Ian Heitman was impressed by the last big juvenile race of the season
Ian Heitman is impressed by the last juvenile race of the season
Turf flat racing for 2018 finished at Doncaster on November 10 and, with four and a half months to wait before Doncaster plays host to the first turf meeting of 2019, the sixth All-Weather Championships will keep Flat fans going.
Before that, there was plenty of good racing in the last few weeks of the turf season with the final Group 1 of the year, the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes the main domestic two-yearold race.
This contest, formerly the Racing Post Trophy, seems to have taken on extra significance in the last few years, Saxon Warrior beat this year’s Horse of the Year, Roaring Lion, in 2017 and this year’s race, run at Doncaster on October 27 attracted a field of 11 with Aidan O’Brien saddling three, including the favourite MAGNA GRECIA. He was having his first start in Group 1 company having lost narrowly in Group 3 company at Newmarket on his previous start. TURGENEV, one of two in the race for John Gosden, was the second favourite on the back of a couple of easy wins in novice company with OF SPAIN, no match for champion twoyear-old Too Darn Hot on his previous start, at 11/2. Western Australia, one of the O’Brien trio, set a good pace and belied his odds of 50/1, still in the lead inside the last furlong, headed by Magna Grecia and Phoenix Of Spain with 100 yards to go, with Magna Grecia just prevailing by a head, the
pair getting close inside the last 75 yards with the stewards holding an enquiry into possible interference. The stewards allowed the result to stand and Magna Grecia gave Aidan O’Brien a ninth win in the race. A length and a quarter separated the first five with CIRCUS MAXIMUS in fourth and GREAT SCOT fifth. Neither of the Gosden pair, Turgenev or KICK ON could land a blow, Kick On faring best in sixth.
This race has seen winners go on to Classic glory in the following year but despite Magna Grecia having plenty of scope to progress over the winter, it is hard to see him being good enough to beat Too Darn Hot in the 2000 Guineas and the Derby trip might be beyond him. The Racing Post Rating of 114 was the lowest given to a winner of this race in the last 10 years, Saxon Warrior achieved a rating of 119 in 2017 whilst St Nicholas Abbey’s impressive win in 2009 resulted in the highest rating of 123.
The Listed Doncaster Stakes over 6f was the first of three two-year-old races on Vertem Futurity day and it saw an impressive performance from SAN DONATO who beat BARBILL by three quarters of a length, the pair pulling clear of BREATH OF AIR in third. San Donato raced keenly in the early part of the race in the rear but travelled strongly at halfway and made good progress with a couple of furlongs to go, taking the lead with half a furlong left to run and only had to be pushed out by Andrea Atzeni to win.
San Donato has the potential to be a smart sprinter in 2019 and will be aimed at the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in May. Barbill gave the form a boost and gained a deserved Listed win when he comfortably won the Prix Yacowlef at Chantilly on November 13 beating fellow English raider, ROCKIN ROY by two and a half lengths.
The second of the three races was a nursery over 7f where HAPPY POWER easily beat BEAT LE BON by three and a quarter lengths off a handicap mark of 83. The handicapper didn’t take too kindly to the ease of this win and raised Happy Power 10lb to 93.
The first day of Doncaster’s two-day meeting was highlighted by the debut performance of DANCING VEGA from the Ralph Beckett stable in the onemile fillies maiden. She travelled strongly throughout the race, taking the lead a furlong and a half from the finish and running on strongly to beat BLUE GARDENIA by four lengths. Whilst the time of the race was nothing special, Dancing Vega was barely off the bridle and she ought to be a Group performer in 2019. Blue Gardenia stepped up in grade to Listed company in the Montrose Stakes at Newmarket on November 3rd and gave Dancing Vega’s form a massive boost by getting up close to the finish to deny VIVID DIAMOND by a neck. Whilst this Listed race didn’t have a lot of depth, Vivid Diamond had broken the track record at Nottingham on
her previous start.
Newbury also staged a two-day meeting on October 26 and 27 with plenty of interesting two-year-old races. The meeting began with a debut win for THRILLA IN MANILA, the 15 winner of the year for Richard Spencer and the third winning newcomer. He stayed on well from the rear and got up close home to beat MONSIEUR NOIR by three quarters of a length with MONTATHAM running well on debut in third.
Andrew Balding won both divisions of the one-mile novice, GOOD BIRTHDAY got the better of a barging match with Roger Charlton’s newcomer QASARU inside the last 100 to win by a neck with pace-setting CURRENT OPTION running well in third, a further neck away, having gone off quickly in front. HIGH COMMISIONER travelled well close to the pace set by Current Option but he had nothing left inside the last furlong and finished sixth but will do better next time.
LANDA BEACH took the second division at 50/1 beating APPARATE, who ran well given he unseated Andrea Atzeni in the paddock beforehand, by a neck. FRANK KAFKA was very well supported in the market at 8/11 favourite, but he was disappointing, having every chance but only one paced inside the last furlong.
The second day of the meeting began with a novice fillies race over a mile and the good form of Roger Varian continued with NAUSHA making a winning debut from SPANISH ARIA with plenty of promise from Accidental Agent’s half-sister MADAME TANTZY in third. Spanish Aria went one place better at Chelmsford on November 15.
Having been out of luck with Spanish Aria in the first division, John Gosden went one place better in division two when MUCHLY put her experience to good use holding off the challenge of LADY ADELAIDE inside the last 100 yards to win by a neck, with four lengths back to the third MONOGAMY. Lady Adelaide won on her next start at Kempton on November 14th, just holding off the strong late challenge of newcomer AUDARYA to win by a nose.
LUXOR could have been called the winner of the 6f nursery a long way from the finish as he travelled very strongly for Martin Harley and quickened clear impressively inside the last furlong to win by a length and three quarters from IZZER (only rated 71) and K CLUB. Luxor was raised 8lb for this win to 92 and he should be capable of winning a good race at three.
The feature two-year-old race, the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes over 7f had a strong favourite in CHAIRMANOFTHEBOARD who had impressed when making a winning debut at Goodwood
13 days earlier. He didn’t however impress in the paddock, flicking his tail and was quite edgy. He failed to justify market support, never getting involved from midfield and finishing sixth of the eight runners.
MOHAATHER, the second string of Hamdan Al Maktoum’s runners on jockey bookings, retained jockey Jim Crowley preferred second favourite FANAAR, won well for Martin Dwyer and Marcus Tregoning. Held up in the rear, he travelled well and made progress with a couple of furlongs to go, taking the lead off front runner AZANO with 150 yards to go to win by a length and a half and provided his trainer with a first two-year-old Group winner since Finjaan won the 2008 Molecomb Stakes. Fanaar travelled well but failed to quicken on the good to soft ground and was fourth. Mohaather has the build and pedigree of a sprinter and won’t have too many problems dropping back to 6f in 2019.
The Listed Radley Stakes also over 7f went to the Tom Dascombe trained ICONIC CHOICE who was having her ninth start of the year and the first in Listed company. She stayed on well to beat GLANCE by two and a half lengths with ICE GALA running well in third having got warm beforehand.
Seven of Newmarket’s eight races on October 24 were for two-year-olds and whilst there were no Listed or Group races on the card, there were some interesting novice/maiden races. RAINBOW HEART easily won the opening race for Ryan Moore and William Haggas, leading all the way. There was promise from James Fanshawe’s PAMPER in third, she has plenty of scope and will get a lot more involved next time. Mark Tompkins registered his first juvenile winner of the year, and just the fourth since 2013, when GARREL GLEN comfortably won race two, the second division of the fillies novice median auction race.
BELL ROCK defied his odds of 33/1 to make a winning debut for Andrew Balding in the 7f novice race beating KING ADEMAR by a length and three quarters. LIGHT AND DARK who finished third, will benefit from a drop to 6f next time, whilst YOU LITTLE RIPPER finished well from the rear to be sixth. Alan King’s THE OLYMPIAN got up close home to beat pace-setting TRAVEL ON in the mile and a quarter maiden in which not too many got involved. The two nurseries on the card were won by SKYMAX and AL FAJR MUBILE.
The most informative race was the one-mile novice where GINISTRELLI led all the way and just held off the challenge JAMES PARKS WOODS by a head, the pair clear of SUMMER MOON in third. James Parks Woods let the form down on his next start when failing to act around Wolverhampton on November 16, finishing well beaten in sixth behind EIGHTSOME REEL, a 50/1 winning newcomer for Michael Bell and Her Majesty The Queen.
The final meeting at Newmarket on November 2 and 3 began with a debut win for BATTLE FOR GLORY for John Gosden and Kieran O’Neill. Out of the Group 1 winning mare, Immortal Verse, Battle For Glory was the lesser fancied of two Gosden runners, FIGHTWITHME (also out of a Group 1 winning mare) was the 5/2 favourite and third, he just held off the late challenge of REAL SMOOTH who made up ground inside the last furlong and was beaten a nose.
ANGELIC LIGHT just held on in the feature race of the day, the Listed Bosra Sham Stakes over 6f, she had a couple of lengths lead entering the final furlong but was running on empty with 75 yards to go and won by a nose from CHYNNA with GYPSY SPIRIT close up in third.
Ralph Beckett’s excellent run with
newcomers in the second half of the season continued in the first race on the second day of the meeting, FELICIANA DE VEGA the 11th winning newcomer for the yard and the fourth for owners Waverley Racing, Antonia De Vega, Manuela De Vega and Dancing Vega the other three, was very well supported and ran out an easy six length winner. She is a strong filly who should progress into a smart performer in 2019.
The second division was run in a slower time to the first, IMPERIAL CHARM put her experience (third start) to good use and beat John Gosden’s newcomer, JADEERAH by four and a half lengths. Jadeerah will have no trouble breaking her maiden if she lines up in an all-weather race.
FRENCH GROUP 1 RACES
The only Group 1 race for two-yearolds over a mile and a quarter in Europe was held at Saint-Cloud in France on October 27. The Criterium de Saint-Cloud saw five of the nine runners make the journey across the Channel from England and Ireland with Aidan O’Brien’s NORWAY the 8/5 favourite.
He went to the front with 7f to go and had every chance to add to his Newmarket Listed win a fortnight earlier but was headed with a furlong and a half to go and only had the one pace after that. FOX TAL took the lead, but he was soon headed by the other O’Brien runner, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE who in turn was headed close home by one of two fillies in the lineup, WONDERMENT who finished well to win by a neck.
The following day saw the final twoyear-old Group 1 race of the year in Europe, the Criterium International over 7f at Chantilly. ROYAL MEETING, on just his second start, won well, taking the lead off HERMOSA with 100 yards to go and provided Saeed bin Suroor win a second Group 1 win in France following Royal Marine’s win at the Arc meeting three weeks earlier.
Changes to the Breeders’ Cup programme in 2018 resulted in all of the two-year-old races being run on the first day of the two-day meeting which this year took place on November 2 and 3 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Four of the five races were Grade 1 races with the other, a Listed race over five and half furlongs and it was that race which began the Breeders’ Cup races.
Six of the 12 runners were from England and Ireland with SOLDIER’S CALL and SERGEI PROKOFIEV the 7/2 joint favourites. Neither they or the other four were a match for Bulletin who led all the way and won unchallenged. SO PERFECT was the best of the raiders finishing third but never managing to get close to challenge.
One of the most impressive twoyear-old winners of the year came in the next race, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, NEWSPAPEROFRECORD broke well and led all the way, drawing clear in the straight for a six and a half length win over EAST who did well to get as close as she did having been drawn widest of all and racing in the rear, she finished well but was no danger to the winner. Newspaperofrecord could race here in 2019 with the 1000 Guineas a possible target. If she does make the journey to Newmarket in early May, she will be very hard to beat. East confirmed the good impression she had created in her first to races and is an exciting prospect for Kevin Ryan in 2019.
There were no British or Irish runners in either of the two dirt races, Jaywalk led all the way in the Juvenile Fillies whilst Game Winner had to work hard to justify favouritism in the Juvenile.
The Juvenile Turf went to Charlie Appleby courtesy of LINE OF DUTY who had to survive a steward’s enquiry having had a bump with second placed Uncle Benny close to the finish. The result was allowed to stand and Line Of Duty continued the fantastic run of form of the Appleby horses abroad, a 30% strike rate with 6 wins at Group/Grade 1 level. ARTHUR KITT ran well to be fourth for Tom Dascombe whilst ANTHONY VAN DYCK and MARIE’S DIAMOND never managed to land a blow.
Roger Charlton has a couple of smart prospects on his hands following the debut wins of HEADMAN at Newcastle on November 1 when he was barely off the bridle and GREAT BEAR at Wolverhampton on November 16 who had to work harder than Headman but still proved too strong for his eight rivals
inside the last 100 yards. Headman in particular looked a high-class colt in the making and the 2000 Guineas was mentioned after the race as a potential target. That might be a long way off, but he created a very taking impression and he should have no trouble in defying a penalty should his trainer run him in a novice race next time.
Ralph Beckett and Roger Varian have both had plenty of success this autumn with their two-year-olds, both have sent out 19 winners since September 1. Plenty of the Beckett winners have gone off favourite, NIVALDO was very strong in the market for his second start (also heavily backed to win on debut at Ffos Las) at Kempton on November 6 and he made short work of his rivals, going clear with two furlongs to go and only having to be pushed out to beat SILENT HUNTER, who ran much better than on his debut, by a length and three quarters.
Roger Varian’s SURFMAN looked a useful prospect when he won the following day at Nottingham, only having to be pushed out to beat DURSTON by a length and three quarters in a much quicker time than the one SPACE BLUES recorded in the second division when he made an impressive winning debut for Charlie Appleby. Surfman has an excellent pedigree, a half-brother to Group 1 winner Kitesurf, he should progress into a good three-year-old.
John Gosden has introduced plenty of high-class horses on the all-weather, none more so than dual Arc heroine Enable, and DUBAI WARRIOR looked another Group performer in the making when he ran away with a mile novice race at Chelmsford on November 8. Strong in the market, he quickened clear of his eight rivals to win by four and a half lengths.
The 2018/19 All Weather Championships onships are well underway with four of the 24 Fast Track Qualifier’s having taken place. CONCIERGE booked his place in the Three-Year-Old Final with an easy win at Newcastle on the opening day of the Championships. RASIMA was given a much better ride than second placed MOVE SWIFTLY to secure her spot in the Fillies & Mares Final.
Lingfield Park, the venue for Finals Day on April 19 2019, had two qualifiers on November 17, the Churchill Stakes over a mile and a quarter and the Golden Rose Stakes over 6f, both car- rying Listed status. MASTER THE WORLD made it back-to-back wins in the Churchill Stakes, getting up close home to deny BIG COUNTRY close to the finish with favourite ADDEYBB running on late to be third. This was the first major win for Sean Levey since his return to riding following a horrible fall earlier in the season at Salisbury.
Gifted Master was unable to match Master The World with a repeat win in the Golden Rose Stakes, he finished fifth however his stable companion, ENCRYPTED, who was well supported, took the lead with 100 yards to go and held on to win by a head from INTISAAB and KIMBERELLA, both of whom have good all-weather records. Encrypted has an excellent all-weather record, this his fourth win from five starts and with plenty of opportunities for sprinters over the coming weeks and months, he should be able to add to this impressive record.
There are a further four Fast Track Qualifiers in the next few weeks and a number of good quality handicaps, hopefully there won’t be too many small fields for some of the races as has been the case in a couple of fillies races at Lingfield and Wolverhampton.