Seven Days: Never Again


A kiss for Alcohol Free from Rob Hornby |


It was a weekend in which the Scat Daddy sire-line shone through, at Newmarket and in Deauville, with Group 1 victories for his grand-daughters Alcohol Free (Ire) (No Nay Never) and Tenebrism (Caravaggio).

No Nay Never now has five crops of racing age and has twice supplied the winner of the July Cup: first Ten Sovereigns, who is now his stud-mate at Coolmore, and now Jeff Smith's Alcohol Free, whose transformation from miler to sprinter has added an interesting element to what is unfurling into an extraordinarily good season.

The 4-year-old filly did of course win a Group 1 at six furlongs as a juvenile, just over the dyke from the July Course when landing the Cheveley Park S. on the Rowley Mile. But, following her G3 Fred Darling S. in 2021, she then logically stepped up to a mile and looked every bit the star at this trip, winning the Coronation S. and then defeating 2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare (Ire) in the Sussex S., for which she will return to Goodwood at the end of the month. 

Her July Cup victory on Saturday brought up a second Group 1 success in two days for Rob Hornby, who started his riding career with Andrew Balding at Kingsclere, a yard which has been synonymous with Jeff Smith's colours, most notably through another fast female, his great homebred sprinter Lochsong (GB) (Song {GB}).

Hornby, who secured his first Group 1 victory aboard Scope (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) at Longchamp last October after battling back from injury, could have been forgiven the odd grumpy moment after being replaced on Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the Irish Derby. Westover duly won in the hands of Colin Keane, and days later Scope was put down after being injured on the gallops at Ralph Beckett's stable. Two weeks on from the Irish Derby, however, it was the quietly-spoken Hornby's chance to shine, first on Prosperous Voyage (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) in the Falmouth S., and then for his old boss Balding with Alcohol Free in the absence of the suspended champion jockey Oisin Murphy. Hornby's rewards were well deserved. 

Immortal Beloved

Another Coronation S. winner was involved in the production of Sunday's G1 Prix Jean Prat winner as Tenebrism, by far the leading light of Caravaggio's first crop, is a daughter of the great Kilfrush Stud-bred Immortal Verse (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), who, a year after her racing career ended, put in another star turn when topping the Tattersalls December Mare Sale at 4.7 million gns. The foal she was carrying then, Literary Society (Ire) (Dansili {GB}), retired winless but his subsequent siblings have made up for that as all four of racing age are winners. These include Immortal Verse's current 2-year-old, Statuette (Justify), who became a TDN Rising Star when winning on debut at Navan in May, and then confirmed that early promise with victory in the G2 Airlie Stud S. on Irish Derby weekend. Like Tenebrism, she races for a partnership which involves her breeders Merriebelle Stables and Coolmore, along with Westerberg.

Mehmas a Friend to Lacy Family

There was a pleasing touch of symmetry to the victory of Persian Force (Ire) in Thursday's G2 July S. Like his sire Mehmas (Ire), he had won the conditions race at Newbury on Lockinge day before running second in the G2 Coventry S. and then triumphing at the July meeting. Furthermore, both father and son were bought by Peter and Ross Doyle to be trained by Richard Hannon. Mehmas went on to win the G2 Richmond S. and end his career with placings in the G1 National S. and G1 Middle Park S. before quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting young sires in Europe.

There is also a sense of deja vu for Persian Force's breeders Tom and Barry Lacy. We featured their Ballyheashill Stud in Rhode, Co Offaly, after the Weatherbys Super Sprint win of Persian Force's full-brother Gubbass (Ire) last season. Now the Lacys' 8-year-old mare Vida Amorosa (Ire) has come up with another good 'un.

“She has just the two foals on the ground to have hit the track and both of them are pretty good, and Persian Force looks better than his brother last year,” Barry Lacy told TDN on Monday. “We just took a chance on Mehmas because we really liked him and we just happened to hit the right sire at the right time.”

For the mare's third mating, the Lacys returned to Tally-Ho Stud, sending her to Inns Of Court (Ire) who has his first yearlings at the sales this year. Like Persian Force, the Inns Of Court colt was bought as a foal by the team at Tally-Ho.

Lacy continued, “She has a very nice yearling now at Tally-Ho and he was the nicest of the three foals. If he turns out to be a good racehorse next year we can start to say perhaps it's down to the mare, but at this moment in time we are going to say that it's all about the stallion.

“It does take two to tango but I am trying to keep my feet on the ground, and I do think Mehmas is a very good sire, and he looks like he's going to turn out to be one of the better sires in the country.”

Casting his mind back to Persian Force as a youngster, he added, “He was just such a likeable individual and so relaxed. I wish I could tell you a special story about him as a foal but he was just very straightforward and nothing was an issue. If they were all like him it would be easy. He was just one of those horses who you hoped everything would work out for him and so far it has.”

As her Inns Of Court colt was foaled relatively late, Vida Amorosa missed last year's covering season and is now in foal to another Tally-Ho Stud newcomer, Starman (GB).

“If everything goes well with the foaling, the obvious thing would probably be to go back to Mehmas,” said Lacy.

The family also received a boost over the weekend from Garrus (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}), who remains a force to be reckoned with at the age of six and won the G3 Prix de Ris-Orangis at Deauville. His dam Queen Of Power (Ire) is a Medicean (GB) half-sister to Vida Amorosa.

Harris Back in Winner's Enclosure

Prior to last Thursday, no horse had run in the name of Peter Harris in Britain since 2015, although we have seen his distinctive silks carried to Group 1 glory by Audarya (Fr) Wootton Bassett {GB}), who is owned by by his daughter Alison Swinburn. Harris's own name made a reappearance last week alongside the promising Gleneagles (Ire) colt Mill Stream (Ire). The half-brother to last season's G2 Richmond S. winner Asymmetric (Ire) (Showcasing {GB}) was bred by Redpender Stud, who sold him as a yearling for 350,000gns, and won on debut at Doncaster for Jane Chapple-Hyam. 

A former breeder and trainer, Harris, now 88, had notable success with his homebred G1 Middle Park S. winner Primo Valentino (Ire) (Primo Dominie {GB}) and his half-sister, the G2 Cherry Hinton S. winner Dora Carrington (Ire) (Sri Pekan). The latter was one of 43 horses which formed the dispersal of Harris's Pendley Farm Stud stock at Tattersalls in 2010.

Epic Debut

Another more recent dispersal, that of Lady Rothschild's Waddesdon Stud, saw the G1 Pretty Polly S. winner Thistle Bird (GB) (Selkirk) bought by James Wigan on behalf of George Strawbridge for 750,000gns when in foal to Kingman (GB). The mare's resultant foal, Epictetus (Ire), made his debut at Newmarket on Friday and became the latest runner in Europe to earn a TDN Rising Star badge when cruising to the line in front with his ears pricked. 

All of Thistle Bird's five foals of racing age are winners, and they include current 3-year-old Jumbly (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}), who has remained within the Rothschild fold and won last year's Listed Radley S. before finishing runner-up this spring in the G3 Fred Darling S. Her yearling colt is by Lope De Vega (Ire). 

Leigh's Influence Continues To Be Felt

Putting herself firmly in the frame to take leading broodmare honours this years is Godolphin's Modern Ideals (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), who is the dam of G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Modern Games as well as Friday's G2 Duchess of Cambridge S. victrix Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}). Moreover, in May her 4-year-old son Modern News (GB) (Shamardal) won the Listed Royal Windsor S. and was subsequently second in the G3 Diomed S. at Epsom.

Their grand-dam Epitome (Ire) (Nashwan) was, like Gossamer (GB) (Sadler's Wells), acquired by Sheikh Mohammed when he bought the breeding operation of the late Gerald Leigh, who died 20 years ago last month. Modern Ideals was the seventh of Epitome's 14 foals, born three years before her half-brother Ultra (Ire) (Manduro {Ger}), winner of the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and now resident at Haras du Logis. 

The aforementioned dual Group 1 winner Gossamer, a sister to Barathea (Ire), turned out similarly to be a great addition to the Godolphin/Darley fold, breeding the G1 Racing Post Trophy winner Ibn Khaldun (Dubai Destination) among three black-type performers.

Aclaim Breezing Up the Table

The National Stud resident Aclaim (Ire) can now count two special fillies among his first crop following the emphatic win of Royal Aclaim (Ire) in the Listed City Walls S. at York. The James Tate-trained 3-year-old is now unbeaten in three starts, having got the better of no less a star than Perfect Power (Ire) (Ardad {Ire}) when breaking her maiden in May 2021. But she was then absent from the racecourse for more than a year, and didn't return until June 11 at Bath when she won her second novice contest with ease.

Both she and Aclaim's 1,000 Guineas winner Cachet (Ire) graduated from the breeze-ups, bought from the Craven and Guineas sales respectively for the same sum of 60,000gns. Earlier in the year, Nancy Sexton spoke to Ellie Whitaker and Tegan Clark of WC Equine who consigned Royal Aclaim in their first draft of only two fillies on behalf of breeder Pier House Stud.

Aclaim now sits in second place in the European second-season sires' table behind Churchill (Ire), sire of the Prix du Jockey Club and Eclipse S. winner Vadeni (Fr). Though ahead on prize-money, that pair falls behind Zarak (Fr) when it comes to the number of stakes winners, with the Aga Khan Studs stallion leading that division on five.

Wedding Bells at the Double

It was a hectic week for the bloodstock press pack at a roasting edition of the July Sale at Tattersalls, and particularly so for two members, who were also counting down to their wedding days on Saturday. TDN's own Alayna Cullen married amateur rider and assistant trainer Ross Birkett on the same day that Racing Post sales reporter James Thomas was also trying to juggle reciting his wedding vows with keeping an eye on the July Cup result.

To Ross and Alayna, and James and Molly, we send our congratulations and best wishes for much future happiness. 

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