Seven Days: Homebred Heroes

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The homebreds Kyprios (nearside) and Stradivarius do battle in a thrilling Goodwood Cup | Racingfotos.com

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Goodwood's trio of Group 1 races all went the way of owner-breeders, results that are both pleasing to see for the people who invest so much thought and money into the sport over generations, and which also highlight how hard it can be for prospective owners to get into horses at the top level.

This season, ten European Classics have been won by homebreds, with two of those, Sammarco (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and Mangoustine (Fr) (Dark Angel {Ire}), having been offered for sale by their breeders but bought back. Only 1,000 Guineas winner Cachet (Ire) (Aclaim {Ire}) and Derby winner Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) have actually changed hands in a sale ring, the former for 60,000gns as a breezer and Desert Crown for 280,000gns as a yearling. 

The victory of Kyprios (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the Goodwood Cup continued a banner anniversary year for his breeder Eva Bucher-Haefner of Moyglare Stud, who races him in partnership with the Coolmore team as a result of a foal-share agreement. Following the 4-year-old's victory in the Gold Cup at Ascot, and the emphatic Irish 1,000 Guineas success of Homeless Songs (Ire), it brings the tally of 2022 Group 1 wins to three for Moyglare, and counting. 

For this observer, Baaeed (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) has now lit up two seasons, but his absence as a 2-year-old and lack of Classic performance means that he has not quite been taken to the hearts of many as a horse of his calibre should. One of the many irksome things about social media is the 'Yeah, but what did he beat?' brigade, who clearly don't reserve their weary cynicism solely for Baaeed but were out in force last Wednesday after he posted his ninth successive victory. 

His trainer William Haggas is all too aware of the likely fleeting nature of Baaeed's tenure at the top, and in his stable. He commented at Goodwood, “I said this to Jim in the paddock, we've got him for two more races after this so let's just enjoy him and make the most of him, because he will most likely go to stud at the end of the year and I'll spend the rest of my training career trying to find the next one.”

Indeed. Here's hoping he turns up at York for the Juddmonte International and continues to delight his owner Sheikha Hissa Hamdan Al Maktoum by adding another dimension to his record with a win over ten furlongs. Baaeed is a mouthwatering stallion prospect, and will, thankfully, be one of the sons of Sea The Stars who does not get whisked off to a National Hunt stud. 

And then there was Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}). What a thrilling filly she has been so far for Imad Al Sagar. This sight of him almost skipping from the grandstand to the winner's enclosure to greet his star at Goodwood on Thursday after the Nassau S. was to underline the pure joy a horse of such quality, particularly a filly, can deliver for a breeder. Nashwa's second Group 1 victory after the Prix de Diane was as much about the future of Blue Diamond Stud and elevation in stature that the eventual inclusion of a Classic winner in the broodmare band can bring. But for now, and next season, she races on, likely heading to Paris next for the Prix de l'Opera, followed by America and the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Godspeed.

Classic Leaders

The French Classic winners Vadeni (Fr) (Churchill {Ire) and Nashwa are certainly doing their best to uphold the 3-year-old division this season after disappointments and defections from some of the leading players, including the injured Derby winner Desert Crown, who may or may not be back before the end of the season. 

In Germany, Sammarco (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) looks a special colt for Helmut von Finck and, like Vadeni and Nashwa, he has now added a Group 1 victory over ten furlongs against his elders to his German Derby success. 

Of course it is not all about the Classic winners, and two particularly plucky 3-year-old fillies stood out at Goodwood as being worthy of praise. The hardy George Boughey-trained Oscula (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}) made ten starts as a juvenile, from as early as May 19, and won the Woodcote at Epsom on her third appearance. She ran right though to the end of October, winning the G3 Prix Six Perfections and earning four Group placings, including when third in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac. Not bad for a 4,000-guinea Book 4 purchase, and I must admit when I watched her run last in the gruelling deep dirt of the Saudi Derby in February I thought it might well be the last we saw of the light-framed filly. Happily, I was very wrong indeed. 

A good freshen-up through the early spring clearly worked wonders and, along with other notable representatives from her stable, especially Cachet, Oscula has continued to advertise the talents of her young trainer. Since returning to Epsom this Derby weekend to finish second in the Listed Surrey S., the Nick Bradley Racing-owned filly has not been out of the places in black-type contests. Her tally of wins has increased to five, with her late-lunge of a victory in the G3 Oak Tree S. being typical of her never-say-die manner, coming just four days after she was beaten a nose by Jumbly (GB) in a Group 3 at Ascot. Oscula is a lovable wonder.

More sparingly campaigned but still noteworthy is Sandrine (GB) (Bobby's Kitten), who twice beat Oscula as a 2-year-old when winning the G3 Albany S. and G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. She, too, notched a Group 1 placing that year, taking third in the Cheveley Park S. behind Tenebrism (Caravaggio) and Flotus (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}). 

Launched straight into the 1,000 Guineas for her 3-year-old debut, the Lanwades homebred ran a creditable fifth, less than three lengths behind Cachet, and she was a throughly deserving winner of the G2 Lennox S. at Goodwood when dropping back to seven furlongs after gaining yet more Group 1 black type in the Falmouth S.

It could be a very exciting Arc weekend for Kirsten Rausing if Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) lines up for the main event and Sandrine tackles the G1 Prix de la Foret.

Coventry a Corker in Hindsight

The Coventry S. form is looking jolly good, isn't it? The winner, Bradsell (GB) (Tasleet {GB}), is two-for-two and heads next to the G1 Keeneland Phoenix S. at the Curragh on Saturday for his first appearance since Royal Ascot.

While he's been at home with trainer Archie Watson, the rivals he left toiling in his wake on June 14 have been busily proving themselves here, there and everywhere. Runner-up Persian Force (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) has subsequently won the G2 July S., in which he was chased home by Show Respect (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}), who had been 11th in the Coventry.

Third-placed Royal Scotsman (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) landed the G2 Richmond S. on Thursday, and Blackbeard (Ire) (No Nay Never), who was fourth at Ascot, has won the G2 Prix Robert Papin as well as being beaten a short-head in the G2 Railway S.

Unsurprisingly, all four are entered in the G2 Gimcrack S. on August 19, though the G1 Prix Morny two days later will doubtless lure some away, despite the increase in prize-money at York to £250,000 for the Al Basti Equiworld-sponsored race.

Welcome To The Races – Or Not

Some racecourse wandering over the last ten days has included trips to fairly major days at Ascot, Goodwood and Newmarket, as well as to the small National Hunt course of Newton Abbot, and to Vichy for the track's Festival du Galop.

There is nothing more thrilling than seeing some of the best horses in the world up close and being able to study them in the paddock beforehand, but there is also nothing less welcoming than having your bag searched on arrival and then being marched past a sniffer dog before being allowed entry to a racecourse.

This is now the norm for major days at racecourses in the UK, and what a sad indictment it is of British society in general. It is hardly the fault of the racecourse management teams that they have to enforce such measures in the wake of on-track  brawls, behaviour which is doubtless exacerbated by alcohol and drugs. But it sets a bad tone for the day, compared to an outing to a country course in midweek, or to the laid-back, family atmosphere one finds at racecourses in France and Germany.

Two particular occasions stand out over the last year, and they really are what British racing should be aiming for in order to halt the dwindling attendance figures and encourage a love of the horse from a young age. At Baden-Baden in September, its unusual walkway of stars from the racecourse back to the winner's enclosure was lined with children patiently waiting for an up-close glimpse of the horses returning post-race. It is far less easy to interact with the horses on some courses in Britain, where people are restricted to certain areas of the racecourse depending on the badge they have. 

At Vichy last week there were umpteen small ponies wandering around the racecourse for children to ride or lead, and the demand for them from the many families on course was consistent throughout the evening. Small ponies are what led me, eventually, to a life in racing, and I am sure they would perform the same role for others if given the chance.

Compare that to a recent scene on an English racecourse where a mother with two young children who had put a rug on the floor (no picnic) was asked to pick it up and was moved along from where she was sitting. Picnic rugs (and picnics) abounded in both Germany and France, where it also doesn't cost an arm and a leg just to get through the gates. 

The problem of drink and drugs is not exclusive to racing, of course, but it would be very easy for racecourses to fix the latter issue with a bit of imagination and a more welcoming approach to families, not least with reduced entry fees. Who knows how many of those children enjoying pony rides and picnics will return to the races in later life as the owner of a proper horse who wants to book a hospitality box for the day?

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