Seven Days: All The Young Dudes

We’re starting to feel a little long in the tooth in this corner. The racing equivalent to the observation about policemen looking young these days now applies to the weighing-room, and on Saturday one young gun after another came out with a performance that would entitle them to be considered the next big thing. 

Benoit de la Sayette has already achieved plenty in his nascent career. Now 20, he had his first ride in November 2020 and became the first apprentice attached to John Gosden’s stable in almost 30 years. 

On Saturday he won the Lincoln for the second time in three years aboard the David Menuisier-trained top weight Migration (Ire) (Alhebayeb {Ire}). Last October, de la Sayette was crowned champion apprentice, a title that could probably have been his a year earlier if he had not been banned for six months after testing positive for cocaine not long after his first Lincoln victory on Haqeeqy (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}).

Chasing him up in last year’s apprentice race was Harry Davies, who has just turned 18 and is attached to the powerful Kinsgclere academy which has produced so many good apprentices over the years. Currently on 70 winners, it won’t be long before Davies loses his 3lb claim and, as he demonstrated nicely on Saturday evening, he’s every bit as good without it. Charlie Appleby was swift to notice Davies’s talents and has used the young jockey with some frequency, including in the Cardinal Conditions S. at Chelmsford, in which he was unable to claim but still got the job done nicely to win aboard Bold Act (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}), who heads next to a Classic trial.

While Davies was wintering in Bahrain then preserving what’s left of his claim, a new name came to the fore on the all-weather circuit: Billy Loughnane. Now with 42 wins to his credit, 36 of which have come this year, the youngster only turned 17 last month and is currently lying in third in the overall jockeys’ standings. Returned from a stint riding in America, he won the first turf race of the season, the Brocklesby S., in which he too was unable to use his claim. 

Loughnane’s winning mount, Doddie’s Impact (GB), is named after the late rugby star Doddie Weir, who died from motor neurone disease (MND) last November. The son of Pearl Secret (GB) was bred by Ciaran and Nicola Paterson and was bought for £6,000 as a yearling by his trainer Robyn Brisland, who is now dreaming of Royal Ascot.

Cross Channel Racing, which owns Doddie’s Impact, has pledged 50% of his prize-money and any sale proceeds to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation which raises funds towards vital research into MND. There will be plenty of people willing this colt to keep winning.

Honourable mentions must also go to apprentices Jonny Peate, who won the Lincoln consolation race, the Spring Mile, on Harswell Duke (GB) (Garswood {GB}), and to Connor Planas, who landed both divisions of the apprentice handicap at Doncaster in a rare Flat double for Grand National-winning trainer Lucinda Russell. 

Hold That Thought

In the centenary year of the Wildenstein family’s racing and breeding operation, a Classic winner would certainly be fitting, and there would arguably be no race more appropriate for Diane Wildenstein to win than the Prix de Diane. 

The owner-breeder, who races under the name of Ballymore Thoroughbred, is currently in pole position for the ‘French Oaks’, with her unbeaten filly Pensee Du Jour (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), who progressed from her facile victory in the Listed Prix Rose de Mai to take Saturday’s G3 Prix Penelope with similar ease. 

Pensee Du Jour’s family has already been represented by a winner of the Prix de Diane in the 1976 victrix Pawneese (Ire) (Carvin {Fr}), who also won the Penelope en route to victories in the Oaks at Epsom and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S.  in her sensational season for Angel Penna Sr. Pawneese was a half-sister to Pensee Du Jour’s third dam, the Group 3 winner Petroleuse (Fr) (Habitat). The celebrated dynasty also includes the Arc winner Peintre Celebre (Nureyev) and star stayer Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who is a great grandson of Pawneese. 

Brazen Doncaster Double 

Sunday’s results at Leopardstown had a largely familiar feel to them with Aidan O’Brien winning both Guineas trials courtesy of Hans Andersen (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and Never Ending Story (Ire) (Camelot {GB}). 

At Doncaster on the first day of the British turf season, results were more evenly spread with some notable results for smaller stables and less-heralded stallions.

Australian sprinter Brazen Beau (Aus) hasn’t stood in the northern hemisphere since 2019, but fillies from his second and third crops, Vadream (GB) and Astral Beau (GB), gave him a stakes double. The former, who has also won the G3 Bengough S. at Ascot, was the comfortable winner of the Listed Cambridge Trophy in her preferred muddy conditions for Charlie Fellowes, while Astral Beau took a major step forward to notch her first stakes victory in the Listed Doncaster Mile for trainer/breeder Pam Sly.

The Sly family has enjoyed much success with Astral Beau’s family. Her grand-dam Speciosa (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) pulled off a famous triumph in the 1,000 Guineas 17 years ago and has produced five winners, including Asteroidea (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), the dam of Astral Beau, and Specialty (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB}), whose daughter Eileendover (GB) (Canford Cliffs {Ire}) won a Listed bumper and later scored on the Flat at Newmarket.

The trainer now plans to return to Newmarket’s Guineas meeting, with the aim of running Astral Beau in the G2 Dahlia S.

Birch Flying

Cheveley Park Stud, who were once more celebrating victory at the Cheltenham Festival last month, will be turning their attention towards the Flat even though a few juicy jumping targets remain this season. 

With the treble Group 1 winner Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) set to headline this year’s Flat team, several colts bred by the stud got the ball rolling in other owners’ colours. Arguably most pleasing of all for the Cheveley Park team was the victory of White Birch (GB), who provided his sire Ulysses (Ire) with back-to-back winners of the G3 Ballysax S. after Piz Badile (Ire) last year. 

White Birch, who really should be owned by Peter Brant, is out of the 98-rated Dutch Art (GB) mare Diagnostic (GB). He made his first two starts in the colours of his trainer John Joseph Murphy until being sold privately to race for Chantal Regalado-Gonzalez.

Another grey colt from the same Cheveley Park Stud crop, Theoryofeverything (GB) Frankel {GB}), made a striking debut on Sunday when winning a Doncaster novice race by six lengths in ground that had dried overnight from heavy to soft.

Now owned by Prince AA Faisal, Theoryofeverything had a yearling price tag of 325,000gns, reflecting his breeding. His dam Persuasive (Ire (Dark Angel {Ire}) won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. and her Dubawi (Ire) juvenile colt is now with Godolphin, having fetched 1 million gns at last year’s October Sale.

Amazing Both Sides of the Atlantic

There was a Franco-German one-three in Saturday’s GIII Orchid S. at Gulfstream when French ex-pat Christophe Clement saddled Amazing Grace (Ger) (Protectionist {Ger}) to win on her American debut, with fellow German-bred and stable-mate Atomic Blonde (Ger) (The Grey Gatsby {Ire}) in third.

Both mares went through the ring at Arqana last December, when Dr Christoph Berglar’s homebred Amazing Grace sold to Moyglare Stud for €850,000 and a private sale of €340,000 was agreed for The Atomic Blonde. Breeder Michaela Faust, who owns Gestut Karlshof with husband Bruno, has retained part-ownership of the latter and now races the Italian Group 3 winner with West Point Thoroughbreds and Heather Winter. Incidentally, Amazing Grace and The Atomic Blonde had filled the same two places when racing against each other in last year’s G2 T von Zastrow Stutenpreis at Baden-Baden. 

The winner wasn’t the only high-profile purchase for Moyglare Stud at Arqana last year. Malavath (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}), winner of the G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte and runner-up to Clement’s Pizza Bianca (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, has also now joined the Clement barn to race for Moyglare’s Eva Maria Bucher-Haefner.

Closer to home, the Irish-based, Swiss-owned operation can look forward to the return of last year’s Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) in Wednesday’s Heritage S. at Leopardstown.

Starstruck by Mr Hollywood

Germany placed itself on the TDN Rising Stars list early for the season when the glitzily-named Mr Hollywood (Ger) was pushed out with just hands and heels by Leon Wolff to win on debut for Henk Grewe at Mulheim. 

There was a lot to like about the race. Firstly, who doesn’t love a flag start on the Flat? Far better than the angst of starting stalls. And Mr Hollywood, as pointed out by Tom Frary, did indeed add some movie star sparkle to a grey day in Mulheim. 

His sire Iquitos (Ger), who signed off from his racing career at the age of six with victory in the Grosser Preis von Bayern to add to his two previous Group 1 wins, is a son of Adlerflug (Ger), the stallion who sadly died just as the rest of Europe suddenly realised he was really rather good. The only other Adlerflug sire remaining in Germany is the more widely known Torquator Tasso (Ger), now in his first season at Gestut Auenquelle.

Iquitos stood for two seasons at Gestut Ammerland before moving last year to Gestut Graditz, south of Berlin, where he covers for €5,000. Mr Hollywood was the first of only five foals born in his debut crop. The following year that number dropped to two, and he had 13 registered foals last year. It’s fair to say that Iquitos has not exactly been well supported in his stud career to date. Perhaps Mr Hollywood might prompt a rush of late bookings this season. 

Let’s Get Quizzical

Two members of the TDN Europe team were lured to Co Carlow last week to take part in the the Mark O’Hanlon Memorial Racing and Breeding Quiz at the famous Lord Bagenal Inn.

The last time this quiz had taken part in 2020 was just before the Covid shutters came down on the world. One can normally expect to find Willie Mullins on a team in his local, and it can only be presumed that his absence this time around was as a result of the lingering embarrassment at having answered one of the questions about himself incorrectly three years ago. 

There was no such shame for the trainers in attendance last week. Richard Fahey remembered that he had trained 235 winners in 2015, Pat Fahey was able to name his winner of the November Handicap, and Joseph O’Brien recalled the name of his brother’s first Classic winner, guiding his team of JJ Slevin, Kevin Blake and Mark Hackett into a dead-heat for second with Luke Barry, Nancy Sexton, Brian Sheerin and myself. 

I had hoped to sign up a ringer when I saw Ryan Moore waiting in the queue for my flight to Dublin. I swiftly thought the better of it as I passed him by and could have sworn that I saw his look of vague recognition change in a heartbeat to one of horror at the thought that he might have to spend the flight sitting next to an annoying member of the Fourth Estate. 

Fortunately for Moore, our seats were far apart. He disembarked to go and do what he does best, and rode a winner at Navan that afternoon. I headed to Leighlinbridge and followed that time-honoured tradition observed by racing journalists of starting an argument in a pub quiz and staying up drinking into the early hours. We all have our calling. 

A brave person might say that quiz organiser Joe Foley is something of a control enthusiast. His own version of ‘the umpire’s decision is final’ was read out at the start and went along the lines of ‘the answers are the answers even if they are wrong’. A few bold quizzers approached the front desk to challenge Foley through the evening but were swiftly sent packing, and almost certainly docked several points for the audacity of the challenge.

I’m not usually a favourite-backer, but the identity of the winning team was never really in doubt. The unimpeachable Ryan McElligott, who had turned down several large bungs to jump ship, lifted the trophy along with Bobby and Mouse O’Ryan and Ger Connelly.

Richard Fahey was less fortunate than Ryan Moore when he was obliged to share his breakfast table the next morning with two journalists and the indefatigable Foley, who had presumably overseen at least three covers at Ballyhane Stud across the road before returning to the Lord Bagenal.

Foley spent much of breakfast looking at videos of various horses on Fahey’s phone. The words “rocket” and “Queen Mary filly” were uttered in hushed tones and when an enquiry as to the identity of this speedball was issued, the stallion master wasted no time in replying with a grin, “She’s by Soldier’s Call”.

Fahey rashly promised to allow the TDN to visit his yard, but only on the proviso that I muck out ten boxes before being granted an interview. Happily, along with arguing in pub quizzes, mucking out is one activity at which I’m fairly proficient. In the coming weeks, I’ll head to Yorkshire, pitchfork in hand, with the aim of extracting the name of this year’s Queen Mary winner.

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