Royal Ascot 2011

To open Royal Ascot 2011, The Queen unveiled a magnificent bronze sculpture in the Ascot's main paddock of Coolmore's stallion, Yeats, who is the only horse to win Ascot's Gold Cup four times. 

It set a quality tone for international racegoers and fans on the first day of Royal Ascot which offers three Group 1 races featuring some of the world's top Turf horses. 

This year is also the first year of the British Champions' Series and winners of those three Group 1s qualify for inclusion. 

The King's Stand Stakes also qualified for the Global Sprint Challenge.
Breeders' Cup executives actively scout the races on Day 1 and 2 for talent to include in their November championship races which will be held November 4 and 5 at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.

Arguably the first and third races generated the most interest generated by the presence of Canford Cliffs, Cape Blanco, Goldikova in the first and mega-star Frankel in the third.

The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m)for 4yo+ 

Canford Cliffs got the better of Goldikova.  Photo ©David Hastings

Flash Dance was pacemaker for Freddie Head's Goldikova, 6yo triple Breeders' Cup Mile winner and 13-Group 1 winner, who was sent out with her jockey Olivier Peslier weighing in two pounds overweight.*

Handicap officials acknowledge that the extra weight negated her fillies' allowance and cost her a length.

With trainer Richard Hannon gunning for blood after his colt Paco Boy's multiple losses to the mare (costing him over £1.5 million in earnings) and a very fit Canford Cliffs under top jockey Richard Hughes, Goldikova could expect no mercy.

With the weight disadvantage, her jockey should not have taken the lead too early if he wanted to avoid setting her up as a sitting duck.

Further, he did not appear notice Canford Cliffs oncoming assault 1f out and responded too late for even a dead heat.

Goldikova is a mare who will always try with her tremendous speed and determination if she gets the jockey signal soon enough.  She did not get it and came in second by 1 length.

Cityscape was another 1¾ lengths in third.  The talented Cape Blanco had an off day 16 lengths behind the winner and beat only Flash Dance home and behind Rio De La Plata and Ransom Note.

The King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series and Global Sprint Challenge), 5f (5/8m, 1000m) for 3y0+

Nineteen runners from eight countries competed in this sharp 5f sprint and the impressive foreign competitors looked to have the advantage over Britain's horses.

Robert Cowell's four-year-old gelding, Prohibit, beat out three foreign-trained horses in a tight close with Australia's Star Witness, South Africa's mare Sweet Sanette and Hungary's speedster Overdose.   

Prohibit races best from behind under a strong pace and he got his conditions paying 7/1.

He gave Ballydoyle's Zoffany the chance to streak from the rear 1f out to nearly, but never able to, catch him. 
Favourite Kingsgate Native at 11/2 was 3¾ lengths behind the winner in sixth and the second favourite at 13/2, Sole Power, was eighth by 4¼ lengths.   

*In Peslier's attempt to lose his extra 2 pounds, he took a sauna and grabbed boots which looked like his.  They were not and he was fined £650.  Not his best day.

The St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 3yo entire colts

The world's highest-rated horse, unbeaten Frankel, won his cliffhanger St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.        Photo ©David Hastings 

This must be the race of races at this year's Royal Ascot. 

There is no adequate description of the excitement leading up to seeing the world's highest rated horse, Frankel, annihilate another hapless field of the year's best three-year olds.

Yet confused signals between the pacemaker Rerouted who went too fast burning himself out early and the wilful Frankel who forced himself into the lead 2f out and then dawdled almost contemptuously.

The playful Frankel left part of the audience holding its collective breathe and other sounding as if they were having heart attacks with the tension.

After watching Goldikova's being pipped, it was good to see jockey Tom Queally rally his colt thereby averting disaster.
Zoffany has the rare distinction of getting closest to the Wonder at a ¾ length, but only because of a failed Cecil (Sir Henry) team tactic.

Cecil promised to change tactics in future races and defended his jockey from what he felt was unfair criticism. 

Marco Botti's Excelebration lost again to Frankel - this time ceding second to Zoffany and just holding third from Neebras by a head.  They were 2¼ and 2½ lengths behind the winner.

The other five competitors were too far behind to be in the same class:  Dream Ahead, Dubawi Gold, Wootton Bassett, Grand Prix Boss from Japan and pacemaker Rerouted.

The three races were fast on good ground, but this race was the fastest by 0.76s (1m 39.24s).

One can only admire Sir Henry Cecil for allowing the Juddmonte colt his head and experimenting with different tactics.

He is not playing it safe.  Frankel will have his chance to show how good he really is.

Day Two

Races with international 'star' horses and good weather increased Royal Ascot's opening day crowd by 10% over last year to 43,354.  Even Tote betting increased by 14% over last year to £1,245,535.

The second day of Royal Ascot has three world-class Group races which were full of surprises and without a favourite winning.

The Jersey Stakes (Group 3), 7f (7/8m, 1400m) for 3yo

After seeing Richard Hannon's Strong Suit in the saddling area, it was difficult to imagine the imposing colt not being the favourite (11/1), but Codemaster was at 7/4. 

Strong Suit was one of last year's best two-year olds.  Breathing problems developed this year and he had surgery to relieve the difficulty.

When he powered up, Codemaster and the third Western Aristocrat at 9/2 had no answer.  Strong Suit was out front by ½ length and a neck in 1m 26.09s (fast by 0.61s).

The victory gave trainer Richard Hannon and son-in-law Richard Hughes their second Group victory in Royal Ascot's opening races.

The Windsor Forest Stakes (Group 2), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 4yo+ fillies and mares 

Ireland's Lolly For Dolly bested 12 far more experienced and higher-rated fillies to win by 1½ lengths over Sir Henry Cecil's Chachamaidee and David Simcock's First City (by another length).

Tommy Stack, trainer of the winner. attributed her victory to staying ability and newly-fitted blinkers.  Wayne Lordan gave her a perfect ride and was thrilled with his first win at Royal Ascot.

The Prince of Wales's Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m2f (10f, 1¼m, 2000m) for 4yo+

Frankie Dettori's flying dismount from Godolphin's Rewilding after winning the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.        Photo ©David Hastings 

This race probably had the most shocking conclusion of any during the meet.

Ballydoyle's famous import from Australia, So You Think NZ, was sent out 4/11 favourite.  Any and all would probably have done battle over his being the one sure winner of the day.

Godolphin did not agree and they sent in their Debussy and Rewilding, winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic, to take on the challenge.

Debussy is a better frontrunning horse at 7f or a mile and Rewilding is a true 1m4f stayer who lags in the back to make bursting closes. 

Godolphin bet on So You Think's actually not being a stayer and Rewilding having the ability to handle a sharper trip than usual.  And they have jockey Frankie Dettori.

The saddling-up area is the best place to assess the fitness and mood of potential winners.  Those three horses, plus the underestimated Sri Putra, looked the best. 

I bet on the sleek and lightly-raced Rewilding, half brother of Dar Re Mi by dam Darara, who looked outstanding to me.

Jan Vermeer, who was So You Think's pacemaker, missed the break and took 2f to get to the front putting SYT in second to be closely shadowed by Debussy.
Ryan Moore had trouble settling his mount SYT who was sweating in the paddock.

Once they hit the front, it appeared the race was locked down 1f out until the Dettori torpedo shot from back of the pack to wear down So You Think winning by a neck with Sri Putra third 6 lengths out. 

The crowd was stunned and Godolphin jubilant.

Dettori did his flying dismount after earning himself a nine-day ban for  excessive use of the whip.

Aidan O'Brien claimed his horse lost, because he was not fit enough.  Australians and New Zealanders had much more unkind assessments.

Day Three

The third day of Royal Ascot draws the largest crowd of the Meet as it is Ladies' Day and the ladies come in droves to outdo each other in fashion.

It is also Gold Cup Day.  For the last four years, the race was won by Yeats who is now retired to the Coolmore Stud and commemorated on Day One by The Queen when unveiling his statue in the main paddock. 

This year's tussle for Royal Ascot's iconic was between the two major racing empires:  Opinion Poll for Godolphin (Darley) and Fame And Glory for Ballydoyle (Coolmore). 

The Gold Cup (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 2m4f (20f, 2½m, 4000m) for 4yo+

Yeats' worthy successor Fame And Glory outclassed Royal Ascot's Gold Cup field winning by 3 lengths over Opinion Poll.            Photo ©David Hastings 

The race was slowly run in 4m 37.51s (16.51s) and perfectly set up for jockey Jamie Spencer to bring Ballydoyle's relaxed Fame And Glory to the front of 14 other competitors in the final furlongs of the Gold Cup.

His stamina gave him the edge in the staying race over Godolphin's respected Opinion Poll and trainer Andre Fabre's accomplished Brigantin who raced for owners Team Valor.  

Fame And Glory won easily by 3 lengths over Opinion Poll and a further 4½ lengths over Brigantin.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien confirmed that the five-year old horse will be prepared for October's Arc de Triomphe and he will return to Royal Ascot next year to try to equal or best Yeats' Gold Cup record. 

Day Four

Thursday at Royal Ascot may be Ladies' Day, but the fourth day of Royal Ascot or Friday has the showcase mile race for the best international fillies of the three-year-old Classic generation.

The Corronation Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series), 1m (8f, 1600m) for 3yo fillies

Robert Collet and son brought their dynamic filly duo, Immortal Verse and Nova Hawk, from France to take first and second in Royal Ascot's Coronation Stakes.       Photo ©David Hastings 

Twelve fillies competed led by some of Britain and Ireland's best females.  

France's Robert and son Ron Collet believed they had two of the best three-year old fillies, Immortal Verse and Nova Hawk, of 2011 and committed them to Royal Ascot's prestigious Coronation Stakes. 

They were right.  The beautiful Immortal Verse beat her beautiful compatriot Nova Hawk by 2¼ lengths followed a half length by Richard Fahey's Barefoot Lady.  

The British were stunned but gracious to the happy Frenchmen.  Regretfully, there is some truth in the French trainers complaint to the French press that they received only a tepid reception for their victories.

The King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f (12f, 1½m, 2400m) for colts and geldings

Trainer John Gosden usually has good reasons when he brings a three-year-old colt who has only won a maiden to compete in one Royal Ascot's Group 2 historic races.

Nathaniel was second to Treasure Beach in the Group 3 Chester Vase and did not face as stiff competition in the King Edward.

The handsome Nathaniel, who has proven to be best at 12 furlongs, waltzed 5 lengths past his nearest rival (of nine) Fiorente and another 2 lengths ahead of Alexander Pope in a slow 2m 34.48s (slow by 4.48s). 

Young jockey William Buick rode Nathaniel to perfection.

The team is just beginning its upward curve for they have a very talented colt.

Day Five

Royal Ascot's closing day on Saturday is often family day which has one of the best races for two-year olds and a prestigious 6f sprint which is part of the Global Sprint Challenge along with the 5f King's Stands Stakes won by Britain's Prohibit on opening day.

Many foreign sprinters come to Royal Ascot just to compete in both races as the 5 and 6 furlong distances.

Until recently the British sprinters were easy prey for the superior foreign horses, but that has changed with Prohibit and Society Rock (below). 

The Golden Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions' Series and Global Sprint Challenge, 6f

Society Rock outpowered Monsieur Chevalier and Star Witness in Royal Ascot's Golden Jubilee Stakes.          Photo ©David Hastings 

Australia's Star Witness travelled to Royal Ascot to compete in both its Global Sprint Challenge races a 5 and 6 furlongs. 

He was unfortunate to be touched off by Prohibit in the King's Stands Stakes, but had no excuses when he lost to Society Rock by 1¾ lengths.  He was third 1¼ lengths behind trainer Richard Hannon's Monsieur Chevalier who has recovered much of his earlier form.

Trainer James Fanshawe always seems to produce a winner at Royal Ascot.

The Chesham Stakes (Listed Race), 7f for 2yo fillies and colts 

Future star Maybe in the Ballydoyle Tabor colours imposed herself on 15 other 2y olds by 2¼ lengths in Royal Ascot's Chesham Stakes.          Photo ©David Hastings

Sometimes trainers are overly enthusiastic about their horses, but Aidan O'Brien's words about his two-year-old filly Maybe were understatements.

With Ryan Moore on board, the filly was sent out 5/2 favourite in Royal Ascot's Chesham Stakes and she thrashed the field of 16 - 2¼ lengths in front of Fort Bastion and another 3 lengths before Self Centered.

The youngster is a very finished professional filly and one expects great things from her.

The O'Brien/Moore team also won the second race of the day, the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2), 1m4f for 4yo+, with four-year-old colt Await The Dawn who beat Harris Tweed by 3 lengths and Drunken Sailor in third.

Overall World Top Ten Ratings

Outstanding winners and seconds enhanced their reputations on the World Top Ten Ratings with their Royal Ascot Turf performances:

Canford Cliffs and Goldikova rose to 130 and 126 respectively for the Queen Anne race.

Rewilding and So You Think raised their ratings to 130 and 129 respectively for the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

Frankel retains his 133 world leader rating for the 2000 Guineas though his impressive St James's Palace Stakes did not rate a 133.

Workforce earned his 127 from the Brigadeer Gerard and did not compete in Royal Ascot.

Five of the world's top Turf horses competed at Royal Ascot and six of the 11 are European.

Posted June 19, 2011

Royal Ascot Will Set Season's Form Again

The five-day Royal Ascot Meet occurs during the early peak season for most horse.  Its races are known to establish the year's form for the horses competing in its wide range of races and distances.

It is suitable, that given 2011 is the 300th Anniversary of Royal Ascot, the QIPCO British Champions Series should start its first Series in the same year having seven of Royal Ascot's races are part of the Series.

Three major QIPCO BCS races are on opening day June 14th.  

The Queen Anne Stakes (1m, 4yo+) has lured six-year-old Goldikova back to England to repeat her success last year.  She is up against very tough competition against powerful males like Canford Cliffs, Cape Blanco, Citiscape, Ransom Note and Rio Del La PlataFlash Dance will be her pacemaker.

Given the mess in the Prix de Diane, one hopes Goldikova's jockey remembers that she is 2010 Horse of the Year in both England and France as well as being the three-times' winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile.

The King's Stand Stakes (5f, 3yo+) has attracted 19 of some of the world's finest sprinters - except Black Caviar who will compete in 2012 - and trainers.

Overdose is back for the Czech Republic.  Todd Pletcher brought Bridgetown and Wesley Smith brought Holiday For Kitten to be ridden by Zenyatta's partner Mike Smith who is riding in Britain this Spring.

Star Witness is currently favourite and hails from Australia.

The European home team claims the favourites in Sole Power and game Kingsgate Native

This is the most open race of the three starting the RA/BCS Series.

The St James's Palace Stakes (1m, 3yo) promises to be a thriller with eight taking on Frankel who is the highest-rated colt in the world at 130.

Japan is not affraid of him.  It has sent Grand Prix Boss with Dubai World Cup winner Mirco Demuro on board.  Dumuro is proving to be one of the world's top jockeys in and out of Italy along with his chum Frankie Dettori.

Dubawi Gold and Wootton Bassett return to the challenge against Frankel along with Dream Ahead, Excelebration, Rerouted, Godolphin's Neebras and Ballydoyle's Zoffany.

Many think Canford Cliffs will beat Goldikova.  He may, but my heart is always with her.

I cannot predict the sprint outcome, but I cannot see any colt beating Frankel unless he has his first bad day.

Posted June 12, 2011

Inside international horse racing paddocks with form expert Susan Trevelyan-Syke

News, horse form and race analysis, breeding, tips and racing trends.  

Zenyatta Delivered Healthy Pulpit Colt
Derbys And Oaks To Qualify For Kentucky Derby/Oaks
Dreaming Of Julia, Wunderkind, For Kentucky Oaks

Dubai World Cup And Winners' Future
Become a FAN:  racingint at 

Racing International


Horserace Writers and Photographers Association 

Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance




T.J.Smith Stakes

April 13
Black Caviar
Bel Sprinter
Hay List
Rain Affair

Arkansas Derby
April 13

Blue Grass Stakes
April 13

Nell Gwyn Stakes
April 17

Craven Stakes
April 18

Punchestown Festival
April 23-27
Annie Power
Champagne Fever
Harry Topper
Hurricane Fly
Quevaga vs Solwhit
Our Conor
Sir Des Champs vs
Long Run and Riverside Theatre
Sprinter Sacre

Kentucky Oaks
Churchill Downs
May 3
Dreaming Of Julia

Kentucky Derby
Churchil Downs
May 4
Lines Of Battle
Normandy Invasion

2000 Guineas
May 4
Dawn Approach
Move To Strike

1000 Guineas
May 5
Agent Allison
What A Name

Poule d'Essai des Poulains
May 13
Leitir Mor
Triple Threat

Poule d'Essai des Pouliches

May 12

Duke of York Stakes
May 15

Middleton Stakes
May 16

Dante Stakes
May 16
Secret Number

Derby Italiano
May 16

Yorkshire Cup

May 17
Opinion Poll

Lochinge Stakes
May 18
Most Improved

Singapore International
May 19

Irish 2000 Guineas
May 25

Oaks d'Italio
San Siro
May 26
Lovely Pass
Music Chart

Irish 1000 Guineas
May 26

Prix d'Ispahan

May 26

Investec Oaks
May 31

Investec Coronation Cup
June 1
Parish Hall
St Nicholas Abbey

Investec Derby
June 1
Dawn Approach
Move To Strike

Prix du Jockey Club
June 2
Triple Threat

Prix Diane
June 16

Royal Ascot
June 18-22
Animal Kingdom
All Too Hard
Black Caviar
Shea Shea
Soft Falling Rain

Irish Derby
June 29

Grand Prix de Paris
July 13

Irish Oaks
July 21

Arc Trials:  Vermeille, Foy and Niel
September 15

Arc de Triomphe
October 5-6

Breeders' Cup
Santa Anita
November 1-2

©Racing International

Godolphin Team Head To York

Godolphin's 6yo heroine of the G1 Dubai Duty Free, Sajjhaa (King's Best USA), and breezy winner of the Dubai Gold Cup, Cavalryman (Halling USA), both head the Godolphin contingent to York. 

Sajjhaa is in the G2 Middleton Stakes, 10.5f, on May 16 before transferring to North America.  Connections are considering the E P Taylor or Flower Bowl for her.

Cavalryman joins Opinion Poll in the G3 14f Yorkshire Cup on May 17.

Secret Number, who blew his chance in the UAE Derby settling for third, tackles the G2 Dante Stakes, 10f, on May 16.

Mental and Soul race in the Duke of York Stakes May 15.

Encke vs Camelot (Again) In Lochinge

The horse who spoiled Camelot's chances to win the 3yo's Triple Crown, Godolphin's Encke USA (Kingmambo USA), will challenge Aidan O'Brien's 2012 Guineas/Derby winner, Camelot IRE (Galileo IRE) and his Most Improved IRE (Lawman FR) in the G1 JLT Lochinge Stakes, 1m, at Newbury Racecourse on May 18th.

The Lochinge is one of Britain's earliest Group 1 races of the season for older horses. 

It was won in 2012 by the world's highest-rated Flat horse, Frankel (Galileo IRE), who is now retired to stud at Juddmonte Farms.

Animal Kingdom To Royal Ascot

Team Valor and co-owners of Animal Kingdom USA, Arrowfield Stud of Australia, are very tempted to run their $10 million Dubai World Cup champion in either the Prince of Wales's Stakes or the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot this June.

His British-born trainer Graham Motion prefers the 1m opening race of the Meet on June 19, the Queen Anne Stakes, won by Frankel in 2012.

The POW is 1m3f on Day 2, June 20, and was won by So You Think NZ in 2012.

Both races are run on Turf, the Dubai World Cup on Tapeta (AW) and the Kentucky Derby on Dirt.

Animal Kingdom is a 1m to 1m2f (1¼m) specialist and is versatile enough to have won races on all three surfaces:  Turf, AW and Dirt. 

He is the first horse since Silver Charm to win both the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup. 

AK is also the first American horse to win the DWC since Well Armed in 2009.

Silver Charm won the KD in 1997 and the DWC in 1998 when both races were run on Dirt.

Animal Kingdom had his career first run on Dirt in the 2011 Kentucky Derby surging explosively ahead in the Classic for three-year olds.

He was so impressive and always looked capable of becoming a Triple Crown winner except for jockey interference in the Preakness and an injury in the Belmont which threatened to end his career at three.

Motion, who has trained in the USA for 30 years, never gave up on "the best horse I have trained".

He was second in the Breeders' Cup Mile to Wise Dan when he was boxed in, but his class overcame an impossible position and he might have won with an earlier run.  His jockey R Bejarano shared blame and has been replaced by Joel Rosario.

Animal Kingdom has been one of the unluckiest great horses who should have been.

His dam Dalicia GER is bred from two powerful European lines.  Her sire was Acatenango GER and her dam by Juddmonte's legendary Dancing Brave USA (Lyphard USA).

He is the son of Lesroidesanimaux USA, who is a half brother to Invasor ARG - winner of Uruguay's Triple Crown, two Dubai World Cups and the Breeders' Cup Classic. 

was raced by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and resides at his Shadwell Farm, KY.

They are both brilliant sons of Candy Stripes USA who at 31 is retired.

Not only is Animal Kingdom a strikingly handsome chestnut with a kind temperment, but his versatility and exceptional breeding make him an exciting stallion prospect. 

Lucky Australia!*

*Lucky America:  Darley America bought a 29% share in Animal Kingdom and he will take up Northern Hemisphere duties at its Jonabell Farm in Lexington, KY, and will stand in the Southern Hemisphere at John Messara's Arrowfield Stud.

Black Caviar And Bro To Royal Ascot

Following her 24th straight career victory, connections of 7yo Black Caviar AUS (Bel Esprit AUS) announced plans for her to return to Royal Ascot for the 5f King's Stand Stakes opening day June 18.

She will then travel to Frankel at Juddmonte Farms where they shall breed - a world champion no doubt.

Her half brother, 4yo All Too Hard AUS (Casino Prince AUS), may face 5yo Animal Kingdom in the 1m Queen Anne Stakes.

He has won two 7f races at Caufield this February and may be ready for a mile (8f).

Two More DWC Winners to Royal Ascot

South Africa's Shea Shea (National Emblem SAF), winner of the G1 Al Quoz Sprint, will face Black Caviar AUS (Bel Esprit AUS) in the 5f King's Stand at Royal Ascot.

Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's brilliant Soft Falling Rain SAF (National Assembly SAF), winner of the G2 Godolphin Mile, will race in the Queen Anne possibly against Animal Kingdom

Gentildonna To Arc

Sei Ishizaka, trainer of Japan's Triple Crown 3yo filly Gentildonna, is undaunted by her 2¼-length second to St Nicholas Abbey IRE (Montjeu IRE) in the Dubai Sheema Classic, 1m4f.

He intends to bring her to Europe in the Fall to compete in the Arc de Triomphe October 6.

In the paddock before the DWC, Gentildonna was dripping sweat, on her toes and thrashing her tail.  Even visors did not calm her.

The Sheema was her first race in 2013 after defeating Orfevre JPN (Stay Gold JPN) by a controversial nose in the Japan Cup November 25. 

Technically, she should have lost the race for interference, but the two horses are owned by the Sunday Racing Co Ltd and the Rules were not enforced.

Her jockey, Yasunari Iwata, let St Nick get ahead of her in the Sheema Classic.  She looked bewildered and had no final kick to close him down.

She returned very tired.

Gentildonna will fly the colours of her great sire, Deep Impact JPN, in the Arc which is run at the same distance as the Sheema Classic - 1m4f (1½m, 2400m).

Deep Impact should never have lost his Arc.

Let us hope his daughter has better luck and jockeyship when she faces Orfevre again in their attemt to give Japan its first victory in the Arc.

©Racing International
Zenyatta Delivered Healthy Pulpit Colt

             ©Kyle Acebo

Leave it to Zenyatta USA (Street Cry USA) to deliver a magnificent colt at the 11th hour on her own birthday, April Fool's Day, April 1. 

The colt, whose temporary name is 13Z, was nursing within the hour and proved he has his dam and brother's camera charisma when posing for his first photos at Lane's End Farm.

Zenyatta becomes more beautiful with age and is an enraptured mother.

©April 3, 2013

Dreaming Of Julia - Rachel Redux?

Stonestreet Stables may have another female superstar - one worthy to follow in its Rachel Alexandra* hoof prints.

Three-year old Dreaming Of Julia USA (A.P. Indy USA) decimated the Gulfstream Park Florida Oaks field by 21½ lengths on Dirt.
She was faster by 1.9 seconds than the $1 million Florida Derby males led by Orb USA (Malibu Moon USA) on the same card.

Both horses were ridden by John R Velazquez who won five races on the day.

Dreaming Of Julia earned herself a 114 Beyer Speed and a Racing Post Rating of 122 - higher than any three-year old male or female in the world.

She also earned 100 points towards a place in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Oaks May 3 for which she is favourite.

Her trainer Todd Pletcher is disappointed that the new Derby/Oaks rules do not allow her 100 points to be used to enter her in the Kentucky Derby (which allows females).

There still are a few points' races left for her to compete and qualify to take on the boys in the Derby. 

Let's see if Pletcher will opt for the hard option.

Watch the Wunderkind on

*Rachel Alexandra has returned to Stonestreet to recover from surgery and is doing well.

©April 1, 2013

More Very Impressive Fillies For Oaks

Juddmonte homebred Emollient USA (Empire Maker USA) joined her stablemate Close Hatches USA (First Defence USA) as prime candidates for the Kentucky Oaks after winning the Grade 1 $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland by the fourth-largest margin in race history - 9 lengths in the 1-1/16m race.

Emollient ignored any disadvantage of the outside post by crossing to the front under Mike Smith and leading all the way.  They were almost contemptuous of the other horses when she sped up at the last turn and just put more and more distance between her and Tuffipaesi, Kitten's Point and Wave Theory without effort.

It was an amazing turnaround from her 30-length defeat in the Gulfstream Park Oaks the week before.  Her trainer William Mott decided to ignore that race and give her another chance to earn the 100 points needed for the Kentucky Oaks. 

It is her third win of six starts and her first stakes win.

One of my favourites from the 2012 Breeders' Cup was Beholder USA (Henny Hughes USA) who won the BC Juvenile Fillies race, 1 1/8m (9f). 

She was also the Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Filly.

She is also, without question, one of the prettiest fillies and she never hesitates to take the lead in a race under her jockey Garrett Gomez.

She did just that in the Grade 1 $300,250 Santa Anita Oaks, 1 1/16m, winning by 2¾ lengths in 1:43.16 over Iotapa and Fiftyshadesofhay by a neck.

Gomez, who has ridden her in all eight of her races, said "One of her weapons is speed.  She left there like a shot."

This is her third Grade 1 victory in eight races and she is unbeatable around two turns.

Trained by Richard Mandella, she has earned her points to be one of the 14 fillies competing in the 1 1/8m Kentucky Oaks May 3.

Mandella thinks Dreaming Of Julia is awesome and the winner of the Sunland Park Oaks, Midnight Lucky, is very good.

His Beholder seems to have retained her old magic and must be one of the Oaks' favourites.

©April 7, 2013

Derby Trials Target Kentucky Derby

Despite the Florida Oaks providing one of the most exciting prospects for US racing in Dreaming Of Julia since Rachel Alexandra, three Derbys on Saturday earned enough points for worthy colts to qualify for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 4. 

The horse who may be the best will not be in the Derby as an Oaks' winner (all filly race) cannot use her points for the Derby.

Aidan O'Brien's Lines Of Battle USA (War Front USA) won the Group 2 UAE Derby, 1m1f on Tapeta, by 1½ lengths over Ellaval IRE and Godolphin's fast-closing Secret Number (Raven's Pass USA) by another ½ length at Meydan.

The winner's form was not overly impressive given the second and third threw away their race and LOB is quoted at only 25/1 for the Derby.  Dirt should not be a problem for him with his US breeding.

Revolutionary USA (War Pass USA) earned himself $600,000 and 100 points for the Kentucky Derby in winning the Grade 2 $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds under Javier Castellano. 

Despite chaos in the paddock, Revolutionary was calm and showed the same temperment when making up lost ground at the end of his 1-1/8m race beating a determined Mylute by a neck in fast time of 1:50.28.

He is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by WinStar Farm.

Orb USA (Malibu Moon USA) put away several Kentucky Derby prospects in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, 1-1/8m.

He had 50 points towards the Kentucky Derby in winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and has earned another 100 in this Derby - not only qualifying him for the Kentucky race, but making him one of its favourites.

He provided Hall of Fame trainer Shug Mcaughey with his first victories in the two Gulfstream races and banished his worries that the track might not favour a late-running horse like Orb.

Jockey John Velazquez, who won five races on the card, put Orb closer to the action than usual and was not afraid to run him wide when closing down on Itsmyluckyday winning by 2¾ lengths.

Merit Man finished third 2¼ lengths behind Itsmyluckyday, followed by Narvaez, Shanghai Bobby, Pick Of The Litter, Frac Daddy, Are You Kidding Me, Indy's Illusion and Pontiff.

Itsmyluckyday lost emphatically to Orb, but has enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

Shanghai Bobby, 2012 Eclipse Two-Year-Old Champion, will not compete in the Kentucky Derby after his fifth place in the race.

His trainer Todd Pletcher will give him time off to regain his high energy level.  Growth spurts and stops do not always occur when there are big races to race.  He should come back later in late Summer or early Fall.

His connections will be represented in the Kentucky Derby by Lines Of Battle and on of favourites, Verrazano, who races in the Wood Memorial April 6 at Aqueduct.

runs in th Santa Anita Derby to earn his Kentucky Derby points and the fillies race in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland for Oaks' points - both races are on April 6.

USA (Into Mischief USA) has taken up I'll Have Another's trail from last year for trainer Doug O'Neill.

The colt earned his 100 points to enter the Kentucky Derby by winning the Grade 1 $750,750 Santa Anita Derby, 1-1/8m.

He defeated two other Derby prospects: the grey Flashback USA (Tapit USA) by 1¼ lengths and race leader Super Ninety Nine USA (Pulpit USA) by 8½ lengths.

Not a good day for Bob Baffert who trained the place horses.  He has since learned that Flashback suffered a bone chip which leaves him out of the Kentucky Derby.

Both Flashback and Goldencents had been defeated in March by Hear The Ghost USA (Ghostzapper USA) in his first and only race - the San Felipe Stakes. 

Unfortunately Hear The Ghost injured his knee and was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby and is not likely to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

Verrazano USA (More Than Ready USA) has been the consistent market leader for the Kentucky Derby and remains unbeaten after a not-too convincing performance in the Grade 1 $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

He expended a lot of effort against another unbeaten Derby contender, Vyjack USA (Into Mischief USA), for the lead and was nearly picked off at the end by Chad Brown's improving Normandy Invasion USA (Tapit USA) who only lost by a neck.

Vyjack was third another 3¾ lengths back suffering his first loss of four career races.

Verrazano's rather pedestrian performance left questions about his ability to get the 1¼m (10 furlongs) distance.

His jockey, John Velaquez who was injured this weekend, is hedging his bets on Verrazano and Orb for the Derby.

It also leaves questions for the Ballydoyle/Coolmore owners who bought into Shanghai Bobby, who will miss the Derby, and Verrazano expecting to own a Derby winner with their Lines Of Battle USA (War Front USA) a bonus. 

Lines Of Battle is not in the same league as the other two and no UAE Derby winner has won the Kentucky Derby.

The Racing Post's official handicapper, Sam Walker, sees Orb as the best prospect.  Then a little speed closer like Normandy Invasion could wreck everyone's plans.

©April 7, 2013

Animal Kingdom Seized Dubai World Cup

America's new pride and joy (shared with a jubilant co-owning Australia), Animal Kingdom USA (Leroidesanimaux BRZ), left no doubt that he could win the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, 1¼m (1m2f, 2000m), once the 12 entrants turned for home.

America's premier mare, Royal Delta USA, took a soft lead on the Tapeta course under Mike Smith.

The eventual winner, Animal Kingdom, played a waiting game after shooting from the outside stall.  He stalked the mare from third or fourth up with the pace.

Showing his versatility, Animal Kingdom, made an early move for the lead just after the final bend as Royal Delta faded. 

For another horse, it might have been too early to move. But neither Joel Rosario nor Animal Kingdom got lonely in front nor had any doubts about anyone catching them.

The horse looked around nearing the post and seemed to relish his achievement and the applause.

Britain's Red Cadeaux (Cadeaux Genereux), an exceptionally experienced international winner, gave hot pursuit.  He could not close down the winner who glided the final furlong winning by 2 lengths without exertion.

Red Cadeaux's trainer, Ed Dunlop, leapt in the air and bounced like a tall pogo stick - so happy his seven-year old gave serious chase.  Being second was almost a win for him and the financial reward was generous as well.

Two more UK-trained horses followed to take third and fourth:  Planteur IRE and Side Glance.  They are trained by Marco Botti and Andrew Balding respectively.

The victor's breeding and connections represent Brazil, Europe, the USA and now Australia.  He proved his class in the Dubai World Cup and will now shuttle between Arrowfield AUS and Darley America for stud duty passing on his exceptional genes.

©March 31, 2013
Records Broken And A Day Of Firsts

"The Fly" imposed his will on valliant Rock On Ruby forcing the 2012 Champion Hurdle victor to yield back the winner's trophy to Willie Mullins' Hurricane Fly IRE (winner in 2011) giving jockey Ruby Walsh his 36th (of 37 so far) record victory at the Cheltenham Festivals.           
©Photo David Hastings

Despite soft and frozen racing ground accompanied by bone-numbing chill, opening day attendees at the four-day Cheltenham Festival broke all records - up 2,000 to 56,284 - and barely noticed unfavourable conditions given the excitement and quality of the races.

The Festival takes place at one of Britain's most beautiful and scenic racecourses and has the Jump status of a combined Royal Ascot/Breeders' Cup.

European trainers plan their best horses' races to aim for Cheltenham's multiple Group races and generous prize money.

The Irish racing public invades England along with their outstanding horses, jockeys and trainers.  (In fact, most of Jump jockeys in England are Irish.)

The Irish had reason to celebrate today.

Trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh won three of the day's six races:  the Grade 1 William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Champagne Fever, the Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle with Hurricane Fly and the
the Grade 2 OLBG Mare's Hurdle with the magnificent Quevega.

Cheltenham's crowd started the first race with its famous ROAR and delivered a second roar for the deserving winner, Champagne Fever IRE (Stowaway), of the Supreme Novices' Hurdler.
The handsome grey Champagne Fever led the field for the entire 2m½f pulling out more at the end to defeat the combined late attack of JP McManus' dangerous duo - the 15/8 favourite My Tent Or Yours with AP McCoy on board and joint second favourite with CF at 5/1 Jezki.

Jockey Ruby Walsh, who has won more races at Cheltenham than any other jockey in history, won his 35th race and ended the day with 37 victories.

The next Walsh-Mullins winner was the lean and mean Hurricane Fly IRE (Montjeu IRE)who won the Grade 1 Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy in 2011 and lost it to Rock On Ruby in 2012.

Only one other horse had ever regained a victory of this 2m110y race and many doubters expected the 15/8 favourite HF to fail.

Neither Mullins nor Walsh doubted their charge.  Walsh rode a canny pacing race just off ROR's impressive lead picking off the first-time blinkered ROR without mercy to win by 2½ authoratative lengths.  Ever-improving Countryside Flame was an unexpected third another 1¾ lengths behind.

Little Hurricane Fly further defied those who questioned his stamina with energy left for another race and for a striking kicking and snapping display directed at his beleagured lads who tried to cool him off. 

Nice guy he isn't, but he is a great hurdler who became the second horse in Cheltenham history to regain the Champion Hurdle title.

Hurricane Fly may also defy his doubters by returning next year at age ten to try to make another record winning a third Champion Hurdle. 

Team Mullins-Walsh went on to equal the 1932-36 record of Golden Miller's five victories of a Cheltenham race (his the Gold Cup) with a scary and mind-blowing Quevega FR (Robin Des Champs FR) rescuing herself from an impossible position to defeat fellow French raider Sirene D'Ainay (Dom Alco FR) in the Grade 2 2m4f OLBG Mares' Hurdle with a little help from Walsh winning by 1½ lengths.

The French visitors were a bit miffed that the 'peculiar' British home crowd roared the nine-year-old mare, who represented Ireland, out of her miserable pocket to cut down the doughty and deserving French mare SDA.

Popular Quevega is as beloved in Britain as Ireland.  No one but the French could accept her losing her fifth Mares' Hurdle and her record five victories of a Cheltenham race.

The public's loyalty to this extraordinary mare reminds one of Americans' love of Zenyatta who was the winniest female in history and who wom the penultimate in US racing - the Breeders' Cup Classic.

When they are tough, these mares are really tough.  How Quevega picked up the speed to cut through all those horses in her way still sends shivers down this viewer's spine.

Too early to tell, but Quevega's may have been the most memorable race victory of the Meet.

Like it or not, Mullins and Walsh had to yield a few races on the day to other trainers and jockeys.

Barry Geraghty rode his handsome grey favourite, Simonsig, to vitory in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase for trainer Nicky Henderson.  ©Photo David Hastings

Simonsig (Fair Mix IRE) was the third betting favourite (at 8/15 odds) to win in Cheltenham's six races on Tuesday. 

He produced a 2¼-length victory in the 2m Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase after grinding his most favoured opponents to the ground.

Rumours abounded about Nicky Henderson's seven-year old and his fitness after a health scare.  Barry Geraghty rode the grey without worry coasting home.

Second was taken by 33/1 Baily Green IRE (King's Theatre IRE) who won seven consecutive races in Ireland and is trained by Mark Morris.  BG was given an outstanding ride by his regular young partner, D J Casey, and it showed in the handicappers' raising BG 15 marks (see below).

David Pipe's 80/1 His Excellency IRE, ridden by Tom Scudamore, followed in by another 15½ lengths for third.

Another young jockey who did his horse proud was apprentice Brendan J Powell Jr on Golden Chieftain IRE (Tikkanen USA) in the Grade 3 JLT Specialty Handicap Chase, 3m110y.

The 28/1 due pipped 13/2 favourite Our Mick at the end by 10 lengths.  Twenty-two others folded giving heart to trainer Colin Tizzard whose Cue Card will take on the world's highest-rated Jump horse Sprinter Sacre (184) in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday.

Nicky Henderson scored his second trainer victory on Tuesday with a neck squeaker of Rajdhani Express (Presenting) over Ackertac IRE (Anshan) in the 2m4½f Listed Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap.  Jockey was Sam Waley-Cohen.

BHA Handicappers issued provisional ratings for three major races.

Champagne Fever was given 158 as the hightest-rated winner of the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle in the last 10 years.  His second, My Tent Or Yours, improved his running to 156.

Simonsig recorded a preliminary rating of 165 for the Racing Post Arkle and Baily Green jumped from 147 to 162.

Hurricane Fly replicated his 173 rating of his 2011 victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

These ratings are to date and may change in the future depending on comparisons in future races and performances.

©March 12, 2013

Major Races