Based on races viewed, Spy’s analysis and list of horses worthy of serious consideration next time:
31st October: Newmarket: Division One of the maiden did not look particularly strong. Experience won the day as Redcar runner-up New Strategy knew too much for the promising Greatest Hits, who was green in the early stages but picked up from two out. Time may show he will turn out to be better than the winner.
In contrast, the second division went to a newcomer. Slow to load, Suddyan sprouted wings coming out of the dip to pass several better fancied and by this stage paddling rivals – including Haydock runner-up and favourite Crown Command. A plain son of Holy Roman Emperor, there is plenty of stamina on the dam side, meaning Suddyan (a rare debut winner for the Stoute stable), successful in a faster time than recorded in the first, may turn out to be useful next year. Having looked momentarily outpaced, the flashy and good-looking Stars And Stripes was also noted putting in his best work throughout the closing stages having been prominent throughout.
After finishing fourth in the Cheveley Park Stakes on only her second start, it was a walk in the park for Terror in the Listed. Fligaz was the only rival to give her a race but was eventually brushed aside. Terror will presumably be back for the Nell Gwyn next April, although there may be a doubt about her staying any further than this trip of six furlongs. She will probably stay seven – a mile could be the proverbial bridge too far.
October 25th: Newbury: Mob-handed in the Horris Hill, Richard Hannon landed it with Smaih, who handled soft ground well to stay on from Fox Trotter (only fifth to Limato in the Redcar sales race) and King Of Normandy (behind Commemorative last time). As is often the case, Lexington Times left the impression he is more of a traveller than a quickener in fourth. As renewals go, this was not one of the best.
It was easy for Sky Hunter in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes, who has returned to something like his form from last year when he finished third in the French Derby. This win was a step up from Ayr last time and confirms he genuinely stays twelve furlongs. Presumably he will be in action in Dubai over the winter. Island Remede was second, ahead of pacesetter Battalion who was suited by this return to a left-handed track. Red Galileo was once again a major disappointment. His record taxes patience to the limit. Rawaki was another to under-perform.
Three lengths sixth to Local Time in the Oh So Sharp and revelling in the soft surface, Russian Punch caused something of a surprise in a messy Listed Radley Stakes. Clearly best on the day, the winner is worth remembering next year when the ground rides as it did here. She will stay further. Runner-up Shagah has an awful action. She did come to win her race, but had pulled early and probably such exertions took their toll. Lacing and Astrelle were at sea on the ground.
Doncaster: The improving Code Red added the Listed Doncaster Stakes to his portfolio, wearing down Portamento inside the last furlong. It did look as if he had something of an advantage by racing on a fresh strip of ground under the stands’ rails, something confirmed by his jockey. Taking an immediate hike in grade, after winning a maiden at Windsor Salt Island was not disgraced in fifth and will probably be much better on faster ground. With a pronounced knee-action, Growl should have done better but was quick to call it a day. He does not look one to place faith in.
Having threatened to hit form, proven autumn performer Dungannon scored a back-to-back success after his Ascot win three weeks ago, winning the Class 2 handicap for the second time from a 1lb higher mark than last year. Many of the usual crew were in behind: Confessional, Steps, Ballesteros etc… Unlucky when fourth at Ascot over six last time, Golden Steps was not suited by this switch to five. There remains a sprint for him over six if he is not to be beaten by the clock.
The long raking stride of Elm Park was decisive in the Group 1 Racing Post. Making all and at home on an easy surface, he had his rivals in trouble some way out and won with what looked like something in hand. It would be a mistake to underestimate him; although, of course, he will be in his element next year over a distance of ground. As for the Derby … flat tracks will always probably suit him better than the helter-skelter of Epsom. He may not be Group 1 class next year, but there are surely races to be won. In second, Aloft finished best of the rest to take second. We have to assume Ballydoyle will be pleased with his effort and that they will consider they house better at home. He looks a candidate for Chester next May. Celestial Path kept on, handling the ground but it was clearly not ideal. Jacobean lost his action in the last two furlongs but managed to hold on for fourth. Still inexperienced, he is the sort to do better in time.
October 22nd: Newmarket: Experience came to the fore in the opening maiden for fillies – a class 5 won by Pamona who had finished second to Taqneyya in what looked only an average maiden on debut. Always handy she was a decisive winner, looking as if she has improved plenty. Entertainment – seventh behind Pamona on debut – finished a little closer this time; whilst Wardat Dubai – another to have made a promising debut when a close fifth to Aloft – struggled in the tacky ground in third and can probably do better in time.
Money for Chepstow winner Dark Kingdom proved well placed in the nursery as, despite a sluggish start, the son of Lord Shanakill ran out a convincing winner. He handled easy ground well – probably needs it judging by his action – to make light of a mark of 75. This was not a hot race but Dark Kingdom is likeable. In second, Lashkaal stayed on after appearing outpaced early and will probably do better over further than this seven furlongs.
Although run in a faster time, the second division of the nursery did not look quite as good as the first. Great Park, Poyle Jessica and Captain Marmalade were the first three. Outback Ruler made up ground from an unpromising position. He might win something similar on the all-weather.
It was back to maidens in the next, the unraced Dubawi colt Ooty Hill justifying market support to power away from Alnashama, who, with experience under his belt, was obviously the one to beat. The winner, whose size means he will always be best with cut, will stay beyond this seven furlongs and looks useful.
There might have only been three runners for the Class 2 Houghton Stakes, but, as on debut at Haydock, Fannaan left a positive impression. In part he was helped by the nonsensical antics of Hawkesbury who was a nightmare for his jockey going to post and coming back. He pulls too hard, appears to exist on his nerves and after a promising start to his career is another example of a Godolphin colt heading in the wrong direction. With a good attitude, Fannaan is not only attractive but decent and only had to be shaken up to win. By dirt stallion Speightstown, both his runs so far have been with an element of cut so, with next year in mind, he will need to prove he can cope with a faster surface, which his trainer seems to think will not be a problem.
It is always a temptation to be taken in by a well-bred field of maidens. The class 4 over a mile that sent out mixed messages was no exception. It was won by Rare Rhythm, who had not shown much behind Aloft here two weeks ago. He responded to a vigorous ride, whereas, having his first outing, Wheat Sheaf was given a kind introduction and was only narrowly beaten. You would expect him to reverse this form next time. Verismo put an undistinguished first effort behind him in third. Afjaan, a tall good-moving son of Henrythenavigator will be better on a firmer surface but still took the eye. Farhh’s brother Racing History neither looked the part in the paddock nor in the race.
Strong-travelling Crafty Choice stayed the trip of ten furlongs very well to lift the Class 3 Zetland Stakes. This was not the strongest renewal but he is progressing through the ranks.
October 18th: Ascot – Champions’ Day: It could be argued that the Group 2 Long Distance Cup contained a collection of stayers worthy of an Ascot Gold Cup. The ground put paid to Leading Light, who never looked happy, and it was certainly instrumental in the premature eclipse of Estimate. Out of the ruins came a new name to conjure: Forgotten Rules – winner of a bumper and a decent Flat contest at Galway. By Nayef out of a Danehill mare, he coped well with the conditions; more importantly he was good enough to take this massive hike in grade. Ineligible for a weight concession from his Group 1-winning contemporaries, in the end it made no difference. This win speaks volumes for Dermot Weld’s patience and emphasises what a great trainer he is. Clearly Ascot’s Gold Cup will be on the agenda for 2015, although firm ground would not be in his favour. Biographer ran his best race for a while when finishing second, with Pallasator close in third. Whiplash Willie did not get the clearest of passages in fourth and may have been unfortunate not to have finished third – that said he had everything in his favour here and it has to be concluded this was his chance at this level.
Second in the Foret to Olympic Glory and to G Force in the Haydock Sprint, on ideal ground Gordon Lord Byron produced his trademark burst when it mattered to take the Group 2 Sprint. A proven autumn performer, he might have been assisted by a stands’ rail passage on a fresh strip of ground. Even so, he was clearly the best horse on the day. Tropics was another to make the most of a favourable draw in second, ahead of Jack Dexter. Uncooperative at Longchamp in the Abbaye, Maarek made up a lot of ground to finish on the heels of the first three. Viztoria was probably posted out wide enough, as was Eton Forever – even so both ran well. Widest of all, G Force was never in the hunt on this heavy ground – which was surely all against him.
A wide open Fillies and Mares – arguably the trickiest event on the card – went to Musidora winner Madame Chiang, who relishes soft ground and swooped on the leaden-legged leaders inside the last furlong. On and off the bridle throughout, Silk Sari – unsuited by the track’s short straight – eventually found her stride to flash home for second, ahead of Chicquita, for whom this was only her third race of the season. She threw away her chance when hanging all over the shop, eventually so badly that Joseph O’Brien had to stop riding her.
Charm Spirit, whose only defeat this season was when fifth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, confirmed his latest Moulin form with Night Of Thunder in the QEII. With jockeys preoccupied with bagging the stands’ rails, it developed into a messy affair. Wider, but having to elbow his way through, Peslier once again gained first run on Night Of Thunder which proved crucial. The runner-up was somewhat detached early and it was a case of no room at the inn for Hughes, who had to change tack to obtain a run. Toormore ran his best race of the season to finish third. So often the bridesmaid in this company, Tullius was fourth on ground that is all-important to him and Captain Cat also ran well enough to justify inclusion at the highest level. Kingsbarns was soon burnt off; Integral was very disappointing and could never land a blow. She is better than this and it has to be assumed the ground was simply too soft.
Once labelled as a villain, Noble Mission has been a reformed character this season. He became a hero today when making all until fractionally headed inside the last furlong by Al Kazeem in the Champion Stakes and then fighting back to land his biggest prize. If there had been a chink in his armour, it would have been exposed today, but raw courage under a brilliant ride from James Doyle and a will-to-win provided a famous victory. It has taken three seasons, but finally, Frankel’s brother has come of age. This was the day when, in part at least, he followed in his illustrious sibling’s hoof prints. Al Kazeem came back to his best form to slug it out with the winner. On only his fourth run, Free Eagle was a strong-finisher in third, closing on the first two at the death. He will stay twelve furlongs and is sure to return next season as a serious player at the highest level. Western Hymn was fourth. As feared, Cirrus Des Aigles continues to give the impression he is on the decline.
It was all far side in the concluding handicap – won by Bronze Angel, a horse that not only defied his draw and position, but on ground that up to now was always considered to be against him.
17th October: Newmarket: Once again Squats did not get the rub of the green – this time in the Cornwallis. Looking all set to pounce inside the last furlong, he was squeezed and Ryan Moore had to stop riding. After the melee that was Ayr, this is the second time he can be marked up. After a dismal effort at Newbury, Strath Burn returned to something like it without being able to pass shock winner Royal Razalma.
Winner of a couple of nondescript events at Lingfield and Leicester, Charming Thought – a son of Oasis Dream – thwarted hitherto unbeaten Ivawood in the Middle Park with Muhaarar and Cappella Sansevero not beaten far. Of course the temptation is to assume Ivawood has run below form. It only emphasises what a difference sixty seconds can make, as one-time Guineas hotpot Ivawood – who was coming back at the winner in the dying strides – is no longer quite such a warm order for the first Classic for colts next year. However, he is bred to stay further and this ground – which was on the dead side – was not ideal. He was not disgraced in a small but select field and it should not be assumed he has disappeared from the Classic radar.
On a day of shocks Lucida became another casualty in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile, failing to pick up throughout the last couple of furlongs, but only being beaten three lengths. It is late in the season and, uncharacteristically keen early, may have been on the edge of tipping over for the year, which, combined with the softest ground she has encountered, was probably her undoing. Recent Curragh winner Together Forever – in the right place at the right time and committed first by Joseph O’Brien – contained the strong finishing duo that was May Hill winner Agnes Stewart and Winters Moon. By all accounts, nice prospect that Together Forever is, at this stage at least, her stable mate Found is considered her superior.
How the mighty fall! Belardo, the outsider of the lot, reversed Champagne form in a major way with Estidhkaar to blast back to his best form and win the Dewhurst. After a tame effort at Doncaster on much quicker ground, wearing a first-time hood, Belardo confirmed the impression formed when he won the Washington Singer at Newbury. Fourth and not disgraced on only his second run when behind Ivawood in the July Stakes, he may not be entirely straightforward, but has ability. Kodi Bear was an honest second. Disappointments followed: Smuggler’s Cove – said to be on a par with Gleaneagles on homework – lacked the turn of foot inside the last two furlongs and was left behind in third. No doubt the boys at Ballydoyle would have preferred him to have finished closer, but this is a tough day to decipher with absolute confidence. Estidhkaar threw his race away with a sluggish start and then, posted wide with the field to circumnavigate, was never going to get there.
Patiently-ridden with a sweeping last furlong run, Here Comes When, with proven form on a soft surface, lifted the Group 2 Challenge Stakes.
After a dismal display in the Greenham so many moons ago, last year’s Royal Lodge winner Berkshire came back to form in a major way when taking the Group 3 Darley Stakes. Apparently going nowhere at halfway, he eventually found his stride to mow down Mutakayyef and Air Pilot. His win – another massive-priced success on the day – was not impossible to envisage, just unlikely. However, a one-time quote for the Guineas and Derby of 2014, indicates the esteem he once held. This easy ground suits him, he will stay further and, who knows, we may see more of him. Raised in class, the progressive placed horses have battled on well.
October 11th: Newmarket: They were a nice-looking lot for the Group 3 Autumn Stakes, for which Solario-third Future Empire was made favourite. Seeking to supply a much-needed boost to Godolphin, he ran in snatches, pulling early then rallying after being steadied to finish third. Doncaster winner Commemorative made all and despite failing to run straight kept on strongly. His Doncaster form falls slightly short of top class but it is solid and this son of Zamindar looks as if he may be the sort to only do enough. He stayed this mile well and should get further next year. Third behind Local Time at Kempton, Restorer finished best of the rest in second. Of the rest, lack of pace had already put paid to his chance when Order Of St George was hampered coming out of the dip. After two runs at Yarmouth, this was a major hike in class for Bartholomew Fair, but he was not disgraced and possesses enough scope to improve on this in time.
After Hadaatha’s third in the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp last week, Albasharah had the form to win the listed if able to reproduce her Yarmouth second. Bouncing out of the stalls, she made all to beat a field of progressive fillies. A giant five-year-old daughter of Arch with relatively few miles on the clock, she is due to run in a Group 3 in France next. Absent since the Ribblesdale, Talmada chased her home with Wahgah getting the best of a three-way scrap for third. Provenance was on and off the bridle, eventually plugging on in fifth.
The Class 2 handicap for three-year-olds looked wide open beforehand – reflected by the betting as they offered 7/1 the field. Those with proven form and associated weight struggled: Connecticut and Battersea (had a troubled passage) for example have come to the end of their runs for the present. Farquhar pipped Adventure Seeker, with a fair run from Nabatean in fifth. One for the notebook has to be Top Tug, who was returning after winning on the July course in May. Lightly-raced and lacking experience, having got behind early he picked up without looking likely to win, but was the best finisher of all. Racing from a mark of 94 in a fiercely competitive handicap such as this, he will be much sharper next time. Of obvious interest if turning out again this season, we may have to be patient. Being by Halling there is every chance he will make up into a very good four-year-old.
At the age of seven and essentially a hurdler these days, having shaped so well in the trial here at the end of September, in the care of the excellent Philip Hobbs, Big Easy ground out the finish to the Cesarewitch to hold the much-improved De Rigueur, the oh-so craftily-campaigned Quick Jack and Brass Ring, who has run a blinder against quality and better-treated rivals from a mark of 103.
The temptation in the maiden for fillies is to think, with so many having chances in the last furlong, the race may not be anything special. Irish Rookie sprung something of a surprise on debut to emerge best from Sharqeyih. Tazffin was always destined to be the eye-catcher, creeping closer under considerate handling and then asked to lengthen when it became clear she was about to figure.
York: With a succession of hard handicaps on the card, they took no prisoners in the ring. After two so-called good things in Acolyte and GM Hopkins failing to reach the three yesterday, today’s results were not much kinder. Aetna gave it a shot in the Coral Sprint but emptied in the last furlong. She is surely better than this and should not be forgotten if encountering proper soft ground next time.
Mutamakkin, who ran with promise at Newmarket in a race won by Consort, gave a major pointer to the validity of that form when beating Navigate (behind him at Newmarket) and Ascot runner-up Akeed Champion in the maiden.
Longchamp Racing Results Review
The sudden death dash that is the Prix de l’Abbaye was a messy race, full of hard-luck stories and one that went to the right horse in the right place – Move In Time. Spirit Quartz and Catcall were among those on the heels of the leaders. The speed of juvenile Cotai Glory was not enough to string out the older brigade and he was on the retreat after three-and-a-half. Richard Hughes was always angling for a gap on Sole Power and according to him, when a crack of daylight appeared the horse declined to take it. Perhaps Sole Power was feeling the exertions of a long season.
Found became another filly to endorse the Moyglare form with a comprehensive victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac. Unlike Cursory Glance and Lucida – the two that finished ahead of at the Curragh – Found looks much more of an Oaks candidate. She was putting in her best work in the closing stages and has a likeable attitude. Highly thought of at home, this was only her third outing and she looks all quality and is described by her trainer as having the speed to win at a mile and the stamina to last the trip of an Oaks. Ervedya – third to The Wow Signal in the Morny – was second in a strong renewal. Although she almost certainly would not have troubled the winner, Malabar had no run in fourth. She appears to be in good heart and has improved throughout the season.
Hopes of a Coolmore double were dashed in the stewards’ room when Gleneagles was demoted to third after winning the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. This was not Joseph O’Brien’s finest hour. In front and apparently in control on Gleneagles, he insisted on resorting (unnecessarily) to the stick and incidentally to hitting the horse in the wrong place. To make matters worse he failed to pull the whip through when the horse drifted across and toward his main rivals, Full Mast and Territories, both of whom he impeded. The right horse probably won, but in France that is not always enough. Full Mast still looks green and after two soft races has performed well. He looks a decent long-term prospect.
So it was Treve again in the Arc. It was an incredible performance from a horse that had not won since this time last year and to all intents and purposes had appeared to be on the slide. Flintshire – so often placed at top level – was again in the money in second. Arguably this is his best performance. From a wide draw Taghrooda ran a blinder in third, as did Kingston Hill in fourth – another with a bad draw to overcome. He was adeptly positioned by Atzeni and kept on gamely down the straight when the chasing pack threatened to swallow him. Possibly the Japanese should consider employing the services of European jockeys next year!
Just as Moonlight Cloud did last year, Olympic Glory came from a seemingly impossible position to win the Foret. Last with under two to race, he took hold of the bridle and responded to Dettori’s urging to cut down Gordon Lord Byron and long time leader Noozhoh Canarias. Laid out for this after his spring campaign, Karakontie was murdered in running twice. Not knocked about by his jockey, he may resurface at this level before the close of the season, in which case he is worth a second look.
In French parlance – on a day that started at lunchtime and came to a conclusion approaching dinner – the Group 1s kept coming. High Jinx was given another outstanding ride from Ryan Moore to make all over two-and-half miles in the Cadran. This trip probably stretches Pale Mimosa, whist Whiplash Willie was locked away on the rail and could never really deal a blow. He stays well enough and might just poach something before the season’s end, particularly if getting his preferred soft ground.
Newmarket Racing Results Review:
The first of the sales races – this one for the fillies – went to Osaila, who after her close fifth last time in the Moyglare, was the form horse. She was always travelling like the winner and in the climb to the finish, with runner-up Lacing perhaps not finding what looked likely, she ran out a reasonably comfortable victor. Lacing put up a personal best in second, whilst, despite appearing to be shaken off running out of the dip, Yarmouth winner Very Special stayed on again up the hill to finish on the heels of the front two.
The colts’ equivalent had a more open look to it. A surprise second in the Convivial when behind White Lake, Secret Brief has done nothing but improve since, winning his third race on the spin with a gutsy performance on ground that had turned to loose. Leicester winner Outlaw Country was second, ahead of Bossy Guest. Of those off the pace, Tannaaf had difficulty finding his stride but stuck on willingly. He should do better next year.
It will be a surprise if there is a Miss France in this year’s Oh So Sharp. Even so Local Time put up a dour performance on this a serious hike in grade after two relatively minor wins at Kempton. Pushed along from halfway, she kept on willingly to beat Astrelle, Prize Exhibit and Shagah in a bunch finish.
Given a great all-the-way ride by Ryan Moore, Integral – second in the Sun Chariot last year – put her rivals to the sword in this year’s renewal. Possibly aided by her jockey, Integral nevertheless beat a top class field here and should be rated accordingly. She may turn out for the QE11, but the plan is to keep her in training for next year. Winner on this card last year and of the 1000 Guineas in May, Miss France emerged as best of the overseas challengers when an honest second. She would have preferred a stronger pace but has still run up to her very best. On her first attempt at a Group 1, Fintry was a close third, ahead of Esoterique, so the form stacks up. Sky Lantern has surely run her last race when finishing a never-dangerous fifth.
The bar was set high by those that had run in the Class 4 maiden over a mile. Aloft had finished second at Gowran and Archery Peak’s third to Commemorative looked promising. Green and taking time to pick up, Aloft narrowly landed the spoils from four promising newcomers who almost finished in a line. Storm The Stars (might be the one to take out of a deep race), Legend’s Gate, Great Glen and Wardat Dubai all showed definite promise. Archery Peak was only less than two lengths away, so the quality of the race should not be underestimated.
Ascot Racing Results Review:
Second to Mecca’s Angel at Newbury, the consistent Justice Day took the opening listed event – a race made so much easier by the defection of Muthmir on account of overnight rain. A well-backed Kickboxer was second and Milly’s Gift third. Steps continues to frustrate his supporters and was never on terms.
On only his third start Lightning Moon took the unusual step of winning a Group 3 after a Haydock win in May from a mark of 82. His defeat of Danzeno means he ought to be respected in sprints next season. On the other hand, it is hard to be enthusiastic about Reckless Abandon who made little impact on his third run of the year.
Played late, Pether’s Moon outspeeded Encke and held a sutained challenge from Parish Hall to lift the Cumberland Lodge. Encke is beginning to look one-paced.
It may pay to ignore the run of Prince’s Trust in the class 2 handicap. Soft ground was almost certainly against him, as was the fact that his last piece of work was apparently well below his usual standard.
As she did last year when winning the Rockfel, Al Thakhira has hit form in the autumn and took her first contest of the season in the listed for fillies. Given an ice-cool ride, she burst through to run down Meeting Waters and Interception.
Dungannon capped a big day for Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding (the combination successful earlier with Intransigent). Back to a wining mark and a horse with a record of running his best races at this time of year, Dungannon, with a penchant for the track, just lasted from fast-finishing Khubala. Despite a pedigree that suggests otherwise, Mission Approved seems suited to the minimum trip. He was another to find his stride late and without threatening to get to grips with the winner, was closing all the time.
Redcar Racing Results Review
Elsewhere, at Redcar we saw a devastating performance from Limato in the valuable sales race. Top-rated and clearly better than his rivals, the manner of his victory suggests he would be a worthy contestant in the Middle Park. However, he is unlikely to run again this year and will be aimed at sprinting events next season. With a pronounced fast ground action, he will always be seen to best advantage on firm ground.
Poor Cirrus Des Aigles lost the Prix Dollar in the stewards’ room. Clearly he and his jockey were in breach of the rules so there can be no complaints about the verdict (although was it fair to demote him to sixth place? Surely he only interfered with the runner-up). Somewhat alarmingly he did jink to the left inside the last furlong. Obviously the last time we saw him he finished lame and, possibly now at the age of eight, he was feeling something. Perhaps it is time for connections to draw stumps on a wonderful career.