With the national hunt season coming to an end at Punchestown last weekend it’s now the turn of the flat boys starting to turn on the style. This weekend sees the first of the English classics with the 2000 and 1000 guineas at Newmarket. Read next week for all the fall out from what promises to be a top class meeting.
Dawn Approach, trained by Jim Bolger and ridden by Kevin Manning, won the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in devastating style. Champion juvenile last season, the Godolphin-owned three-year-old was sent off the 11-8 favourite and travelled up towards the lead along with market rival Toronado. When Manning pressed the button, Dawn Approach powered to the front and pulled well clear inside the final furlong to score by five lengths from Glory Awaits, with Van Der Neer grabbing third spot late on.
Sole switches on power
Eddie Lynam’s sprint star Sole Power stamped his class on the Pearl Bloodstock Palace House Stakes at Newmarket for a commanding victory. Having been campaigned at the highest level for some time now, the 7-2 joint-favourite was entitled to win this and having run in Dubai, his race-fitness was never in doubt. Johnny Murtagh tracked the pace set by Heeraat and Tangerine Trees and shot clear on meeting the rising ground, and though the veteran Kingsgate Native made relentless progress to chase him home, there was a length in it at the line. Tangerine Trees clung on for third and Spirit Quartz and Heeraat were just behind.
Murtagh said: “He’s always been this good, it’s just he’s been drawn badly a lot of times. He’s got great natural speed, he’s a real sprinter.”
Lynam added: “He’s brought us all over the world and gives 110% every time. What he wants is fast ground, five furlongs and when he gets a bit of luck in running, he’s very good.
“He’ll go for the Temple next, he just got touched off by Bated Breath in it last year, then he’ll go to the King’s Stand. I may try him in the July Cup, Johnny is begging me to run him over six so I may have to listen to him.
“Then he’ll go for the Nunthorpe and the Abbaye. If they invite us he might go to Hong Kong, too.”
Drummer beats Tipperary rivals
Line Drummer (6-1) made a flying start to his 2013 campaign when landing the Fundraising Events At Tipperary Races Handicap for Aidan and Joseph O’Brien. Handed an initial rating of 85 having signed off his juvenile season with victory over the same course and distance in August, the son of Galileo proved very easy to back but was always travelling smoothly.
Well-backed favourite Caesaria led for much of the way but Line Drummer quickened stylishly when granted a clear run up the far rail and swiftly put five and a half lengths between himself and the market leader. Janna’s Jingle filled the places in third.
The winning trainer said: “I’m delighted with that. He’s a bit keen at home but shows lots of speed and we’ve been trying to relax him. Even though he’s by Galileo he has lots of speed and travelled well. He looks like he’s better than a handicapper, and Joseph said he should step up to a mile.”
The O’Briens doubled up through Freewheel in the Events At Tipperary Racecourse Maiden. Resolute Response travelled best of all in the 11-furlong heat but he failed to pick up in the straight, leaving racecourse debutant Freewheel to fight off Teoirim by two and a half lengths.
Paul Deegan’s Dubai Deer (15-8 second-favourite) relegated the O’Brien-trained duo Agreement and Victory Song to the minor placings with victory in the Book Online At tipperaryraces.ie Maiden. The opening Follow Tipperary Races On Facebook Race went to Dermot Weld’s Stuccodor (evens), who completed a five-timer. He outbattled Fiesolana to get up by a half a length close home.
Weld said: “He had to battle hard to win but got a good positive ride and he handled the ground well. He’ll keep going as long as the ground is like this but will get his summer holidays when it dries up. He has schooled over hurdles and that’s where his future will lie. It needed a horse to stay well to win today.”
Fences beckon for Fitz
Rebel Fitz is set to make his novice chasing debut at Killarney in the next couple of weeks. Trainer Michael Winters reports last year’s Galway Hurdle hero to have taken his exertions behind Hurricane Fly in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in his stride and that he has schooled well over the bigger obstacles.
“He ran flat at Cork but has come out of Punchestown in fantastic order and he’ll probably run in a beginners chase over two miles one at Killarney,” said the County Cork handler.
“We’ve schooled him over fences and he’ll go novice chasing straight away. He’s got a bit wise and he’s matured so it’s probably the perfect time for him to go chasing. He’s in good order.”
Big two set for Curragh showdown
Camelot and Parish Hall are set for a mouthwatering early-season clash in the High Chaparral EBF Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh today.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Camelot enjoyed a superb Classic campaign, winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, both the English and Irish Derbys and only narrowly missing out on Triple Crown glory when runner-up in the St Leger. The son of Montjeu was found to be suffering from colic just days after his disappointing showing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, but is set to return as a four-year-old in this Group Three test.
O’Brien said: “This has been the plan for him all winter. “The intention is to run him on Monday provided the ground is not too testing. He is in good order and is ready for a run.”
O’Brien also has El Salvador, Ernest Hemingway and Triumphant in the 10-furlong event. Seemingly the biggest threat to Camelot is the Jim Bolger-trained Parish Hall. Winner of the 2011 Dewhurst Stakes, the Teofilo colt was sidelined for well over a year by injury, but made a winning return in the Listed Alleged Stakes over this course and distance last month.
Bolger, who could be double-handed with Light Heavy also in the mix, said: “The plan remains the same and Monday’s race is his target. Parish Hall needed that race (Alleged Stakes) and he has come out of it in good shape. Provided he gets a bit of decent ground he will take his chance.”
The field is completed by Ken Condon’s Macbeth and Negotiate from Joanna Morgan’s stable. On an intriguing eight-race card, the Listed Power EBF Tetrarch Stakes has attracted 16 entries, including O’Brien’s Forester and Eddie Lynam’s classy filly Viztoria. She also features among 21 fillies engaged in the Canford Cliffs EBF Athasi Stakes, with the Ger Lyons-trained Lily’s Angel another major contender for the Group Three prize.
Gordon primed for York trip
Gordon Lord Byron is set to tackle the Duke of York Stakes with trainer Tom Hogan eyeing the big summer sprint prizes. The five-year-old won the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret last term as well as finishing a narrow second in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
He made a successful start to 2013 by winning at Dundalk in March but could finish no better than seventh in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai later that month. Hogan reports his charge to be in top form though, and is hoping for good ground on the Knavesmire on May 15.
He told At The Races: “He’s in great form and he goes to York - hopefully the ground is dry over there. “We’ll then have a look at the Diamond Jubilee, and then maybe the July Cup.
“Hopefully we can grab one of those big ones this year.”
Dawn among stellar Eclipse entry
Dawn Approach, Animal Kingdom and Camelot all feature among a high-class list of 60 initial entries for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on July 6.
The 10-furlong Group One is traditionally the first contest of the Flat season where the Classic generation get the chance to take on their elders at the very highest level, with an increased prize-money fund of £425,000 on offer this summer.
This weekend’s red-hot 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach has been given the option by Jim Bolger, while his owners, Godolphin, could run last year’s runner-up Farhh, trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup hero Animal Kingdom, trained by American-based Englishman Graham Motion, is currently residing in Lambourn preparing for Royal Ascot. Camelot, winner of the 2000 Guineas and both the English and Irish Derbys last year, is among 21 possible runners for Aidan O’Brien, with St Nicholas Abbey and Racing Post Trophy scorer Kingsbarns other notable contenders for Ballydoyle. French stars Cirrus Des Aigles and Dunaden are in the mix, as is German trainer Mario Hofer’s stable star Pastorius, winner of the Prix Ganay.
Others to feature include Ed Dunlop’s star duo Snow Fairy and Red Cadeaux and Richard Hannon’s Guineas aspirant Toronado. Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: “The Coral-Eclipse always attracts the best of the best from the Classic generation and the older horse division but this year’s entry looks deeper and more diverse than ever.
“With established stars like Animal Kingdom, Camelot, Cirrus Des Aigles, St Nicholas Abbey and Red Cadeaux all entered, as well as the rising stars Dawn Approach, Toronado, Battle of Marengo and Mars, I am extremely optimistic that we will have a race to savour come July 6.”