The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II
on Saturday at Ascot is being billed by the QIPCO British Champions
Series as the definitive race for mid-distance horses in Europe.
The Group 1 race, 1m4f (12f, 1½m, 2400m), has a cast of equals including
last year's winner and recent winner of the Coral-Eclipse two weeks ago
(1m2f) on his first outing of the year -
The Coronation Cup winner at Epsom in early June,
is at five one of the most experienced and has the best form; however
bettors are concerned that the ground will be too soft for him after
more rain. Course readings indicate good-to-soft ground conditions.
Dunaden is the oldest at six and has raced worldwide at the highest level.
is one of the four-year olds who, like Reliable Man, has returned to form after his authoratative victory in the Hardwicke Stakes during Royal Ascot.
Deep Brilliante is the youngest at three and will have his first European run.
Last year's Arc de Triomphe winner, four-year-old
Danedream, is the only filly in the field and was unsuccessful in her first 2012 race.
, St Leger victor over the obstructed SeaMoon September last, Brown Panther and Ballydoyle pacemaker Robin Hood round out the card of 12.
The BCS rates the 2012 performances of
Nathaniel, the retired So You Think, St Nicholas Abbey and Camelot on 124 - vitual equals.
SeaMoon is the current betting favourite with St Nick and Nathaniel alternating into first and Dunaden a permanent fourth.
In short, no one knows which horse to bet on.
It may be a little easier for them to choose in other races on the card.
CarltonHouse returns in the Group 2 Summer Stakes and the Winkfield is a nice Listed for for two-year olds.
Apologies for the wrong date of the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Frankel meets Farhh on August 1. Racing Internationalhttp://www.racingint.com
Most racegoers look forward to seeing Frankel in any race.
His next race is Goodwood's Group 1 Sussex Stakes July 31, according to his trainer Sir Henry Cecil.
Unfortunately, the connections of many milers want to avoid Frankel.
Never fear, Godolphin's here. Its racing manager, Simon Crisford, said
Sheikh Mohammed is keen to see their new pride and joy,
Farhh, take on the world's highest-ranked horse and arguably one of the finest milers in history.
Crisford felt a drop back in trip was suitable for
Farhh, after his second to Nathaniel in the 1m2f Coral-Eclipse two weeks ago.
These are people with real sporting blood. Their objective is to get closer to
Frankel than any other horse has.
They do not expect to beat him.
They are the same sort of good sports as Sir Henry who would have loved to race
Frankel against Black Caviar or any other taker.
It explains why the Wildensteins have returned to Sir Henry with their great filly,
Beauty Parlour (Deep Impact JPN), whom he will prepare for the Breeders' Cup. She may make her Cecil debut at Goodwood.
The British Horseracing Authority handicappers have awarded Mayson (Invincible Spirit IRE), the winner of the 6f Darley July Cup by 5 lengths on heavy ground, a new mark of 119 - just one pound below Hong Kong's Little Bridge who earned a 120 mark after winning the 5f King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
went up 9 pounds and is now ranked a pound higher than Bated Breath in the QIPCO British Champions Series Sprint table.
Neither the BHA nor
Racing Post handicappers are sure that Mayson can duplicate his efforts on good ground or if he can beat horses who function better on good-to-fast ground.
For that reason, the BHA was conservative in giving him only a 119 mark. The
RP however ranked him at 121.
Frankly, if a horse beats a decent field of horses qualified to function
on the ground of the day and he beats them by 5 lengths, I see no
reason to deny him a fair mark for the race without equivocation.
This is a race I almost don't want to write about and I certainly cannot explain the French Stewards' decision not to change the result.
It is true that Ballydoyle's Imperial Monarch IRE (Galileo IRE) was sent out 9/5 favourite in the Group 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris for three-year-old colts and fillies, 1m4f on Turf at Longchamp.
It is also true that he led from the front for the entire race.
This race is always held on July 14, Bastille Day, which is the day France freed itself from its monarchy and became a Republic.
It is equivalent in distance to the English and Irish Derbys and offers an opportunity to late-blooming middle distance horses or horses like Imperial Monarch who could not beat his stablemate Camelot or missed races because of poor ground.
The Prix du Jockey Club is considered France's Derby and is run at the same distance as the USA's Kentucky Derby - 1¼ miles. The decision to drop the distance was a controversial one under the last President of France Galop, French racing's governing body, and the distance may be raised in the future under the new President.
Despite Imperial Monarch's efforts under Joseph O'Brien, his victory was not an easy one. He was stalked by trainer Andre Fabre's Last Train (Rail Link), who is a Juddmonte-bred colt, and Fabre's Saint Baudolino IRE (Pivotal) a Darley bred.
The Niarchos colt trained by David Lanigan, MainSequence USA (Aldebaran USA), was repeatedly denied passage by a ruthless O'Brien on IM.
In the end, Last Train was second - a head behind Imperial Monarch - and Saint Baudolino third by a ½ length.
Main Sequence was left ¾ lengths behind in fourth.
He is an exceptionally good horse and he might have won if he had a chance. The bookmakers' handicappers agree and have him on 16/1 for the Arc de Triomphe and Imperial Monarch only on 20/1.
Main Sequence's trainer and jockey, Ted Durcan, protested to the Stewards. After long deliberation, they fined O'Brien 150 Euros for careless riding and let the result stand.
This decision reminds one of the Da Re Mi controversy where they took her victory away from the British filly for accidently cutting off a non-contender and gave it to the French second. Despite an extensive appeal process, the Stewards doubled down on their double-standard decision.
There is always one standard for nearly everyone else and another for the Ballydoyle team. It is no different in France.
Ballydoyle suffered a poor July Festival with their Reply in last place in the Darley July Cup and there has been a decline in winners in Europe since Royal Ascot.
Not much is happening in the USA either. Treasure Beach was defeated in last night's Man o'War Stakes.
They do have Camelot who is top of the three-year-old list, but Ballydoyle/Coolmore owners demand victories for their betting and stud operations.
Hence the Grand Prix was a do or die race for the O'Briens.
One hopes that Irish-born trainer Lannigan wastes no more time appealing in France. He made his point and has a lot of sympathy and support.
He has a great horse and needs to move on. His best revenge is Main Sequence's beating the others in the Arc.
UPDATE: Main Sequence will compete in the St Leger and not the Arc.
Richard Hannon, with a
little help from assistant Richard Jr, has not only dominated July
Festival victories for two-year olds, but took three sprint races at
Newbury Racecourse this weekend.
Hannon's jockey son-in-law, Richard Hughes, has a real chance now of
becoming leading jockey of the year with the two-year-old ammunition in
the stable which is why he diverted to Newbury instead of riding at the
Hughes started the season late as result of a long (and somewhat unreasonable) ban earned in India.
At Newbury, he won on Amberley Heights in the 6f Highclere Thoroughbred Racing E.B.F Maiden Fillies's Stakes and on Montridge in the 7f Highclere Thoroughbred Racing E.B.F. Maiden Stakes.
Pat Dobbs won the 6f Rose Bowl Stakes - Sponsored by Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd (Listed) on Hannon-trained Master Of War.
Hughes picked the wrong Hannon horse in this race and finished last.
Hughes and William Buick are doing their best to beat Ryan Moore as champion jockey, but the latter just keeps winning.
After days of
disappointing national weather and ground conditions, Newmarket
Racecourse's attendance on the final day of the Piper-Heidseick July
Festival was up on last year's numbers to 10,902.
Richard Hannon emerged as the leading trainer of the meet with Godolphin's Mahmood Al Zarooni in second.
Ryan Moore duplicated his achievement at Royal Ascot as leading jockey
followed by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's new retained jockey, Paul
Hanagan, in close pursuit.
It is more remarkable that Hanagan was so successful as he is recovering from a serious injury.
Hanagan did have a little help from his former boss, Northern trainer
Richard Fahey, when Fahey gave him four-year-old improving Mayson (Invincible Spirit IRE out of Bayleaf (Pivotal)) to ride in the major race of the day.
The feature race of the final day is, of course, the Group 1 £400,000 Darley July Cup (British Champions Series and Global Sprint Challenge), 6f (1200m) on Turf, in which some of the world's best sprinters compete for international prize money and points.
This year the favourite, Juddmonte's Bated Breath, defected on the day because of heavy ground conditions along with Hong Kong's Krypton Factor and Richard Hannon's Libranno leaving a field of 12 runners to cope with the demanding, undulating Straight July Course.
New 3/1 favorite was last year's Royal Ascot sprint winner Society Rock IRE (Rock Of Gibraltar IRE) who was ridden by Ryan Moore.
Frankie Dettori's enthusiasm for Godolphin's Sepoy sent him out at 5/1 with two fillies, David Wachman's Fire Lily and Australia's Ortensia, looking the next best bets.
Interestingly, Richard Fahey's success at York helped drop the 25/1 odds to 20/1 on nervy Mayson who acted up badly in his last two outings. Earlier in the day, he had been the most unloved competitor by bettors.
Hanagan's protective ride proved inspired allowing the colt to skip over the water-logged course on his own leaving trooper, The Cheka, in second by 5 lengths, Society Rock 1 length in third and Australian mare Ortensia fourth another 2¼ lengths away.
Hanagan kept his colt free of the trouble the others encountered as horses struggled trying to gallop on the ground.
Mayson's breeding may have explained his contempt for the ground. Invincible Spirit and Pivotal are know to produce horses who are fast and can handle tough weather conditions.
Ireland's three-year-old filly Fire Lily looked as if she
mastered the ground and was making a sleek, fast run on the outside to
catch the leader when she caught a couple of unintended bumps from the
imposing and tough Ortensia.
The latter's new jockey, William Buick, had great trouble straightening
her and was lucky to gain fourth in the end when she finally picked up
for him. She was the best of the foreign horses.
Unfortunately, in the process she knocked Fire Lily completely off her stride twice and FL
had to settle for seventh 12½ lengths off the winner. Hers is the
saddest story of the race as she appeared to have every chance to place
and is a classy filly.
Sepoy could not handle the ground and was in trouble 2 furlongs
into the race ending 26 lengths from the winner in 11th just ahead of
Ballydoyle's Reply who was 35 lengths off.
Not a good result for the biggest owner-breeders: Juddmonte, Darley and Coolmore.
Fahey was ecstatic and found almost no word but "fantastic" to describe everything.
In a calmer mood, Fahey explained that he now has bigger plans for his
calmed-down colt who has won a Listed, Group 3 and now a Group 1 this
He has entries in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York on August 24 and
the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 8. Both are part of the
QIPCO British Champions Series.
Fahey is now considering France's Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville August 5 and the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp October 7.
It would be only fair if Paul Hanagan rides the colt who gave him his
first career Group 1 in England. He won a Group 1 in France for Fahey
No doubt Sheikh Hamdan will loan him for the meets after his successful partnership with promising two-year-old Alhebayeb in the TNT July Stakes Thursday.
Connections will make sure tha handsome Mayson has his chances.
He lost his dam when he was born and was hand reared by his adoring
owner-breeders - the David Armstrong family. They were almost as
emotional as his teary lad, Amy Green, who has had him since two.
The race may not have produced a grand international story, but Mayson's victory was one of the sweetest in years.
The Hannon-Hughes team triumphed in the Group 2 32Red.com Superlative Stakes (Class 1), 7f, with 6/4 favourite Olympic Glory IRE (Choisir AUS) by a head over the exciting sprinter Birdman IRE (Danehill Dancer IRE).
Since Olympic Glory was second to 2000 Guineas favourite Dawn Approach at Royal Ascot, trainer David Simcock's 7/1 Birdman has jumped into lofty company.
Peter Chapple-Hyam's Maxentius IRE (Holy Roman Empire IRE) was third by 1¾ lengths after a troubled passage.
On a whole, this year's two-year olds appear to be of a higher quality
than last year's making betting on the 2013 Classics far more
competitive. Racing Internationalhttp://www.racingint.com
After Juddmonte and trainer Roger Charlton decided the the rain-drenched
Newmarket July Course was too soft and heavy for the (6f, 1200m) Darley
July Cup favourite BatedBreath, local Society Rock surged to race favourite.
Yet Frankie Dettori could hardly hide his enthusiasm for his own mount Sepoy AUS and their improved chances.
When Dettori is excited, it is infectious and he is on a roll along with Sepoy's sire, Elusive Quality USA, who has become the star sire of this demanding soft-to-heavy ground.
The Darley July Cup is a leg of both the QIPCO British Champions Series and the Global Sprint Challenge.
Could this be the year that Sheikh Mohammed has his own £256,320-sponsored trophy handed back to him? Racing Internationalhttp://www.racingint.com