Seven Days: And They’re (Almost) Off

Cheltenham is behind us and, yes, we still have Aintree and Punchestown to come of the major jumps fixtures but, with the clocks on the turn, really the only thing to think about now is the return of the Flat.

The turf season makes its staggered return in Ireland on Sunday, and in Britain the following Saturday. France is already racing ahead and packed in four stakes races at Saint-Cloud last Saturday, with the Listed Prix Omnium II providing the first TDN Rising Star on the European turf for 2023 in Malcolm Parrish’s American Flag (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}).

Some people love Paris in the springtime but William Haggas prefers Sydney in the autumn. The trainer has a tremendous strike-rate with his Australian runners and   he has already claimed two big prizes this year. He won the G3 Sky High S. on March 11 with Protagonist (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who previously ran in the colours borne to glory by Constitution Hill (GB) last week at the Cheltenham Festival but has now been bought from Michael Buckley by Australian Bloodstock. A week later back at Rosehill the Haggas team was at it again, with Dubai Honour (Ire) (Pride Of Dubai {Aus}) providing Ryan Moore with one half of his Group 1 double in last Saturday’s G1 Ranvet S., a race Haggas also won in 2020 with Addeybb (Ire).

The latter went on to strike two years in a row at Sydney’s Championships, each time winning the G1 Queen Elizabeth S., which is now the target for Dubai Honour on April 8.

Issuing an update to TDN on Monday, Haggas said of Dubai Honour, “We’re really pleased with him. He lost two kilos, which means he was either very fit or he didn’t exert himself. He was very fresh this morning and is obviously very happy. He’s a better horse, in our opinion, than he was at any stage last year. His last three furlongs on Saturday were quicker than the last three furlongs of Anamoe [in the 1500m George Ryder S.] and the last three furlongs of the Golden Slipper, and I think that puts some merit into his performance.”

The 5-year-old gelding could well aim for a Queen Elizabeth double of a different kind, with Sha Tin’s G1 QEII Cup on April 30 also under consideration.

“I’ve entered him this morning for Hong Kong and if all goes well he could take that in on the way home,” Haggas said. 

Not all has gone swimmingly for the four Haggas horses who made the trip to Australia as recent Kempton winner and last year’s Ebor third Earl Of Tyrone (Ire) (Australia {GB}) is now facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. 

“Earl Of Tyrone was the one we were quite excited about but he has sadly damaged a tendon,” reported the trainer. “It’s really sad and so disappointing. He did well at Kempton and we would have had to decide between going for the Tancred or the Sydney Cup, but that’s all over now.”

Earl Of Tyrone was another bought last year by Australian Bloodstock, who could yet enjoy more success with Protagonist, who has several options in the coming weeks.

“Protagonist probably put up a career best when he won last weekend and we felt he would come on for that,” said Haggas. “He may go to the Tancred on Saturday, or the Doncaster on April 1, or the Queen Elizabeth against Dubai Honour, but I don’t think he’d beat Dubai Honour. I think his connections are leaning towards the Doncaster, which is a very valuable mile handicap in which he’s got a weight of 50kg, which is nothing. 

“I’m not convinced [dropping back in trip is] the right way forward but he has won over a mile and he does seem in good form, and he’ll probably never get the opportunity again of running off such a light weight in such a valuable race.”

Haggas’s regular jockey Tom Marquand missed out on riding Dubai Honour at the weekend as he continues his recovery from a shoulder injury sustained in a fall at Randwick on February 11. However, he arrived back in Australia on Sunday night and is ready to resume riding.

Haggas said, “Tom has a couple of rides in trials tomorrow [Tuesday] and at Kensington on Wednesday. He says he feels great and he knows his body better than anyone. He was here last Wednesday [in Newmarket] and he could fully extend his arm. He can’t ride Protagonist in the Doncaster because he can’t do that weight but he will ride Dubai Honour and also Purplepay in the Queen of the Turf.”

The trainer will join Marquand and his team in Australia once he has overseen his runners on Lincoln day at Doncaster a week on Saturday.

The success of Dubai Honour in Australia and the Japanese-trained Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in the G1 Saudi Cup last month have put the late Montjeu (Ire) in a strong position at the head of the broodmare sires’ table in the early stages of this year. 

Toronado Blows Hot Down Under

Toronado (Ire) has not returned to Haras de Bouquetot for the 2023 covering season, remaining instead at Swettenham Stud in Australia, where he is likely a favourite of the farm’s owner Adam Sangster, who bred Saturday’s G1 Galaxy H winner Mariamia (Aus). The 6-year-old mare is a daughter of Toronado, who has now sired back-to-back Galaxy winners, following the success last year of Shelby Sixtysix (Aus).

Toronado has also been represented in Australia by the G1 William Reid S. winner Masked Crusader (Aus) and, like his sire High Chaparral (Ire), has enjoyed more notable success in the southern hemisphere than in Europe. 

The brilliantly tough High Chaparral shuttled to Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand and it is in that country where his influence remains the most keenly felt. His son Redwood (GB) is currently third in the New Zealand general sires’ table, and he is joined on that list by fellow High Chaparral sires So You Think (NZ), Dundeel (NZ), Contributer (Ire), Wrote (Ire) and Tivaci (Aus). In Europe the only sons of the dual Derby and Breeders’ Cup winner at stud are Free Eagle (Ire) and Tai Chi (Ger).

Deep Impact’s Influence Extends

Another shuttle stallion who looks a decent addition to the New Zealand ranks is Satono Aladdin (Jpn}, a Northern Farm-bred son of Deep Impact (Jpn) and winner of the G1 Yasuda Kinen.

From his first crop conceived at Rich Hill Stud hails Saturday’s G1 New Zealand Oaks winner Pennyweka (NZ), who was bred by her trainer Jim Wallace with his brother Les. Satono Aladdin is also responsible for the Group 1-winning juvenile Tokyo Tycoon (NZ), and on Saturday he had the third home in the G2 Alister Clark S. at Moonee Valley. The latter result represented something of a triumph for Japanese sires, who filled the trifecta courtesy of the winner Bank Maur (Aus), a son of Shadai/Arrowfield shuttler Maurice (Jpn) and runner-up Suizuro (Aus), by Real Impact (Jpn).

A top-class miler, who, like so many Japanese gallopers, raced until he was six, Satono Aladdin stands at Hokkaido’s Breeders Stallion Station when on duty in Japan. He is bred on the same Deep Impact/Storm Cat cross as Kizuna (Jpn), who was Japan’s leading first-season sire of 2019 and ended last year in fourth place on the general sires’ list behind the big-hitters Deep Impact, Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) and Heart’s Cry (Jpn).

That same cross is also found in Kizuna’s fellow Shadai resident Real Steel (Jpn), who was second in the freshman sires’ table last year, the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Loves Only You (Jpn), and the Lanwades stallion and Prix du Jockey Club winner Study Of Man (Ire), who has his first runners in Europe this year.

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