Things We Learned » Love may be under-rated

Love may be under-rated

There is a chance that the performance that the Andy Oliver-trained Sendmylovetorose put up in winning the Cherry Hinton Stakes at Newmarket last Friday will be under-rated simply because of the post-race attention that was afforded the runner-up.  Common consensus was that, had Maureen enjoyed a clear run through the race, she definitely would have won, but there are two things wrong with that consensus.

Firstly, she didn’t enjoy a clear run through the race, Jimmy Fortune was standing up in the irons on Richard Hannon’s filly when the majority of her rivals (including the winner) were expending energy picking up into a quickening pace.  It is this very phenomenon that can cause fast-finishers to look more unlucky than they actually are, and which leads to them often being over-bet the next time they race.

Secondly, and more pertinently, Maureen raced against the stands rail, on what was probably the fastest part of the track, for the majority of the race.  Fortune was well within his rights to stay there for as long as he dared in the hope that a gap would open up on the rail.  As it happened, the hoped-for gap did not appear, and the rider had to switch out and get after the leaders inside the final two furlongs.

Colm O’Donoghue gave the winner a typical no-nonsense ride.  By making his ground away from the stands rail, Sendmylovetorose was probably racing on a comparatively slow part of the track, but it meant that O’Donoghue could make his ground whenever he wanted.  The filly didn’t help her rider by hanging to her left on the run down the hill, away from the stands rail, but she picked up impressively a furlong and a half out, putting in a race-winning injection of pace.  She is a highly-talented filly, unbeaten now in the three times that she has made it into the stalls, and if she were to meet the runner-up again under similar conditions, she would be favourite to beat her again in my book.

Irish theme

Speaking of Sendmylovetorose, her victory in the Cherry Hinton was the continuation of a theme this flat season that has seen a veritable proliferation of Irish trainers make their mark beyond the coastline of this island.  It is great for Irish racing that Aidan O’Brien and Jim Bolger and Dermot Weld and John Oxx habitually and consistently fly the Irish flag in Britain and further afield, but this year there seems to be exceptional strength in-depth in that area.

Eight Irish winners at Royal Ascot, representing six different trainers, was unprecedented, and they were backed up at the meeting by horses from other Irish yards who ran well without winning.  Okay, so it was a British-based horse who won Saturday’s July Cup, even if he was trained by an Irishman, but there were three Irish-trained runners from three different yards in a field of a dozen in the race, and two of them were sent off at 8/1 or shorter.  This theme may run through the entire season.

Godolphin getting going

It is around about this time every year that Team Godolphin crank through the gears, and this year is no exception to the norm.  After strike rates of 0%, 12%, 20% and 13% in Britain in March, April, May and June this year respectively, representing losses to level-stakes of €2, €15.17, €9.96 and €40.90, their strike rate in July so far is an impressive 30%, providing a level-stakes net profit of €19.20.

Interestingly, in the five months (July to November inclusive) between the middle of the flat season and the end in the last three years (2009 to 2011), which represents a total of 15 months, you would have made a level-stakes profit on Godolphin horses in 10 of those months, and three of the months in which you wouldn’t have made a profit were in 2010, which was a disappointing year in general for the entire operation.  It might be wise to pay attention to whatever the boys in blue run these days, even if they are on occasion the boys in blue and white, or even the boys in blue and red.

Soul revival

You can’t get it right every time, and hindsight gives you a rare perspective, but even at the time it looked like a strange decision by the aforementioned boys in blue to run Sepoy as their, well, sole representative in the Group 1 July Cup last Saturday, re-routing Soul to the Group 3 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury on the same day, especially given that the former race is sponsored by Darley.

Sepoy had form on soft ground in Australia, but so did Soul, and on heavy ground, and the son of Commands had the additional asset of two runs in Britain already this season, including a most-recent highly-encouraging one when a close-up fourth in the Diamond Jubilee, whereas Sepoy was coming into the heat of a July Cup straight off the back of a disappointing run at Meydan back in March.

Soul won the Hackwood Stakes, so you can easily argue job done, but Godolphin are all about Group 1 races and, such was the authority with which he won the Newbury contest, posting a better speed figure than Mayson posted in winning the July Cup, that you have to think he would have at least been competitive in the Group 1 race.

More power to Lynam

The main worry about Slade Power going into last Sunday’s Listed Belgrave Stakes at Fairyhouse surrounded his ability to handle the soft ground (soft to heavy in places between the six-furlong and three-furlong markers, apparently).  All of the colt’s five runs prior to Sunday had been on good or fast turf or Polytrack (also generally good or fast), so there was no way of knowing if he would be effective or not on Sunday’s easier terrain.  Turns out, he is.  Quite.

Sabena Power’s colt travelled supremely well through the race, made nice ground up on the outside of some useful soft-ground rivals early in the home straight, and picked up impressively on the near side once Wayne Lordan asked him to, ultimately giving the impression that he had a fair bit more in hand than the half-length winning margin.

Trainer Eddie Lynam mentioned Haydock’s Sprint Cup in September as a potential target, and while a step up to Group 1 level from listed level is a fair step to take, this is not windmill-tilting talk.  Slade Power is really progressive, this was just his sixth ever race and he has significant scope for improvement.  Interestingly, four of the last nine renewals of the Sprint Cup have been won by three-year-olds.

Also, Slade Power won another listed race over the Sprint Cup course and distance last month, and we now know that, if it happened to come up soft at Haydock in September, as it often does (can you even imagine good to firm ground these days?), the son of Dutch Art should at least be able to operate on it.  This performance also suggests that the Powers and Lynam have a ready-made successor to Sole Power when the 2010 Nunthorpe Stakes 100/1 hero decides to hang up his racing shoes. Not that that is going to happen any time soon, mind you.  At least not until after the 2012 Nunthorpe Stakes anyway.  (The 100/1 is no more, by the way. Not this year.)

© The Irish Field, 21st July 2012