Seven Days: Jubilation

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Richard Kingscote and Sir Michael Stoute with the Derby trophy | PA Images

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With Britain en fete in the midst of the Platinum Jubilee festivities, the Oaks and Derby fell slap-bang in the middle of a four-day bank holiday and, despite the absence of Her Majesty the Queen at Epsom, the meeting still offered much cause for celebration.

Sir Michael Stoute is never one to blow his own horn, though he is often heard humming on Newmarket Heath while watching his horses work. And as one of British racing's senior trainers, on the royal roster to boot, he was a most fitting winning trainer for the Cazoo Derby with Desert Crown (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), even though, in typically modest fashion, he was quick to refer to the Derby he had 'lost' for The Queen when her Carlton House finished third in 2011.

Never mind that, in winning the Derby for the sixth time, he also became, at the age of 76, the oldest trainer to have done so, taking that particular record from former Newmarket trainer Mat Dawson, who landed the race in 1895, when he was 75, with Sir Visto.

In Richard Kingscote, Stoute appears to have found the perfect jockey for his stable, which previously had such a successful association with the similarly taciturn Ryan Moore. Saturday was a huge day for 35-year-old Kingscote, winning the Derby for the first time on only his second ride in the race, but he enjoyed the moment and accepted the plaudits with endearing humility and complete absence of hoopla. 

Interviewed the following morning on Luck On Sunday he was asked how he and Stoute's relationship is developing, replying with a straight-bat delivery of which the trainer would have approved enormously. 

“Well, neither of us like to talk much,” he said in deadpan fashion.

It would appear that neither trainer nor jockey will need to do much talking when they have a horse who does that for them. Certainly the stable whispers had grown ahead of the Dante, and Stoute's quiet confidence before and since York was fully vindicated on the most prestigious strip of turf of them all at Epsom.

Desert Crown, with just three impeccable runs to his name, is now as short as 3/1 favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October. For a trainer so adept with progressive middle-distance horses it seems almost remiss that Stoute has won the Arc just once, in 2010. But when he did, it was with his most recent Derby winner before Saturday, Workforce (GB). That great horse's sire King's Best had also been resident at Stoute's Freemason Lodge stable, and won the 2,000 Guineas for Desert Crown's owner Saeed Suhail. Underlining the trainer's versatility is the fact that the most recent top-class performer he has had for Suhail was the sprinter Dream Of Dreams (Ire) (Dream Ahead), winner of the last year's G1 Diamond Jubilee S. at Royal Ascot.

Nathaniel the Elite

Nathaniel (Ire) entered elite company on Saturday in joining the group of stallions to have sired a Derby and an Oaks winner. Of course his own sire Galileo (Ire) is a fully paid-up member of this group, as are two of his other sons, fellow Derby winner New Approach (GB), sire of Masar (Ire) and Talent (GB), and Frankel (GB), with Adayar (Ire) and Anapurna (GB) to his credit. Galileo's half-brother Sea The Stars (Ire) is also part of this set, courtesy of Harzand (Ire) and Taghrooda (GB), and he enhanced his Epsom roll of honour when Hukum (GB) won Friday's G1 Coronation Cup.

But let's not forget some mighty mares. On Friday at Epsom, both Group 1 winners already had Group 1-winning full-siblings. Hukum, handing his trainer Owen Burrows a first top-level win, is the brother of Baaeed (GB), who is arguably the most exciting horse in training at the moment. Their Listed-winning dam Aghareed provides what appears to be a pretty magical cross for Sea The Stars with Kingmambo, and is herself a daughter of the dual Grade I winner Lahudood (GB) Singspiel {Ire}). Notably, her current 2-year-old, Naqeeb (GB), is by Nathaniel and he will be heading into training with William Haggas. And in Jubilee year it was fitting that the Coronation Cup winner emanated from a family initially developed by the Royal Studs.

Similarly brimming in talent is the family of Oaks winner Tuesday (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). She became the third Classic winner for her dual Group 1-winning dam Lillie Langtry (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) after Minding (Ire) and Empress Josephine (Ire).

Thinking of Josh

Amid all the jubilation on Friday, and a fourth win in the Oaks for Ballydoyle's number one jockey with Tuesday, thoughts also turned to Ryan Moore's brother Josh, who remains in hospital making a steady recovery from serious complications following a race fall on April 16.

“Every day we talk and always the first thing we speak about is Josh, and then everything else leads on from there,” said Aidan O'Brien in the post-race press conference. “We hope and pray that every day Josh makes another little bit of improvement.

“Everyone is very conscious and aware of what the important things are, but Ryan is obviously a very professional person and when he has to do his job he just goes into a different zone. That's his job and we are very grateful to him for doing it.”

London Calling for Derby Runner-up

The Goffs London Sale returns this year after a two-year hiatus and, rather unusually, the catalogue includes a Classic-placed colt.

Hoo Ya Mal (GB) (Territories {Ire}) upheld the faith shown in him by his owner Ahmad Al Shaikh when storming to a second-place finish in the Derby on Saturday at odds of 150/1, and he remains as lot 6 for next Monday's eve-of-Royal Ascot sale, now with a rather significant update to his page. 

It was the third year that Al Shaikh had had a Derby runner, with Khalifa Sat (Ire) (Free Eagle {Ire}) also finishing second in 2020, and Youth Spirit (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) running eighth last year. 

All three were trained by Andrew Balding, who said of Hoo Ya Mal, a 40,000gns yearling purchase by Federico Barberini, “I have Ahmad Al Shaikh to thank entirely, because I didn't want to run in the race but he insisted.”

Balding also trained the fourth home, Masekela (Ire) (El Kabeir) for Mick and Janice Mariscotti, whose good day at Epsom was augmented by the win of Swilcan Bridge (GB) (Helmet {Aus}) in the opening race. Both Swilcan Bridge and Hoo Ya Mal were bred by the Weinfeld family at Meon Valley Stud, who were also the owner/breeders of the 2019 Oaks winner Anapurna (GB) (Frankel {GB}).

Aga Khan Appreciation Day

There's little let-up in the Classic calendar in Europe at this time of year and no sooner had the smoke cleared from the ill-advised pre-Derby fireworks at Epsom than attention turned to Chantilly for the Prix du Jockey Club.

The British-trained duo of El Bodegon (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) dug deep but could offer no riposte to the streaking home run of the Aga Khan homebred Vadeni (Fr) (Churchill {Ire}).

“It's been quite a day, quite significant,” said the Aga Khan Studs manager in France, Georges Rimaud, as he assessed a magnificent afternoon which featured three stakes winners for the team.

The trio was led by Vadeni, whose victory was significant for a number of reasons, not least because he was the first Classic winner for Coolmore's young Guineas winner Churchill (Ire). For his owner/breeder he represented a ninth victory in the Prix du Jockey Club, and he was the fifth for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, whose run started back in 2009 with Le Havre (Ire).

Adding to the spoils was Baiykara (Fr), a maiden from two starts prior to Sunday but now a new group winner for her sire Zarak (Fr), who made such a promising start with his first runners last season and was the toast of the autumn and winter sales. It is easy to imagine that the Aga Khan would be thrilled to see Zarak properly succeed at stud as he is of course a son of the mare he considered to be the greatest achievement of his lengthy spell as a breeder, the great Zarkava (Fr), a fifth-generation descendant of Prince Aly Khan's champion, Petite Etoile (GB). As the Aga Khan Studs operation celebrates its centenary this year, Vadeni's success was extremely apposite, but there was more to come for both Zarak and the runners in the green and red.

Francis Graffard is now overseeing the Aga Khan's private training centre at Aiglemont along with his own training operation and, after saddling Baiykara to triumph in the G3 Prix de Royaumont, he struck again with another smart 3-year-old later on the card when Rozgar (Fr) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) won the Listed Prix Marchand d'Or, giving retained jockey Christophe Soumillon a memorable treble. Rozgar's victory was all the sweeter for his breeder as his dam, the listed-placed Roshanara (Fr), is a daughter of Sea The Stars (Ire), who stands on his Irish roster.

William Haggas, who has his string in sensational form, added to the party by having Zarak's daughter Purplepay (Fr) well primed on just her second start for him and her new owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stable, who paid €2 million for the Group 1-placed juvenile at Arqana in December. She can now have her name displayed in bold black type after a taking victory in the G2 Prix de Sandringham.

“It has been a very nice day: a Group 1, a Group 3 and a Listed race, and three victories with three very different horses,” Rimaud said. 

“Vadeni did it very easily beating some very nice horses. He's a true champion and we're very pleased in this centennial year. His Highness and Princess Zahra are obviously very happy but sometimes it just happens like this–it's nice that it has happened this way though because it puts a little focus on what we do. There's a long road ahead but hopefully [Vadeni] will be able to make the stallion roster.”

Aurora Australis

Mare Australis (Ire), the most beautiful deep liver chestnut, has been raced sparingly through his four seasons to date, and a fetlock injury kept him off the track between his G1 Prix Ganay victory in May 2021 and his placed return in the G2 Prix d'Harcourt two months ago. 

It was therefore great to see the patience of his owner/breeder Gestut Schlenderhan repaid with a fourth win for the 5-year-old, this time in the G2 Grand Prix de Chantilly. The Arc had been the plan last year until injury intervened, and it remains on the cards this season. 

“We breed stayers,” said Philipp von Ullmann, son of Schlenderhan's owner Baron Georg von Ullmann, before adding of winning the Arc, “It's been our dream for 153 years.”

Speaking to TDN for a feature last year, von Ullmann senior recalled his longstanding association with Mare Australis's trainer Andre Fabre. 

“The first horse I had with Fabre was Shirocco and I told him at Belmont [at the Breeders' Cup] that it was the beginning of a new friendship,” he said.

“Fabre just really has this feeling. He was very happy when Mare Australis came to him as a 2-year-old, then he called me up and said 'you will be surprised but I will give him a rest and he will say thank you'.”

It was the culmination of a successful week for Mare Australis's sire Australia (GB), after

Ocean Road (Ire) became his fifth Group/Grade 1 winner in the Gamely S at Santa Anita for trainer Brendan Walsh.

Like her trainer, Ocean Road was born and raised in Ireland. She is the second top-flight winner for Kevin and Meta Cullen's broodmare Love And Laughter (Ire) (Theatrical {Ire}). The first came a decade ago when her son Wigmore Hall (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}) won the GI Northern Dancer Turf S. for Michael Bell.

Walsh, now in his twelfth season in the U.S., had a good week with European imports. On Sunday at Belmont Park, he sent out Steve Parkin's homebred Lady Rockstar (GB) (Frankel {GB}) for her second successive win in as many starts since moving to his stable from William Haggas over the winter. 

The half-sister to Spanish star Noozhoh Canarias (Spa) (Caradak {Ire}) made her breakthrough in England last October when winning a Kempton maiden by 12 lengths. Now four, she looks set for a bright future in the United States.

C:C The Stars

In the first-season sires' championship Havana Grey (GB) is still knocking in the winners and now has 15 to his name at a strike-rate of almost 40%.

But remember Cracksman (GB), who ran once as a 2-year-old in October over a mile, then ran placed in the Derby and Irish Derby before winning four Group 1 races from 10 to 12 furlongs? A son of the reigning champion sire Frankel, Cracksman has had just six runners to date, and four of those have already won. 

Darley recently publicised Cracksman's PlusVital Speed Gene rating of C:C, i.e. sprint-orientated, with the adverting streamline “It's all about to happen faster than you think”. So far, so good on that front, as Cracksman has been represented by four winners since May 21. 

Speed gene tests are all well and good as an extra guide to a horse's potential but we don't need one to remind us that good, early juveniles can come from seemingly unexpected sources. Let's not forget that Cracksman's stable-mate at Dalham Hall Stud, New Approach (Ire), had three Royal Ascot stakes winners with his first crop of 2-year-olds. That should not have been surprising, however, because as well as winning the Derby he was also champion 2-year-old. Another Classic-winning son of Galileo, Sixties Icon (GB), also took some by surprise with a scorching start when his first 2-year-olds took to the track. And the old boy proved he's still got it by siring Friday's Woodcote S winner, Legend Of Xanadu (GB), trained by Mick Channon – who else? 

The moral of the story? It is not just sharp, early 2-year-olds who can sire sharp, early 2-year-olds. But in sires like Cracksman, New Approach and Sixties Icon, there is also clearly the hope of their stock progressing as the seasons unfold. And that's when it gets really exciting.

 

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