The Portland Handicap at Doncaster kicked off what was a fantastic weekend of racing all over the world. It went the way of Charlie Hill’s trained A Momentofmadness who made all to win his second race of the season (Broke the track record at Kempton in April). It’s that time of year when racing enthusiasts start making note of potential stars for next season and John Gosden’s Too Darn Hot is possibly the most exciting two-year-old in training.
The superbly bred son of Dubawi and Dar Re Mi has won all three career starts including when comfortably landing the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday. Gosden said:
“I’m happy with him and he did everything right. He quickened up from a long way back – he’s a young, talented horse.”
“He’s in the three Group Ones in October and there’ll be no decision (on which one he runs in) for 10 days”.
Too Darn Hot is now the 7/2 favourite for the next years 2000 Guineas, ahead of the Aidan O’Brien trained Ten Sovereigns who’s currently 7/1 next best.
The St. Leger was the last classic of the season in the U.K. and it went to the Aidan O’Brien trained Kew Gardens who beat Too Darn Hot’s full sister Lah Ti Dar into second. This race had been Kew Gardens main target for the season but he picked up some nice races along the way most notably the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot and the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp.
Given that he stayed the one mile and six-furlong trip well, you’d expect connections to consider him to be a “cup” horse. However, Aidan revealed afterwards:
“I said that (he could be a Cup horse) to Ryan and he kind of thought that maybe he wouldn’t have to do that, that he wouldn’t have to go Cup trips. He’d have no problem doing it, but Ryan didn’t think he’d have to.”
Considering that Kew Gardens has already won a Group 1 over the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe course and distance, a crack at the Arc is now under consideration. It shaping up to be a fantastic race and those who fancy Aidan’s inmate can back him at a tempting 14/1.
Irish Champions Weekend
The top quality action came thick and fast at Leopardstown on Saturday where firstly Willie Mullins trained a 1-2 in the “Petingo” handicap when the Cheltenham festival winning Limini beat Law Girl in an absolute thriller. Willie booked the service of the man of the moment Oisin Murphy on his star filly. A clearly delighted Mullins said:
“Limini was a shade unlucky in Galway and has made up for it there. Law Girl ran really above herself, she ran fantastic and it just shows that she wants to hear herself hitting the ground.
“We thought it was going to be too short for her, and for a minute it looked like she’d got there too soon, but she ran a cracker and both Danny (Mullins) and Oisin gave them fantastic rides”.
Limini will stay on the flat for now with a crack at the Cesarewitch next on the cards for both her and the runner-up.
Evergreen trainer Kevin Prendergast looks to have a very nice colt on his hands in the form of Madhmoon who made it two wins from as many starts in the Group 2 Champions Juvenile Stakes. The son of New Approach hardly broke a sweat in this contest and looks like a possible classic contender for next season. Given how well he saw out the mile trip here the 16/1 on offer for him to win next season’s Epsom Derby looks tempting.
This season’s star filly Alpha Centauri was the main attraction in the Matron Stakes and was all the rage to continue her Group 1 dominance but she hung left inside the final furlong and looked somewhat laboured under Colm O’Donoghue and finished behind Laurens who made all under Daniel Tudhope. This was the third Group 1 victory for Karl Burkes stable star, who has been a model of consistency all season with the exception of a blip in the Yorkshire Oaks.
Connections of Alpha Centauri were obviously disappointed but it emerged in the aftermath that she had sustained a fetlock injury during the race. Unfortunately, it was revealed on Sunday that the Niarchos family had made the decision to retire the daughter of Mastercraftsman.
“The decision has been taken to retire Alpha Centauri on veterinary advice and on consultation with Jessie,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager to the filly’s owners, Flaxman Holdings.
“She had a chip on her right front fetlock, which you could see her feeling in the closing stages. It’s not a catastrophic injury and hopefully she can enjoy a successful career as a broodmare,” he added.
This was not the only high profile retirement of the weekend as Saxon Warrior suffered a tendon injury when just going down to Roaring Lion in the Irish Champion Stakes. “He badly damaged his tendon in the race,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien on Sunday about his the 2000 Guineas winner.
Take nothing away from Roaring Lion though as the Oisin Murphy ridden colt quickened well inside the final furlong to land his third Group 1 of the season. Murphy said afterwards:
“Murphy exclaimed. “Once he got rolling I was always going to get there but I had to really get after him. I haven’t much experience around Leopardstown. I was learning on the job. But I was on an exceptional horse.”
The winner may now head to the Champion Stakes where he looks highly likely to land yet another Group 1.
The Flying Five Stakes was run as a Group 1 for the first time this season and it will need to be better contested in the future if it’s to maintain this status. Havana Grey made it two wins over course and distance in this contest and always looked in command under Richard Kingscote to deny the fast-finishing Son Of Rest. Fozzy Stack’s charge is due to go up 11 pounds in the future and looks to take advantage of this in the Ayr Gould Cup this weekend for which he is the current 7/1 favourite.
One of the most popular wins of the weekend came in the Moyglare Stud Stakes where the Patrick Prendergast trained Skitter Scatter continued her rise through the ranks to land this Group 1 prize. It was a first Group 1 for all connections including Ronan Whelan, who was overjoyed with the victory. The 1000 Guineas is now the plan for Prendergast’s filly and if she continues to progress then she may just win.
Racing fans witnessed a very smart performance in the Group 1 National Stakes where Quorto made it three straight career victories under William Buick. Charlie Appleby’s colt beat a smart but select field here and like many others will have classic aspirations.
Appleby said; “He’s come here with a lovely profile having won his maiden over six and then stepped up to win the Superlative Stakes over seven furlongs last time.
“He needed all the time he had between the Superlative and this race as he went a bit quiet in himself but in the last ten days or so he has come back to where he was before the Superlative and we came here confident.
“He’s put himself there as a candidate for the 2000 Guineas and at this stage if you pinned me down I’d say he’s a miler who could stretch out to ten furlongs.”
The final Group 1 of the weekend in Ireland and the last classic of the season was the Irish St Leger and after the declaration stage, it looked a straight shootout between O’Brien senior and junior. So it worked out as Flag Of Honour made all under Ryan Moore for Aidan O’Brien to hold the determined challenge of Joseph O’Brien’s Irish Derby winner Latrobe.
The pair pulled nearly two lengths clear from the John Gosden’s Weekender. This was a second St Leger victory in 24 hours for O’Brien and both winners have improved with racing. A trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup may now be on the cards for the son of Galileo for which he is a 20/1 shot.
International Group Action
The Group 1 action wasn’t just confined to England and Ireland this weekend as the Kitesurf won the Prix Vermeille under Mickael Barzalona from Magic Wand. On the same card, Waldgeist beat the highly touted Talismanic in the Group 2 Prix Foy.
Finally, on Sunday night, Woodbine played host to the Group 1 Natalma and Summer Stakes. Charlie Appleby and Jamie Spencer teamed up to land the Natalma Stakes with the highly tried La Pelosa. This was the daughter of Dandy Man’s first victory since a maiden win on debut at Kempton.
In typical Jamie Spencer style, La Pelosa was held up early and made progress to lead inside the final furlong to ultimately win by a length.
The other Group 1 two-year-old race on the day was the Summer Stakes and it was won by Fog Of War who is trained by Chad Brown and this well-bred son of War Front looks a real horse for the future.