Another Day At The Office For “Strad”

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Superstar stayer Stradivarius | Scoop Dyga

Friday at Doncaster's St Leger festival means Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}), and after John and Thady Gosden and Frankie Dettori's Group 2 double and a treble overall on Thursday the tide is rising for the esteemed combo as the G2 Doncaster Cup looms. Bjorn Nielsen's golden boy of the staying scene since 2018 needs no introduction and this special week on Town Moor is there for turf's icons such as him to enjoy widespread adulation. If there were any doubts as to the appetite of the 7-year-old, those were dispelled in York's G2 Lonsdale Cup Aug. 20, where one of the chief younger stayers Spanish Mission (Noble Mission {GB}) was unable to subdue him after a prolonged pugilistic tussle. This task could be made far simpler by the removal of the ground-dependant July 27 G1 Goodwood Cup winner Trueshan (Fr) (Planteur {Ire}) and with the way the weather is heading, that looks a likely scenario.

Dettori is relishing the opportunity to do battle in front of the crowds once again. “He's been great for the sport, I love him dearly,” he said. “He got a tremendous reception at York and he'll probably get one at Doncaster. He's not going to be here forever, so let's enjoy him. I think he only does what needs to be done these days and as for tactics, I usually improvise with him and play it by ear. Luckily, he knows where the winning post is.”

Trueshan was taken out of the G1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and the Lonsdale Cup and trainer Alan King is ready to pull him from this test if the rain fails to come. “I won't get up to walk the course, because I'm at Sandown tomorrow and I've been at the sales all day today,” he explained. “If the current forecast of very little rain is correct then he won't run, unfortunately but I will just wait until the morning to make the decision. We needed plenty of rain and it did look promising at one stage that we might get it, but we wouldn't run him as it is.”

Surprisingly, given the weight-for-age scenario, few 3-year-olds have been asked to tackle this near 18-furlong test but there have been a trio of winners in that age group since 1990 including the Sir Mark Prescott-trained Alleluia (GB) (Caerleon) in 2001. The master of Heath House is involved again here, with Kirsten Rausing's unexposed Alerta Roja (GB) (Golden Horn {GB}) who gets a huge 18 pounds from Stradivarius and 20 from Trueshan with the penalties added in. Whether the relative of Alleluia is up to this level remains to be seen, with her only try in black-type company being a latest second in the 14-furlong Listed Hoppegartener Steher-Preis Aug. 8, but she is a fascinating contender from one of the most astute yards in Europe.

“Alerta Roja is wonderfully tough and she's already exceeded what we thought was possible for her,” Prescott commented. “On the figures she doesn't have a chance, but we did win it with Alleluia who was very similar and was also a 3-year-old filly. Alleluia won five and this one, who is from the same family, has won three and been listed-placed. While ostensibly she's got no chance, she seems in good form and she gets a lot of weight. Nothing is impossible with this family.”

Preceding the marathon encounter is the five-furlong G2 Wainwright Flying Childers S. for juveniles, offering a contrast rarely so wide in such a short space of time on a racecard. Al Shaqab Racing's Armor (GB) (No Nay Never) will be looking to regain the winning thread after his fourth in the six-furlong G1 Prix Morny at Deauville Aug. 22, where he may have run out of gas late having dominated the quick five of Goodwood's G3 Molecomb S. July 28. Among his rivals is Nick Bradley Racing's Sept. 2 G3 Prix d'Arenberg-winning filly Corazon (Ire) (Markaz {Ire}) and Clipper Logistics' Aug. 21 Listed Roses S. scorer Attagirl (GB) (Wootton Bassett {GB}).

In the Listed Cazoo Flying Scotsman S., Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum's 'TDN Rising Star' Razzle Dazzle (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) bids to build on his 5 1/2-length success over this seven-furlong trip at Newmarket Aug. 27. Ahmad Al Shaikh's Hoo Ya Mal (GB) (Territories {Ire}), who captured the Aug. 20 Convivial Maiden at York, offers stern opposition in this often-informative affair along with Shadwell's impressive Aug. 11 Salisbury six-furlong novice scorer Ribhi (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). Oisin Murphy said of Hoo Ya Mal, who hails from the Andrew Balding stable strong with their 2-year-olds this season. “He's a gorgeous horse who bolted up in the Convivial at York,” he said. “His work before then was good and though he probably wants to go a mile, hopefully he'll have sharpened up since his last run. I have a high opinion of him and hope he'll be bang there.”

Thursday saw the draws for Saturday's key contests, with Ballydoyle's St Mark's Basilica (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) set to take on The Aga Khan's Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) and Jim Bolger's Poetic Flare (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) and just one other in what is certain to be a tactical renewal of Leopardstown's G1 Irish Champion S. As he suggested earlier this month, Aidan O'Brien has taken out all other entries for the 10-furlong contest, which is made up by last year's G3 Meld S. winner Patrick Sarsfield (Fr) (Australia {GB}). Small and select fields have been the order of the day in 2021, with the G1 Eclipse S. and G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. attracting no more than five runners so this feature fits in with that trend and presents a fascinating quandary for Ryan Moore, Colin Keane and Kevin Manning. In contrast, there will be 13 fillies lining up in the G1 Coolmore America “Justify” Matron S. where Ballydoyle's G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Prix Rothschild winner Mother Earth (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) will be a warm order.

At Doncaster the same afternoon, the G1 Cazoo St Leger will see Godolphin's G1 Irish Derby and G1 Grand Prix de Paris hero Hurricane Lane (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) face nine rivals including Amo Racing's G1 Epsom Derby runner-up Mojo Star (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}). Aidan O'Brien has confirmed a quartet including 'TDN Rising Star' High Definition (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and the unexposed Interpretation (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who will sport the Peter Brant silks. Frankie Dettori is on the supplemented High Definition, with Wayne Lordan partnering the G2 Great Voltigeur S. runner-up The Mediterranean (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), James Doyle on that race's fourth Sir Lucan (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and Hollie Doyle aboard the Aug. 12 Listed Vinnie Roe S. winner Interpretation.

Having impressed with two prior front-running rides for Ballydoyle including a third in the G1 Yorkshire Oaks on the 150-1 outsider La Joconde (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), it was no surprise to see Hollie Doyle booked for one of the team's contenders here. “It's a great ride to pick up. He looks highly progressive and is unbeaten this year,” she said. “He's certain to stay and it's my first ride in the Leger and I'm really looking forward to it.” They help to make up a six-strong Irish representation in the extended 14-furlong Classic, with Johnny Murtagh looking for a breakthrough English Classic success with the G3 Gordon S. winner Ottoman Emperor (Ire) (Excelebration {Ire}).

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