Things We Learned » Fillies’ watch

Fillies’ watch

The 10-furlong three-year-old fillies’ maiden that opened proceedings at Leopardstown last Sunday could be a rich source of future winners.

Most the right yards were represented and the race was run at a decent pace and in a good time, the second-fastest comparative time on the day, only marginally slower than the Listed 2000 Guineas Trial, and around three seconds faster than the other two races run over 10 furlongs on the day.

The winner, the Jim Bolger-trained Ceisteach, showed a super attitude to get back up on the line after being headed, and the Dermot Weld-trained Kaleefa ran a huge race on her racecourse debut to go down in a head-bobber, while the Jessica Harrington-trained Ode To Psyche lost no caste in going down by a nose and a short head.

Also, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ruby Tuesday ran a really nice race to finish fourth, staying on well on the far side through the closing stages under Seamie Heffernan to be closest at the finish. She is impeccably-bred, a daughter of Galileo out of the Darshaan mare Jude, which makes her a three-parts sister to Quarter Moon, Yesterday and All My Loving. She is an exciting filly, she should do better with this run under her belt, and she could improve again for the step up to a mile and a half.

Hold-up horses

One of the more interesting aspects about the races run on the straight track at Doncaster last weekend was than, generally, those horses who raced prominently seemed to be at an advantage.

On Saturday, four of the first five home in the Brocklesby raced handily, the first four home in the Cammidge Trophy all raced handily, and Brae Hill was always handy in the Spring Mile, while five of the first six home in the Lincoln were prominent from early. On Sunday, two of the three seven-furlong races were won by horses who made all, while in the six-furlong handicap the first three home were all prominent throughout.

As a consequence, it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on several of those horses who ran well from off the pace. These include Cock Of The North (the Brocklesby winner), Stand My Ground and Yourartisonfire (second and third in the Spring Mile), Sweet Lightning (fourth in the Lincoln), Manchestar (winner of the first division of the seven-furlong handicap on Sunday), and Joey’s Destiny and Sir Reginald (second and fourth respectively in the six-furlong handicap).

Laurels strewn

If we needed further evidence of the fact that Europe and America are no longer dominant, we got it at Meydan last Saturday.

The fact that they run the non-turf races on Tapeta and not dirt is obviously a mitigating factor against the Americans, but even so, the laurels were strewn internationally.

South Africa provided the 1-2 in the Godolphin Mile with Variety Club and Soft Falling Rain, Hong Kong won the Al Quoz Sprint with Amber Sky and had a 1-2 in the Golden Shaheen with Sterling City and Rich Tapestry, Japan won the Dubai Duty Free with Just A Way and the Sheema Classic with Gentildonna, while Dubai kept the main prize at home, so to speak, with African Story’s win in the World Cup.

For Europe, Ireland won the Dubai Gold Cup via the Michael Halford-trained Certerach and Jamie Osborne (Britain) won the UAE Derby with Toast Of New York. America was represented after all then.

Stats all

By now, you will probably have heard and read innumerable stats on today’s Crabbie’s Grand National, but here is one of the more pertinent ones. In 2009, when Mon Mome won the race as a nine-year-old, horses aged in single figures – including one eight-year-old and one seven-year-old – filled six of the first seven places. However, since then, the older horses have dominated.

In 2010, seven of the first eight home were 10 or older, in 2011 the first six home were 10 or older, in 2012 five of the first seven horses home were 10 or older, and last year, five of the first six home were aged 11 or 12 (three 11-year-olds and two 12-year-olds).

It may be that there is a correlation between age and strength, and the modifications to the fences, or it may not, but for some reason, older horses seem to be favoured even more these days in the Grand National than they had been in the past (and they have always been favoured).

If you rule out horses aged in single figures, you rule out 21 of the 40 runners. It might be a start.

Quote of the week

Tom Hogan’s after Gordon Lord Byron had won the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill on Saturday: “That should have put him spot on for his target in two weeks’ time.”

© The Irish Field, 5th April 2014