The Weekly Wrap: York at It’s Finest


Enable (GB) | Racing Post


For this correspondent last week’s York Ebor Festival was definitely the most memorable one since Frankel (GB) breezed home by seven lengths in the G1 Juddmonte International in 2012. The meeting is a credit to the York team, headed by William Derby and it isn’t a surprise that the venue was chosen to babysit Royal Ascot in 2005 when Ascot was being redeveloped. Last week was a journalist’s benefit with so many heartwarming moments to latch on to and in similar fashion to that famous Juddmonte silk bearer in 2005 when the crowds were ten deep to catch a glimpse of Frankel, a captive audience arrived on Thursday to most likely say their farewells to Khalid Abdullah’s exceptional homebred Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

The brilliant mare is likely the only horse to have rendered Frankie Dettori almost speechless and her effort in beating Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks–herself a top notch filly whose misfortune it was to be dispatched by Enable for the fourth time–was arguably as good as any performance she has posted. Furthermore with John Gosden alluding to the fact the race was more of a prep rather than an objective, the build up to Paris on Oct. 6 is going to be nail-biting. International racing really has been spoiled in the last decade to have borne witness to some truly outstanding Thoroughbred athletes, both male and female, and the powers that be at ParisLongchamp will need to double down on their efforts to cater for the throng of supporters that are likely to travel from both Britain and Ireland to, hopefully, see Enable land an historic third Arc.

While Enable took the lion’s share of the headlines, York also saw Ballydoyle’s Japan (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) emerge as a contender for the title of leading 3-year-old colt in Europe, especially as his immediate victim in the Juddmonte International was Crystal Ocean (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who held the mantle of the world’s highest rated horse pre-race. Interestingly, few of the pundits gave Japan much of a chance of beating Crystal Ocean, siding instead with the Sir Michael Stoute ‘being a genius with an older horse’ theory and rather forgetting that Aidan O’Brien doesn’t do too bad a job either with 3-year-old colts. The win also sets up the slightly unusual situation in the Irish Champion S. at Leopardstown where Japan will be representing Ireland and Deirdre (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) will be representing Japan. Further ahead the Arc will also obviously be on the agenda for Japan but beyond that the Breeders’ Cup could be an option. The Juddmonte is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race, not for the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf as one might expect but for the Classic. Team Ballydoyle have long made it known the Classic is a race they would dearly love to win and they may just have been granted an invitation that is hard to turn down.

The Kings of Stamina and Speed
The theory that some racing fans prefer jumps racing to flat racing because the equine stars appear year in year out over jumps appears to have little basis when you consider the likes of Friday’s G2 Lonsdale Cup winner Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}). Bjorn Nielsen’s homebred is now in his fourth season racing and with a bit of luck he has a few more years left in him. The double million pound bonus winner has such a high cruising speed that he rarely seems to be under pressure in a race and his potent turn of foot means that he tends to be only flat out for a furlong or two. He also doesn’t do a stroke when he invariably hits the front and such a run style has almost certainly contributed to his longevity to date and will hopefully see the 5-year-old maintain his stranglehold at the head of the stayers division for a few more years. Though judging by Nielsen’s ‘lump in throat’ moment when interviewed after the race the journey this efficient and relentless machine of a horse is taking him and his family on is proving quite emotional.

On the opposite end of the distance spectrum Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) finally laid his York hoodoo at the third attempt when blitzing his rivals in the G1 Nunthorpe S. After about a furlong it was clear to see that Battaash was on going day whereas chief market rival Ten Sovereigns (Ire) (No Nay Never) was finding the drop back to the minimum trip a bit too much and the smile on Jim Crowley’s face in the last hundred yards certainly backed up his post-race comments about enjoying the ride. It was also great to see Battaash’s long suffering groom Bob Grace there to enjoy the moment. Battaash hasn’t always been the easiest to deal with, hence the gelding operation as a 2-year-old, but the patience and attention to detail shown by Grace and Charlie Hills towards Batttaash and his quirks has certainly paid off. Now that the speedster has mellowed a bit in his fourth season of competitive action hopefully we can be treated to similar displays of raw speed for years to come.

Parkin Looking To The Future
The runner up in the Nunthorpe Soldier’s Call (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) deserves plenty of credit and his owner Steve Parkin enjoyed a memorable week at his local Knavesmire. It all kicked off for Parkin and his band of merry men when Living In The Past (Ire) (Bungle Inthejungle {GB}) landed the G2 Lowther S. for trainer Karl Burke on Thursday. Parkin had won the Lowther with Rosdhu Queen (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in 2012 and since then he has invested considerably in building a powerful string of horses with the help of his close friend Joe Foley. Foley’s good judgement was highlighted by Living In The Past, a €65,000 yearling purchase at the Sportsman’s Sale at Goffs last year. Her success was also a fine boost for breeders Newlands House Stud who will offer a full-sister to Living In The Past as lot 588 in the Sportsman’s in October. Parkin’s week also finished on a high when one of his stalwarts Suedois (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}), who he owns with George Turner, landed a maiden British win in the G3 Supreme S. at Goodwood on Sunday. The David O’Meara trained 8-year-old has now won group races in France, Ireland, America and England.

Hannon Steps Up With His Juveniles
The handful of vendors at Goffs UK this week with yearlings on offer by Coolmore sire Footstepsinthesand (GB) will be on good terms with themselves after the stallion was responsible for two top notch performances by 2-year-old colts at York. Mums Tipple (GB) simply spread-eagled the opposition in the £300,000 Goffs UK Premier Yearling S. pulling farther and farther clear and looking like a man amongst boys. Peter and Ross Doyle have found some gems at Doncaster over the years, the fellow Hannon trained Canford Cliffs (Ire) springs to mind and their purchase of Mums Tipple for £45,000 last year looks some gift for owners Marian Lyons & Patricia Zanelli. Richard Hannon’s other York winner came in the G2 Gimcrack S. when the Cheveley Park Stud owned Threat (Ire) came good under Oisin Murphy. The colt was bred at Derek and Gay Veitch’s Ringfort Stud in Ireland and was sold by them as a foal in Tattersalls for 100,000gns. His trajectory suggests he may have a future stallion career at Cheveley Park Stud but the competitive nature of the stallion business was also evident last week when Cheveley Park made the decision to transfer their Unfortunately (Ire), himself a Group 1 winner at two, to Linda and Reddy Coffey’s Springfield House Stud in Tipperary to avail of a larger pool of potential mares in 2020.

Lyons And Spratt A Winning Team
York’s festival closed out with the first running of the £1-million Ebor H. on Saturday and it again served to showcase the training skills of Ger Lyons whose astute handling of the winner Mustajeer (GB) (Medicean {GB}) has been military like in its precision since the 6-year-old’s fine effort when finishing fourth in the race last year. While Lyons and stable-jockey Colin Kean have formed a formidable partnership the role played by owner David Spratt in the success of the Lyons yard over the past few years should not be underestimated. The Cork man has an eagle eye for form and time and again he has plundered the horse in training sales and come home with some classy raw material for Lyons to work his magic on. Karawaan (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Buffer Zone (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}) were both HIT purchases last year by Spratt and both have won premier handicaps this season for the team, while the recent 2-year-old debut winner Yaxeni (Ire) (Maxios {GB}) was picked up for just €8,000 at Goffs last February and is now worth many multiple of that. Spratt also had 2016 Irish Cambridgeshire winner Sea Wolf (GB) (Amadeus Wolf {GB}) with Lyons until selling a share in him and switching him to Chris Waller in Australia. Rebranded as Mister Sea Wolf the gelding won a Group 3 at Rosehill in March and with the news that Mustajeer will continue his career in Australia with Spratt also retaining a significant share, he looks set to enjoy some exciting times in the Southern Hemisphere in the coming months.

The cream of Ireland’s juvenile crop is also starting to rise to the top and while the Ger Lyons trained Siskin (First Defence) has already staked his claim by winning the G1 Phoenix S. there was always the likelihood that Ballydoyle would unleash a few more potential stars in the second half of the season. Armory (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) looks just that after his straightforward win in the G2 Futurity S. at The Curragh last Friday and it would be a fascinating prospect if both Siskin and Armory happened to face off in the G1 Darley Dewhurst S. at the end of the season, assuming both passed their next tests in the G1 Juddmonte Middle Park and G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National S. respectively. Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star (Ire) (Sea The Moon {Ger}) took the step up to stakes company in her stride when winning a deep renewal of the G2 Debutante S. and while this half-sister to Alpha Centauri (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) has a lot to live up to on pedigree she is certainly going the right way. While her sister excelled at a mile this daughter of the brilliant German Derby winner has Oaks 2020 written all over her. Sea The Moon stands at Lanwades Stud and that farm’s owner Kirsten Rausing enjoyed a fine day at York on Saturday breeding two stakes winners when Zaaki (GB) (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}) won the G3 Strensall S. and Shine So Bright (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) won the G2 City Of York S. Meanwhile Betfair co-founder Andrew Black’s Chasemore Farm has also enjoyed a purple spell both on the track and in the sales ring. Fresh from receiving €500,000 at Arqana for a Frankel (GB) colt, that yearling’s half-brother Brad The Brief (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) became the mare Kenzadargent (Fr) (Kendargent {Fr})’s first winner when making a successful debut at Bath last Wednesday. That win was confidently predicted by Black at Arqana and even better was to come for the farm when homebred Boomer (GB) (Kingman {GB}) won the G3 Prestige S. at Goodwood on Saturday for trainer Tom Dascombe.

The Ecstasy And The Agony
While tears of joy were being spilled by various connections at York on Friday these were quickly replaced with tears of despair from the wider racing community when news emerged that two champions of different disciplines had their lives prematurely cut short. Last year’s Champion 3-year-old colt Roaring Lion lost few battles on the racetrack but his system, unfortunately, could not cope with the dreaded complications related to an attack of colic. He was the pride and joy of the Qatar Racing team and had the potential to be a genuine breed shaper and his loss is immense. Meanwhile Espoir D’Allen (Fr) (Voix Du Nord {Fr}), who ignored the statistics to become a 5-year-old Champion Hurdle winner, had the jumps world at his feet. He had been meticulously campaigned by Gavin Cromwell and his team, only meeting with defeat once in his career and his 15-length demolition job in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March was a joy to behold. However, he failed to recover from a freak accident soon after he returned to Cromwell’s yard having spent his summer holiday at owner JP McManus’s Martinstown Stud. These type of horses are irreplaceable and the fact that neither was killed in competitive action just shows what fragile animals they are.

Finally, a mention must go to trainer Ed Walker whose international raids are becoming increasingly successful. Walker has already enjoyed group success in Germany and Italy this year with stable stalwart Stormy Antarctic (GB) (Stormy Atlantic) and the Lambourn trainer, whose landlord is Bjorn Nielsen, almost pulled off a major transatlantic double over the weekend. Walker’s Indian Blessing (GB) (Sepoy {Aus}), a Group 3 winner in Germany and Grade I placed in America last year, was just touched off when a neck second in the GII Ballston Spa S. at Saratoga and then on Sunday Royal Intervention (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) continued the trainer’s fine record in Germany when landing the G2 Goldene Peitsche at Baden Baden.

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