Things We Learned » Champion cracker

Champion cracker

So the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes on Longines Irish Champions Weekend is shaping up to be an Irish Champion Cracker.  (Sponsor to be confirmed.)

Just about every 10-furlong horse you could have hoped to have attracted has his or her proverbial hat in the metaphorical ring at present.  If you were being greedy, you could have asked for New Bay, and possibly Treve as well, but you never thought that those two were realistic inclusions.

Gleneagles and Golden Horn are at it again, threatening to meet, watching the weather.  These two are a bit like the balls in those little puzzles you used to get in your Christmas stocking, the ones in which you had to get the two balls into the two holes at the same time.  Not easy.

If the rains stay away, it looks like, all things being equal, both horses will run.  So will Free Eagle and last year’s winner The Grey Gatsby, and what a race it would be then.  On the positive side, last year the race was run on good to firm ground.  In 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 it was run on ground that was officially described as good.  You have to go back to 2009 to find the last renewal that was run on ground that was on the easy side of good.  Good to yielding, it was then, when Sea The Stars danced in.

It wouldn’t be good if the ground came up soft.  We could lose Gleneagles, Golden Horn and Free Eagle from the race, as well as any hope we had of getting Found.  In that instance, Arabian Queen would come into it, and Cirrus Des Aigles, and, you never know, John Gosden could re-route Jack Hobbs.  From a betting perspective, with the top three priced up at best odds of 2/1, 11/4 and 4/1 respectively, best advice is to keep an eye on the skies, or to take a punt on rain.

Grounds for doubt

The official going descriptions at The Curragh on Sunday were, yielding to soft on the straight course, soft on the round course.

However, An Saighdiur went just 0.26secs/furlong slower than Racing Post standard in the six-furlong handicap.  An Saighdiur is a decent performer who is a credit to Andy Slattery, but Dayjur he ain’t.  He is an exposed handicapper who was carrying 9st 5lb.

The logical conclusion from An Saighdiur’s time is that the ground can’t have been any softer than the soft side of good.  Even if you allow for that, the Acclamation gelding still recorded his best time figure since he finished third in the Ayr Silver Cup in 2013.  If you allow much more for the ground, An Saighdiur would have recorded the best time figure of his career, which is unlikely, on his 64th run, an eight-year-old whose official rating going into Sunday’s race was 19lb lower than his peak rating.

Cailin Mor went 0.49secs/furlongs slower than standard in the seven-furlong apprentices’ handicap, Herald The Dawn went just 0.44secs/furlong slower than standard in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes.  The logical conclusion is that the ground probably was not as soft as the official description.  So, while it looked soft, tread warily if you are making conclusions about horses handling or not handling easy conditions based solely on Sunday’s evidence.

Moviesta on song

It was great to see Moviesta win the Group 3 Renaissance Stakes at The Curragh last Saturday.  The Hard Spun gelding has been an interesting project for Eddie Lynam this season.

Making his debut for Lynam in the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot, he ran a cracker on his second run for his new trainer to finish third behind Stepper Point and Mecca’s Angel in the Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh on Irish Oaks weekend.

That run should have brought him forward for the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, a race that he won in 2013 and in which he finished third last year, beaten a neck and a short head.  Alas, it just didn’t happen for him at Goodwood this year.  He missed the kick and he was never going, but he reportedly bled there, so you can easily forgive him that.

Saturday’s run was much more like it.  He was given a super ride by Chris Hayes, who was riding him in a race for the first time.  Hayes did well to get him switched off, and get him across behind horses from his draw on the far side in stall one, delivering him with an irresistible finish on the near side which took him past Toscanini and Gordon Lord Byron.  It is high-class form.

Moviesta proved on Saturday that he has retained his ability, and he gets interesting again now as a result.  Remember that he finished a close-up and unlucky third in the Prix de l’Abbaye last year, beaten a head and the same, and that race is a possible target again now.  However, his trainer said after Saturday’s race that six furlongs is probably his best trip now, and that makes a lot of sense, so perhaps the British Champions Sprint that Lynam won with Slade Power in 2013 will be his main target after the Flying Five.  Either way, you know that he is in the right home to prepare for those types of races.

Haggas at York

You know that William Haggas loves to have winners at York, especially at the Ebor meeting, but that doesn’t mean that he always will.  Just like, when a football team needs to win to avoid relegation, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will.

Last week, however, Haggas’ team was on fire.

He had two runners on the first day of the meeting, Recorder and Storm The Stars, and they won the Acomb Stakes and the Great Voltigeur Stakes respectively.  He had three runners on the second day, and two of them won.  Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t maintain the same strike rate through the week, but he had several horses run well in defeat, including Hathal and Mutakkayef and Raucous, and Ajaya ran out an impressive winner of the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes.

It has been a fine season so far for Haggas, with top class performers like Adaay and Storm The Stars and Besharah and Muthmir and Recorder and Tasleet in his ranks.  And there is quantity there as well as quantity.  Some 74 wins so far, and he is on track to surpass last season’s best ever 113.

More to come from Western Seaboard

Western Seaboard ran better than the form suggests to finish second in the five-furlong handicap at Bellewstown on Wednesday, the Silver Frost filly doing best by far of those horses who raced towards the far side and up with the pace.

She broke well towards the outside, but she moved towards the inside as she came under pressure at the top of the home straight.  She kept on well for promising 10lb claimer Killian Leonard (who rode his first winner at Tipperary on Thursday evening) all the way to the line and, while she had no answer to Missile Command’s finishing surge, she went down by just a neck, and she finished two lengths clear of her rivals on the far side. Oor Jock, who finished well to take third behind the front pair, also raced towards the near side throughout.

Western Seaboard is only three, and this was just her seventh race and her first for Michael O’Callaghan.  She was quietly backed before Wednesday’s race as well, at decent prices, despite being 1lb out of the handicap, and she can go on from this now.  She coped with this rain-softened ground well, and that is new.  That opens up further options as we move into the autumn.

© The Irish Field, 29th August 2015