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The Weekly Wrap: Triumph and Disaster

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Enable and Frankie Dettori win the Coral-Eclipse | Racing Post

By John Berry

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.”

Rudyard Kipling’s observations on life ring true in most scenarios but in the racing game they invariably hit the nail squarely on the head. Over the weekend we were reminded yet again of the wafer-thin dividing line between triumph and disaster by the fates of the two champion fillies who fought out the finish of last season’s G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) and Sea Of Class (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}).

A 2019 re-match between the two featured high last December on the Christmas list of most racing fans but sadly it now definitely won’t be happening. While Enable, by winning the G1 Coral-Eclipse S. at Sandown, showed on Saturday afternoon that she is at least as good as ever at the age of five, Sea Of Class, it was announced on Sunday, spent the day convalescing after life-saving colic surgery on Wednesday which means that her racing days are definitely over.

When a horse has survived the first couple of days after major surgery, one is entitled to hope that he/she is ‘out of the woods.’ Hopefully, therefore, this will be a disaster which has a happy ending with Sea Of Class able to enjoy a full life as a broodmare for years to come. As all horsemen as well as farmers will confirm, though, where one has livestock, one will always have dead stock. The next disaster, the next disappointment is never far around the next corner. The contrasting fortunes of Enable and Sea Of Class have provided a particularly stark reminder that one has to treasure the good days when they come because they won’t last forever, and that racing is not the game for you if you can’t handle disappointment.

Eclipse Springboard To Success

Enable was majestic in becoming only the third filly or mare to win the Eclipse (first run in 1888) following Pebbles (GB) (Sharpen Up) in 1985 and Kooyonga (Ire) (Persian Bold {Ire}) in 1992. It is odd that so few females have taken the race, particularly as so many of the great ones over the years have tried.

The dearth of fillies on its roll of honour, though, has helped the Eclipse to establish itself as one of the great ‘sire-making’ races. No fewer than 12 of its winners have gone on to become champion sire of Great Britain and Ireland, most recently Mill Reef (Never Bend) and Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer), winners of the race in 1971 and 1984, respectively. One of the best recent Eclipse winners has been 2015 hero Golden Horn (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), for whose stud career at Dalham Hall it is still early days. Fittingly, Golden Horn got off the mark as a stallion on the eve of this year’s Eclipse.

Carrying Alan Spence’s colours to victory in the Longines Irish Champions Weekend EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes on debut by a comfortable 1 1/4-length margin, the Mark Johnston-trained West End Girl (GB) became the first of, presumably, many winners for Golden Horn. Bred, like her first three dams, by Car Colston Hall Stud, West End Girl comes from the immediate family of the Car Colston Hall-bred Group 1 winners Crowded House (GB) (Rainbow Quest) and Reckless Abandon (GB) (Exchange Rate). After this very promising debut, it is not inconceivable that West End Girl, who was bought by Johnston for 95,000gns from Book 2 of last year’s Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, might subsequently become not only her sire’s first winner but his first stakes winner, too.

Cable Signals His Merit

One first-season sire who has beaten Golden Horn to the post in siring a black-type winner is the Highclere-based Cable Bay (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), whose daughter Liberty Beach (GB) landed the Chasemore Farm Dragon S. at Sandown on Friday by 31/4 lengths. Trained by John Quinn for her breeder Philip Wilkins, Liberty Beach is now the winner of three of her four races, her only defeat having come when she ran well to finish fourth of 25 behind Raffle Prize (Ire) (Slade Power {Ire}) in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot last month.

Liberty Beach clearly ranks as one of the best 2-year-old sprinters in Britain at present. She is certainly bred to be a fast juvenile, being closely related to the former precocious speedsters La Rioja (GB) (Hellvelyn {GB}), Pastoral Girl (GB) (Pastoral Pursuits {GB}) and Lilbourne Lass (GB) (Pastoral Pursuits {GB}). She is another good advertisement for Tattersalls Ascot, having been offered there in the Mickley Stud draft last September where she was a vendor buy-back at £16,000. The sale had already yielded one stakes winner up Sandown’s five-furlong course this season: Flippa The Strippa (Ire) (Outstrip {GB}) took the Matchbook Betting Podcast National S. over course and distance in May after having been bought by Chris Wright’s Stratford Place Stud at Ascot last September for merely £10,000.

The Kurious Case Of Success

Another very fast filly on the mark at Sandown last weekend was Kurious (GB) (Kuroshio {Aus}), who raced to victory up Sandown’s five-furlong course for the third time when taking the Coral Charge S. on Saturday, thus landing her second listed success.

Leased from her breeder Marie Matthews by Hot To Trot Racing, Kurious is proving a fine standard-bearer for Hot To Trot, whose syndicates are managed by Luke Lillingston and Sam Hoskins. Hot To Trot set the bar very high for itself when the Clive Cox-trained Heartache (GB) (Kyllachy {GB}) carried its colours to victory in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot in 2017. Happily it has been able to provide a remarkable run of further success for its share-holders since then and it is enjoying a particularly purple patch at present.

Two weeks ago Hot To Trot members suffered the shock of seeing Heartwarming (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) pulled up in the British Stallion Studs EBF Land O’Burns Fillies’ S. at Ayr, seemingly having broken down mid-race. Happily, her injuries have proved far less serious than initially feared, and the syndicate’s runners have been in unstoppable form since then: all four of their subsequent runners have won.

The good campaigns enjoyed by Kurious last year and this have shone the spotlight on her sire Kuroshio (Aus) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), who attracted minimal patronage during the sole season which he spent at Overbury Stud in 2015. The Australian Group 2-winning sprinter did not return to Europe the next year, but his excellent winners-to-runners ratio with his juveniles last season prompted Compas Bloodstock to negotiate a deal to take him to Clongiffen Stud in Ireland in 2019. They will no doubt be delighted that Kurious has trained on so well, as well as by the Derby victory of Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a son of Kuroshio’s Group 3-winning full-sister Believe’n’succeed (Aus).

Redoute’s Legacy

Another reverse-shuttler to enjoy a red-letter day in England on Saturday was the late Redoute’s Choice, posthumously responsible for G2 Bet365 Lancashire Oaks victrix Enbihaar (Ire). One has to say that it is disappointing that no Group 1 winners have emerged from Redoute’s Choice’s two seasons of reverse-shuttling to Haras de Bonneval (in 2013 and ’14) because his Australian record proves that he was an outstanding stallion. Furthermore, he covered plenty of very good mares in France. Enbihaar’s win on Saturday, though, suggests that she could eventually graduate to Group 1 glory. A €500,000 yearling at Arqana’s August Sale in Deauville in 2015 when bought by Shadwell out of the Haras du Mezeray draft, Enbihaar is a 4-year-old now but she is still lightly raced and her win on Saturday was good.

Swiss Delight On Jersey

While we generally concentrate the bulk of our attention at the upper echelons of the sport, there are admirable horses at every level. We had a lovely reminder of this fact on Friday night at Britain’s most southerly racecourse, Les Landes on Jersey in the Channel Islands.

The 20-year-old listed-winning mare Swiss Lake (Indian Ridge {Ire}) has been a wonderful matron for Lordship Stud. Her 10 winners have included the stakes-winning sprinters Swiss Diva (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), Swiss Spirit (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Swiss Dream (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) as well as Swiss Franc (GB) (Mr Greeley {USA}), who was placed as a juvenile in the G2 Coventry S., the G2 July S. and the G2 Gimcrack S. Swiss Spirit has now shown himself to be a reliable sire of sprinters, while several of Swiss Lake’s daughters are established as good broodmares including Swiss Dream, the dam of last season’s G3 Hackwood S. winner Yafta (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}).

Swiss Lake’s 12-year-old son Swiss Cross (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}) has not scaled the stakes-race heights of several of his siblings. He can, though, certainly be described as the toughest of them all. His 3 1/2-length win at Les Landes on Friday took his career statistics to 16 wins, 14 seconds and 15 thirds from 153 starts. He recorded his first win nearly 10 years ago, taking a juvenile maiden race at Newmarket in October 2009 under Kieren Fallon, getting off the mark at the third attempt when trained by Gerard Butler for the aforementioned Alan Spence.

Having been sold by Lordship Stud for 100,000gns as a yearling in Book 1 of Tattersalls October Sale in 2008, Swiss Cross was re-sold out of Butler’s stable at the Horses-in-Training Sale three years later, bought by Steve Jakes, a long-standing owner in Phil McEntee’s Newmarket stable, for 11,000gns. He looked fairly exposed at the time with a record of four wins from 19 races, but subsequent events have shown that he was only just getting going.

Swiss Cross registered a notable milestone in November 2016 by winning two consecutive races, four days apart, on his 100th and 101st starts. Now he is up to 153 appearances and is still going strong. He is not, incidentally, the first member of his immediate family to score at Les Landes: Wickins (GB), a full-brother to Swiss Cross’s stakes-placed grandam Blue Iris (GB) (Petong {GB}), was the best horse in the Channel Islands in the mid ’90s when trained on Jersey by the late Stephen Arthur, winning 16 races there including the 1996 Jersey Derby.

As well as reminding us of the importance of being able to treat triumph and disaster just the same, Kipling also recommended filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run. Swiss Cross has now done that 153 times and his enthusiasm remains as boundless as ever. Swiss Cross has never claimed to be as talented as Enable or Sea Of Class but, a living tribute to the training skills of Phil McEntee, in his own way he too deserves to be described as a great horse.

Vale ‘Big Mac’

Greatness, as discussed, takes many forms, and John McCririck, who passed away on Friday at the age of 79, was definitely one of racing’s great characters. The phrase ‘larger than life’ could have been coined with McCririck in mind. His role as Channel 4 Racing’s betting pundit between 1985 and 2012 not only made him a household name but also did plenty to advertise the sport’s appeal to a wider audience. Beneath his brash, combative facade lived a great brain which cared deeply for the sport. The game is poorer for his passing and we offer our condolences to his widow Jenny.

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