Things We Learned » Tapestry reputation intact

Tapestry reputation intact

Rizeena was a game winner of last Sunday’s Moyglare Stud Stakes, but the more often you watch the race, the more you think that Tapestry is the filly to take from it.

The Ballydoyle filly was undoubtedly impeded when Kiyoshi moved to her right (ref. amended result), just as she had at Royal Ascot, and she was hampered again when the winner came past on her outside, momentum up, and also moved to her right. It may be stretching it to say that she would definitely have won with a clear passage, but you can easily argue the case that she would have gone mighty close.

Moreover, Tapestry was racing for just the third time in her life on Sunday, while Kiyoshi was racing for the fourth time and Rizeena for the seventh. The winner and ultimate third had also experienced the cut and thrust of racing at Royal Ascot, whereas Tapestry had won a maiden and a six-runner Group 2 race, both at The Curragh, before she lined up on Sunday.

The fact that Team Ballydoyle supplemented the Galileo filly to Sunday’s race, despite the fact that they already had Wonderfully and Perhaps in the race, provides a measure of the regard in which she is held at home. She should progress from this experience and, despite the fact that she was only third across the line on Sunday, she could still prove herself to be a top class filly.

Jockeys for courses

Certain jockeys are synonymous with certain courses. The Richard Hughes/Goodwood alliance has been well documented in recent years. Mickael Barzalona at Newmarket’s July course, Pat Smullen at Galway, Jane Mangan at Laytown. (Okay, so the sample size on the last one is small.)

The stats back up the anecdotal evidence. In the last five seasons, if you had bet €1 on every one of Mickael Barzalona’s rides at Newmarket’s July course, you would have backed 38 winners from 148 bets, and you would have made a net profit of €61.37.

If you had bet €1 on all of Richard Hughes’ mounts at Goodwood, you would have backed 71 winners out of 354, and made a net profit of €31.09. It is interesting that, despite the fact that the champion jockey’s prowess at the track is well known and well recorded, you would still have made a significant level-stakes profit.

It makes sense that riders develop an affinity with certain tracks. They ‘get’ courses. Listen to Pat Smullen talk about how to ride Galway, and you quickly realise that he knows every blade of grass at the track. While the market seems to have cottoned onto the Smullen Galway factor, no doubt aided by the Weld Galway factor, the rider has won on 39 of his 132 rides at Galway in the last five seasons, which represents a strike rate of a ridiculously high 30%.

The trick is to spot a rider’s affinity with a track before the market does. Over jumps, Davy Russell has a 26% strike rate at Thurles for a level-stakes profit of €37.26. Ruby Walsh has a 35% strike rate at Gowran Park and a 38% strike rate at Sligo for level-stakes profits of €14.48 and €16.58 respectively.

On the flat, Joseph O’Brien’s record at Galway is top notch. His record of 14 winners from 60 rides at Ballybrit represents a strike rate of 23%, and has rewarded level-stakes backers with a net profit of €25.93. The jockey’s rides there on Monday might be worth a second glance.

Looking ahead to the Listowel Festival next week, Ruby has an impressive strike rate of 24% at the Kerry track, but the market is onto him, as a level-stakes loss of €18.12 suggests. However, Barry Geraghty has a 20% strike rate at Listowel for a level-stakes profit of €15.75.

On the flat at Listowel, it could pay to follow Ben Curtis and Chris Hayes there next week. They are relatively small sample sizes, but Curtis has ridden eight winners from 45 rides for a level-stakes profit of €45, while Hayes has ridden 10 winners from 59 rides for a profit of €31. Remember that Hayes was on fire at last year’s Festival, riding six winners for five different trainers from just nine rides for a level-stakes profit of €28.

Eagle flies higher

You suspected at the time that the maiden that Free Eagle won at Leopardstown on 15th August was good, but it just keeps on getting better and better as time progresses.

The potential in the race is evidenced by the fact that the first seven horses home all hold Group 1 entries, but the form is also developing substance now. Runner-up Orchestra came out and won his maiden at Tipperary as easily as he liked, while fourth-placed Kingfisher won his maiden at Killarney by nine lengths.

Both of those horses – both trained by Aidan O’Brien – were, like Free Eagle, making their respective racecourse debuts at Leopardstown on 15th August, and there is no telling how good they could prove to be. And just to put the cap on it, the fourth horse from Kingfisher’s Killarney maiden, Ruler Of France, went and won a nursery at Gowran Park on Wednesday off a mark of 80.

We will learn even more about that maiden today, when Free Eagle, Wexford Town and Kingfisher, first, third and fourth in the race, contest the Group 3 Icon Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Trial over the same course and distance, when the worth of the form will be truly tested by high-class rivals Australia and Exogenesis. As things stand, a single-figure price about any horse for a Classic at this stage is hard to countenance (see below), bit it is getting more and more difficult to argue that Free Eagle should not be at the top of the Derby list.

Kingman too short

You would find it difficult to knock Kingman, even if you wanted to. Prince Khalid Abdullah’s colt was impressive in winning his maiden on his racecourse debut at Newmarket at the end of June, and he stepped forward from that run in running out a cozy winner of the Solario Stakes at Sandown last Saturday.

The visual impression that he created on his debut was backed up by the time of the race, the second fastest comparative time on a decent Saturday card, and by the turn of foot that he showed from the two-furlong pole. Also, the form of the race has been bolstered to some extent since by the fact that the second and third both won on their subsequent respective starts.

In winning the Solario Stakes on Saturday, he comprehensively beat two Godolphin horses who were already rated 100 and 105 respectively. It was a fine performance, without perhaps incorporating the dazzle-factor that many had expected.

That said, best odds of 5/1 for next year’s 2000 Guineas at this stage are far too short.

It is not John Gosden’s fault – on the contrary, the trainer has made every effort to douse the hyperbolic flames – but the fact that he trains the colt is undoubtedly a contributory factor to his restricted odds. As is the fact that he is owned by The Prince and, as a consequence, races in Frankel’s colours. (Incidentally, even Frankel himself was available at 8/1 for the Guineas at this stage of his juvenile career.)

Kingman is available at less than half the price of War Command and Great White Eagle, for example, less than one-third the price of Berkshire and one-fifth the price of Sudirman.

War Command’s Coventry Stakes isn’t working out too well, but he could hardly have been more impressive in winning that Group 2 race (which could easily be a Group 1). Also, after his speed bump in the Phoenix Stakes, Aidan O’Brien’s colt ran out a really impressive winner of the Group 2 Futurity Stakes two weeks ago.

Great White Eagle has only won a maiden and a Group 3 race, but that is exactly what Kingman has done. Great White Eagle was impressive in beating the talented Gold Peregrine in his maiden at Naas, and he was just as impressive in landing his Group 3 race at The Curragh on Sunday.

From a disadvantageous draw in stall two, Joseph O’Brien was happy to remain towards the far side through the early stages of the race. Once pulled to the outside a furlong and a half out, he picked up impressively to come past his field, and he raced strongly to the line, posting a decent time for a juvenile, one of just three times on the day that dipped under standard.

Berkshire was beaten on his racecourse debut, but he was impressive in winning the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, and that race just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Runner-up Bunker has since won a listed race (albeit unimpressively), third-placed Ihtimal has won a Group 3 impressively, and fourth-placed Somewhat has also run out an impressive winner of a listed contest. Even horses who finished well down the field have since come out and won or run well in defeat.

No disrespect to Paul Cole or Sultan Ahmad Shah, but fashion is paramount in racing, and if you reversed the trainers and the colours between Kingman and Berkshire, it is not difficult to argue that their respective positions in the Guineas market could also be reversed.

The David Wachman-trained Sudirman has now won the Group 2 Railway Stakes and the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, and his Timeform rating of 121p is 9lb higher than Kingman’s (for all that Kingman has an enlarged P).

We are so far away from next year’s Guineas at present, we still have the Dewhurst and the Racing Post Trophy and the Beresford Stakes and the National Stakes and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere to come, and there is such a volume of water yet to flow under the Guineas bridge, that you can also easily argue that no horse should be as short as 5/1 at this stage.

Champion parade

The result of this evening’s Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes is going to be greatly influenced by the amount of rain that they had at Foxrock last night, and whether or not they have any more today.

With every drop that falls, the greater Al Kazeem’s chance becomes, and the more the chances of Trading Leather and The Fugue diminish. Declaration Of War probably doesn’t want too much rain, he was so good on fast ground in the Juddmonte International last month, but he won on heavy ground at The Curragh last September, and he was impressive in winning a listed race over a mile of today’s course on soft ground last April, so he should be able to handle whatever the elements throw at him.

Of course, the most fascinating horse in the line-up is erstwhile Derby favourite Kingsbarns. Two for two last season, both wins, including the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy, gained on soft ground, it is significant that Aidan O’Brien is allowing him make his seasonal debut in a race of this quality.

The Galileo colt adds a depth of intrigue to an already fascinating and top class renewal.

© The Irish Field, 7th September 2013