More of an autopsy than an article this week as both the first two classics are now part of racing history, and we need to be looking at the form to define exactly what happened, why, and what it may well teach us for the future.
Starting with the colts, I was sceptical as to just how good Dawn Approach actually was, and now I sit here wearing a bib eating large portions of humble pie – nothing new there! In my defence I did not criticise his form, nor even suggest he would not or could not win – I just felt the value had all gone but then again, 11/8 about a five-length winner always looks better value after the event. Interestingly, his time was nearly seven seconds faster than Camelot last season, and nearly a second and a half faster than Frankel the year before, so why is the son of New Approach missing the superlatives that were heaped on Sir Henry Cecil’s colt? At the risk of starting an argument (I love a row lol), could that all be down to petty jealousy? I have always felt that certain aspects of the racing press (and others including trainers who feel looked over) have been anti Godolphin since the start of the Dubai Royal family’s interest in the sport over here and more importantly, their cheque book mentality. Is there really such a difference in buying the finished article for a larger price than risking it at the sales on breeding alone, or is that just not the British way old chap – and more importantly, how does that denigrate the abilities of the horse himself?
As for the fillies, I fail to understand why no enquiry was called? I am not for a moment suggesting any wrong doing but as a punter, I feel we deserve an explanation for the form turnaround between 1000 Guineas winner Sky Lantern and her Newmarket conqueror Hot Snap – close to ten lengths with no changes whatsoever in the weights? Add the fact that the Cecil filly had any amount in hand first time out, and I do think we at least deserve an explanation from both camps even if it only helps us to better understand the sport that we help to fund (whether owners like to admit that, or not)?
Away from the good news (?), I see yet more racing headlines started with blood tests at the Saeed Bin Suroor yard (why oh why were the racing press remotely surprised when the BHA walked in to the second Godolphin yard, I certainly wasn’t?), followed by the investigation (no results at the time of writing) in to jockey Eddie Ahern, assistant trainer James Clutterbuck and others over the Stoneacre Gareth “affair”. I won’t bother you with the details but suffice to say it can’t be good news for our sports public relations BUT does at least show the BHA are on the case and slowly getting rid of any elements that can give the rest of us a bad name.
Time to look forward once again and this week the Derby trials start in earnest with the Chester Vase this afternoon (Thursday). Long gone are the days when this race meant anything with regard to the Epsom showpiece, the 2003 winner never won another race, the 2004 winner next won a maiden hurdle at Exeter five years later, and last years winner ran fifth at Epsom and has never been seen again, though to be fair there has been some decent enough winners, just not up to Group One standard generally speaking. That makes it a race to take an interest in but only as a stand-alone contest, though that may be easier than trying to work out who has a chance at Epsom (answer – none of these for starters). Only five can be bothered to turn out (no wonder rich owners get so little sympathy?), for this Group three prize and £60,000 guaranteed in the prize fund with £1,614 at least for finishing stone cold last! Only the two are currently entered for the Surrey showpiece in number one Feel like Dancing (a once raced undefeated son of Galileo) and number five, Ruler Of The World (a once raced undefeated son of Galileo!), and it could well be between the two. Word in Newmarket is that John Gosden’s colt has improved considerably based on his homework so a 1-5 forecast could be the order of the day, though I am equally tempted to sit back and watch.
On Friday they are at it again via the Dee Stakes at 2.15pm but with just the two Derby entries again, this could go to Aiden O’Brien’s Magician who seems sure to improve granted more of a stamina test than he ever took on as a juvenile and on hopefully better ground as well.
If I do have a bet this weekend (very probably, but I don’t have to!), then two stand out at Ascot – one for form reasons and one because I always back him regardless! First up and the World and his wife probably already know that Main Sequence is reported to have improved hand over fist since being gelded and is bucking and kicking ahead of his return in the Buckhounds Stakes currently due off at 2.40pm sand better still, the Derby runner up can race here without any penalty. He is expected to win according to connections and will be my main bet of the week – kiss of death there then?
As for the Victoria Cup at 3.50pm I have no idea of the runners or the draw at this early stage, but will still have a little on Piscean if he shows up on then day. Trained in Newmarket by Tom Keddy, he has now won a total of thirteen races and well over £100,000 in prize money, and invariably lands a race or two each season. He is still remarkably well handicapped on the turf running here off a mark of 88 (last ran off of 102 on the all-weather at Kempton, and has won off of 86 on the turf so not too much more being asked of him), and at then 40/1 he is as I write with most bookmakers, how can I possibly resist a little win and place, probably on the exchanges?
Finally for this week, I head off to Singapore for the Singapore Airlines International as well as the Krisflyer Sprint next Sunday (for a week), so my next musings will be from there (and possibly late!), with a little bit of added “culture” lol – my big chance to tell you all about the fun and finances of international racing, which will hopefully include “insider” details about the chances of Red Cadeaux who is due to arrive in Singapore this coming weekend before looking to pick up the close to a million pounds first prize – watch this space for all the details!
Weekend suggestions :
Main Sequence to win at Ascot Saturday in the Buckhounds Stakes.
Horses to follow – flat 2013:
Afortunado – unraced well regarded three year old trained by Conrad Allen
Olympic Glory – top three year old trained by Richard Hannon and who heads to either the French or Irish 2000 Guineas next.