Things We Learned » Perspective


You think that some things are important, you think that who wins the July Cup is important, you think that a Galway prospect running a nice race is important.  Then a young rider has a horrific fall and there is perspective. 

We know that it is part of it all.  Even those of us who do not take our lives into our hands three or four or five or six times in one day know that it is a part of it.  There have been too many jolting reminders of late.  We know that there is always the probability of injury and the possibility of serious injury.  But we put it to the back of our minds until something happens to bring it to the front.

Even those who do risk everything every day put it to the back of their minds.  Ask any of the top riders about injury and they will tell you that you are aware of it all right, but that you can’t dwell on it.  If you dwelt on it, you wouldn’t do it.

Thank God Ana O’Brien’s injuries are not as bad as were initially feared.  All we can do now is hope and pray that her recovery is fast and complete.

Too much v too little

This day last week, we had the Group 1 July Cup and the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, as well as the Bunbury Cup.  We had the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot as well as a high-class sprint handicap, and we had the John Smith’s Cup at York, as well as the Listed City Walls Stakes and the Listed Silver Cup.  They call is Super Saturday. 

On top of all that, as the calendar fell, we had the Irish Oaks at The Curragh, as well as all who sailed in her, the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes and the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes and the Scurry.

At least last year the Irish Oaks fell a week later.  This year, not so fortunate, as Super Saturday was upgraded to Superduper Saturday with the addition of Irish Oaks day. 

It would not be as big an issue as it is, were it not for the relative dearth of high-class racing today, one week later.  The Group 3 Hackwood Stakes, the Super Sprint and the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury, the Listed Aphrodite Stakes at Newmarket.  Just one Group race, and it’s a Group 3.  A National Hunt card at Limerick and the most valuable race at Gowran Park is the opening EBF Auction Fillies’ Maiden, worth €15,375 to the winner. 

It is staggering that this situation has been allowed to run unchecked for seven years now. 

July Cup fall-out 

Once again we are indebted to Timeform and to Simon Rowlands for the provision of sectional times for the July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.

The figures tell you what you suspected from watching the recording: that the race was relatively slowly-run, that those horses who raced up with the pace were advantaged by the manner in which the race was run.

The winner Harry Angel was in the front rank from early.  He shared that front rank with 100/1 shot Intelligence Cross, who had over a stone to find on the figures and who, ultimately, was only beaten a total of just over two lengths.  Runner-up Limato was never that far away.  Third-placed Brando and fourth-placed Caravaggio, by contrast, raced in rear through the early stages of the race, and they are the interesting ones.

Harry Angel was obviously very good, he sat stone cold in the front rank with Intelligence Cross instead of racing him, as he had at Ascot.  He picked up nicely for Adam Kirby on the run to the furlong pole and, from that point, it never looked likely that he would be beaten.

There is obviously a good chance that he was the best horse in the race on the day at the track anyway, that he would have won however the race had been run.  But he is now regarded as such.  For example, Clive Cox’s horse has been put in at no bigger than 7/4 for the Sprint Cup at Haydock in September, while Caravaggio is available at 8/1 and Brando is available at 10/1.

At the very least, it is reasonable to conclude that both Brando and Caravaggio would have got closer to Harry Angel had the race been run at a faster pace.  They both ran faster through the final three furlongs than the winner did.

In the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot, Caravaggio was stronger through the final furlong than Harry Angel was, off a stronger pace and at a stiffer track.  Perhaps Harry Angel went too fast too early at Ascot, perhaps the Godolphin horse improved from Ascot to Newmarket.  But at present, on the evidence that we have to date, it is impossible to conclude which horse is better.  The score is one-one. 

However, recency bias being a thing and all, when they meet next time – and hopefully they will meet next time – there is a chance that the disparity in their respective odds will be greater than it should be, and that, consequently, Caravaggio will represent the value.

Brando is just as interesting as Caravaggio.  He was a 28/1 shot going into the race having finished last of 12 in the Duke of York Stakes on his last run before Saturday.  There’s that recency bias again.

But he broke a blood vessel at York, and he is never at his best on the Knavesmire anyway.  He hasn’t won there in six attempts and, in the two Group races that he contested there, he has finished ninth and 12th.

Winner of the Ayr Gold Cup last year and third in the Group 1 British Champions Sprint at Ascot, Kevin Ryan’s horse looked very good in winning the Abernant Stakes on his debut this season, and he probably stepped forward from that on Saturday.  He could still be an under-rated horse and, probably at his best with a little bit of cut in the ground, he will be interesting as we move into the autumn. 

Minding options 

When a broodmare prospect of Minding’s ability (nine wins from 13 runs and never out of the first three, seven Group 1s including a Guineas and an Oaks and a QE2) and with Minding’s pedigree (out of Coronation Stakes and Matron Stakes winner Lillie Langtry) retires from racing, your initial inclination is to think Galileo.  Or it would be if she was not by Galileo herself.  She has myriad options.  She can choose her dance partner.  She is the belle of the ball.

It was interesting listening to the options for Minding that have been kicked around by the breeding experts in the last 10 days.  War Front is one.  War Front is by Danzig, who is by Northern Dancer.  Fastnet Rock is another, and Fastnet Rock is by Danehill, who is by Danzig who is by Northern Dancer.

Excelebration is by Exceed And Excel, who is by Danehill, who is by Danzig, who is by Northern Dancer.  Caravaggio is by Scat Daddy, who is by Johannesburg, who is by Hennessy, who is by Storm Cat, who is by Storm Bird, who is by Northern Dancer.

Minding herself is by Galileo, who is by Sadler’s Wells, who is by Northern Dancer.  He has had some impact, that Northern Dancer.

Muxed ip

To the phrases, ‘Don’t upset the apple tart’ and ‘The world is your lobster’, now add, ‘I wouldn’t trust her with a bargepole.’  Strange the way things get muxed ip sometimes.


© The Irish Field, 22nd July 2017