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The Weekly Wrap: That Friday Feeling

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Christophe Soumillon times his run to perfection on Pizzicato at Lingfield | Racing Post

By Emma Berry

Outside the major stakes races, the equine traffic between Britain and France is largely one way, with plenty of British challengers heading across the Channel on a regular basis. Given the enviable levels of prize-money on offer in France, this is hardly surprising.

Arena Racing Company (ARC) being awarded the right to race on Good Friday was helped by the fact that the All-Weather Championship Finals Day was, at £1 million, the richest day’s racing to be staged on the surface in Europe, not to mention one of the most valuable run in the UK on either turf or all-weather. Breaking the racing drought on a day that had hitherto been sacrosanct on religious grounds had to be for show-stopping reasons, and judging by the large annual crowd at Lingfield for this fixture there are many people wanting to enjoy that show.

Last Friday, the sixth championship climax was staged, with Pizzicato (Ity) (Dabirsim {Fr}) becoming the third French-trained winner at the meeting after City Light (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Funny Kid (Lemon Drop Kid) last year. The £93,000 won by Fabrice Chappet’s gelding compared favourably to the equivalent of around £41,000 (including premiums) he won for his previous victory in the Listed Prix Montenica at Chantilly.

Both of France’s 2018 All-Weather Championship winners went on to notch Group 3 victories on the turf on their next starts, with the Stephane Wattel-trained City Light then being beaten just a short-head by Merchant Navy (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) on his return visit to Britain for the G1 Diamond Jubilee S.

ARC has come in for much criticism of late regarding its hasty decision to cut prize-money ahead of the reduction in FOBT stakes coming into play, but it must be applauded for its commitment to this championship series, which is playing its part in raising the profile of all-weather racing in attracting better horses. The qualifying races throughout the winter also mean that it’s not merely a case of them turning up on the big day to plunder the large pots on offer.

Fabre the formidable
Whether or not to launch a cross-channel raid is a decision for Andre Fabre to make within the next week, and judging by his recent comments, it will be largely weather-dependent. With Too Darn Hot (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) now out of the 2000 Guineas on his home track, the temptation to run Persian King (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) on May 4 must have increased, though Fabre has indicated that the colt who has been unbeaten in his last four starts—including, crucially, over course and distance on the Rowley Mile in October—is much more likely to run in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp eight days later.

It is almost a quarter of a century since Fabre won his second 2000 Guineas with Pennekamp (Bering {GB}) but it is only five years since he claimed his first 1000 Guineas with Miss France (Ire) (Dansili {GB}) for Diane Wildenstein of Ballymore Thoroughbreds, who also bred and still part-owns Persian King with Godolphin.

The trainer’s strike-rate on the Rowley Mile stands at a formidable 34%. Of his 70 runners there, 24 have won, while another 19 have finished in the first three. With another 11 colts from his stable remaining in the French Guineas at this stage, and with no Brexit-related travel complications to consider for now, the Wrap will be hoping, perhaps against hope, to see Persian King back in Newmarket the weekend after next.

Don’t Dream it’s over
The lack of participation in formal trials make the first Classics of the year an even bigger guessing game than they should be. Scat Daddy is the sire of the first two fillies in the betting for the 1000 Guineas—last week’s Nell Gwyn winner Qabala and Skitter Scatter—and grandsire of 2000 Guineas favourite Ten Sovereigns (Ire), a son of last season’s leading freshman sire No Nay Never. While Coolmore and Juddmonte will respectively be hoping that No Nay Never and Kingman can build on their blistering starts at stud by siring a first-crop Classic winner, it has been encouraging to see the Juddmonte stalwart Oasis Dream (GB) enjoy something of a resurgence after becoming unfathomably cold in the sales ring two years ago. The 19-year-old has a chance of success in each of the Newmarket Classics. His daughter Pretty Pollyanna (GB) has not lined up for a trial and, while trainer Michael Bell has sounded a note of caution regarding her homework, the G1 Prix Morny winner is at this stage still an intended runner for the 1000 Guineas.

Oasis Dream was also the sire of the first and third home in the European Free H. at the Craven meeting in Shine So Bright (GB) and Azano (GB), both of whom have 2000 Guineas entries.

We mentioned in this column last week the excellent start to the season for King Power Racing and the operation’s newly retained jockey Silvestre de Sousa. The good fortunes of both continued apace last week, with Shine So Bright and Fox Champion (Ire) (Kodiac {GB) winning at the Craven meeting and Fox Power (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) following up with victory in the Listed Burradon S. on Good Friday.

Shine So Bright, yet another stakes winner for Kirsten Rausing’s fruitful Alruccaba family, was notable in being the first black-type winner as broodmare sire for the Lanwades stallion Sir Percy (GB), his dam Alla Speranza (GB) having won the G3 Kilternan S. for Rausing when trained by Jim Bolger.

Both trainer Andrew Balding and de Sousa seem unconvinced of Shine So Bright’s staying power beyond the seven furlongs over which he won from the front last week, and he is certainly a free-running individual, but his pedigree gives cause for hope that he could see out a mile.

Locals clean up
Fifteen of the 22 races at the Craven meeting were won by Newmarket stables, with William Haggas and Roger Varian taking the two major Classic trials courtesy of Skardu (Ire) (Shamardal) and Qabala respectively.

The latter provided a second group win for 19-year-old former champion apprentice David Egan, who has worked for Varian since leaving school four years ago. Son of Classic-winning jockey John Egan and Irish Grand National-winning former trainer Sandra Hughes, David Egan is every bit as well-bred for the job as the most blue-blooded incumbents of Varian’s stable, having dual British Flat champion jockey Richard Hughes as an uncle, former leading Irish National Hunt jockey Dessie Hughes as a grandfather and leading northern-based British Flat jockey Paul Mulrennan as a cousin.

Varian has been running at a decent strike-rate since the beginning of the season and last week sent out not just the Nell Gwyn winner but also runner-up Mot Juste (Distorted Humor), G3 Earl Of Sefton S. winner Zabeel Prince (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), eye-catching Wood Ditton Maiden winner UAE Jewel (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Listed Landown S. victrix Queen Of Desire (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) among his seven winners.

Charlie Appleby’s four winners at the Craven Meeting included his first 2-year-old scorer of the campaign, Well Of Wisdom (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}), a son of Alessandria (GB) (Sunday Silence) who has already provided Godolphin with two of its 10 Group 1 wins of the year via another son, the Australian-based Avilius (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), winner of the Ranvet S. and the Tancred S. on consecutive weekends last month.

Also noteworthy in the royal blue was Jalmoud (GB), by Derby winner New Approach (Ire) out of Oaks winner Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}). Winner of the 10-furlong novice race, he has it all to do in attempting to emulate the similarly well-credentialed Australia (GB) in landing the Derby himself, but Appleby, who gave New Approach his first Derby hero with Masar (Ire) last year, has indicated that Jalmoud will be sent next for a trial.

Heed the Warning
In a week in which climate change protestors glued themselves to Waterloo Bridge and caused mayhem in London, it was perhaps prophetic that Global Warning (GB) should win at Newcastle on Friday. The son of Poet’s Voice (GB) was well backed for his handicap debut for Dr Johnny Hon and Ed Dunlop and, under a resurgent Gerald Mosse, looked to be a 3-year-old with a bright future when winning by more than three lengths.

Bred by Ken and Elizabeth Grundy, Global Warning pays a further compliment to the Hertfordshire-based breeders’ Bishop Of Cashel (GB) mare Persario (GB). Now 20, she is already the dam of The Tin Man (GB) (Equiano {Fr}), the winner of three Group 1 sprints for James Fanshawe, who also trained his half-brother Deacon Blues (GB) (Compton Place {GB}). The latter’s swansong came in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint in 2011 before it was upgraded to a Group 1 and won five years later by The Tin Man, who has remained in training at the age of seven.

The Grundys, who have sent Persario for two return visits to Equiano in recent seasons, have a yearling full-sister to The Tin Man, while Karl Burke is the trainer of the mare’s 2-year-old Muhaarar (GB) colt, So Hi Star (GB), for Nick Bradley Racing and Ken Grundy.

It’s too early to say whether Global Warning will scale such lofty heights as his elder brothers but he is now his dam’s seventh winner and, as a member of a progressive family, is one to watch.

Glory takes honours
While we all get carried away with the first-season sire tables, the real interest comes when stallions have their first 3-year-old runners and it’s fair to say that this year’s sophomores look to be an above-average bunch.

As the Classics and Royal Ascot unfold along with other high-profile meetings, the standings will doubtless shift with regularity, and we can reasonably expect to see bold showings from Australia (GB), Kingman (GB), No Nay Never and Sea The Moon (Ger) in the coming months. At this stage, however, the top three slots in the second-crop sires’ list are occupied by stallions with ties to France. Olympic Glory (Ire), out in front on prize-money and with 13 winners, has stood his entire career at Al Shaqab’s Haras de Bouquetot, starting at €15,000 in 2015 and dropping to €8,000 this season. He recorded a double at Saint-Cloud last week with the Al Shaqab homebred Barsham (Fr) and Grand Glory (GB), who was also runner-up to another daughter of Olympic Glory, Phoceene (Fr), in the Listed Prix Rose de Mai in March. Earlier this month the 9-year-old son of the much respected Choisir (Aus) was represented by his first group winner, Watch Me (Fr), in the G3 Prix Imprudence.

Phoceene now looks set to line up in the G3 Prix Penelope on May 1 alongside another Olympic Glory filly, the unfortunately named Got Wind (Fr), who really should be by his stud-mate currently lying in third in the table, Toronado (Ire).

He too has had 13 winners this year and has an interesting 2000 Guineas entry in the form of Saturday’s Kempton conditions race winner Name The Wind (GB), who is now two from two for James Tate.

Presently splitting these two Bouquetot stallions in the European second-crop list is Charm Spirit (Ire), who has divided his time between Tweenhills and Haras de Bonneval and was represented last week by Qatar Racing’s Listed Feilden S. winner Kick On (GB), who may take aim at the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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