But Ian Heitman believes other Derby bets make more sense than Saxon Warrior
Ian Heitman picks out his juveniles to star next season
DONCASTER – RACING POST TROPHY MEETING
The final Group 1 of the year in the UK saw Aidan O’Brien break Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade 1 wins in a year when SAXON WARRIOR won the Racing Post Trophy under Ryan Moore at Doncaster on October 28th.
Having equalled the record on Champions Day at Ascot a week earlier,O’Brien saddled four runners at Doncaster,Saxon Warrior, THE PENTAGON, SEAHENGE and pacemaker COAT OF ARMS. Saxon Warrior was the 13/8 favourite to maintain his unbeaten record and provide O’Brien with an eighth win in the race. There was strong support for VERBAL DEXTERITY from the Jim Bolger yard who was backed into 5/2 second favouritism with ROARING LION also bidding to remain unbeaten at 8/1.
With a couple of pacemakers in the contest, there was a strong pace to the race with all barVerbal Dexterity travelling well. Saxon Warrior travelled very well and took the lead with two and a half furlongs left to go closely followed byVerbal Dexterity who despite not going well in the early part of the race made progress and had every chance with two furlongs to go. Roaring Lion made good progress on the outside of the field and took the lead from Saxon Warrior over a furlong from the finish but hung left with 150 yards to go, SaxonWarrior kept on well under Moore to regain the lead with 50 yards to go,beating Roaring Lion by a neck with The Pentagon running on well to be third but never challenging with Verbal Dexterity in fourth.
SaxonWarrior became the first Group 1 winner in the UK for his Japanese based sire Deep Impact who has sired plenty of top class runners in Japan (3 Japan Cup winners) and he was promoted to joint favourite for the 2000 Guineas and shortened further as the ante-post favourite for the Derby. Despite Deep Impact being a stamina influence, Saxon Warrior’s dam, Maybe, failed to win over further than 7f (5th in the Oaks) and whilst he will no doubt be campaigned with the Derby in mind, the 2000 Guineas might be Saxon Warrior’s best chance of a classic win.The Pentagon is sure to stay the Derby trip based on his pedigree and the 10/1 available about him winning the Derby is much more attractive than the 5/1 about Saxon Warrior.
Roaring Lion has improved with each run but his tendency to hang left (did so at Kempton and Newmarket on his second and third starts) might have cost him a Group 1 victory. He is clearly very talented and will be aimed at the 2000 Guineas in May for which he is a 10/1 shot.
The Listed Doncaster Stakes over 6f which opened the Racing Post Trophy card saw SPEAK IN COLOURS beat MUTAAQEB by half a length. Speak In Colours travelled strongly for Andrea Atzeni and made good progress to take the lead with a furlong to go and he kept on well to give Marco Botti a second win in the race in the last three years. Mutaaqeb ran well on just his second start, keeping on well inside the last furlong and a half but unable to get to the winner.There should be plenty of improvement from both colts over the winter and they should develop into useful sprinters at three.
Sandwiched between the Doncaster Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy was a 7f nursery which saw an impressive win for AL HAJAR who recorded a very easy three and a half-length victory off a mark of 88. Despite the handicapper putting Al Hajar up 15lb,he is one to follow in 2018 when he will be competing in Listed/Group 3 races in the early part of the 2018 turf season.
The first day of the two-day Racing Post Trophy meeting saw three maiden races
for two-year-olds. MRS SIPPY impressed winning the one-mile fillies maiden, always going strongly for Jamie Spencer she was held up early on but made good progress through the field to lead a furlong and a half from the finish and only had to be pushed out to beat newcomer FICANAS by a length and a quarter with GUMRIYAH stepping up on her debut run to be third.Mrs Sippy will have no problem staying a mile and a quarter and should train on well from two to three.
BREATH CAUGHT was allowed an easy lead in the first division of the 7f maiden and he led all the way under Ryan Moore, easily accounting for his nine rivals to get off the mark at the third attempt. Moore had to work a lot harder in the second division winning aboard AMPLIFICATION who just got the better of EPIC FANTASY in a very tight finish.
NEWBURY – HORRIS HILL MEETING
As well as Doncaster on October 27th and 28th,Newbury staged a two-day meeting, their final flat meeting on the year. As at Doncaster,there were plenty of two-yearold races over the two days. MILITARY LAW got the better of BLUE MIST (had a 3lb penalty for a debut win) inside the last 100 yards to win the first division of a one mile novice race, the pair two lengths clear of the third. Military Law had finished well beaten on his debut but despite still showing signs of greenness in the paddock beforehand, he travelled well in the race and saw off the challenge of Blue Mist who ran very well in second.
Blue Mist’s trainer,Roger Charlton,went one place better in the second division when EXTRA ELUSIVE, a tall colt by Mastercraftsman, made a winning debut, comfortably beating FIRST ELEVEN by two and three-quarter lengths with MAPPED running well on his debut in third.KASBAAN who finished fourth,went out to his left from the outside stall and did well to get as close as he did, beaten four lengths. He moved well to the start, and should have learnt enough to figure on his second start.
PICTURE NO SOUND got off the mark at the fifth attempt for Richard Fahey in a 6.5f maiden when he beat GEORGE OF HEARTS, who raced keenly early on and didn’t quite see out the trip, by two and three-quarter lengths with SALUTE THE SOLDIER, well backed second favourite running a very promising first race for Clive Cox in third.
The second day began with the first division of a one-mile fillies novice in which RED STARLIGHT ran out a length winner from EXPENSIVE LIAISON with HAZARFIYA (1/2 sister to Derby winner Harzand) running well to be third. The second division,run later on the card,saw HIGHGARDEN make an impressive winning debut for John Gosden. Well supported,she was always travelling well for Frankie Dettori and took the lead a furlong and a half from the finish, easily
beating SPIRIT OF PIPPIN,who ran on well from the rear, by two and a quarter lengths. Highgarden should stay a mile and a quarter next year,and this daughter of Nathaniel should progress well over the winter.
The feature two-year-old race of the meeting, the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes over 7f saw NEBO win his first Group race from seven attempts, beating TANGLED by half a length with pace-setting MYTHICAL MAGIC in third.Despite there being only six runners, there were two groups of three with the three that raced in the centre of the track finishing first, second and third. Of the three who raced more towards the stands side, ARCHIE McKELLAR fared best, only beaten a length and three quarters.Nebo has been consistent in Group company all year,three seconds and a third, and dropping into Group 3 company for the first time he recorded a first win since his debut in May which was also at Newbury. He will have a Group 3 penalty in the early part of 2018 and might struggle to add to his two wins until the penalty no longer applies in the second half of the season.Archie McKellar has the scope to train on well and he should win a Group race next year.
13 fillies lined up for the Listed Radley Stakes over 7f with course and distance debut winner, MAGNOLIA SPRINGS the uneasy 100/30 favourite to maintain her unbeaten record. She never looked like winning,held up in midfield,she stayed on late but was never dangerous in sixth. HIKMAA benefitted from front running SHEPHERD MARKET hanging to the far rail inside the last furlong, taking the lead with 100 yards to go and winning by three quarters of a length with EXPRESSIY running on to be third. Hikmaa made it three wins from five starts and gave her trainer Ed Vaughan a first two-year-old Listed winner.Shepherd Market would have won if she had kept straight and should have little trouble winning a Listed race next year.
The 2018 Breeders’ Cup Meeting took place at Del Mar,California on November 3rd and 4th with 13 Grade 1 races over the two-day meeting, four of which were for two-year-olds. The two turf races for two-year-olds on the opening day had a strong British and Irish presence with five of the 14 runners in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and six of the 14 in the Juvenile Turf.
Having been forced to miss the Group 1 Fillies Mile,HAPPILY was the 9/4 favourite to add to her Group 1 tally having won the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere on her two previous starts. Her stablemate, SEPTEMBER, second in the Fillies Mile,and unbeaten RUSHING FALL were next in the market at 9/2. Despite having a low draw, Happily met plenty of trouble trapped against the rail around the tight Del Mar turf course and she was eased in the straight by Ryan Moore when her chance had gone, finishing last of the 14. September fared best of the foreign raiders,finishing strongly in the straight to be third but unable to challenge Rushing Fall who took the lead with a furlong to go and ran on strongly to win for Chad Brown with Best Performance in second. Of the other UK and Irish runners,NOWYOU’RE TALKING finished seventh, JULIET CAPULET raced prominently to the turn into the straight, fading to be 11th and MADELINE was never better than midfield and finished 13th.
There was a much more open look to the betting in the Juvenile Turf with Charlie Appleby’s MASAR sent off the 4/1 favourite ahead of Dewhurst runner-up MENDELSSOHN at 9/2.Ryan Moore used the low draw to his advantage this time aboard Mendelssohn, chasing the colt along to get a handy position as the field went into their first turn.Three of the European raiders were on the back foot right from the stalls, Masar, BECKFORD and RAJASINGHE were all slowly away and Beckford especially was given plenty to do from the rear.SANDS OF MALI had plenty of pace and took the field along until he was headed by Mendelssohn inside the last furlong. Mendelssohn kept on well to win by a length from Untamed Domain with Voting Control in third. Beckford finished well in the straight but never managed to challenge in fifth.Masar kept on well to be sixth but never managed to challenge, whilst JAMES GARFIELD and Rajasinghe were never involved in 10th and 11th respectively.
Mendelssohn gave Aidan O’Brien a 27th Group/Grade 1 win of the year, and he could be aimed at the Kentucky Derby in early May. He has much stronger credentials than the three runners O’Brien has had in the race in recent years,Master
Of Hounds the best placed finisher, 7th in 2011, but Mendelssohn is bred to be effective on the dirt and it will be interesting to see how he is campaigned in the early part of 2018.
The two races on the dirt for two-yearolds attracted just one overseas raider, dual Group 1 winner, U S NAVY FLAG in the Juvenile. He had the pace to lead until two furlongs to go and weakened out of contention finishing 10th of the 12 runners.Victory went to another Chad Brown trained runner, Good Magic who ran on strongly in the straight to break his maiden at the third attempt winning by four and a quarter lengths.
Caledonia Road won the Juvenile Fillies under Mike Smith,his 26th Breeders’Cup victory.
Earlier on the main Breeders’Cup card, was a 5f Listed turf race which saw DECLARATIONOFPEACE lead right on the line under a hands and heels ride by Ryan Moore from SOUND AND SILENCE with OUT OF THE FLAMES finishing well to be third and CORINTHIA KNIGHT in fourth. Declarationofpeace could easily progress into a contender for the Commonwealth Cup in 2018 although the O’Brien yard do have plenty of options with Sioux Nation and U S Navy Flag if they fail to stay a mile.
The final meetings at Newmarket on October 25th and November 3rd and 4th saw plenty of two-year-old races with the October meeting called two-year-old day despite an older horse fillies handicap being the feature race.
John Gosden took the first two fillies races with WILD IMPALA and TIMPANI, Wild Impala recording a much quicker time on ground that was very quick for the time of year. A couple in the second division looked well in the paddock beforehand, FORWARD THINKER, finished fifth, and DANCE ON THE DAY, finished seventh. Both have the scope to progress over the winter and should have little trouble winning races.
14 lined up for a 7f novice race which should produce plenty of winners. ELWAZIR was well supported to get off the mark at the second attempt and despite having the lead against the stands rail, he was headed with 150 yards to go and faded to be fourth. He was a little edgy in the paddock and can win races if he is calmer in the preliminaries.QAYSAR took the lead from Elwazir but he couldn’t hold off the challenge of KEYVICTORY who finished well having been forced to switch to the outside of the field to get a clear run and he took the lead close home to win by a length with MASAARR running well to be third (Masaarr easily won his second start at Lingfield on November 18th,a onemile novice by four and a half lengths). KeyVictory is a good-looking colt by New Approach and he should develop into a Group performer in 2018 for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin.
BRUNDTLAND became the second debut winner on the card for Appleby and his 20th of the year when he won the 1m 2f maiden,beating MAKING MIRACLES by a length.This wasn’t a very strong race but Brundtland kept on well and can progress into a useful handicapper.
The going was still good to firm for the first day of the two-day November meeting. MAGHAWEER got off the mark at the third attempt with an all the way win in the opening 7f novice,beating PLUNGER who
had been off the track since mid-April by a length.ENCRYPTION finished down the field in ninth but wasn’t given a hard time to qualify for a mark. Given 66 by the handicapper and gelded since this run, there are handicaps to be won over the next few months for Encryption.
ALWASIMYA was impressive winning the 6f Listed Bosra Sham Stakes for Simon Crisford, a second Listed winner in the space of a week for the yard who had DARK LIBERTY win in Hanover on October 29th.Alwsimaya drew clear from pace setting IZZY BIZU inside the last furlong to win by three lengths with a length covering the second to seventh placed horses.
Plenty of overnight and morning rain saw the ground change too good to soft for the final days racing at Newmarket in 2017. NAWASSI justified strong market support to win the first division of the 7f novice fillies race for John Gosden.Always going well in front for Jim Crowley she comfortably beat REVALUE who was carrying a penalty for her last time out win at Kempton. HATEEL ran on well to be third for William Haggas, whilst ROCOCO made up ground late on having missed the break. She will certainly know a lot more next time.
The second division saw another all the way winner, PERFECT THOUGHT getting off the mark at the sixth attempt, with WORTHWAITING running well in second for David Lanigan and CLASSIC CHARM in third for Dean Ivory. AGROTERA impressed in the paddock beforehand, but was never dangerous from the rear, finishing sixth.
HADITH followed up her impressive Nottingham win by winning the Listed Montrose Stakes over a mile, holding off the challenge of BARONESS inside the last furlong with AWESOMESUN running on well to be third.Hadith has plenty of scope to train on from two to three and should be figuring in an Oaks trial in the spring.
Kempton’s all-weather track has produced three track two-year-old track records in recent weeks. BOW STREET lowered the one mile time on November 7th when he beat PODEMOS who ran well from the front by two and three-quarter lengths with HIGHBROW running on well to be third in the second division of a novice race. The first division went to OCCUPY who overcame the widest draw to make an impressive winning debut, easily beating BLAME CULTURE by two lengths.
Having had Occupy win and Podemos run well 24 hours earlier, Ralph Beckett’s newcomers were well supported in both divisions of the novice race for fillies. CELIDH’S HOUSE kept on well to be third behind ESPADRILLE who put her previous racecourse experience to good use by leading all the way for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
CECCHINI broke smartly from her stall one draw to lead all the way in the second division and lowered the track record Bow Street had set a day earlier. She had too much for her 11 rivals and easily beat the well supported favourite, BUBBLE AND SQUEAK (third run in 21 days and looked light) by a length and a quarter. Bubble And Squeak ran well again when second eight days later behind FLORA SANDES at Chelmsford.
The final track record to be broken was in the 7f nursery when ELSAAKB got the better of LADY OF ARAN in a close finish and break his maiden at the sixth attempt.
The Beckett yard had been successful earlier in the day at Nottingham with another newcomer when KINAESTHESIA held off the challenge of QAWAMMES inside the last furlong in a slowly run second division of a mile maiden. The form received a boost when sixth placed CORELLI won at Wolverhampton on November 18th,getting the better of longtime leader Craving close home. MY LORD AND MASTER trained by William Haggas ran out a very impressive winner of the first division,leading all the way and drawing clear with two furlongs to go and eased down inside the last 100 yards he beat his stablemate YOUNG RASCAL by six lengths.
The final turf meeting of the year at Doncaster on November 11th began with an impressive debut winner for David Simcock when RAID beat Lady Willpower by two and a quarter lengths.
Nebo wins Horris Hill