Seven Days: Classic Momentum

At Newmarket last Tuesday, a fellow racegoer suggested that the racecourse really should up its game in encouraging more people to attend the Craven meeting. I disagreed politely.

For a start, there was a decent enough crowd there, enough for atmosphere but not so many that it was tricky to manoeuvre between pre-parade ring, parade ring and racecourse. And secondly, marketing a midweek meeting accompanied by Arctic temperatures just as many people have returned to work and school after the Easter holidays is not the easiest task.

I know we must continue to hope that people come racing in their droves, and one aerial camera sweep of the stands at Aintree in the previous week was enough to show that support is still strong, much to the disgust of the protestors. But, at the risk of sounding like an industry bore, one of the greatest things about the Craven meeting is that it still feels a bit like racing’s best kept secret.

Rightly, Newmarket puts on no hoopla for its opening fixture, for who needs extras when, after a bleak winter, suddenly the town has burst back into life with three days featuring some of the best-bred horses in training? There’s a faint whiff of the Guineas on the strong wind that faces the runners as they charge down the Rowley Mile and, even better, plenty of hints towards the next round of Classics at Epsom. You can keep Christmas. This, truly, is the most wonderful time of the year.

Classic Pointers

The Amo Racing team has been well represented across a range of races since the first day of the turf season and it continued on a roll by taking both the G3 Craven S. and the G3 Nell Gwyn S. with Indestructible (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Mammas Girl (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) respectively. Another of the operation’s Newmarket winners, the juvenile Persian Dreamer, earned the first TDN Rising Star for his freshman sire Calyx (GB) and the second for his dam Surprisingly (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), whose current three-year-old Queen Olly (Ire) (No Nay Never) was also awarded one on debut last year at York. She was later placed in the G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. but could finish only eighth in the Nell Gwyn on her seasonal resumption.

Two horses really took the eye at Newmarket with a view to bigger and better things later in the season. James Ferguson’s move to Kremlin Cottage Stables, vacated last year by Hugo Palmer, has not inconvenienced his progression through the training ranks and he looks to have a lovely Dante prospect on his hands in the form of Listed Feilden S. winner Canberra Legend (Ire), who was one of two decent winners on the Rowley Mile for Australia (GB) last week along with Waipiro (Ire).

Canberra Legend, owned by the increasingly prevalent Hong Kong-based Bon Ho, who is well represented in these parts by Mark McStay, is now unbeaten in his two starts. He is yet another feather in the cap of breeder Ringfort Stud, who, along with Paul Hancock, bred the colt from Rocana (GB). The Fastnet Rock (Aus) mare is also the dam of the G3 Chester Vase winner Youth Spirit (Ire) (Camelot {GB}).

Ferguson’s good day was completed with a double when Like A Tiger (GB) (Farhh {GB}) posted a four-length win in the concluding handicap despite completely missing the start by rearing in the stalls.

Also making a favourable impression in the increasingly maligned Wood Ditton Maiden was the Niarchos family’s homebred Passenger, a son of their dual Group 1 winner Ulysses (Ire). Green in the paddock as he whinnied all the way round, Passenger was nevertheless the consummate professional where it mattered as he handed out a three-length drubbing to his seven rivals. His trainer Sir Michael Stoute was typically coy about where and when the colt will be seen next, but Passenger is clearly held in high regard by Ryan Moore, and a reappearance in stakes company seems highly likely.

Chaldean Running Free

While Newmarket was mostly spared the rain, Newbury looked an altogether different prospect as the Classic trials baton was passed its way on Friday. In testing conditions, we saw the last of Irish Derby and St Leger winner Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) who was swiftly retired after failing to raise a challenge in what looked an attritional renewal of the John Porter.

Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) brought new meaning to the term running a bit free when he and Frankie Dettori parted company on leaving the stalls for the G3 Greenham S. The colt, who is highly fancied for the 2,000 Guineas, proceeded to bowl merrily along the Newbury straight, at one time appearing to give a friendly nudge to the ultimately easy winner Isaac Shelby (GB) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}). We spoke to Sam Sangster about Isaac Shelby last year in TDN when the colt won the G2 Superlative S. at Newmarket’s July Meeting and he confessed that he went beyond his budget when buying the colt for the Manton Thoroughbreds syndicate for £92,000. Increasingly, that looks like money well spent. Isaac Shelby now looks likely to head to France for the Poule d’Essai des Poulains instead of attempting to emulate his sire in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The G3 Fred Darling S. fell to Remarquee (GB) (Kingman {GB}), who looked less than straightforward in beating Stenton Glider (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}) by a neck but can be forgiven for some greenness on only her second start. From a family which has been highly successful for TBA chairman Julian Richmond-Watson, who bred the filly at his Lawn Stud, Remarquee’s grand-dam Look So (GB) (Efisio {GB}) is a half-sister to the owner-breeder’s Oaks winner Look Here (GB) (Hernando {Fr}), and her Listed-winning dam Regardez (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) is a half-sister to the ill-fated Scope (GB) (Teofilo {GB}), the winner two years ago of the G1 Prix Royal-Oak. Trainer Ralph Beckett was emphatic in his praise of Remarquee, who will now be aimed at the 1,000 Guineas.

Roy Flying High Despite Concorde’s Grounding 

It was a largely successful week for owner-breeder Susan Roy, the wife of former BHA Chairman Paul Roy, whose all-mauve colours were carried to glory in the G3 John Porter S. at Newbury by homebred Grand Alliance (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) following the G3 Abernant S. success of Garrus (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) at Newmarket, where Orazio (Ire) (Caravaggio) also won for the Roys.

The week had started with an easy victory for Concorde (GB), a son of Sixties Icon (GB), who won the St Leger in the Roy silks. Returned to the track three days later before his mark was hiked by the handicapper, Concorde was sent off as the 1/6 favourite for a repeat win at Chelmsford, but a grave misjudgment in an over-confident ride by Pat Cosgrave saw the three-year-old beaten a nose and the jockey stood down with a 28-day ban. 

Concorde looks highly progressive and will undoubtedly be seen flying high again soon, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon at Pontefract, where he is once again slated as odds-on favourite.

Wootton Bassett and Zarak to the Fore

Wootton Bassett (GB) is currently being held off the top spot in the French sires’ table by Anodin (Ire) but, judging by the way his season has started, and with some enticing group-class runners to come, it will be no surprise to see him head the list before long. 

Of course, Wootton Bassett departed France at the end of 2020. His current juveniles are from the final crop conceived at Haras d’Etreham, which did such a good job in launching the son of Iffraaj (GB) from fairly humble beginnings. With the highly regarded G3 Prix de Fontainebleau winner American Flag (Fr) now favourite for the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and G1 National S. winner Al Riffa (Fr) occupying the same spot in the list for the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Wootton Bassett could indeed be in for a big year. Furthermore, he is responsible for easily the most impressive two-year-old winner of the season so far in River Tiber (Ire), whose 10-length romp at Navan on Saturday earned him a TDN Rising Star, while the G2 Royal Lodge S. winner Royal Patronage (Fr) made a winning return in his American debut at Keeneland.

With Wootton Bassett now firmly ensconced on the Coolmore roster in Ireland, the French stallion ranks have been boosted subsequently by Zarak (Fr), who stands alongside the French champion Siyouni (Fr) at the Aga Khan Studs’ Haras de Bonneval. With just three crops of racing age, Zarak is currently in sixth in the table, with his fee having risen from an initial €12,000 to €60,000 this season. 

Another two stakes winners have joined his list in the past week. Fabrice Chappet won his second Classic trial of the season with Crown Princesse (Fr) in the G3 Prix Cleopatre for Antoinette Tamagni-Bodmer’s Haras de Saint Julien and Regula Vannod. The following day Village Voice (GB) formed one half of a Listed double for Jessica Harrington when winning the Listed Salsabil S. in the colours of Juliet Cooper, whose husband Patrick bought the filly at last year’s Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up Sale for just 38,000gns.

British-based breeze-up consignors Ellie Whitaker and Tegan Clarke, who trade as WC Equine and featured in TDN last year, have had only a handful of horses at the sales so far but are already responsible for Village Voice and the Listed winner Royal Aclaim (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}). A duo to watch. 


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