Things We Learned » Three juvenile fillies

Three juvenile fillies

Ordinarily, you would expect that the winner of the Fillies’ Mile (a Group 1 race that has been won in the past by Height Of Fashion, Oh So Sharp, Diminuendo, Bosra Sham, Reams Of Verse, Gossamer and Soviet Song) or the Cheveley Park Stakes (another Group 1 race that has been won in the past by Marling, Sayyedati, Queen’s Logic, Indian Ink, Natagora and Special Duty) would stimulate a greater sense of anticipation surrounding next year’s Classics than the winner of the Listed Blenheim Stakes would, but this may not be an ordinary year.

Certify ran out a visually impressive winner of the Fillies’ Mile last Friday, but the race was weakened by Winsili’s withdrawal on the morning of the race and by the fact that Ollie Olga almost certainly under-performed in finishing last of the six runners.  Also, the time was not great, two seconds slower than the other two races run over a mile on the day, and the Godolphin filly may not have the scope for progression through the winter that some of her contemporaries have.  Godolphin won the previous two renewals of this race with White Moonstone and Lyric Of Light, who between them have mustered just one disappointing run since.  Certify is a classy filly, but she may be a weak Guineas favourite at this stage.

Rosdhu Queen was also impressive in winning the Cheveley Park Stakes on Saturday, she kept on well out of the Dip when she was challenged to go on and win nicely, but she was the beneficiary of a typically astute front-running ride from Johnny Murtagh, who was able to set fractions to suit his filly.  Also, like Certify, she raced on what was probably the fastest part of the track.  More pertinently in the context of the Guineas, however, she is by Invincible Spirit and her half-siblings are sprinters, so it may be that six furlongs will be her optimum next season.

If you were on the lookout for visual impressiveness, then Viztoria took your eye out with her performance in winning Sunday’s Anglesey Lodge Blenheim Stakes.  Johnny Murtagh also rode the Eddie Lynam-trained filly, so he should have a fair idea of how she compares with Rosdhu Queen, but you have to think that they are different types: Rosdhu Queen is all speed whereas Viztoria will probably benefit from stepping up in trip.  Also, Viztoria went through Sunday’s heavy ground as if it was good to soft, good in places.  That had to have given Murtagh a very different feel to the one that Rosdhu Queen gave him on good ground at Newmarket on Saturday.

As well as being visually impressive, however, there was substance to Viztoria’s victory.  The Blenheim was a strong listed race for juveniles, the six rivals that Viztoria left toiling are all rated 90 or higher, with third-placed Tennessee Wildcat rated 98.  She could have won by significantly further than the seven-and-a-half-length winning margin, and the winning time was really good, the fastest comparative time on the day and over a half a second faster than the time that the five-year-old Bubbly Bellini clocked in winning the Premier Handicap over the same course and distance a half an hour later carrying the same weight.

The daughter of Oratorio still has to prove that she can operate on better ground in a race but, if she can, she is a very exciting prospect indeed.

Nini all right

For the second time in as many runs when finishing fourth in a sprint handicap at The Curragh, Nini Ok shaped much better than that suggested by the bare result of the Premier Handicap won by Bubbly Bellini.

John Murphy’s filly was alongside Ado McGuinness’s gelding in the six-furlong contest, and travelling much better than the ultimate winner, as they passed the two-furlong pole, but the leaders got away from her a little as Derek McCormack moved her to her right in search of racing room, and she finished strongly on the far side to take fourth place, despite continuing to move to her right.

The Acclamation filly was also a little unlucky on her previous run over five furlongs at headquarters three weeks ago.  Slowly away that day, she was stone last of the 13 runners passing the two-furlong pole, but she made ground, weaving between runners and drifting to her right, to finish fourth behind Cape Of Approval and First In Command.

It may be significant that her only win to date has been gained at Kempton, it may be that she is at her best going right-handed.  She railed like a greyhound at right-handed Kempton, and she had also moved to her right when she finished second behind subsequent dual listed race winner Slade Power in a handicap at Cork in April.

The handicapper has dropped her 1lb to a mark of 77 after Sunday’s run, which is no harm at all.  She seems to handle all types of surface – good ground and soft ground as well as Polytrack – and she will be of interest wherever she runs next, especially if it looks like she will have a rail to her right.

New season beckons

All week the news wires provided appetite-whetting snippets: Sea Of Thunder set for chasing debut at Clonmel; Sizing Europe, China Rock and First Lieutenant may clash at Gowran Park on Saturday; Thousand Stars could take on Rebel Fitz and Captain Cee Bee at Tipperary on Sunday; Rubi Light’s early season target is the Chase at Down Royal; Medermit will start off in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree later this month, where he will probably meet Albertas Run.

Mossley will wear ear-plugs on his debut for Robbie Hennessy, possibly in a handicap hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday; Andrew Lynch is due to return from injury on Friday; Go Native is set to return at Navan next Wednesday; Noble Prince will probably start off the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter; Dessie (as opposed to Richard) Hughes is flying, five winners from his last nine runners.  Oh the season is getting going all right.  (And that’s even without hurdles at Chester.)

Thunder rolls

Speaking of Sea Of Thunder, the Gigginstown House horse up a really impressive performance to win his beginners’ chase at Clonmel on Saturday on his chasing bow.  He did make a bad mistake at the fifth fence, a mistake from which Davy Russell did remarkably well to recover, but, that blemish aside, his jumping was flawless.  He quickened into his fences, making ground on his rivals at virtually every one of them.  He was fluent and easy, he was well able to stand off and he was able to shorten up really nicely without losing ground, his point-to-pointing experience obviously coming in handy.

On this evidence, the Charles Byrnes-trained gelding has the potential to be even better over fences than he was over hurdles, and he was rated 135 and was a moral Grade 2 winner at Cheltenham over hurdles.  He does really need good ground to be at his best, according to his trainer, but, that caveat notwithstanding, he is a really exciting chasing prospect.  It is ridiculously early days, you shouldn’t really be even starting to think about the Cheltenham Festival at the beginning of October, but quotes of 20/1 about the son of Old Vic for the RSA Chase – a race that his owner and trainer won with Weapon’s Amnesty in 2010 – are mildly interesting.

Hokey Cokey Arc

Bizarre week for the Arc de Triomphe: Camelot may be out, Snow Fairy is definitely out, Danedream is out, Camelot may be in, Nathaniel is out, Frankel may be in, Danedream may be back in, Great Heavens may be in, Bayrir may be in, the Frankel rumour was never really a runner, Danedream is definitely out, Camelot is definitely in, Saonois is in, Great Heavens is in, Reliable Man is out, Bayrir is in.

That’s what it was all about.

© The Irish Field, 6th October 2012