Things We Learned » Strike two

Strike two

We don’t write a letter to the editor when we see Futurity Stakes and Jessica Harrington in the same sentence any more, and Dragon Pulse went where his erstwhile stable companion Pathfork had gone before when he landed the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at The Curragh last Saturday.

Not seen on a racecourse until 3rd June, Dragon Pulse was at least as impressive in providing his trainer with her second Futurity as Pathfork was in providing her with her first. The son of Kyllachy travelled supremely well throughout and could have been called as the most likely winner long before Fran Berry asked him to pick up at the two-furlong pole.

He is not in the Goffs National Stakes yet, but nor was Pathfork at this stage last year, and look how that one turned out. The 20 grand supplementary fee could be money well spent. This fellow could prove to be very good indeed and, like most of his stable companions, even the ones who jump things, he could be under-rated for a while yet.

Seasonal debutant to note

Before Blue Bunting put herself in line for a tilt at the Ladbrokes St Leger by landing the Yorkshire Oaks last Thursday, French Navy was looking like a very interesting Godolphin flag-bearer in the final Classic.

Winner of his first three races for Andre Fabre last season, he was sent off the 2/1 favourite for his final race, the Group 1 Criterium International, at Saint-Cloud last November, but he was free in the early stages of that race and he floundered in the very soft ground, coming home 10 lengths behind Roderic O’Connor. He didn’t reappear until 13th August, two weeks ago, but there was a lot to like about the performance that he put up then at Newmarket in beating Joshua Tree by two lengths on his first run for Mahmood Al Zarooni.

He still had to prove his stamina for the Leger trip, mind you, he is a half-brother to Sea Lord, Mark Johnston’s miler, by Shamardal out of a Woodman mare, but his dam was a Listed winner in France over 10 furlongs and she is related to Assatis, who won two Hardwicke Stakes and a Group 1 in Italy over a mile and a half for Guy Harwood. Now that Blue Bunting is shaping up as Godolphin’s main Leger hope, it leaves French Navy free to take up one or more of his other lofty engagements over a les stamina-stretching trip. He would be a lively outsider if he made it to Leopardstown or Ascot for a Champion Stakes.

Trainer watch

Subsequent exploits of Dermot Weld’s Galway Festival winners to date: Riviera Poet, fifth in the Futurity Stakes at The Curragh on Saturday (sent off the 2/1 favourite); Stunning View, sixth in a listed race at Killarney on Tuesday (2/1 favourite); Maunsells Duke, 12th of 14 at Naas five days after his Galway win (7/4 favourite) and 12th of 12 at Killarney on Tuesday; Anam Allta, second in a listed race at Tipperary last Thursday (12/1); Teach Nua, won a handicap at Sligo five days after his Galway win (7/2), then got beaten in a handicap at Gowran Park (7/2).

Eight runs, one win, a couple of disappointing favourites. Perhaps it takes them a little longer to recover from Galway than we allow.

20-20 vision (Easy in hindsight)

Hoof It was terrible value for the Nunthorpe Stakes at 11/4, as people jumped on the Lee Westwood/Kieren Fallon bandwagon, and bookmakers reported that the Mick Easterby-trained gelding was the only horse that punters wanted to back.

They say that there is a very small gap between the top sprint handicappers and the Group 1 performers, but there is still a gap. As well as stepping up in grade, Hoof It was stepping down in trip from six furlongs to five. The last time that he won over five furlongs was in October last year, when he just got up to land a Doncaster handicap off a mark of 94. On top of all of that, he was having his third run in less than a month, having had two hard races in two tough handicaps.

I wouldn’t go giving up on him yet, he may well prove up to Group 1 class, given time to freshen up and stepped back up to six furlongs, but he might be priced up a little more realistically next time.

Thought for the week

Who would have thought that Horse Racing Ireland’s CEO’s autobiography would have the same title as Barney Curley’s?

© The Irish Field, 27th August 2011