Things We Learned » Colts’ Classic clues

Colts’ Classic clues

There was a Classic clue under every stone you turned last weekend.  It started at Newmarket on Saturday with the Royal Lodge and the Cheveley Park and the Middle Park, and it continued at The Curragh on Sunday with the Beresford Stakes and the CL & MF Weld Park Stakes.

The 1-2 in the Royal Lodge, Foundation and Deauville, both shaped more like Derby colts than Guineas colts.  Frankie Dettori said afterwards that a mile was a minimum for the winner, that he would be better over further, and the 16/1 at which you can bet him for the Derby looks more attractive than the 20/1 at which you can bet him for the Guineas.

Deauville just seemed to get out-paced when they quickened, but he stayed on well all the way to the line to reduce the winning margin to less than a length.  He is by Galileo, he is a full-brother to high-class middle-distance horse The Corsican, and he is another who should improve as he steps up in trip.

The Royal Lodge winner hasn’t won the following year’s Derby since Benny The Dip in 1996/97, so tread warily.  In the meantime, however, a re-match between this duo in the Racing Post Trophy would be interesting.

Shalaa was impressive in winning the Middle Park, although not as impressive as he had been in winning the Richmond Stakes or the Prix Morny.  Also, early signs are that the Classics may be beyond him.

The Invincible Spirit colt is all speed.  John Gosden said he was the fastest juvenile he has ever trained and compared him to his champion sprinter Oasis Dream.  Frankie Dettori said that he was the fastest juvenile that he has ever ridden and that, if he stays a mile, he is another Frankel.  I guess he thinks that he won’t stay a mile then.

We may never get to find out.  Or not for a good while anyway.  Times were that, if you had a fast juvenile, you had a go at the Guineas, maybe took a toe-dip in the Greenham Stakes on the way, because there was really nothing else for a fast potential Group 1 three-year-old and there wasn’t a whole lot to lose.

These days, however, you have the sprinting option.  You can train him for the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and allow him take on the older sprinters thereafter, à la Muhaarar, and look how well that project is working out.  Looks like a similar campaign is in store for Shalaa, all going well.

If there was a Derby horse in the Beresford Stakes, it was probably Beacon Rock.  Jockey bookings and the market told you that the Galileo colt was the Aidan O’Brien number one and, although he was being niggled along by Ryan Moore from the top of the home straight, he did stay on quite nicely to take third place behind Port Douglas and True Solitaire.

He struggled to find gaps up the home straight – he didn’t have the pushbutton speed to take the fleeting gaps that developed and then closed – but he did pick up once in the clear, and he got to within a half a length of the winner.  By Galileo out of the Oaks runner-up Remember When, middle distances will surely be his thing next year.

Lumiere a Classic contender

While the CL & MF Weld Park Stakes was run over seven furlongs and the Beresford Stakes was run over a mile, the fillies went comparatively significantly faster than the colts.

It was an interesting race, as the Park Stakes usually is.  At the two-furlong pole, all 10 fillies lined up in diagonal formation across the track, like swallows on their way to South Africa, or to wherever they go these days.  Coolmore was only fifth on the run to the furlong pole, but she stayed on resolutely to get up and win by a half a length, thereby exacting her revenge on runner-up Anamba, Michael Halford’s filly having beaten her by a head in that fillies’ maiden at Leopardstown on Irish Champions’ Weekend.  (Oh it’s well worth its place on the weekend’s roster, that’s for sure.)

Both fillies emerged from the race with their respective reputations enhanced, however, as did the Willie McCreery-trained Radiantly, who finished almost as quickly as the winner to take fourth place, beaten a total of just a length.

Qualify won this race last year before going on to land the Oaks this year, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the 2016 Oaks winner was in here somewhere.

Common consensus after the Cheveley Park Stakes was that the winner Lumiere was a sprinter. That, like Shalaa, she would not be able to stretch out to a mile next year.  But, not so fast, that may not be the case.

She was keener than ideal in front here, yet she was able to retain enough in reserve to fend off Illuminate and Besharah and Alice Springs. This was just about the best juvenile fillies’ race run this season, tying together, as it did, Queen Mary and Albany Stakes and Lowther Stakes and Princess Margaret Stakes and Moyglare Stud Stakes and Cherry Hinton form.  And it didn’t disappoint, the first four came clear and the race was run in a good time.

Lumiere shows blinding pace, but she is by Shamardal and she is a half-sister to a winner over a mile and a half, out of a mare who won over seven furlongs on her only run.  She has every chance of getting a mile next year, especially given that she is trained by Mark Johnston, who regularly gets his horses to out-stay their pedigrees.  They said that he wouldn’t be able to get Attraction to stay a mile too.

Fahey flying

If you were ever in any doubt about Richard Fahey’s understanding of what is required to win a big flat handicap in Britain, that doubt has been blown out of the water over the course of the last two Saturdays.  Two weeks ago, Fahey won the Ayr Gold Cup with Don’t Touch, a horse he had ear-marked for the race since the day that he won his maiden at Newcastle just last May.   Then last week, he sent out Third Time Lucky to land the Cambridgeshire.

If you look back on all the big straight-track handicaps run in Britain so far this year, they have been peppered by Richard Fahey.  It all started on the first weekend of the turf season when the Clogherhead man sent out Gabrial to win the Lincoln.

Eastern Impact won the Havana Gold Handicap at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting (that was before he finished third in the July Cup), Rene Mathis won the Bunbury Cup, Heaven’s Guest won the International Handicap and, as well as Don’t Touch’s victory in the Ayr Gold Cup, Tatlisu won the Ayr Silver Cup.  On top of that, Fahey won a big fillies’ nursery at Newmarket with Holy Grail, and he won valuable sales races with Mr Lupton and Lathom, while at the same time reminding us that he can still do Group races with Birchwood and Ribchester.

All of this adds up to Richard Fahey’s best season to date.  At the time of writing, he had sent out 198 winners during this British turf season, and amassed over £3 million in prize money.  That’s more winners and more money than ever before.

Phil on fire

Phil The Flyer won again at Navan on Saturday.  It was Ray Hackett’s horse’s second win in as many runs since returning at Cork in late August after a three-month break, and there is every reason to believe that he is not finished yet.

There was a lot to like about Saturday’s performance.  He travelled well for Shane Shortall throughout, he jumped well and he came clear from the third last flight to win really easily.  Although he was eased close home, he still clocked an impressive time, by far the fastest comparative time of the day and just 0.18secs/furlong slower than standard.

The handicapper has raised the Broadway Flyer gelding 14lb to a mark of 123, but it is difficult to argue with a hike of that type of magnitude.  This was just his ninth run over hurdles, he is still a novice, so he has plenty of scope for further progression.  He goes well on this good ground, he stays this stiff two miles well – he has won over two and a half – and he will be of interest again now stepped up in grade before we get into the teeth of the National Hunt season.

Interference rules (again)

Final word on the interference rules, honestly, now that just about everybody has had his or her say.  One of the guiding principles of the rules – as covered by the excellent Racing UK piece on the matter on Wednesday evening – is that ‘the benefit of doubt should go to the horse which finished in front.’  Change that to: ‘The benefit of doubt should go to the horse that suffered the interference’ and you solve a lot.

© The Irish Field, 3rd October 2015