Five horses to follow after an eventful weekend in Britain, Ireland and France
Our expert takes a look back on a big weekend of racing at Newcastle, Newmarket, the Curragh and Saint-Cloud and highlights five horses that punters should follow through the remainder of the campaign.
Irish Derby weekend is always a memorable time of the year for flat racing fans in Ireland and this year’s feature race will live long in the memory – for all of the wrong reasons.
I won’t spend hours talking about the absolute shambles that was the Irish Derby, won by 33/1 outsider Sovereign after he was handed an uncontested, unassailable lead. The likes of Ryan Moore, Donnacha O’Brien, to some extent, Chris Hayes – who got completely lost in the tactics of the race and only woke up when the game was over – should take a long, hard look at themselves, as the outcome of that Classic did nothing for the sport whatsoever.
That abomination of a Group One aside, there were plenty of eye-catchers throughout the Festivities at the Curragh, along with a host of impressive performers in England and France over the weekend. Here are five of this weekend’s runners to follow during the rest of the flat campaign.
Saturday’s televised action kicked off with a bang at Newmarket, as Summer Romance destroyed her rivals in the Empress Fillies’ Stakes. In truth, she had little to beat in that Listed contest, especially after market rival, Star Alexander’s tank emptied alarmingly as the leaders hit the rising ground. Yet, the way Charlie Appleby’s filly quickened clear of her rivals on the uphill run to the line was extremely impressive.
It was a performance which earned Summer Romance quotes of 10/1 for next year’s 1000 Guineas, a mark four points clear of the odds Albigna was handed after winning the Group Two Airlie Stud Stakes at the Curragh the previous evening. As for the rest of this season, the Sweet Solera Stakes at the start of August is an option, with an outing in the Fillies’ Mile in October a likely end-of-season goal.
Who Dares Wins snatched the headlines at Newcastle on Saturday, as Alan King’s stalwart struck late in the day to win the Northumberland Plate. The one to take out of that lucrative two-mile handicap, however, has to be Dubawi Fifty, who was beaten into second on what was his first start since that narrow defeat in last season’s Ascot Stakes.
Karen McLintock’s stable star shaped like the best horse throughout the race, hitting the front with two furlongs to travel. It may only have been the time Dubawi Fifty has spent off the track that came back to haunt him in the closing stages, as Who Dares Wins came with a withering run around the outside. This lightly-raced six-year-old is sure to come on from that return run, an ominous sign for many of Dubawi Fifty’s potential rivals in next month’s Ebor.
Summer Romance’s victory was superb, but it wasn’t enough to earn her the accolade of best juvenile performance this weekend. Siskin was heavily backed in the lead up to the Group Two Railway Stakes and Ger Lyon’s youngster certainly didn’t disappoint, surging clear in the closing stages to secure a near-three length success.
Monarch Of Egypt is held in high regard by those at Ballydoyle, but he was powerless to deny the favourite, who stretched out in stylish fashion under Colin Keane. There’s no doubting Siskin is bred to succeed over a mile, so it’s no surprise to see Lyon’s charge near the top of the market for the 2020 2000 Guineas. Before that though, there’s the small matter of the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes to think about and a potential showdown with Arizona and Pinatubo.
In the lead up to Sunday’s Prix Eugene Adam, Andre Fabre’s Flop Shot was all the rage, leapfrogging Jalmoud at the top of the market. Yet, it was the second British raider in the field, Headman who made a lasting impression. On his first start in Grouped company, Roger Charlton’s charge was held up out the back by Jason Watson. Watson angled his mount out towards the centre of the track entering the home turn and the duo never looked back, sauntering past his rivals to secure a simple three-length success.
The London Gold Cup is known for producing high-quality horses and Headman is the latest winner of that handicap to score at Grouped level later in the season. An entry in either the Juddmonte International Stakes or the Sussex Stakes could be a step too far, but Headman would be a worthy entrant in the Group Two York Stakes during the Ebor Festival.
Earlier in the afternoon, Mehdaayih returned to action for the first time since fading back to seventh in the Oaks at Epsom. John Gosden’s filly was backed into odds-on favouritism before the off and Frankie Dettori always looked comfortable at the rear of the field. Once Mehdaayih was asked to make her move, the result was never in doubt and the Cheshire Oaks winner got back on the winning trail under a hands-and-heels drive from her masterful jockey.
The word soft appearing in the going description is obviously key to Mehdaayih’s chances, so Gosden will be on weather watch when the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks roll around. The way Dettori’s mount travels through her races and quickens clear late on really suits racing in France too, so a trip to Longchamp for the Prix Vermeille in the middle of September could also be on the agenda.