Things We Learned » Trophy is Classic pointer

Trophy is Classic pointer

It used to be the case that the Vertem Futurity Trophy was a Derby pointer.  Reference Point won the Epsom Derby, King’s Theatre finished second in the Epsom Derby and in the Irish Derby and won the King George, Celtic Swing won the French Derby, the Prix du Jockey Club, and that was back in the days when it was run over a mile and a half.

It made sense.  A one-mile Group 1 race for juveniles at the end of October, usually on easy ground.  It makes sense that a juvenile who has the talents required to win such a contest may be seen to best advantage over middle distances as a three-year-old.

Saratoga Springs won the Dante, Dilshaan won the Dante, Aristotle passed the post first in the Prix Greffulhe.

The six renewals run between 2001 and 2006 provided three Derby winners in High Chaparral, Motivator and Authorized, and a St Leger winner in Brian Boru. Kingston Hill also won the Leger.  Camelot won the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby and almost won the Leger. 

But Camelot also won the Guineas.  The Montjeu colt had the pace to win a Classic over a mile, and that was unusual at the time for a Futurity winner.  American Post, the 2003 Futurity winner, had won the French Guineas, but that was unusual then too.

Then last year, the 2017 Futurity winner Saxon Warrior won the 2000 Guineas.  And earlier this year, the 2018 Futurity winner Magna Grecia won the 2000 Guineas.  That’s the last two winners now – the former by Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare – who have gone on and won the Guineas the following year.  So take note of the Guineas quotes about today’s winner as well as the Derby quotes.

Change is good

King Of Change was a worthy winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.  He travelled well through his race for Sean Levey, he picked up nicely when his rider went for him, and he stayed on well all the way to the winning line.

The Farhh colt is a wholly likeable individual, who probably didn’t get the credit that he should have got for finishing second in the Guineas, a 66/1 shot who raced on the stands side.  He is progressive, he is an exciting talent, and it was a really good training performance by Richard Hannon to get him to Ascot in that form, good enough to beat very good older milers, on only his second run since the Guineas and just the sixth run of his life. 

He probably would have won even if he hadn’t come across The Revenant inside the final furlong.  The runner-up probably wouldn’t have caught him.  He may have been idling in front too and he may have found more if the French horse had got closer, but we never got the chance to find out.

The Revenant was making ground as they raced inside the final furlong.  Francis Graffard’s horse was gaining on the leader, momentum up, when King Of Change came across him, first taking him to his left and then running across him, interrupting his momentum. 

It was good race riding by Sean Levey, given that the rules are as they are.  He switched his whip from his left hand to his right hand when he realised that The Revenant was closing.  The head-on was fairly revealing.  He moved from about three horse-widths off the inside rail inside the final furlong to about 10 or 12 horse-widths off it by the time he reached the winning line.

It is almost certain that King Of Change would have won anyway, but the rider took no chances.  That’s maximising your chance of victory.  As above, it’s clever race-riding under the rules as they stand.

The winning distance was over a length, so there was hardly an eyelid batted.  It didn’t make any difference to the result, was the conclusion, and that is almost certainly the correct conclusion.  It doesn’t mean that there isn’t an issue though.  The issue is with the rules.  The rules should discourage this type of ride.  These days, they encourage it.

Fogarty back 

It was great to see Mikey Fogarty back in the winner’s enclosure at Thurles on Thursday, after he had booted Robin Gold home in the mares’ handicap hurdle. 

This is the same Mikey Fogarty who rode Don Poli to victory for Willie Mullins and Gigginstown House in the Martin Pipe Hurdle at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, and who rode Rashaan to his first three victories for Colin Kidd, including in the Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at the 2015 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle meeting at Fairyhouse, who returned to race riding a couple of weeks ago after a couple of years off.  He should be able to build some momentum again now.

Magical year 

The primary concern about Magical going into the Qipco Champion Stakes on Saturday centred around whether or not her run in the Arc had taken the edge off her.  Whether or not she would be able to run up to her best, just 13 days after she had had a hard race at Longchamp.

She was. 

Aidan O’Brien’s filly has had a remarkable season so far.  She has won a Champion Stakes and an Irish Champion Stakes and a Tattersalls Gold Cup by seven lengths, and she has finished second to Enable in an Eclipse and in a Yorkshire Oaks, and she has finished second to Crystal Ocean in a Prince of Wales’s Stakes.  She has raced nine times this term so far, at least once every month, twice in May, twice in October, and she has won five times and finished second three times.  Only once this term (in the aforementioned Arc) has she been out of the first two.  She is obviously a very talented, tough and happy filly.

And she is not finished yet.  She is off to Santa Anita next weekend for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.  Victory there would crown a memorable season. 

Maye’s day

When Vanessa Maye kicked Geological in the belly at Dundalk on Friday evening and sent him for home before they reached the end of the home turn, you were looking in behind to see what was going to catch them. 

Katiymann made nice ground on the far side and Never Back Down started to stay on on the near side, but gradually it became apparent that nothing was going to catch Damian English’s horse. 

It was a really good ride by Vanessa Maye, a ride in which she set out with her game plan and had the trust in her horse to carry it out.  And, while Geological was running in his 100th race, his rider was riding her first winner.  Watching the race, you never would have thought that she hadn’t ridden a winner before.  She was tidy in the finish, she kept her horse balanced and she kept him going forward.  It could be the first of many.

Quiz time

Q. When is a Lucky 15 not a Lucky 15?

 A. When it’s six doubles and four trebles and an accumulator and four singles, with no bonus and no double or triple the odds as a consolation for one winner.  So a Yankee and four singles then.  So still 15 bets, but not really that lucky.  And when it’s ajar. 

 © The Irish Field, 26th October 2019