Things We Learned » Colima a contender

Colima a contender

It is understandable that all the post-race chat after the Lingfield Oaks Trial last Saturday centred around the winner Vow. Well-backed beforehand after an impressive win in a maiden at Newbury, the same maiden that her trainer William Haggas had won last year with Oaks heroine Dancing Rain, she travelled well through the race up in the front rank, ideally positioned off the sedate pace, she picked up nicely around the home turn when Johnny Murtagh asked her to, and she came right away from her field, despite veering to her right, to post an impressive win. The fact that she races in the Highclere colours does the level of attention no harm either.

In all the talk about the winner, however – talk that has seen her Oaks odds contract from 20/1 to no better than 6/1 now – the merit of the performance that Colima put up in chasing her home has gone a little under the radar. Colima was settled back last of the eight runners, which isn’t where you want to be when the pace is as moderate as it was in the race. She picked up nicely around the home turn, and she stayed on well up the home straight to secure second place easily, Jim Crowley understandably not subjecting her to too hard a time of it once it was obvious that she couldn’t catch the winner.

This was just Colima’s second ever run – she won a Nottingham maiden at the back-end of last season on her racecourse debut – and her first run this term. The scope that she has for progression is significant, compounded by the fact that her trainer Ralph Beckett has said that she has been a slow learner. Vow was having just her second ever run as well, but her first was this season, just three weeks ago. As well as having the run of the race, the Highclere filly also had the edge in terms of match fitness over her rival.

Of course, Vow looked very good, and it may be that Colima will not be able to reverse placings with her at Epsom, but there is a chance that she will, and the discrepancy in their respective odds is too great given the evidence that we have. It is also significant that Beckett’s 2008 Oaks winner Look Here had a similar preparation to the preparation that Colima has had to date: two runs, first in a back-end maiden as a juvenile, second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

Classic Bolger

It is interesting that Jim Bolger was not tempted to pay the supplementary entry fee to put Light Heavy into the Epsom Derby after the son of Teofilo battled on well to win the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial – historically one of the best Derby trials – at Leopardstown last Sunday. Light Heavy is obviously a highly talented individual, he has an attitude to die for, he is improving with racing and he will surely improve again for a step up to a mile and a half.

You can understand the trainer’s reticence, mind you. The Irish Derby at The Curragh is probably the race for Light Heavy, and the trainer has Parish Hall already in at Epsom, no need to try to convince the owner (sic.) to cough up the extra funds.

It won’t be easy for Parish Hall in the Derby, given that the Irish Guineas is his most imminent engagement. Of course, Bolger ran New Approach in the Irish Guineas in 2008 before that horse went on and won the Derby, but there were two weeks between the races in 2008. This year there are seven days.

As well as that, New Approach had had a run in 2008 before the Irish Guineas, going down by the width of a narrow thing to Henrythenavigator in the Newmarket version. Parish Hall will be making his seasonal debut at The Curragh next Saturday, all going well. It is not impossible to run in the Irish Guineas and then win the Epsom Derby, and if you had to do it you would want someone like Bolger in your corner, but it’s not going to be easy for the son of Teofilo. (Are they all?)

As if that wasn’t enough to keep the Master of Cool(cullen) busy on the Classic front, he is also responsible (owner/trainer/breeder) for Wednesday evening’s Naas winner Dawn Approach, the only horse quoted for next year’s 2000 Guineas at this juncture. 20/1 favourite, if you’re interested.

Match up

Everyone wants this match, right? (Frankel v Black Caviar of course, we’ve moved on, it’s not Big Buck’s v Quevega any more, it is the summer after all, and be sure to call Frankel first, home field advantage.) So why not make it happen?

If a sponsor can be found for the British Champions’ Series (fair play to Qipco), then a sponsor can surely be found for the staging of a match between the fastest horse in the Northern Hemisphere and the fastest horse in the Southern Hemisphere. (Qipco again?) That’s assuming Excelebration isn’t the fastest horse in the Northern Hemisphere now. (We’ll know more about that one today at around 3.45pm.)

Surely there would be more commercial benefit from the sponsorship of this match than there is for the British Champions’ Series. Of course the prize money would have to be sufficient to entice both parties to want to run, but it would be surprising if either would sidestep the challenge (Sir Henry Cecil has already said that he would love to see it happen) and it would still probably cost less.

The race would have to be run at the intermediate distance of seven furlongs, at a fair, straightforward track (not Chester or Epsom or Goodwood then), probably the straight track at Ascot or Newmarket, and the timing would have to fit in with both horses’ programmes, but it shouldn’t be that difficult.

It is the great matches that are the main focus of sport, of every sport, and the interest that Frankel v Black Caviar would generate, the benefit that it could bring to racing, would surely be worth many a British Champions’ Series.

Princess apt

It was apt that Dermot Weld should have sent out Princess Highway to win the Blue Wind Stakes at Naas on Wednesday evening – the race named after the filly that Weld trained to win the Epsom Oaks and the Irish Oaks in 1981 – thereby bridging a nine-year gap back to Humilis in 2003.

Princess Highway probably won’t emulate Blue Wind in winning the Oaks, she is not entered at this stage, but she is in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, and that is the race that Weld nominated afterwards as her likely target. Interestingly, Weld last won the Ribblesdale in 2002 with Princess Highway’s dam, Irresistible Jewel. The trainer and the Moyglare Stud filly could be bridging a 10-year gap at Ascot next month.

Gigginstown roll

Just when you thought that the Gigginstown juggernaut might take a summer vacation, up pop His Excellency and Carlito Brigante at Killarney on Tuesday to win on their respective chasing debuts. Put those with Prince Ludovic’s win at Kilbeggan last Saturday on his chasing bow, and the seasons converge.

© The Irish Field, 19th May 2012