The Weekly Wrap: Trials And Tribulation

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Can Youth Spirit win the Derby for Kingsclere 50 years on from Mill Reef? | racingfotos.com

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Is the Derby picture clearer or murkier after the last week? We probably can't say for sure until after Thursday's Dante S., which may or may not feature Ballydoyle's erstwhile favoured one High Definition (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

At the moment, of those currently at 20/1 or shorter in the betting, there's certainly the potential for there to be a good story attached to the winner and, let's face it, the great old race in its first year of Cazoo sponsorship, certainly could do with that.

Who wouldn't love to see the Derby trophy return to Kingsclere 50 years after the great Mill Reef swept from Epsom glory to the Eclipse, the King George & Queen Elizabeth and on to the Arc? Youth Spirit (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) hasn't shown himself to be of Mill Reef's calibre yet but he cornered nicely at Chester to land the Vase, seeing out the extended 1m4f well despite his relatively sprint-orientated bottom line. He doesn't look terribly big, but then neither was Mill Reef.

The same can be said for Third Realm (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who sealed a good week for Roger Varian and his owner/breeder Sheikh Mohammed Obaid when freewheeling down the hill at Lingfield to overthrow the Godolphin favourite Adayar (GB) (Frankel {GB}). It was also a good day for Third Realm's dam Reem Three (GB) (Mark Of Esteem {Ire}), who is compiling quite the record at stud, with the Lingfield Derby Trial winner becoming her fifth black-type performer. Another of them, Cape Byron (GB) (Shamardal), landed a competitive sprint at Haydock on Saturday at the age of seven, having also won last year's G3 Bengough S. for the Varian team.

While Third Realm looks to be on course for Epsom, the trainer's El Drama (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), bought as a yearling for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid for 425,000gns, is more likely to head to the Prix du Jockey Club following his win in the listed Dee S. at Chester.

Varian also saddled the runner-up in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, Save A Forest (Ire) (Kingman {GB}), for the Gredley family, but his big market mover for the Cazoo Oaks last week was the twice-raced Teona (Ire), who was last seen winning a Newcastle maiden in November. Despite the margin of that victory being nine lengths, the Ali Saeed-owned filly must be tearing up the gallops to have been cut to around 5/1 for Epsom even before she steps out for her formal trial in Wednesday's Tattersalls Musidora S. Not only does she have the Derby winners Sea The Stars (Ire) and Authorized (Ire) as her sire and broodmare sire respectively, Teona comes from a family which has already brought her trainer Group 1 success. Her dam Ambivalent (Ire) won the G1 Pretty Polly S. as well as being third to Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr) in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Following some lacklustre performances by Ballydoyle representatives in various trials, normal order was restored somewhat at Leopardstown on Sunday, where Aidan O'Brien claimed a record 14th victory in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial. Following the route utilised for his first two Derby winners, the trainer opted for the Ballysax S./Derrinstown trial double for Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) and, emulating his sire Galileo (Ire) in victory, the dark brown colt shot into clear Derby favouritism as quickly as he accelerated away from his rivals off the home turn at Leopardstown. 

He has every right to be at the head of the market following that imperious display but it's worth remembering that O'Brien's three Derby winners in the last four years have been sent of at odds of 40/1, 13/2 and 25/1, and on each occasion he has had at least six runners in the race. There is, then, arguably a case to be made for Urban Sea's female-line descendant Sir Lamorak (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), who could be seen at York on Thursday. 

There's almost no getting away from Urban Sea when it comes to the Classics, and fans of inbreeding to superior mares will appreciate the appearance of Galileo and his fellow Derby winner and half-brother Sea The Stars in the pedigree of the facile winner of the Newmarket S., Mohaafeth (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), making him inbred 3×3 to the bluest of blue hens. He would also be a poignant, posthumous winner for Sheikh Hamdan.

Thrilling Continuity

One mare quickly propelling herself into that rarefied territory with the help of Urban Sea's son Galileo is You'resothrilling (Storm Cat). The sister to Giant's Causeway was not Urban Sea's equal on the racecourse but she was no slouch, winning the G2 Cherry Hinton S. and G3 Swordlestown Stud Sprint S. as a juvenile. On Sunday, she extended the record of her black-type-winning offspring to seven from seven when Joan Of Arc (Ire) became the latest in the G3 Irish 1,000 Guineas Trial and is now likely to attempt to emulate her sister Marvellous (Ire) by winning the Irish 1000 Guineas. 

The 16-year-old You'resothrilling has been mated exclusively with Galileo, but if it ain't broke there's no point trying to fix it. Gleneagles (Ire) followed the mare's first foal, Happily, to become a Classic winner, winning the English and Irish versions of the 2000 Guineas as well as the G1 St James's Palace S. He too has enjoyed a good run of late via his offspring and currently boasts a 33% strike-rate of winners to runners.

Late developer Insinuendo (Ire) landed the G3 Blue Wind S. for Willie McCreery on  only her third start on Saturday, while 3-year-old Eaglefield (Ire) made two quick back-to-back appearances at Gowran Park on Wednesday followed by Leopardstown on Sunday, where he held on for the win for the in-form Jim Bolger stable. So far in May, Gleneagles has also been represented by the listed winner Too Soon To Panic (Ire) as well as the smart G2 Prix Greffulhe winner Baby Rider (Fr). 

Classic Sires

In the year that Dawn Approach (Ire) moved back to stand at the stud where he was born, he is another former 2000 Guineas winner enjoying something of a purple patch. Of course his own Guineas winner Poetic Flare (Ire) has been the highlight and was one of seven winners from just 12 runners in Britain for the stallion in the last fortnight. During that same period in Ireland, he has added the listed winner Lunar Space (Ire) to his record, along with 3-year-old maiden winner Texas Moon (Ire) and juvenile scorer Strapped (Ire).

The 2014 Derby winner Australia (GB) has been enjoying a similarly good run. Mare Australis (Ire), Broome (Ire) and Sir Ron Priestley (GB) combined for a group-race treble on the first weekend of May, while Freedom Of Speech (Ire) was another winning 2-year-old from the Bolger stable last week. 

Sir Ron Priestley is set to make a swift return at York on Friday and is currently favourite for the G2 Yorkshire Cup. A burly horse who is nevertheless light on his feet, he runs in the trailblazing fashion so typical of those from the Mark Johnston stable and it would be no surprise to see him post some bold opposition to Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), not to mention his own half-brother Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}), in the top staying races this season.

Follow The Bear

Kodi Bear (Ire) was a smart miler in his day for Clive Cox and owner Olive Shaw and, now at Rathbarry Stud, he is starting to look a good value option for breeders at his current fee of €6,000. During a particularly fruitful spell he has been responsible for the listed-winning fillies Measure Of Magic (Ire) and Mystery Angel (Ire), while Sienna Bonnie (Ire) and Go Bears Go (Ire) have both been impressive winners from his second crop of juveniles in the past week. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the son of Kodiac (GB) has had some success when crossed with mares by his Rathbarry stud mate Acclamation (GB), and two of his three stakes winners to date are out of mares by Acclamation's sire Royal Applause (GB) and son Dark Angel (Ire). 

That Dark Angel cross features in Mystery Angel, who heads to Wednesday's G3 Musidora S., and in A Pint Of Bear (Ire), who won for the third time on Monday. 

It was also a notable weekend on the international stage for Germany's leading sire Soldier Hollow (GB). A rare foray to Britain for a German runner ended in victory for the Andreas Wohler-trained Axana (Ger) in the G3 Chartwell Fillies' S. at Lingfield. That same day, another daughter of Soldier Hollow, the 3-year-old Reine d'Amour, took the listed Henkel-Stutepreis at Dusseldorf, while on Sunday the veteran son of In The Wings (GB) featured as the broodmare sire of G1 NHK Mile winner Schnell Meister (Ger) (Kingman {GB}) in Japan. The 3-year-old colt is out of Gestut Wittenkindshof's G1 Preis der Diana winner Serienholde (Ger) and was bred by Katsumi Yoshida's Northern Farm. He joins recent stakes winners Waldkonig (GB) and Wirko (Ger) in being a son of Kingman from a German family replete with class and stamina.

Lanwades Goes Global

Lanwades Stud suffered the loss of Leroidesanimaux (Brz) and Archipenko in 2016 and 2017, but the lingering influence of both stallions has been felt recently, particularly in Australia.

On May 1, Wyclif (GB) (Archipenko) won the listed Port Adelaide Cup and that was followed by a stakes double for Leroidesanimaux down under when Le Don De Vie (GB) won the listed Warrnambool Cup on Thursday and Zaaki claimed the G2 Hollinsdale S. at the Gold Coast on Saturday. All three were bred at Lanwades by Kirsten Rausing. 

The breeder has, however, enjoyed black-type success closer to home and in her own colours on consecutive weekends. The G1 Yorkshire Oaks runner-up Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}) got her season off on a positive footing by winning the listed Daisy Warwick Fillies' S. at Goodwood, but she was trumped in some style on Saturday when Albaflora (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) stormed to a seven-length victory in the listed Buckhounds S. The greys are descendants respectively of the Group 1-winning Alzao full-sisters Albanova (GB) and Alborada (GB).

Albaflora was not the only winner for the family and Rausing on Saturday as her 3-year-old Ralph Beckett stable-mate Aleas (GB) (Archipenko) posted his third consecutive win at Haydock in just four starts, and by a similarly impressive margin. 

We Must Do Better

The TDN team in New Jersey will keep us abreast of the saga of the latest failed drug test for a Bob Baffert runner. That it was Medina Spirit (Protonico) in America's biggest race of all, and a result which had provided a first major success for a significant new owner to the sport, not to mention the thrill of a lifetime for the horse's small breeder, only makes this story even sorrier.

Racing is in trouble all around the world, and every trainer, owner and breeder is beholden to maintain the highest standards of welfare at whatever level of the sport at which they participate, even if that means resting a horse rather than reaching for the corticosteroids to perform permitted veterinary procedures. In fact, especially so. 

Without the horses, racing is nothing. If we continue to allow situations which appear to show horses being abused in the name of our entertainment, then we will have nothing, and that is all that we deserve. 

Clutching at straws in the maelstrom of this latest bad-news incident for racing, the one positive aspect is the loyalty shown by Medina Spirit's owner Amr Zedan to the trainer in the aftermath of Sunday's revelations. He ended his verbal show of support for Baffert with the phlegmatic line, “This, too, shall pass.”

It not only shows a temperament which looks ideally suited to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which racing can often throw at its participants, but a sense of loyalty which is all too often missing in the sport. Let's hope it doesn't turn out to be misplaced.

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