Inside today’s main piece. I conclude my look at Irish Champions Weekend by focusing on the two juvenile Group 1 races held at the Curragh on Sunday. Both races were personal triumph for me as I tipped up both winners for Victor Value subscribers. You’ll also find three horses from last weeks Doncaster St Leger Festival. Hopefully all three can win races in the final weeks of the flat season. Plus, I have a selection from this afternoon's meeting at Punchestown.
Irish Champions Weekend – Part 2
The feature race on day two of Irish Champions Weekend was the latest renewal of the Irish St Leger. A race in which Search For A Song was bidding for a third successive success. However, for me the most interesting races on an eight-race card were the Moyglare Stakes & National Stakes.
Sonnyboyliston knocks out Leger rivals
Johnny Murtagh out of luck with Ottoman Emperor in Saturday’s St Leger at Doncaster became a classic winning trainer after Sonnyboyliston won the final Irish classic of the season.
The front running Amhran Na Bhfiann was soon well clear of the field. He ensured that race was a true test of stamina which suited the winner.
It was a notable big race double for Sonnyboyliston who had won the Ebor Handicap on his previous start. The 4-year-old keeps improving with racing and gamely ground out success with last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment ¾ length back in second.
Baron Samedi who was under pressure 4f out stayed on into third and ran another good race.
The eyecatcher of the race was the 4th home King Of The Castle. The 3-year-old had plenty to find out the weights with the three that finished ahead of him but he was doing his best work at the finish to get within 5 lengths of the winner. He’s only had eight career starts and looks capable of better when racing over 2m+. He could develop into a Cup horse next year. I wonder if connections will be tempted to bring the colt over for the Long-Distance Cup at Ascot?
Search For A Song failed in her bid for an Irish St Leger hat trick. Sent off the 100/30 favourite. It had looked a stronger renewal than last year and so it proved. That said it was still a good effort from the mare to finish 6th.
Agartha who had made all to win the Group 2 Debutante Stakes over C&D on her last start had been expected to go off favourite for this year’s Moyglare. However, the market didn’t favour her or the second & third from that race. Instead, they went for Cairde Go Deo and Homeless Songs.
On this occasion punters got it wrong. The first three from the Debutante Stakes finished in the first three again albeit not on the same order. While the top two in the betting both ran below market expectations.
Once again Agartha set out to make all and she got the run race out in front. However, the ground was much quicker than it was last time and, on this occasion, she couldn’t get away from the filly who had finished third to her last time.
Discoveries was ridden much closer to the pace than last time and that combined with a sounder surface saw her in a much better light. She had 4 ½ lengths to find with Agartha on their previous running, but on a sounder surface I had fancied her to get much closer. She took a bit of time to hit top gear. However, she finally got the better of the leader in the final ½ furlong. The runner-up is a tough filly to pass so it was a good effort by the winner. The runner-up could head to De Mar for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies race. Her new owners are American and going around a bend could really suit her.
Discoveries is a serious 1,000 Guineas contender
A full sister to Alpha Centauri and half sister to Alpine Star, By winning the Moyglare she’s achieved something those two smart fillies didn’t and that’s win a Group 1 as a juvenile. If she improves between two and three like her siblings than she can win more Group 1’s next season. It could even happen in one of next season’s 1,000 Guineas. As I mentioned last week, I’m on Inspiral at 12/1 for the first fillies’ classic, however, the 20/1 available with Paddy Power about Discoveries for the 1,000 Guineas is too tempting to ignore. I wouldn't put anyone off her at that sort of price.
A couple of weeks ago I looked at this season’s 2-year-old colts for the column. I had been impressed by Native Trail who overcome inexperience in winning the Group 2 Superlatives Stakes at Newmarket. I was really looking forward to see him running against Point Lonsdale in the National Stakes. In fact, I said that the 16/1 for next year’s 2,000 Guineas with Sky Bet & Betfred looked good value. Hopefully some of you followed me in. He’s now a best priced 5/1 for the first colt’s classic after his win in Sunday’s National Stakes.
In the process he made it 3-3 and lowered the colours of the previously unbeaten and 2,000 Guineas ante post favourite Point Lonsdale. The latter was sent off the 8/13 favourite however on this occasion he was no match for the Charlie Appleby trained colt. Despite having had won previous starts Native Trail still looked green when making his effort between the final two furlongs. He was continually changing his legs and like at Newmarket took a bit of time to get organised. However, once he did he forged clear of Point Lonsdale and the front running Ebro River to win by 3 ½ lengths. The further they went the better he looked and he crossed the line with his ears pricked.
A big scopey colt, Native Trail’s best days should be in front of him. The Dewhurst looks likely to be his next race and he will take some beating there and in next year’s 2,000 Guineas. Let’s say I’m happy with my ante post bet.
The Point Lonsdale bubble was firmly burst. He looked laboured so may not have been at his best on Sunday and to be fair apart from St Mark’s Basilica the Aidan O’Brien yard has hardly been in stellar form of late. He already looks like he needs a mile and seems more of Vertem Futurity horse than a Dewhurst one.
Ebro River who had won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes here last time finished ½ length behind Point Lonsdale in third and showed his last win was no fluke. He looks more of a sprinting type going forward.
Three for the tracker
I have three horses for the tracker from last week St Leger Festival.
Gnat Alley – Tim Easterby
The filly had caught the eye when finishing 1 ½ length 4th of 10 on her nursery debut at Ripon on her previous start. She was sent off the 3/1 favourite and if she hadn’t been slowly away she would surely have gone close to winning.
Upped in trip on Thursday and in a better race. Once again, she wasn’t the best away again but shaped again like a well handicapped filly when a 3 ¼ length 4th off 11 behind Allayaali. She stayed the 6 ½ f well and looks like she will stay 7f. Soft ground would be a bit of an unknown but given her mark she can win a race or two.
Ataser – T J Kent
A winner of two nurseries at York and last year’s St Leger Festival. The 3-year-old has finished well beaten on his sole start this season in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot. He ran much better on Thursday when finishing a 3-length 5th of 7 behind the progressive Modern News in the 7f handicap.
Held up, he was outpaced 2f but stayed on to good effect in the final furlong. A more strongly run race would have suited him and the way he finished off the race suggests he will be worth another go at mile. One worth keeping on side in the coming weeks. Although he does need a sound surface to be at his best according to his trainer.
Whenthedealinsdone – Roger Teal
Whenthedealinsdone had looked nicely ahead of his mark when winning at Goodwood (good to soft) two starts back. However, he then ran no sort of race at York on his next start. A return to an easier surface suited the 3-year-old on Saturday and he bounced back to form when a 2-length 5th of 17 in Saturday’s Portland Handicap. Both this seasons’ wins have come over 5f and he only weakened out of the places in the final 110yds. A drop back to the minimum trip can hopefully see the gelding back into the winner’s enclosure. He remains one to be interested in.
A fairly run of the mill Tuesday. Its day one of the 3-day Eastern festival at Yarmouth. Fontwell, Redcar and Punchestown, where Gordon Elliott will saddle his first runners since returning from a six-month ban, also host afternoon fixtures. Wolverhampton completes the Tuesday action with an evening meeting on the tapeta.
5:15 – Slieve Bearnagh isn’t exactly a winning machine as his 1-19 career tells you. In the reapplied cheekpieces he returned to his best when 2nd of 15 at Killarney last month. He’s by no means certain to reproduce that run again. However, if the headgear continues to do the trick he won't be far away.
Slieve Bearnagh – 7/1 @ bet365.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.