Seven Days: Mercury Rising

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Misting fans will be out in force on racecourses during the heatwave | Racingfotos.com

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An awful lot of people have been getting hot under the collar this week, and not just because a heatwave is currently sweeping Europe, leading to the cancellation of five race meetings in England and some rejigging of times and locations on the continent.

The BHA's whip report was published last Tuesday sparking a predictably wide range of views being aired on both sides of the debate. While some believe that by enforcing changes racing is pandering to those who don't understand the sport and need educating as to horse welfare, others feel the 20 new recommendations by the 15-strong panel of industry experts don't go far enough. This column doesn't like to sit on the fence but feels largely unmoved by the rule changes. The potential for disqualification for any jockey exceeding the maximum whip use by four strikes is hopefully enough of a deterrent for such behaviour.

Of course we must be mindful of the sport's perception by a wider audience than just we tragics who watch racing day in and day out, but plenty of members of that latter category, this one included, would feel far more at ease if the authorities worked harder on ensuring stewards properly policed incidents of dangerous riding. The problem is that the British stewards in particular don't appear to view any incidents as dangerous as categorised by the Rule Book, instead usually opting for a careless riding charge for infringements and short bans here and there–that's if they even call an enquiry in the first place. 

This certainly doesn't help the connections of the horses hampered in such incidents, and it means this attitude of carelessness (which is putting it very mildly) pervades. It seems extraordinary that some jockeys decide to adopt an approach that puts their colleagues, their mounts, and even themselves at risk of injury, but they can do so apparently safe in the knowledge that any penalties usually amount to nothing more than a couple of days sitting on the sidelines with that extra win to their name. 

Frankly, one or two extra taps with a ProCush whip are nothing compared to the utter recklessness on display on the racecourse on a frequent basis. If the BHA really cares about horse welfare (not to mention that of their riders), then it is hoped that this is an issue which will be addressed with the utmost urgency.

Magical Memory of Galileo

It's quite fun for those of us who voted against Britain leaving the EU to blame everything on Brexit. Sadly we can't apply this to the failure of Emily Upjohn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) to make it to the Curragh for the Juddmonte Irish Oaks, but her absence was a great pity for she surely would have had an excellent chance in a race that was also deprived of her narrow conqueror at Epsom, Tuesday (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

In the end, the Irish Classic may have lacked a bit of dazzle, though Magical Lagoon (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was a very determined and deserved winner for Zhang Yuesheng, who has certainly been making his presence felt at the sales of late. As a Galileo half-sister to the King George winner Novellist (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}), Magical Lagoon is a rare example of one that got away from Coolmore, who bred her and then sold her at 305,000gns at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, where she was consigned for them by Mimi Wadham and Violet Hesketh's WH Bloodstock. 

She is an admirable filly, clearly very much on the up, and even though it can't have helped her main challenger Toy (Ire) that it appeared as if winning jockey Shane Foley may have unintentionally struck her across the face with his whip in the closing stages, one feels that on this day Magical Lagoon was not for passing anyway. Toy finishing half a length behind her in second gave Galileo yet another one-two in a Classic. We won't be saying that for much longer, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Onesto, Perfetto

It is extremely unlikely that the coming years will see a shortage of stakes winners by Frankel (GB) and the champion sire is having another ripsnorter of a season. To Classic winners Westover (GB), Homeless Songs (Ire) and Nashwa (GB), and Group 1 winners Inspiral (GB), Alpinista (GB) and McKulick (GB), we can add his latest top-level scorer, Onesto (Ire). This last week alone has also seen Raclette (GB) win the G2 Prix de Malleret and Eternal Pearl (GB) land the Listed Aphrodite S.

Onesto, like Galileo's Group 2-winning daughter Lily Pond (Ire) on Sunday, is another to feature inbreeding (in his case 3×3) to the great Urban Sea, and he provided his broodmare sire Sea The Stars (Ire) with his first Group 1 victory in that division. Incidentally, the latter's half-brother Born To Sea (Ire) was also represented as a black-type broodmare sire courtesy of the G2 Prix Robert Papin winner Blackbeard (Ire) (No Nay Never).

Onesto's win in the Grand Prix de Paris capped a good week for Adam Bowden of Kentucky-based Diamond Creek Farm, for whom it was a first win at the highest level as breeder. Diamond Creek also bred the top lot at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale as the yearling season got underway in America. Their Curlin half-brother to Belmont S. runner-up Gronkowski was bought for $600,000 by DJ Stable.

Trainer Fabrice Chappet has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the diminutive Onesto, and he confirmed that the Arc is very much in his future plans for the colt, who hails from the top-drawer Juddmonte family of Hasili (GB). It was also a good week for the Chantilly trainer, with four winners from his ten runners, including the TDN Rising Star Gain It (GB), a son of De Treville (GB), the relatively unheralded Oasis Dream (GB) half-brother to Too Darn Hot (GB). 

Also making his mark from the Chappet stable last week was Good Guess (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}), a grandson of Russian Rhythm who was bred by Cheveley Park Stud and bought by Sebastian Desmontils for owner Hisaaki Saito for 420,000gns at Tattersalls October Book 1. The colt is now two wins for two runs, and is pencilled in for the G3 Prix de Cabourg as the Deauville summer season gets underway in early August. 

Whitsbury Winners Rolling In

Havana Grey (GB) looks to be compiling an unassailable lead in the 2022 first-season sires' table and as well as his son Eddie's Boy (GB) winning the valuable Weatherbys Super Sprint on Saturday, 24 hours earlier the stallion's home farm of Whitsbury Manor Stud also enjoyed a great day as breeders.

Four graduates of the Hampshire-based stud won at four different tracks in Britain, with the 90-rated Rathbone (GB),  by former resident Foxwedge (Aus), sealing the four-timer when winning for the sixth time at Hamilton. Along with Mick's Dream (GB) (Adaay {Ire}) and Gaalib (GB) (Territories {Ire}), the quartet was completed by Chaldean (GB), a relatively rare foal purchase for Juddmonte, who brought 550,000gns at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale. The son of Frankel (GB) is a half-brother to Shadwell's G2 Mill Reef S. winner Alkumait (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) and his fellow black-type earners The Broghie Man (GB) (Cityscape {GB}) and Gloves Lynch (GB) (Mukhadram {GB}). Their dam, the treble Italian winner Suelita (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}), was bought by Chris Harper for 21,500gns as a 4-year-old and has now had five offspring make six-figure sums in the sale ring. 

Reflecting on the purchase of Suelita when her Frankel colt went through the foal sale of 2020, Ed Harper said, “Dad bought the mare and she's the only mare he has bought in the last seven years. From the very first foal she has thrown nice horses. In the February of his 2-year-old career I remember getting a phone call from Brendan Duke, who trained The Broghie Man, saying I think you've bred a very good horse here. He wasn't wrong.”

Chaldean, trained by Andrew Balding, looks similarly promising after breaking his maiden at the second attempt at Newbury. 

The Heat Really Is On

The European yearling sales will soon be upon us and we can again expect to see plenty of visitors from America and Australia, especially with travel restrictions being now nothing but a bad memory. 

This is both good news and bad news. For breeders and pinhookers wishing to sell a horse, buyers with deep pockets are always a welcome sight. However, for the long-term health and diversity of the racing and breeding industry in Britain especially, but also in Ireland, the warning klaxon should be sounding as our bloodstock reserves gradually become depleted. 

Witness this depressing passage from Dan Ross's story on American trainer Phil D'Amato in Monday's TDN:

Right now, says D'Amato, with prize-money in Ireland and England especially in such palliative care, the overseas market is ripe for plunder, many smaller outfits, in particular, relying more and more on the selling of their young stock to keep the bloodhounds from snapping at their heels.

“For most of them, this is what they do for a living. Most of them are traders with the way the purse structure is there,” D'Amato says. “Those are the people that are in it really to buy yearlings at a cheaper price and develop them and potentially sell them for a nice profit at two and three.”

This is nothing new, but it is a situation that is intensifying, and the success in various jurisdictions of stock bred in this part of the world will only drive the demand.

On consecutive weekends Chad Brown has saddled Grade 1 winners, both incidentally bought from Hazelwood Bloodstock at Tattersalls October Book 1. First McKulick (GB) (Frankel {GB}) won the Belmont Oaks, followed this Saturday by the success of In Italian (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the Diana S., a race in which the six-runner field featured five European-bred horses (albeit one of those, Creative Flair (Ire), is still trained in England, by Charlie Appleby).

McKulick and In Italian were respectively bred by Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Australian John Camilleri, two major international clients of the impressive outfit run by Adrian and Philippa O'Brien. A huge draw for such breeders to have mares in Britain is the fact that the country currently stands several of the world's leading stallions, and in the case of these two Grade 1 winners they are by the two best in Europe: Frankel and Dubawi. It is also worth noting that Saturday's extremely impressive maiden winner and TDN Rising Star Hans Andersen (GB), another Frankel, was bred and raised at Hazelwood for another of their Australian-based clients, Sun Bloodstock.

Overseas ownership of major breeding operations based in Britain is not a new development, in fact one might say it is now the norm, and it has injected important life into the historic breeding nation, not least in providing the two big-name stallions just mentioned. 

But, like climate change, preventative action must be taken well in advance of a troubling situation becoming a crisis. We are told that the BHA is currently working on a strategy review, a reason cited for its bizarre torpedoing of its own proposal to cut 300 races from the race programme to ease the growing issue of small field sizes. Let's hope that review is completed in a timely fashion and does something to address the ever-increasing demand expressed by many for racecourses to inject a far greater share of their media rights income into prize-money. Otherwise we really will all be feeling the heat. 

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