaten ROARING LION his main market opposition. Whereas Nelson had had an easy lead for his two previous wins, he was taken on by Mildenberger and the pair set a good pace with Roaring Lion racing close up in third.As the pace increased it was Roaring Lion who had the best change of pace and he took the lead a furlong and a half from the finish and held on well from Nelson who ran on strongly inside the last 100 but went down by a neck with Mildenberger in third. Roaring Lion was the second Group winner in two days for John Gosden and a trip to the Breeders’ Cup for the Juvenile Turf could be Roaring Lion’s next race, a race Gosden won in 2008 and 2009. Nelson is sure to do better as a three-yearold and will no doubt figure in a Derby trial in the spring.
Facing 10 rivals, including Lowther winner THREADING and Albany winner DIFFERENT LEAGUE, Clemmie was sent off the 15/8 favourite for the Cheveley Park Stakes. Racing up with the pace set by TREASURING, Clemmie travelled well for Ryan Moore and took the lead with two furlongs to go but was strongly pressed by Different League, who travelled a lot better here than she had when third in the Prix Morny on her previous start, and the pair had the race between them inside the last furlong with Clemmie running on strongly inside the last 100 yards to win by a length and three quarters with a length and a half to MADELINE in third. Threading never managed to land a blow and was seventh.
Clemmie has the same physique as her brother, strong and well-made and she was shortened to a best priced 7/2 favourite for the 2018 1000 Guineas. A trip to the Breeders’ Cup for the Juvenile Fillies Turf could be on the agenda for Clemmie
where granted a good draw she ought to go well. Even if she does come up short in the Breeders’ Cup, she will still be a leading contender for the 1000 Guineas. Different League impressed again in the paddock beforehand (had done so at Royal Ascot), a big filly by Dabirsim, she is available at 25/1 for the 1000 Guineas which represents good each way value.
Clemmie was the only O’Brien runner in the Cheveley Park but he saddled four of the 12 runners in the Middle Park Stakes 35 minutes later. SIOUX NATION, the mount of Ryan Moore, was the shortest of his quartet at 11/2 third favourite. BECKFORD, who was beaten over 7f on his previous start was the 7/2 favourite to get back to winning ways over 6f with Gimcrack winner, SANDS OF MALI splitting the pair at 9/2. This year’s renewal of the Middle Park looked to be one of the best in recent years with Group 1 winner UNFORTUNATELY, Coventry winner RAJASINGHE and July Stakes winner CARDSHARP also in the line-up. Despite having a good look to it before hand, the market leaders failed to live up to expectations with Beckford unable to challenge in fifth, Sioux Nation missing the break and never getting too involved in sixth and Sands Of Mali running poorly, last of the 12 runners. The finish was dominated by two of the O’Brien runners, U S NAVY FLAG and FLEET REVIEW who pulled clear of their rivals, with U S Navy Flag staying on best of all to win by half a length with a two and a half-length break to Cardsharp who finished third for the third consecutive race. Rajasinghe never figured, unable to go the pace early on and never managed to challenge, 11th of the 12 runners.
ARC DE TRIOMPHE DAY
Two Group 1 races for two-year-olds got Arc de Triomphe day underway at Chantilly on October 1st. The Prix Marcel Boussac saw seven fillies line-up with little to choose between the market principles, locally trained POLYDREAM just preferred in the betting at 11/8 to Aidan O’Brien’s MAGICAL at 6/4. WILD ILLUSION was one of the two 25/1 outsiders but she proved her odds to be completely wrong as she ran out a comfortable winner. Well placed close to the pace by James Doyle, she was always going nicely and took the lead with two furlongs to go and stayed on well inside the last furlong to win by a length and a half with Polydream running on but never managing to challenge. Magical didn’t have the clearest run against the rail in the straight but was only one paced when the gaps did appear inside the last furlong.
Wild Illusion provided Charlie Appleby with a second win in the race following Wuheida 12 months earlier. She should progress well over the winter and is a top priced 20/1 for the 1000 Guineas.
The Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere attracted only six runners with HAPPILY bidding to become the first filly to win the race since
1985 and Aidan O’Brien’s first winner of the race since 2006.In receipt of 4lb from her five male rivals, Happily was the 6/5 favourite and there would have been plenty of anxious moments for her supporters in the straight as she took a long time to get to the front, taking the lead from MASAR inside the last 75 yards and stayed on well to win by a length and a quarter from OLMEDO who got the better of Masar for second close home. Happily was the 22nd Group 1 winner of the year for O’Brien, his 23rd followed soon after when Rhododendron bounced back to form beating stable mate Hydrangea in the Prix de l’Opera.
FUTURE CHAMPIONS FESTIVAL
Happily was due to face Magical and September for the third time and second in Group 1 company, in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket on October 13th, the first day of the two-day Future Champions Festival, but was withdrawn in the morning due to a temperature. Ryan Moore switched to ride Magical and she replaced Happily as favourite for the race with September next best and French raider EFAADAH attract- ing good support to be 11/2 third favourite. Nyaleti and MAGIC LILY (impressive winner of a course and distance maiden 20 days earlier) were both available at 8/1. Karl Burke, who has enjoyed a fantastic year with his two-yearolds saddled May Hill winner LAURENS and Naas winner ELLTHEA. Despite getting a little warm beforehand, Laurens took the field along and had most of her rivals under pressure with two furlongs to go. Racing with the stands rail to help, she stayed on well under PJ McDonald and just held off the late challenge of September who finished very strongly under Seamie Heffernan inside the last 100 yards to win by a nose with Magic Lily running well to be third and Magical, who had every chance, in fourth.
The Fillies’ Mile was the most valuable two-year-old race to be run in Europe and it provided Laurens owner John Dance and jockey PJ McDonald with first Group 1 successes and a second two-year-old Group 1 of the year for Karl Burke. Laurens has the scope to train on well over the winter and is a best priced 20/1 for the 1000 Guineas, however she may go for the French equivalent due to having been bred in France and qualifying for lucrative French premiums.
September was more suited to the faster ground than she had encountered on her two previous starts at the Curragh and she can win a Group 1 race at three when the ground is on the quick side. Magic Lily is the first foal of Oaks winner Dancing Rain and she could easily progress into an Oaks contender in the spring. Magical was a bit of disappointment for the second successive race but she has the scope to come back stronger at as three-year-old.
Day one of the Future Champions Festival began with the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes over 5f. ABEL HANDY got the better of favourite SOUND AND SILENCE by a neck,t he pair dominating throughout with MOKAATIL keeping on for third having pulled hard in the early part of the race. Abel Handy was the first Group winner for his trainer Declan Carroll who had lost his promising two-year-old, Santry, to injury in August.
The Group 2 Oh So Sharp Stakes for fillies over 7f attracted a field of 14 with Aidan O’Brien’s once raced I CAN FLY the
well supported 2/1 favourite having comfortably won at Dundalk a fortnight earlier. GAVOTA, who had finished well in the Rockfel also a fortnight earlier, was the 7/2 second favourite and she looked much better in the paddock beforehand on this occasion than she did before the Rockfel. Dark Rose Angel who had finished second to Laurens in the May Hill was 11/2 but she ran poorly this time, weakening out of contention with two furlongs to go and finishing 12th. The field spilt into two groups with the centre group led by Butterscotch having the advantage. Gavota, who was ridden much closer to the pace here than in the Rockfel, took the lead a furlong and a half from the finish with I Can Fly making good progress form the rear to have every chance a furlong from the line. Gavota looked like hanging on but ALTYN ORDA, who got rid of Andrea Atzeni on the way to the start, finished strongly against the stands rail and took the lead close home to win by a neck with I Can Fly a length away in third.
This was Alytn Orda’s first win in three starts, she had finished second to BYE BYE BABY in a maiden at Newmarket on September 30th (Bye Bye Baby easily won a Listed race on her next start at Naas) and gave Roger Varian a first two-year-old Group winner since 2014.Whether Altyn Orda was favoured by racing against the stands rail (plenty of winners benefitted from having the rail to run against over the two-day meeting) time will tell, but she clearly has plenty of ability.
The fourth two-year-old race on the card saw Sir Michael Stoute’s VERACIOUS get off the mark at the second attempt comfortably beating newcomer WINTER LIGHTNING by four lengths. Veracious has a good pedigree, her dam was Group 1 placed and has already had a Group 2 winner in Mutakayyef and Veracious ought to be figuring in Group races in 2018.
The Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes is the leading two-year-old race for colts in Britain and this year’s renewal featured the ante-post favourite for the 2000 Guineas EXPERT EYE amongst a field of nine. Looking in good shape for his first start since winning at Goodwood in August, Expert Eye was sent off the 4/7 favourite with Middle Park winner U S NAVY FLAG one of four runners for Aidan O’Brien next best at 5/1 and Newbury novice winner EMARAATY at 6/1. Expert Eye ran too bad to be true, pulling hard close to the pace set by U S Navy Flag and under pressure over two furlongs from the finish before weakening out of contention, trailing home last. U S Navy Flag was given a fine ride by Ryan Moore on his first start over 7f, getting to the favoured stands rail, he stayed on strongly to beat MENDELSSOHN, who bounced back to form after a disappointing run in the Champagne Stakes, by two and half lengths breaking the two-year-old track record that had stood since 2008 with SEAHENGE, who missed the break and never managed to get too involved, running on to be third with THREE AND FOURPENCE providing O’Brien with the first four home and edging him one step closer to Bobby Frankel’s Group 1 record. U S Navy Flag was the first horse since Diesis in 1982 to complete the Middle Park/Dewhurst double and gave the O’Brien/Moore combination their third consecutive win in the race. US Navy Flag has proved to be very tough and consistent two-year-old and he was promoted to joint favourite for the 2000 Guineas with his stable mate Gustav Klimt whilst Expert Eye who lost shoe in the race was pushed out to 10/1. Emaraaty found the step up to Group 1 company too much on just his third start finishing eighth but there will be other days for him next year.
Dewhurst day got off the perfect start for O’Brien and Moore when KEW GARDENS comfortably won the Listed Zetland Stakes by three and a quarter lengths from DEE EX BEE breaking the two-yearold track record Coronet had set winning this race 12 months earlier.Kew Gardens is a best priced 33/1 for the Derby and will no doubt have a couple of runs in trials in the spring.
The Group 3 Autumn Stakes over a mile saw GHAIYYATH follow up his impressive maiden win at the track 16 days earlier when he got the better of front running DREAM TODAY entering the final furlong and stayed on well to win by a length and three quarters with favourite PURSER running on to be third but never challenging. Ghaiyyath is big strong colt by Dubawi who should progress well over the winter and develop into a leading contender for the Derby, available at 25/1.
Having been out of luck with Dream Today, Mark Johnston took the nursery with joint top weight RUFUS KING who travelled well in the lead against the stands rail but had to work hard inside the last 150 yards to hold off PORTH SWTAN winning by half a length.
George Scott won his first British Group race when JAMES GARFIELD ran out a comfortable winner of the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury beating INVINICBLE ARMY by three quarters of a length. A trip to the Breeders’ Cup is on the cards for James Garfield who should be suited by the tight turns of Del Mar.
Redcar’s feature two-year-old race of the year, the Listed Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy, went to 4/1 favourite DARKANNA,
fifth in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes on her previous start, who beat FLYING SPARKLE by half a length with FOXTROT LADY running well to be third. This was the first win in the race for Richard Fahey who saddled eight of the 23 runners in this year’s renewal.
Harry Dunlop has a 26% strike rate with runners he sends to France and FIGHTING IRISH became the eighth winner the yard has had in France since 2012 when he landed the valuable Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte on October 13th. Only three horses lined up for a first prize in excess of £92,000 with Fighting Irish keeping on strongly to beat fellow British raider Nebo by a head.
York’s final race day of 2017 had the Listed Rockingham Stakes over 6f as the feature two-year-old race on the card. SHABAABY, who had impressed when winning at Doncaster on his previous start, was the even money favourite. He had every chance racing close to the pace but couldn’t quicken inside the last furlong and was beaten two and a quarter lengths by REBEL ASSAULT who raced prominently throughout and got the better of IT DON’T COME EASY with STAXTON running on inside the last furlong to be third.
Jimmy Fortune brought his career to an end in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on October 7th with a third placed finish aboard Nathra for his former boss John Gosden. His final winner was also for Gosden aboard FENNAAN at Newbury on September 23rd when he beat SAM GOLD in the first division of a 7f novice (Emaraaty won the other division). Fennaan is a tall leggy colt who didn’t impress in the paddock but he has plenty of ability and should go on from this next year. EPAULEMENT trained by Tom Dascombe has plenty of scope and finished fifth and will do better next time.
The maiden Ghaiyyath won at Newmarket on September 28th saw another promising Tom Dascombe trained horse run well, PROSCHEMA finished second, no chance with the winner but stayed on well. He is a big colt by Declaration Of War and, with a winter behind him, will be a smart three-year-old.
THRAVE got off the mark at the second attempt at Newmarket on September 29th, beating ELWAZIR, a good-looking colt by Frankel trained by Owen Burrows by a length and three quarters. There was promise in fifth from RECOLLECT who looked as if the run was needed beforehand. He is sure to progress for Luca Cumani on his next start.
Richard Hughes hasn’t trained a Listed or Group winner as yet but GLENDEVON could be the horse to provide the former champion jockey with a first impressively winning his second start at Kempton on October 11th. Edgy in the paddock beforehand, he led all the way under Jamie Spencer and easily accounted for his 11 rivals by upwards of five lengths running on strongly inside the last furlong and a half.
Madeline (in yellow)