Seven Days: Ireland's Perfect Pick-Me-Up

Auguste Rodin gets a hug from David Hickey | Racingfotos


The Devil's Dyke stretches in pretty much a straight line for more than seven miles through parts of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The best part, according to this scribbler anyway, is the section roughly a mile and half long which cleaves Newmarket's July Course from the Rowley Mile, with a break in the dyke allowing the two courses to join briefly just beyond the ten-furlong mark on the latter.

A Dutch author, Iman Jacob Wilkens, once claimed that Cambridge's Gog Magog Hills was the true location of the City of Troy, with a suggestion that the imposing dyke may have formed part of its protection, though his theory appears to have been largely ignored. Had he lived to see it, Wilkens may have been tempted to have a flutter on Coolmore's City Of Troy (Justify) as he stormed the July Course, to land the G2 Superlative S. in emphatic fashion alongside the Devil's Dyke. Perhaps, after his defection from Sunday's G1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National S., City Of Troy will be back to conquer the other side of this historic landmark in the Dewhurst S. At least the Rowley Mile offers a longer pull-up zone for this ebullient colt, though he could still end up in the car park.

From the top of the dyke one has the benefit of seeing the breeding and racing world in microcosm. In the distance are the paddocks of the National Stud, dotted at various times of the year with mares and foals or cavorting yearlings. The stallions are there, too, with Stradivarius (Ire) having brought with him renewed interest and a constant stream of visitors. The spring, summer and autumn seasons see the switching from the Rowley Mile to July Course and back again until we wait, those cold and at times seemingly endless months, from early November until Craven time swings back around. 

It is the habit in this sport to constantly be looking forward to the next race, even when the winner is still blowing from the travails of his latest effort. September and October are pretty special months of action and while they may bring with them various departures as the season draws to a close, the action in the two-year-old sphere is all about next year. 

Following a period in which injury and retirement has claimed a number of the big equine names, Ireland's Champions Festival and France's Arc Trials needed to deliver a bit of a pick-me-up as we embark on the autumn programme, and it is fair to say that both did just that. 

The aforementioned City Of Troy remains ante-post favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, with his stable-mate and National S. winner Henry Longfellow (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) just behind him in the market. Fallen Angel (GB) (Too Darn Hot {GB}), another to have triumphed on the July Course in the Sweet Solera, now heads the market for the 1,000 Guineas following her gutsy victory in the G1 Moyglare Stud S. 

Dubawi Dominates

In a quiet season for Britain's champion trainer Charlie Appleby, there were no runners for Godolphin in either Ireland or France over the weekend, but Appleby's key sparring partner Dubawi still managed to steal the show on Champions Weekend. Darley's flagship sire was represented by a Group 1 double on Sunday, notably through the Coolmore-bred Henry Longfellow, whose dam is the brilliant Minding (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), a star of this weekend herself eight years ago when she took the Moyglare. 

That win was backed up later by Eldar Eldarov (GB), bred at Lanwades by Kirsten Rausing from the same family as her Arc heroine Alpinista (GB), and completing the St Leger double in England and Ireland for Roger Varian and KHK Racing. The Bahraini owners were celebrating their second Group 1 victory of the season after the Prix Morny win of Vandeek (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}).

Dubawi's growing influence was also felt in a first Group 1 winner for his freshman son, Too Darn Hot, the sire of the Karl Burke-trained Fallen Angel, while another son, Night Of Thunder (Ire), provided her runner-up, Vespertilio (Fr). Night Of Thunder is also the sire of Flight Plan (GB), who won the G2 Dullingham Park S. at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Double Parkin

It is likely that we are about to hear plenty more of Dullingham Park Stud, the farm on the outskirts of Newmarket that was bought earlier this year by Steve Parkin and is being managed on his behalf by Ollie Fowlston. 

Parkin has invested plenty in racing in Britain and Ireland over recent years, and that financial commitment appears to be matched by his enthusiasm. British owner-breeders are becoming a scarce commodity so it is heartening to see Parkin's operation, which also includes Branton Court Stud in Yorkshire, being rewarded, in particular with some homebred success.

We have already touched on Fallen Angel and, as a Group 1-winning juvenile, she is the stand-out in this regard, closely rivalled by Dramatised (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}), last year's G2 Queen Mary S. winner who landed the G2 Temple S. in May. Dorothy Lawrence (GB), by Parkin's young Ballyhane Stud-based sire Soldier's Call (GB), has been knocking on the door, too, and she was second last week in the G3 Dick Poole Fillies' S.

Among the horses purchased for Parkin by Ballyhane's Joe Foley are Flight Plan, who gave his connections a huge double and an extra boost by winning their own race, the Dullingham Park S., in a career-best performance. 

This wasn't the first time the team has pulled off this particular feat, either, as Space Traveller (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) won the same race when it was run under Parkin's better-known banner of the Clipper Logistics Boomerang S.

To complete the good run, the Branton Court Stud graduate Starlust (GB) (Zoustar {Aus}), who was sold to Jim and Fitri Hay last October, won the G3 Sirenia S. at Kempton on Saturday. And, lest the Kempton action be overlooked amid the bigger days of last weekend, it was heartening to see Bay Bridge (GB) (New Bay {GB}) return triumphant to the winner's enclosure after the G3 September S. Hopefully a fruitful autumn campaign beckons for him in his preferred softer conditions. 

Bottom Up

A clever person (Joseph Burke) pointed out over the weekend that to make any sense of this year's 2,000 Guineas one has to view the form of that race upside down. Only the last three home–Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), Flight Plan and Little Big Bear (Ire) (No Nay Never)–have won a race since running at Newmarket in May, with the best of those of course being the enigmatic Auguste Rodin.

The way he came home in the Derby remains one of the most visually impressive performances of the season. He was then workmanlike when winning the Irish Derby before flopping in the King George, followed by redemption in the Irish Champion S. on Saturday. 

He rivals stable-mate Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) as the leading three-year-old colt of the season, with Chaldean (GB) (Frankel {GB}) having failed, so far, to build on his 2,000 Guineas success. 

Among the fillies, Tahiyra (Ire) is continuing to ensure that her sire Siyouni has two of the best three-year-olds of the season, if not the two best. The Aga Khan's half-sister to fellow Group 1 winner Tarnawa (Ire) (Shamardal) has only been bettered once when the subsequently absent Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) prevailed by half a length in the 1,000 Guineas, and Tahiyra has been imperious in her three Group 1 victories since that seasonal debut.

A cap should also be doffed to Warm Heart (Ire), who is giving her sire Galileo (Ire) something of a last hurrah at the top table. She has barely put a foot wrong all season apart from appearing not to enjoy the soft conditions at the Curragh for the Irish Oaks, in which she was fifth. This was the only time she was asked to contest a Classic, but prior to that she had been the smart winner of the G2 Ribblesdale S. at Royal Ascot and has subsequently annexed the G1 Yorkshire Oaks and G1 Prix Vermeille. Those two latest successes have come in the hands of James Doyle, who has made the most of his rare Coolmore call-ups.

Warm Heart is bred on similar lines to the ill-fated Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck (Ire). Both are by Galileo out of mares by a son of Danehill. In Warm Heart's case, that is Fastnet Rock (Aus), who has often blended well with Galileo on the reverse of this cross. They are both also out of fast Australian-bred mares. Warm Heart's dam Sea Siren (Aus) won three Group 1 races in Australia for John O'Shea over six and seven furlongs before heading north to join Ballydoyle and adding the Listed Belgrave S. to her record along with a pair of Group 3 placings.

Top Sprints Delivering Diversity

The top-class sprint division continues to provide some delightful results this season, giving an airing to some usually lesser-heralded sires and deserved success for some smaller stables.

To the twin Group 1 triumphs in June and July for Julie Camacho's Shaquille (GB) (Charm Spirit {Ire}), we can add the victory in the Nunthorpe of the Adam West-trained Live In The Dream (Ire), a son of Prince Of Lir (Ire), while last weekend saw Group 1 victories for Regional (GB) (Territories {Ire}) in the Haydock Sprint Cup and Moss Tucker (Ire) (Excelebration {Ire}) in the Flying Five.

Regional became the first Group 1 winner for his trainer Ed Bethell, who, with agent Tom Biggs, managed to pick him up at the July Sale two years ago for just 3,5000gns. The five-year-old also provided another major group success in Britain for the Italian breeding industry this season. Francesca Franchini of Scuderia La Tesa has already been successful with Giavellotto (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}), who defeated Eldar Eldarov in the G2 Yorkshire Cup, and Isabella Bezzera of Razza del Sole bred Regional from the Listed winner Favulusa (GB) (Dansili {GB}).

Moss Tucker, bred by Donal Spring, proved yet again what Ken Condon is capable of when he gets a good one in his stable, and the five-year-old follows Barney Roy (GB) in becoming a Group 1 winner for Excelebration who was last listed as standing at the Moroccan National Stud.

Though on the face of it, with Moss Tucker's dam Rare Symphony (Ire) being by the July Cup winner Pastoral Pursuits (GB), it is perhaps no surprise that she has produced a good sprinter, the mare herself rather defied her speedier sireline and won twice over hurdles, in Britain then Ireland. Rare Symphony's stamina was perhaps gathered from her dam Rubileo (GB), an unremarkable member of Galileo's first crop on the track, who went on to produce two useful horses by Sir Percy (GB) in the Swedish Derby winner Bomar (Ire) and Pantsonfire (Ire), whose Grade III victory at Santa Anita came over 1m4f.

Hot Take

Though most of the best two-year-old races are still to come, Darley looks to have this year's freshman sires' title sewn up, with Blue Point (Ire) way out in front numerically on 32 winners, and Too Darn Hot being the only stallion in the group to have been represented by three group winners, including a Group 1 winner. 

There was a breakthrough for Yeomanstown Stud's Invincible Army (Ire) over the weekend, when Kitty Rose (GB) became his first black-type winner in the Ingabelle Stakes. Like Flight Plan, who won the Group 2 on the same day, her fourth dam was John Greetham's Much Too Risky (GB) (Machiavellian).

The half-sister to two excellent stayers in Sydney Cup winner Marooned (GB) and Irish St Leger winner Arctic Owl (GB), Much Too Risky produced the Yorkshire Oaks runner-up and Musidora winner Short Skirt (GB) as well as Group 2 winners Little Rock (GB) and Whitewater Affair (GB). The latter went on to have particular success as a broodmare in Japan as the dam of Group 1 winners Victoire Pisa (Jpn) and Asakusa Den'en (GB).

When it comes to stallion tables, it is always wise to pay close attention to the percentage of winners to runners. In this regard, Blue Point and his nearest pursuer, Soldier's Call, measure up well on 40% and 35% respectively. The nine winners for Phoenix Of Spain (Ire) have come from just 22 runners to put him on 41%, while Study Of Man (Ire), who had two new winners this week, is now on five from 14 runners (36%). 

In France, Haras d'Etreham's City Light (Fr) has now been represented by 10 winners from his 26 runners (38%).

Acclaim for Pyledriver

It is the time of year when plenty of rumours abound as to which colts have been snapped up for stallion duties. There is at least one announcement imminent this week, and we already know that Native Trail (GB) is off to Kildangan Stud, Little Big Bear (Ire) to Coolmore, and Bouttemont (Fr) is joining his sire Acclamation (GB) at Rathbarry Stud. 

There is one horse from the much-vaunted Acclamation line that it would be particularly gratifying to see granted a place at a good Flat stud, and that is Pyledriver (GB). Just as it is easy to forget that the high-flying sprinter Havana Grey (GB) has those noted middle-distance influences of Teofilo (GB) and Galileo as his grandsire and great-grandsire, so it is to overlook that Pyledriver is by Acclamation's son Harbour Watch (Ire). A six-furlong Group 2 winner whose racing and stud career were both cut short, the late Harbour Watch pops up in the pedigrees of good horses with some frequency.

The neat and good-looking Pyledriver, who, on 122, is the second-highest rated of any colt from this sireline to retire to stud, also has some nice influences in the bottom half of his pedigree. Furthermore, he proved over five seasons that he has that vital durability to accompany the class that drove him to win a King George and a Coronation Cup. He wasn't a late developer, either, as he won on debut in the July of his juvenile season before winning the Listed Ascendant S. two months later.

As already pointed out in this column, there is as much delight to be taken from the big sprints as from the Classics, and stallions can sometimes buck expectations. But the programme in any serious racing nation must remain balanced.

This is no new concern, but it remains troubling that it is becoming harder still for horses of Pyledriver's ilk to be given a proper chance at stud. It would be a crying shame if he is overlooked in the blinkered rush towards stallions who offer little prospect of siring a horse who will see out the Guineas trip, never mind a Derby or an Arc winner. When breeding, it is wise to remember where the greater prestige and rewards remain.



Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Big Rematch Between White Birch And Auguste Rodin Is On At Royal Ascot
  2. Karl Burke Says Fallen Angel 'The One To Beat' In Coronation Stakes
  3. 'Quality And Diversity' On Offer As Tattersalls July Sale Catalogue Released
  4. Vindication For O'Brien With a Perfect Ten
  5. Eldar Eldarov Making Progress in Dubai

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.