The latest Flat Racing Review from our trader Neal Hough. Here's all the action from week ending 15/05/2016!
On a day when quantity overcame quality, the biggest talking point was the Windsor card that was abandoned after 3 races due to rain falling on watered ground. Why clerks of the course can’t just let summer ground be summer ground I don't know, and with 48 hour decs trainers are fully aware of the ground they are entering their horses on.
A quiet day with little of quality to note and too much hedge hopping going on.
The start of the 3 day York - Dante meeting. The main event of the day was the Musidora where the John Gosden team had short priced favourite So Mi Dar who didn't disappoint and quickened nicely to put the race to bed, and with course experience at Epsom already boosted her claims for Oaks glory. (NB So Mi Dar was found to be lame last night so misses the Epsom classic - Sounds of blog writer ripping up his ante-post vouchers).
Magical Memory won the Duke of York Stakes under a pretty confident Frankie Dettori, and being drawn on the right side of the track, along with the fact that Twilight Son had a Group 1 penalty and wasn't match fit the form looks ok without looking bombproof. Reading comments after the race, connections of the winner may be looking at the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita as the season ending target.
However, performance of the day and the first notebook horse to follow for the week was over in Ireland at Naas in the Blue Wind Stakes, where the Dermot Weld trained 4yo mare Zhukova firmly planted herself as a name to follow. She gave a stone in weight on her way to a 7 and a half length win over the Aiden O’Brien trained Pretty Perfect with solid yardstick Bocca Baciata a further 4.5 lengths back in 3rd. Weld reported after the race that she would improve for the step back up to 1m4f and she may be given a break before being aimed later in the season at the 1m4f Fillies and Mares group 1 at the Ascot Champions day fixture. Where ever she goes she must be followed.
Before we go on to cover York, the second notebook horse of the week ran in a maiden at Salisbury, Sovereign Parade, a 480,000 guineas purchase, was making her debut in division 1 of the 1m2f maiden having been put in short in the overnight betting and backed down to odds on. She looked all at sea until quickening very smartly to pick up the already race-experienced runner up and won cosily by a length. She will improve for a step up to 1m4f and has an entry in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. It should be noted that the trainer (John Gosden) had the winner of this same race 2 years ago that went on to win a Group 3 next time out and with trainers being creatures of habit, I expect this filly to pick up black type at the least in the next few months.
Back up at York and the Dante was won like the Musidora by in form trainer John Gosden whose Wings Of Desire again under in form pilot Frankie Dettori came down the outside to wear down the gallant Deauville in the last few strides. Considering the winner had not run before April a fine achievement by horse and trainer to win a competitive renewal of what is regarded the best of the Derby trials. However its since come to light that favourite Midterm was not right and he might struggle to get to Epsom. Back to Wings of Desire, he will love going back up in trip to the 1m4f distance of the Derby but he will need to be supplemented for 70,000 as his trainer took him out of the race earlier in the year - he didn't believe he would be ready in time. Time will tell, but the form of the race didn't smack of a Derby winner - in an ordinary year you may as well roll ‘the big dice’.
Nemoralia impressed by readily winning the listed mile contest for 3yo fillies on her seasonal debut and it’s next stop Coronation Stakes for the Jeremy Noseda trained filly who, as long as the ground stays on the firm side of good, should have solid e/w claims.
Barsanti comfortably won the Jorvik Stakes of a mark of 96 and now heads to the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot for in form trainer Roger Varian. This gelding started life in handicaps in the mid 70’s but has now won 3 in a row and looks very progressive and listed and group races will be in his sights in the second half of the season if he keeps improving at his current rate.
On a personal note the 18.15 at Hamilton and the 18.40 at Kilbeggan will not go down in the memory banks as ones that I will enjoy watching the replays of again and again, but I suppose that it being Friday the 13th and all that I should have known better.
Over at Newbury one to note who could be anything was the very impressive Ulysses, whose parents were Oaks and Derby winners, who is trained by Sir Michael Stoute. He routed his opposition by 8 lengths and he has a Derby entry. Whilst it's a long way from this in an open year he may take up his entry if not then Royal Ascot or the Irish Derby may be on the agenda.
Newbury held the Lockinge card, but the renewal of this race was anything but vintage with Belardo getting up late to win for in form Roger Varian. The mile division for older horses looks a lottery this year and the form of this race is likely not to hold up, Limato is and will always be a sprinter he travelled best but the trip was his undoing a drop to 7f or even a stiff 6f will suit him better.
The performance of the day was by Imperial Aviator. The Roger Charlton trained 3 year old hacking up in the London Gold Cup - a very strong handicap for 3 year olds, only over 10 furlongs. The trainer has won this before with the likes of Al Kazeem and Time Test who have both gone on to much bigger and better things, including Time Test winning the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot and that is where we will see Imperial Aviator next. His form had taken a massive boost when the above mentioned Ulysses had hacked up in a Newbury maiden the day before by 8 wickets. His handicap mark of 85 obviously wasn't nearly enough and each time he has raced on the grass his form has improved leaps and bounds, Group races await and he could be a very exciting horse who is in the right hands.
The 2 year old 6f conditions race was won by SJ flat racing ambassador Richard Hannon’s Mehmas who supplemented his Chester win by downing the colours of Global Applause easily to win by 3.25 lengths, being pushed clear late on. It’s next stop Royal Ascot where the Coventry stakes is his target, the 2nd Global Applause may be seen in a better light dropped to the minimum trip of 5f and the Norfolk Stakes was mentioned.
The French 2000 guineas was won in awesome style by The Gurkha by over 5 lengths, dismissing a decent field having won his maiden at Navan by 9 lengths. He seems to like winning races by large distances on pedigree he has a good chance of staying the Derby trip and is now clear favourite for that race and if turning up on the day may take all the beating. If, however, he didn't turn up at Epsom the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot would seem to be there for the taking.
I hope the above helps you out and the 2 notebook horses are:
Sovereign Parade - John Gosden
Zhukova - Dermot Weld