Things We Learned » Class has started

Class has started

Sea Of Class threw her hat into the Oaks ring when she won the Listed Haras De Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

The pace was not overly strong and the winning time was not good, it was almost four seconds slower than the time that Communique clocked in winning the London Gold Cup over the same course and distance two hours earlier, but it was still difficult not to be impressed with the performance that Sea Of Class put up.

Very strong in the market just before the off, she travelled well throughout for James Doyle and, still on the bridle as they passed the two-furlong pole, she showed a smart turn of foot from the furlong pole to put a distance of ground between herself and her pursuers.

The form of the maiden in which the William Haggas-trained filly finished second at Newmarket’s Craven meeting has not worked out that well to date.  The winner Ceilidhs Dream was well beaten in the Musidora Stakes, while the third and fourth, Asoof and Mythical Queen, finished fourth and third (demoted after dead-heating for second) respectively in a Wolverhampton novice stakes at the start of the month. 

However, Sea Of Class might have won that race had she not raced as keenly as she did early on, and she showed the benefit of that experience on Saturday.  Also, the fact that her trainer was still happy to allow her line up in a listed race, on just her second run, still a maiden, bears testimony to the regard in which he holds her.

William Haggas was reluctant to commit his filly to the Oaks when speaking to Racing UK at Breakfast With The Stars at Epsom on Wednesday.  He said that it might be a bit much for her at this stage of her career, the razzamatazz of Epsom, on just her third run ever.  That said, he said that there was only one Epsom Oaks (every year), and that he would speak with owner Mrs Tsui before they came to a decision. 

Connections’ decision may be influenced by the defection of erstwhile Oaks favourite Lah Ti Dar yesterday, or it may not be.  A daughter of Sea The Stars and a half-sister to no fewer than three Italian Oaks winners, Sea Of Class could improve again for the step up to a mile and a half.  It is mildly surprising that she does not hold an entry in the Ribblesdale Stakes but, if she does by-pass the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Oaks would be a logical target.

Stars is solid

The last four weeks have been good for the Gilltown Stud stallion Sea The Stars.  Crystal Ocean got the ball rolling when he won the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown four weeks ago, and he followed up by running out an impressive winner of the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes at Newbury last Saturday.  Sir Michael Stoute’s horse is now clear favourite for the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, and he could be a King George horse this season.

Stradivarius was an impressive winner of the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup, which confirmed his status as one of the most talented stayers in training, while Knight To Behold led all the way in the Lingfield Derby Trial, and he could be a lively outsider in the Investec Derby now. 

Stonific won handicaps at Haydock and Thirsk, Celestial Force won novice stakes races at Newcastle and Thirsk.  Al Muffrih battled on well on just his second run to win a 10-furlong maiden at Newbury in which he and the runner-up pulled clear, Sheberghan was impressive in winning his maiden at Sligo on Tuesday evening on just his second ever run, Stream Of Stars was impressive in winning a 12-furlong maiden at Ascot on just his second run, and could be a Queen’s Vase horse. 

Sea The Lion kept on well to win a 12-furlong handicap at Leopardstown two weeks ago, and Broad Street showed a nice turn of foot in winning a 10-furlong maiden at Navan last Saturday on his racecourse debut.  It is improbable that any of his progeny will ever match Sea The Stars’ exploits on the racetrack under the management of John Oxx and the guidance of Michael Kinane, but his sons and daughters are doing him proud. 

Stayers bonus

The fourth of the four preliminary rounds of the WH Stayers Million was run at Sandown on Thursday evening, so now we have the four horses who can win the bonus.  Torcedor had already won the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, Idaho had won the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, Stradivarius had won the Yorkshire Cup at York, and on Thursday evening, Magic Circle won the Henry II Stakes at Sandown.

One of the four has to go now and win the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup.  It will not be easily done, but it is possible.  Stradivarius is second favourite behind Order Of St George for the Ascot Gold Cup, and Torcedor could be a big player in the race, while Idaho would also be a player if he was targeted at it.  Magic Circle is not in the Ascot Gold Cup, but there is talk of supplementing him.

It is a pity that yesterday evening’s Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown was not included as one of the preliminary races.  It is a logical fit, an Irish leg.  Maybe next year.

Leger lights shine brightly

The form of last year’s St Leger, which was already enhanced before the curtain came down on 2017, has been further enhanced in the early throes of the 2018 season. 

The winner, Capri, won the Group 3 Alleged Stakes on his debut this season, runner-up Crystal Ocean has now won the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes and the Group 3 Aston Park Stakes this season, and third-placed Stradivarius won the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup.  (See above.)

Of course, fourth-placed Rekindling won the Melbourne Cup at the end of last year on his only run since.

Fifth-placed Coronet won the Group 2 Middleton Stakes on her debut this season, and 10th-placed Defoe won the Group 3 John Porter Stakes and the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes in his two runs this term.

The St Leger may not be at the height of fashion these days, but the oldest Classic may be staging a renaissance, and there is no doubting the strength of last year’s renewal.

Two in the bag

This time last year, on the morning of Irish 2000 Guineas day, in his 28-Group-1-winning-world-record-breaking year, Aidan O’Brien had two Group 1 wins in the bag for the year, a 2000 Guineas and a 1000 Guineas.  This time this year, he also has two, a 2000 Guineas and a Lockinge Stakes.  Just saying.

© The Irish Field, 26th May 2108