Things We Learned » Guineas contenders

Guineas contenders

Next year’s 2000 Guineas market underwent a volatile 10-minute spell on Saturday afternoon.  Ten Sovereigns’ victory in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at The Curragh saw his odds move from 14/1 and 16/1 to 7/1 and 8/1, while Too Darn Hot’s performance in the Solario Stakes at Sandown was the catalyst for his odds to be cut from 12/1 and 14/1 to 6/1 and 7/1. 

Plenty has been written and said about both colts this week.  Both were very impressive.  Ten Sovereigns travelled easily through his race, moved up to join his stable companion Fantasy at the two-furlong marker and came clear of his field inside the final furlong.  There was never a point in the race at which you thought that Aidan O’Brien’s colt wouldn’t win.

Too Darn Hot also travelled well, but there was a point in the race, early in the home straight, when Frankie Dettori had to give him a little squeeze.  If you had paused the race there, without knowing the identities of the protagonists, you would have said that he was not travelling as well as either of the horses who preceded him. 

The pixels sorted themselves into order though as the race developed.  Moved towards the outside by Dettori, John Gosden’s colt picked up nicely, joined the leaders at the two-furlong marker and had gone two lengths clear by the time he reached the furlong pole.  From there, he just drew further and further clear.

There are similarities between the two colts – twice-raced, unbeaten, hugely exciting juveniles, born a day apart, trained by world-class practitioners of their profession on either side of the Irish Sea – but there are also differences.  Too Darn Hot won his maiden over a mile, and he raced over seven furlongs on Saturday as if he would appreciate a step back up in distance.  Ten Sovereigns won his maiden over six furlongs, and showed bundles of pace over the same trip on Saturday. 

On that theme, Too Darn Hot is by Dubawi, who has a stamina index of 9.6 furlongs, and he is out of the Yorkshire Oaks and Dubai Sheema Classic winner Dar Re Mi, whose sire, Singspiel, won the Coronation Cup and the Juddmonte International and the Japan Cup and has an index of 10.3 furlongs. 

Ten Sovereigns is by No Nay Never, the Prix Morny winner whose best performances were over distances from five and a half to six and a half furlongs, and he is out of the Exceed And Excel mare Seeking Solace.  Seeking Solace won over 10 furlongs and she was placed in a listed race over 11 furlongs, but her sire has a stamina index of 6.7 furlongs.

It is not surprising that the talk for Too Darn Hot is of the Dewhurst Stakes over seven furlongs, while the talk for Ten Sovereigns is of the Middle Park over six.  The Guineas is a legitimate early-2019 goal for both colts at this stage but, after that, their respective paths could diverge.  It could be the Derby for the former and the Commonwealth Cup for the latter.

Either way, both colts are obviously hugely exciting prospects.

O’Brien back on track

Aidan O’Brien said at York that he felt that the bug that had infiltrated Ballydoyle had run its course, and the evidence of the last two weeks appears to prove that hypothesis.

The trainer had a four-timer at The Curragh on this day two weeks ago, and he had a double the following day, when he had the 1-2-3 in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes.  Then last weekend, back at The Curragh, he had three winners on Friday and four winners on Saturday, when he bagged the Irish Cambridgeshire with Kenya (see below) as well as the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes with Ten Sovereigns (see above). 

There was another double at Naas on Tuesday (from five runners and representatives in just three races) and yet another at Gowran Park on Wednesday (four runners, two races).  He has had 20 winners from 83 runners in the last two weeks.  That’s a strike rate of 24%, which is up there with his average this season to date, and which is at least 6% higher than the strike rate of any other trainer who has had 100 runners or more on the flat in Ireland so far this season.  It all augurs well for the autumn campaign.

Irish Cambridgeshire notes

Saturday’s Tote Irish Cambridgeshire was an unusually-run race, in that it appeared to be difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it.  That is not a common occurrence in a 21-runner handicap run over a mile, when the big field usually generates a pace that is fast enough to at least bring the hold-up horses into it. 

That said, the winner Kenya looked very good.  He did hold a prominent position from early, but he responded well to pressure, and he came clear of his field under Seamie Heffernan to post an impressive victory in a competitive handicap.  He came three and a half lengths clear, and he posted a good time. 

Winner of his maiden by eight lengths on his second attempt last season, Aidan O’Brien’s colt followed up by landing the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown last October on his third and final run at two.

It has taken him a little while to find his range this season, but he seemed to appreciate the drop back down from 10 and a half furlongs to a stiff mile on Saturday.  Racing in his first handicap off a mark of 98, he probably put up the best performance of his career to date in becoming just the second three-year-old to win the Irish Cambridgeshire in the last decade.

The Galileo colt holds an entry in the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown on the first day of Irish Champions Weekend next Saturday, and he would be fully deserving of his place in that line-up. 

He also holds an entry in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket at the end of this month.  The handicapper raised him by 8lb for Saturday’s win, but he was fully deserving of a hike of that magnitude, and a mark of 106 could still under-estimate him, if connections decided to continue down the high-class handicap route for now.

Two other horses worth noting from Saturday’s race are runner-up Katiymann and fifth-placed Master Speaker, who probably both did well to get as close as they did from the rear.  They are both fairly well exposed, a six-year-old and an eight-year-old who have raced, respectively, 20 times and 66 times.  But both horses are obviously on really good terms with themselves and they will both be interesting wherever they go next.

Angel Ascot record

Harry Angel’s racing record relative to Ascot is quite bizarre.  Clive Cox’s horse has now run 10 times, five times at Ascot, five times away from Ascot.  He has lost all five of his races at Ascot, and he has won all five of his races away from Ascot.

There may be nothing in it, it may be down to mere happenstance, and two of his defeats at Ascot were by narrow margins, but if it is down to mere coincidence, it is some coincidence.  It would be like flipping a coin 10 times, five times with your left hand and five times with your right hand, and getting heads each time you flipped it with your left hand and tails each time you flipped it with your right hand.  (Or vice versa.)  It’s a 1023/1 shot.

Fortunately for Harry’s supporters, the Godolphin colt runs in the Sprint Cup today at Haydock, where he is two for two.  Not at Ascot.

Thought for the day

Lucky that Kempton’s Group 3 September Stakes was brought forward last year to 2.05pm from 3.45pm, the time at which it was run in 2016 when Arab Spring won it.  It means that, today, Frankie Dettori will have two hours to get from Kempton, where he will ride last year’s Arc heroine Enable on her first run since, to Haydock, where he will ride James Garfield in the Sprint Cup.  

It also means that Crystal Ocean’s rider David Probert should be able to get up the road to Ascot in time for the first of his four rides at 3.20pm, and that Rossa Ryan will be able to follow him up after he has ridden Jaayiz in the nursery at Kempton at 2.40pm.

Even Frankie probably wouldn’t have got from Kempton to Haydock in a half an hour.

© The Irish Field, 8th September 2018