Summer is in full swing, and the top-class flat action keeps on coming. We had the Coral-Eclipse on Saturday and on Thursday Newmarket’s July Festival gets underway.
None of the six runners could safely be ruled out in a fascinating renewal of Eclipse. It promised to be the race of the season so far. Did it deliver?
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Yes, it did, and it produced a thrilling finish after ‘cat and mouse’ tactics in the first half of the race.
Inside today’s column I look back on Saturday ‘s big race action. Plus, there’s a Monday tip at the end of a long main piece.
Vadeni Is Très Magnifique
The money came in for Bay Bridge the only non-Group 1 winner in the race and he displaced French raider Vadeni at the head of the betting. However, on this occasion the market got it wrong.
Alenquer went from the front setting steady early fractions with a keen Bay Bridge chasing in second. It was ‘cat and mouse’ in the early part of the race and turned into a 4f sprint to the line. Ironically a French style tactical race was won by a French horse with Vadeni having the turn of foot required to win. That said the race turned out to be painful viewing for Mishriff backers.
How they finished?
Alenquer faded out between the final two furlongs. He finished last of the six runners and although s stronger gallop would have suited, he just wasn’t good enough.
Bay Bridge folded tamely 1f out. He isn’t a Group 1 horse over 1m 2f and looked like he didn’t like the good to firm ground either.
Lord North ran right up to his best to finish 1 length behind the winner in 4th.
Native Trail ran on all the way to line, However, he couldn’t match Vadeni’s turn of foot inside the final furlong and lost second on the line.
Mishriff’s jockey David Egan waited for a gap, but he wasn’t sharp enough to take it. He had to be switched around the whole field and stayed on down the outside to get within a neck of the winner at the line. Rustiness was blamed and he didn’t travel as well as some, so there is some truth to that. This run should have put him spot for next month’s Juddmonte International at York. A race he won so impressively last year.
Sting in the tail for Soumillon
Despite a slight stumble ½ f out Vadeni was just doing enough to win. Christophe Soumillon would probably have liked to have held onto his colt for a bit longer than he did. If he had we would probably have seen a more impressive winner. He will be seen to even a better effect when he gets a stronger pace to chase over 1m 2f. Sadly, it doesn’t look like he will be heading to York for the International and will be going for the Irish Champion Stakes.
There was a sting in the tale for winning jockey Christophe Soumillon. He was banned for 12-days for careless riding after he allowed his mount to drift right hampering Native Trial and Lord North after crossing the line. Given what had happened at Haydock earlier on in the day it seemed a very harsh decision by the Sandown stewards. I doubt an English jockey would have got such a lengthy ban.
I had tipped up the runner-up so it was disappointing for me that he couldn’t do it. Although I did have a saver on the winner, when he drifted out to 11/4, so made a small profit on the race It wasn't as much as I would have Mishriff had won.
The Gosden’s have a good bunch of fillies
Up at Haydock. Free Wind overcame being badly hampered on the rail 2f out to win a controversial Lancashire Oaks in impressive style. Her jockey Rab Havlin went for gap on the rail which was closed by the eventual third Eshaada. Given the momentum she must have lost it was remarkable that she was still able to go onto win. She’s an improving filly who deserves to take her chance in Group 1 company next time. She should make the 3-year-old’s work hard in next month’s Yorkshire Oaks.
Down at Sandown the Gosden’s won the Coral Distaff with Grande Dame. The filly had found the Group 1 Coronation Stakes to hot when 11th of 12 to stablemate Inspiral on her previous start. However, these were calmer waters and she’s clearly a nice filly when racing in the right class.
Whilst on the subject of the Gosden’s. It was interesting to see John Gosden’s comments on Frankie Dettori’s sabbatical. Call me a cynic. However, you have wonder if some owners in the yard have made it clear that they want Dettori to continue ride their horses this season.
Inspiral seems likely to run in Friday’s Falmouth Stakes and it will be interesting to see who is riding the filly. Maybe Johnny G was preparing the ground for a quicker end to the sabbatical than we thought.
A low-key Monday but the action hots up from midweek onwards.
There’s a flat card at Ayr this afternoon and a jumps fixture at Worcester. Ripon and Roscommon complete Monday’s action with evening meetings.
A lot depends on the ground at the Scottish track this afternoon. If the going is on the quick side, I fancy Golden Flame in the 3:35. I’m happy to draw a line threw his last two runs in the Ascot Stakes & Northumberland Plate. The 4-year-old was beaten a head by Valley Forge at Haydock three starts back and a reproduction of that run would see him go close here. This is a class drop for the 4-year-old and his 3 wins from 6 runs, 4 places when racing in field sizes 7 or less. With both turf wins coming on good to firm ground. Hollie Doyle goes up to Ayr for just one ride on the well handicapped Throne Hall but I'm going with Golden Flame.
The 6f Book Your Ayr Gold Cup Tickets Handicap (4:10) and you can make a case for seven of the eight runners
Black Friday is 3 from 6 over C&D and he went close here in April. His very best form has come on good to soft ground and if the going eases he’ll be there or thereabouts. He won this race last from 3lb lower albeit it was good to soft ground that day
Music Society is another C&D winner and he won at Catterick two starts back. He wasn’t well drawn nor well placed when only 9th of 16 at Pontefract last time. However, he did shape like was still in good form and the yard was among the winners at the weekend. He finished 1/2 length behind Black Friday in last year’s race and he’s 1lb lower this time around.
Lightly raced 4-year-old Quest for Fun improved to win a Thirsk Handicap last time. Both the second and third have gone onto win since. He's up 7lb but is unexposed and he should go well. However, the Thirsk race was nicely set up for the hold up horses and he’s not certain to get a similar pace set up today.
Connections of Adnaan will be hoping the showers stay away. The 3-year-old wasn’t disgraced when 5th of 22 in last season’s Super Sprint at Newbury. Before going on to win a Newmarket novice (good to firm) in the hands of today’s jockey Ben Curtis. He hasn’t hit top form on two starts this season but there was more to like about his 6 ¼ length 4th of 9 in the first-time visor at Newmarket 10-days ago. He showed plenty of early dash that day but didn’t stay 7f. The visor has been retained for a return to 6f and I can see him going well on quick ground.
Down at Ripon
Seven have been declared for the Class 3 Armstrong Memorial Handicap (7:45). Society Red was able to dictate the pace from the front when winning over C&D 18-days ago. He’s up 4lb for that success but Oisin McSweeney takes off 5lb which negates the 8-year-old’s weight rise.
Menai Bridge looks better on the all-weather than turf and was beaten a short head at Lingfield last time. Trainer Charlie Hills runners do need respecting at Ripon as he’s 6 winners from 20 runners 30% +12. 66 in the past 5-years.
The inform Tim Easterby yard saddle a couple of previous C&D winners in the hat trick seeking Myristica and Fishable. The former is 5lb higher than when successful at Beverley. However, even in a deeper race she has solid claims of another win given her present vein of form. All three of top weight Fishable’s wins have come at Ripon and his C&D form figures are 11412. He probably found the ground a bit to quick when 4th of 7 at Pontefract last time so any ease in the going is a plus. Now 1lb below his last winning mark he’s back down to a handy mark.
Saturday’s first Lucky 15 predictably crashed and burned but hopefully there will be other days when it does click.
I’m going to take a chance that Ayr stays dry for today’s selection.
3:35 – Golden Flame
Good luck with your Monday bets.
P.S. I will be back on Wednesday with a couple of tracker horses and few trainers worth noting at the July Festival.