Snowfall Leads Sunday Supremos


Snowfall |

After the flurry of top-class action on Saturday, the momentum carries over to Sunday with two different venues offering equally tantalising fare to cap the European racing program's weekend of weekends. Perhaps the great beauty of this 48-hour spell of decadence is that it not only witnesses the decorating of champions but also offers significant insight into those of the near and more distant future. The Curragh's two juvenile Group 1 contests are the last of their kind in this country and arguably the most important, while the established Arc trials at ParisLongchamp retain their heady blend of intrigue and promise. While it is unfortunate that Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) is not in France for his sighter ahead of the monument in three weeks' time, the famous Bois de Boulogne circuit plays host to no less an eminent authority in Snowfall (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). She has already set new records at these heights and looks to have a straightforward task in the feature G1 Qatar Prix Vermeille, which should act as the perfect precursor of her bid on the first Sunday in October.

Frankie Dettori was the passenger as Snowfall routed the pick of the middle-distance 3-year-olds of her sex in the June 4 G1 Epsom Oaks and while that form is far from vintage, 16 lengths is 16 lengths and that remains a truly astonishing winning distance in a Classic. Such was the extreme nature of that performance, her subsequent 8 1/2-length follow-up in the July 17 G1 Irish Oaks almost seemed anticlimactic while it was “only” four lengths in the G1 Yorkshire Oaks last time Aug. 19. If the darling of Ballydoyle is waiting for meaningful competition, it probably isn't going to come here, with her stable's June 20 G1 Prix de Diane heroine Joan of Arc (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) best of the rest but still nowhere near her league.

Dettori has enjoyed another fine week at Doncaster and steps in for the Curragh-bound Ryan Moore, as he did at Epsom. He is left in no doubt as to her quality and said, “Snowfall is a champion. We can say that the ground was testing and that the opposition was average in the Oaks, but she won by 16 lengths, a record. She reminds me of Enable at the same age. I have ridden Snowfall just the once and the impression was amazing. At The Curragh, she didn't have to force her talent and, in the Yorkshire Oaks, she trotted up. It's difficult to pinpoint her limits, as she has won so easily each time. She had no problem in adapting to Epsom's contours, so I think that ParisLongchamp won't be a problem for her either.”

Andre Fabre chooses to re-engage with Joan of Arc with Philomene (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Burgarita (GB) (Sea the Stars {Ire}), who were second and third respectively in the June 20 Chantilly Classic. It is hard not to see the Diane trio carrying on their own private duel at respectable distance from the division leader and their rematch acts almost as a sideshow. From one of the finest families around, Philomene still has upside despite her latest fifth taking on the colts and geldings in Deauville's G2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano over a mile and a quarter Aug. 14. “This race has obviously been one of the main targets for Philomene all year,” Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard said. “She steps up to 12 furlongs for the first time and the signs are that she will appreciate the extra distance. There is no denying the strength of the opposition she faces here, and the fact that we are seeking redemption after Deauville, but Andre Fabre's faith in this filly is unwavering. He has expressed an opinion that she will be better at four and her pedigree backs this up.”

Group 1 Test For Point Lonsdale

Sunday is yet another big day for Rosegreen, with 'TDN Rising Star' Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) featuring in the G1 Goffs Vincent O'Brien National S. at The Curragh which will be his sternest test to date. While his straightforward wins in the G3 Tyros S. at Leopardstown July 22 and in the course-and-distance G2 Futurity S. Aug. 21 have come by wide margins, they have been against a small sample of his peer group. The form of those races was undermined to a degree on Saturday, with the G2 Champions Juvenile eclipse of the Tyros and Debutante runner-up Maritime Wings (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) followed by the G2 Champagne S. defeat of Reach For the Moon (GB) (Sea the Stars {Ire}), who he outmanoeuvred in Royal Ascot's Listed Chesham S. June 19.

Ryan Moore has ultimate faith that Point Lonsdale can come through and remain on his perch. “What he did in the Chesham on only his second start was very impressive and it's fair to say he has passed every test with flying colours and is a juvenile right out of the top drawer,” he commented. “This is always a difficult race to win, but Point Lonsdale looks a horse with a very bright future and will, rightly, go to post as favourite.” Aidan O'Brien, who has won this 11 times, added, “He's done everything he's been asked so far and seems to be in good form since his last run. We've just taken gradual steps with him and he's been coming along gradually. We've been happy with him since the last day.”

If Point Lonsdale is treading a familiar and tried-and-tested path via the Tyros and Futurity, Godolphin's similarly unbeaten Native Trail (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) is another matching a past pattern coming here off a win in the G2 Superlative S. at Newmarket July 10. Fourteen years after Dubawi (Ire) completed the same double, his son Quorto (Ire) emulated his achievement for the Charlie Appleby stable in 2018. Having also prevailed two years ago with Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal), who went to Goodwood rather than Newmarket's July festival en route, the Moulton Paddocks operation command respect with whatever arrives for battle in this. “Native Trail has done well physically since winning the Superlative S. and it was always the plan to come straight here,” his trainer said. “He had a racecourse gallop on the July Course a couple of weeks ago which brought him forward and we have been pleased with his preparation. It looks a competitive field, but we are very happy with where we are.”

Also from Britain is Al Shaqab's Ebro River (Ire) (Galileo Gold {GB}), who steps up a furlong having mastered the G1 Phoenix S. over six here Aug. 8. Hugo Palmer has opted to not take the safe option of the G1 Middle Park S., suggesting he believes this trip is well within the compass of the talented chestnut who had earlier won with such authority over five in the Listed National S. at Sandown May 27. “He's in good form and we'll see how he gets on,” his trainer said. “I think he'd have won the last day over seven, but he's taking on different horses this time.”

Dermot Weld's stable is packed with classy juveniles and Newtown Anner Stud Farm's 'TDN Rising Star' Duke de Sessa (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}) is high up among them, having followed a luckless debut third at the Galway festival July 26 with a 4 3/4-length verdict over a mile on soft ground here Aug. 21. His trainer could have run him in Saturday's G2 Champions Juvenile at that trip, so it is significant that he has chosen this sharper test and that decision speaks volumes as to the regard in which he is held.

Colin Keane rode a treble on Saturday at Leopardstown and is relishing the chance to partner Duke de Sessa. “We think he's a very nice horse, we thought a lot of him going to Galway,” he said. “I thought in Galway the only thing that might beat him was the track and that it was his first time out and it turns out it did. He rectified that at The Curragh the last day and showed us what he's being showing us at home. We think he's pretty smart all right.”

Top Fillies Rematch In Moyglare

Weld also has another 'TDN Rising Star' in the G1 Moyglare Stud S., with the sponsors' Homeless Songs (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) looking to confirm the form of her impressive debut defeat of Agartha (Ire) (Caravaggio) over this seven-furlong trip at Leopardstown July 8. Homeless Songs has not been seen since, while Agartha who has been acquired by Scott Heider has taken that venue's G3 Silver Flash S. July 22 and the G2 Debutante S. over this course and distance Aug. 21. Moyglare's Fiona Craig is excited about the prospect of winning this particular race for the first time and said, “She looks amazing. She's only run the once as Dermot chose not to go for the Debutante, just because he felt she didn't need a tough race three weeks beforehand. I think she's been training very well–the lads seem very happy with her. It's a very competitive Moyglare with some very good fillies there, but I'm sure she'll run a good race. We've been second and fourth, but we've never won it before. It would be a bit of a dream to win it.”

Rejuvenated since encountering Homeless Songs, Agartha arguably has the best form on offer and holds the re-opposing second and third Sunset Shiraz (Ire) (Time Test {GB}) and Discoveries (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) on the form of the Debutante. Trainer Joseph O'Brien said, “Agartha took her time to get off the mark, but has really started to roll in recent starts, winning the Silver Flash and the Debutante in great style. Making the running seems to suit her really well and she has an excellent attitude to both training and racing. While there are some very promising young fillies in against her, she is without doubt the one that sets the bar for the rest of them to come to. She has been in great form since her last run and we are hopeful that she can produce a career-best effort in this. We are really excited to see what she can do.”

Another of the highly-regarded unexposed types is Mark Dobbin's Cairde Go Deo (Fr) (Camelot {GB}), who took the course-and-distance Loder Irish EBF Fillies' Race by 4 1/2 lengths last time Aug. 8 and represents the Ger Lyons stable who enjoyed a four-timer at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Search For A Triple

Enjoying the most prestige on the high-calibre Curragh card is the G1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger, where Search For a Song (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) could make it a red-letter day for Moyglare if she can bring up a third consecutive victory in the 14-furlong test. Raced only three times since her epic success in this 12 months ago and only twice this term, she must overcome a lay-off having been an underwhelming fifth in the 10 1/2-furlong G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup here May 23. “All is good. I saw her at Rosewell House on Friday and her coat is like silk,” Fiona Craig said. “Dermot has aimed her for this and rather kept her for it. She's in great nick and looks fantastic. It's a tough race, but I think she'll run her usual good race. It would be something special to win it for a third time–we'll dream.”

Joseph O'Brien is triple-handed, with his two live contenders being the Lloyd Williams Syndicate's stalwart Twilight Payment (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) and LECH Racing's Baron Samedi (GB) (Harbour Watch {Ire}). The former is coming off a course-and-distance success in the Aug. 13 G3 Irish St Leger Trial and while last year's G1 Melbourne Cup hero was third in this 12 months ago, he is holding his form admirably and will benefit if the mare underperforms. Baron Samedi's unbeaten run, which included wins in last year's G2 Prix du Conseil de Paris and this term's Apr. 25 G3 Vintage Crop S. and June 4 GII Belmont Gold Cup, only came to an end in the 12-furlong G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud July 4 and his fifth there stands up in this company.

“Twilight Payment has been a legend for us, winning four group races including the Melbourne Cup,” his trainer said. “He hasn't shown his very best in it before, but hopefully it will be a case of fifth-time lucky and he'll run a big race. Baron Samedi has been another real star for us. He came up a bit short in Group 1 company over a mile-and-a-half last time, but returning to this longer trip should be a big help to him. This race has been his target since his last run and we are hopeful that he'll run very well.”

Ryan Moore has picked the 4-year-old filly Passion (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) of the Ballydoyle runners and while she was only fifth in this last year, she ended up with a third in Ascot's G1 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares S. and has been seen only once subsequently. That was when a distant third to stablemate Amhran Na Bhfiann (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the course-and-distance G2 Curragh Cup June 27, but it is significant that she was kept in training at four and remains the yard's number one for this. “Her third in the Curragh Cup was a pleasing effort considering that was off the back of a 253-day break,” Ryan Moore said. “She showed good form at the backend of last season and her third-place finish to Wonderful Tonight in the Champions Day 'Fillies and Mares' reads well now with the David Menuisier filly going on to win the Hardwicke and the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood.”

Sprint Sensation

Also at The Curragh is the G1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five S., where King Power Racing's G1 Nunthorpe S. heroine Winter Power (Ire) (Bungle Inthejungle {GB}) bids to complete a rare double. Last year's winner Glass Slippers (GB) (Dream Ahead) missed that Aug. 20 York feature and arrives here fresh as a result, having finished third behind Suesa (Ire) (Night of Thunder {Ire}) and Dragon Symbol (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}) in Goodwood's G2 King George S. July 30. As her wins in the 2019 G1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp and 2020 GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint testify, Bearstone Stud's homebred only really begins to get going at this time of year and this stiff finish may suit her better than Tim Easterby's rapid 3-year-old.

Yoshiro Kubota's 'TDN Rising Star' Dragon Symbol, who was third in the Nunthorpe, is looking to end a sequence of placings at this level and it could be that this stiff five is his ideal scenario. Paula Davison's Mooneista (Ire) (Dandy Man {Ire}) upstaged the course specialist Gustavus Weston (Ire) (Equiano {Fr}) in this track's G2 Sapphire S. over this trip last time July 17 and is another 3-year-old in the mix in a competitive edition.

Dragon Symbol's rider Oisin Murphy said, “He's freshened up very well and it looks the right race for him. He's drawn beside Winter Power and I hope he can turn the tables.”

Mooneista hails from Jack Davison's stable and he said of her, “Everything is A1 and we're ready to roll. She's a progressive sprinter who obviously won a Group 2 easily last time out. We have stronger competition this time around, but we're looking forward to having a go.”

While not one of the top-level contests on the day, the G2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford S. does feature Ballydoyle's Love (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who looks for a confidence boost following two tough encounters when third in Ascot's July 24 G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. and the G1 Juddmonte International at York Aug. 18. Penalised for her prior success in the G1 Prince of Wales's S. over this 10-furlong trip at the Royal meeting June 16, she is met by Shapoor Mistry's G1 Pretty Polly S. heroine Thundering Nights (Ire) (Night of Thunder {Ire}). She is also forced to carry a three-pound burden as a result of her success in that course-and-distance contest June 27, but holds the impressive 2020 Blandford winner Cayenne Pepper (Ire) (Australia {GB}) on form. She had that Jessie Harrington trainee back in third in the Pretty Polly and was two places ahead of her when third in Deauville's G1 Prix Jean Romanet Aug. 22.

Joseph O'Brien is another trainer with some big guns on Sunday and he said, “Thundering Nights has already achieved more than we had dreamed she would this season by winning a Group 1, so we are very much in bonus territory with her now. She has to carry a penalty for that victory in the Pretty Polly S., but her form entitles her to a strong chance despite that. This course and distance suits her well and we feel she is capable of running a big race.” Adding ballast to the Blandford is Team Valor's progressive La Petite Coco (Ire) (Ruler of the World {Ire}). While she looks to be in deep on the face of it, the manner of her 5 1/2-length success in Cork's G3 Give Thanks S. last time Aug. 7 suggests she can make an impact here.

Arc Aspirations On The Line

Back at ParisLongchamp, the G2 Qatar Prix Niel and G2 Qatar Prix Foy without Adayar and the stricken Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) have lost much of their relevance as customary pointers for the 3-year-old colts and older horses heading for the ultimate course-and-distance test. While the Foy has suffered, it retains intrigue as the May 30 G1 Prix d'Ispahan and July 25 G1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis hero Skalleti (Fr) (Kendargent {Fr}) moves up to a mile and a half for the first time. Gelded and therefore ineligible for the Arc, Jean-Claude Seroul's homebred will have his stamina tested by the July 4 G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud hero Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}).

Skalleti remains set on a return to Ascot for the G1 Champion S. in which he was runner-up last year, but trainer Jerome Reynier was keen to try something new beforehand. “It will open up some more options if he does stay a mile and a half,” he said. “The Champion S. is definitely his main target this year, but we could be thinking of the Sheema Classic in Dubai with him next year if he's happy with this trip. His full-brother Skazino is turning into a really good stayer, so we think our horse should be staying a mile and a half, especially when his running style means he can relax out the back. We're quite hopeful. He needs a prep run before the Champion S. and rather than running in the [G2] Prix Dollar, the plan is that he will go straight to Ascot after this.”

Shinji Maeda's Mar. 21 G2 Hanshin Daishoten winner and May 2 G1 Tenno Sho runner-up Deep Bond (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) gets to know this track and trip ahead of the imminent arrival of his compatriot Chrono Genesis (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). One of the latest protagonists in Japan's endless quest for an Arc winner, he has been in Chantilly since August and trainer Ryuji Okubo's assistant Kazuhito Sumii said, “He really seems to enjoy the training here. On Sunday, he will become acquainted with the track and will need to adapt to ParisLongchamp. Deep Bond is quite laid-back and takes time to hit top gear. Compared to the way Japanese races are run, the pace is likely to be slow.”

In the Niel, Ballydoyle fly in their 'TDN Rising Star' Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who captured the GI Belmont Derby July 10 before disappointing when only fourth in the Aug. 7 GI Saratoga Derby. “I thought Bolshoi Ballet ran very well at Saratoga, they went very fast for the first couple of furlongs but he ran a solid race,” Aidan O'Brien explained. “He'd won over 10 furlongs the time before and it was just a little shorter.”

Rosegreen's representative is taken on by Bernard Giraudon's July 4 G2 Prix Eugene Adam winner Pretty Tiger (Ire) (Sea the Moon {Ger}), who appears best of a generally beleaguered crop of French-trained 3-year-olds in terms of Arc contenders.

The card's closing G3 Qatar Prix du Pin over seven furlongs sees The Aga Khan's Aug. 3 G1 Prix Rothschild runner-up Sagamiyra  (Fr) (Sea the Moon {Ger}) tackle Rashit Shaykhutdinov's Speak of the Devil (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who she had a short head back in third in that Deauville feature. In a competitive renewal, Lady Bamford's Aug. 8 G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest bridesmaid Tropbeau (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) also looks to warm up for the Oct. 3 G1 Prix de la Foret.

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