A week lit up by the ‘Lantern’

So much to cover in an interesting week so let’s revert to the seven things we learnt this week idea:

  1. Rizeena and Kiyoshi may have been extremely impressive when landing their respective Royal Ascot contests but are by no means going to end the season as the dominant fillies. The former, however, has been campaigned with splendid aggression by the evergreen Clive Brittain and remains a Classic contender whereas Kiyoshi appears to have plenty to learn temperamentally before aspiring to such heights.
  2. The French unveiled a couple of fine prospects in Miss France (why do I simply not back everything that Andre Fabre raids Newmarket with) and the bargain basement buy that is Vorda who was never in danger of defeat in landing the Cheveley Park for the previously under the radar Sogorb yard. Olivier Peslier’s bullishness was there for all to hear pre-race and she seems sure to progress further irrespective of which distance she’s asked to tackle.


  3. ‘Sky Lantern lights up Newmarket in Sun Chariot’ was the headline writer’s classic cliché but there was no denying the magnificence of the performance as the Hannon filly claimed deserved retribution for the ludicrous Falmouth Stakes defeat when only beaten a neck despite being carried half the length of Suffolk in the closing couple of furlongs by Elusive Kate. A third Group 1 victory following her 1000 Guineas triumph and a stunning Coronation Stakes success confirms Sky Lantern as by far the leading filly of the 2013 Classic generation. How wonderful that she is to be kept in training next season.
  4. The Sunday meeting at the Curragh was a fine affair all round as the opening trio of races were worthy of considerable analysis. Dermot Weld landed the maiden for the third successive year with the unraced Tested for Prince Khalid Abdullah and should be noted for any future engagements. John Oxx produced My Titania to land the first Group success for Sea The Stars’ progeny and there can be no one in racing that did not cheer that result after such a low-key season for this class trainer. Let’s hope that there are more to come, especially after the decision of the Aga Khan to no longer support the yard with yearlings. Shining Emerald has demolished the opposition the last twice and the way he put Guerre to the sword was dynamic. He’d be rated far higher if trained at a more fashionable establishment and his next appearance is eagerly awaited.


  5. Mike Marshall’s move to Ismail Mohammed creates endless questions about the future of his new and former employees. What is in no doubt is the tremendous strike rate of the Mohammed yard who proved that they are far more than a small-track operation when landing the Cambridgeshire with Educate under the remarkable Mr Murtagh yesterday. This is a yard going only one way and the arrival of Marshall is a significant coup


  6. Today’s article in The Sunday Times on Lady Cecil explains much about her reasons for continuing the Warren Place story. One can only presume that both Prince Khalid and the Niarchos Family will maintain support of the yard and there can be few that will not hope that the Group 1 flag will proudly fly once again in the future.
  7. And finally….. Last week I wrote about my week at Yarmouth races but omitted one particular occurrence. A friend of mine landed the 1-2-3 in a competitive handicap and – astonishingly – had landed the Trifecta. The SPs were 20-1, 12-1 and 9-1. He was in a state of high excitement as the Tricast came out at over £2400 for the £1 stake. And the Trifecta? It paid just over £400. A difference of over £1800 to a £1 stake. I wonder if the new Tote owner, Mr Done(Betfred) had any comment to make – or probably he was too busy laughing all the way to the bank.

A week at the seaside

I have been attending the Yarmouth three-day September meeting for longer than I care to remember, not to mention other visits here and there to the Norfolk track. The course is one that has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the years, notably with regard to prize money levels but there is no denying that the September meeting, now more grandly – and meaninglessly – retitled the Eastern Festival is very much the high point of the season with decent purses on offer.

This is also a track that has witnessed many top-class animals oblige over the years. I saw that magnificent globe-trotting mare, Ouija Board, break her maiden at Yarmouth, whilst John Gosden’s crack miler, Raven’s Pass made a winning debut here. But most of all I will never forget the debut appearance of a superb-looking beast that walked into the parade ring and already looked like a properly-developed three-year-old. He won in a canter, could have won by 25l and his name was Dubai Millennium.

Nothing of the calibre of the above is likely to have been on show last week but here are the ones that caught the eye for the future. Best eyecatcher each day in capitals.

Day One

William Haggas 580 x 350 8469477www.britishchampionsseries.com

Al Thakhira and Expect were one-two in the maiden and both should improve again. The latter should certainly find a maiden for the Noseda team as he looked to be beaten by a more streetwise sort. Ghaawy showed a determined attitude to repel the late thrust of Newmarket Warrior for Sir Michael Stoute in the nursery and looks the type to progress with time and distance. He should be a useful middle-distance sort for the yard next season. However, the star of the show was undoubtedly BATTALION. The 3-y-o Haggas colt controlled a competitive enough 1m4f handicap throughout and looks a really progressive sort for a top-notch yard. Fascinated to see where he turns up next. Wherever it may be, he’s one to have on your side.

Day Two

The track was abuzz with talk of the Stoute debutant in the opening maiden – a good-looking son of New Approach called MUNAASER. He took time to get himself organised but stayed on to good effect to fill the minor placing and must be supported wherever the Stoute team opt to go next with him. He should make up into a very useful three-year-old. The winner was Oxsana (Haggas again) who reappeared over the weekend to run a fine second in a competitive sales race so the form has already assumed a very healthy sheen. Also keep on an eye on the fourth – John Gosden’s Throne Room. He looked more in need of the run than many of his rivals and is sure to come on a bundle for the experience. The big race of the week, Yarmouth’s only Listed race, went to Miss You Too at 20-1 for the Simcock team but this is a race that seems to throw up a strange result every year and the only one to take from the race is Ribbons – strongly backed but found herself with far too much to do. The form can be forgotten and she remains of considerable interest. Kelvingrove probably didn’t beat much in the staying handicap but was far superior to his rivals and it wouldn’t surprise to see him return in search of a course hat-trick.

Day Three

Werribee trackwork. English trainer Luca Cumaniwww.geelongadvertiser.com.au

Wednaan did the business for the de Kock team on his debut but the form is hard to assess at this stage and it was the other maiden that took the eye for the future. MOUNT LOGAN and Istikshaf both improved considerably for their respective promising debuts and are in good hands to develop into three-year-olds of interest over middle distances next term. Luca Cumani’s winner was always holding the upper hand and is yet another son of New Approach who looks destined for much better things. Shalwa made a valiant attempt to defy topweight in the fillies’ 1m4f handicap, battling on well when headed. She’s just a solid galloper but one would think that there’s a soft maiden waiting for her towards the end of the campaign should Marco Botti opt to take that route. Don’t be put off by her form figures. There’s nothing wrong with her attitude – she just lacks real pace.

Doyle the Kingman – for now

1054579-16895024-640-360 www.uk.eurosport.yahoo.com

In a distinctly quiet racing week (until the Curragh today), off-track activities have dominated, with the appointment of James Doyle as Prince Khalid Abdullah’s retained jockey grabbing the majority of headlines.

Doyle is enjoying his best-ever season, highlighted by efforts on Al Khazeem and a splendid Royal Ascot treble on the Wednesday of the June spectacular. However, having listened to the rationale for this appointment from Lord Grimthorpe, I remain sceptical. Three reasons were given for the Doyle elevation.

One – Prince Khalid has apparently been most impressed with Doyle’s riding and is now looking to the future with this appointment. Fair enough, I suppose, but Doyle has ridden 60 winners this season at a 14% strike rate – the likes of Franny Norton and Daniel Tudhope have ridden more.

Two – how could anyone choose to lose the services of Ryan Moore, William Buick and Tom Queally, all young jockeys with plenty more to offer.

Imagine the scenario next Derby Day. Sir Michael Stoute has a leading contender for the Oaks and/or the Derby for the Juddmonte operation. Be in no doubt about which rider (Ryan Moore) Sir Michael would want in the plate. Nevertheless, all good luck to James Doyle whom I am in no way demeaning. He is a jockey on the up as victory on Rizeema in Ireland today clearly showed and I am sure he’ll do a very solid job. I am just not convinced he will do a better job than Moore (especially), Buick or Queally. The latter is likely to feel most disappointed in view of his efforts on such as Frankel, Twice Over and Midday for Team Cecil down the years for Juddmonte.

Three – despite the assertion that the Prince likes a retained rider, it’s seven years since Richard Hughes was dismissed from the post. All rather strange methinks.



However, it was a nice ‘n easy start for Doyle as he steered Kingman to a smooth success in the Solario Stakes on Saturday to make it two from two for the Gosden colt, who displayed a nice turn of foot to put the race to bed. He has considerably more to prove to justify his current Guineas quote with the likes of Great White Eagle(impressive from a poor draw today) and War Command to name but two waiting in the Ballydoyle wings to tackle him but has so far done all asked of him.

The other hot potato of news this week was the desire of the BHA to race on Good Friday. As a regular visitor to the Middleham Open Day, I can confidently say that’s where I – and my money – will be venturing in the future, irrespective of the racing fare on offer. We already demand so much from the racing circus and I fail to see the benefit of demanding any more.

Perhaps the BHA and other interested parties could spend their time more profitably by working out why a Thursday in the middle of the Flat season this week comprised two all-weather cards, two jumps meetings and a turf meeting in Scotland.

In the long run, the piece of news with the most significant long-term implications was the announcement that Willie Mullins will be raiding UK shores with greater regularity and may even set up a satellite yard in the UK. What a fascinating consideration and now we all know precisely why Ruby Walsh chose to quit as Paul Nicholls stable jockey in order to spend more time with his family in Ireland!!