Welcome to Turf Talk on Monday. This week we take a look back at last weeks remarkable performance by Frankel at York and also reflect on some of the Irish results during the meeting. We also take a look at some news from home.
Frankel in a league of his own
Frankel stretched his perfect record to 13 when treating his legion of supporters to another breathtaking performance in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York.
The world’s best racehorse took the step up from a mile to 10 and a half furlongs in his stride as he justified highly-restrictive odds of 1-10 without being asked a serious question.
Leading two furlongs out in the hands of Tom Queally, the Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt pulled away to score with consummate ease to lift this Group One prize, sponsored by his owner Khalid Abdullah. Farhh pipped St Nicholas Abbey for second, seven lengths behind the brilliant winner.
Queally said: “I suspected they’d go a good gallop, but we had our plan in place. It panned out nicely - it’s a fantastic training performance. I gave them enough of a lead for the pace we were going and he won ever so well. He’s certainly as good (over a mile and a quarter as a mile).
“Every man and his dog seemed to want to put their penny’s worth in to say where he should run, but to run him in the owner’s race and for him to make it 13 out of 13 speaks for itself. I’m delighted to be a part of it.”
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Prince Abdullah, said: “For Henry and the team to bring Frankel in such great shape to York, in front of a brilliant crowd who appreciated him, is absolutely fantastic. Then for the horse to perform like he did, it’s a dream, isn’t it?
“The way he just comes there and does it is simply wonderful. It’s hard to believe and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Although it had been widely considered his final start would be on Champions Day at Ascot on October 20, connections have not entirely shut the door on a mouthwatering trip to Longchamp for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Grimthorpe said: “Henry didn’t want him in the race and he’d have to supplemented. There will be a discussion and we’ll have to see. The plan was always Ascot (Champion Stakes or QEII) but we’ll have to see how he comes out of the race.”
Of a possible tilt at the Arc, Prince Abdullah added: “I will discuss things with Henry and it depends on what he wants to do. I didn’t think a mile and a quarter was a problem, but further than that, I’m not sure.”
Queally counting Frankel blessings
Tom Queally thanks his lucky stars he is part of the Frankel success story.
The Irish-born jockey reflected on the unbeaten colt’s sensational victory in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday, a race sponsored by owner Khalid Abdullah. Like everyone, Queally was impressed by the performance of the Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt as he guided him to a 13th successive victory.
“It was awesome and he was absolutely amazing,” Queally told www.williamhill.com
“Words don’t describe what this horse can do and what he means to everybody. He’s the horse of a lifetime. I’m in a special position and honoured and privileged to be part of it all. It was right up there. The Queen Anne was a demolition job and the margin was impressive that day, 11 lengths. In the Guineas he slaughtered them all from pillar to post.
“Yesterday he settled so well. I gave them a good start. He shouldn’t have won by seven lengths because I expected to be sat nearly all the way to the furlong pole, but to thunder away by seven lengths in the space of a furlong takes some doing. It was marvellous and it’s a day I will remember for a long time.
“Everything is possible with this horse. He’s exceptional. I’m sure wherever he goes it will be the right decision. You think of all the good jockeys the Prince has had and Henry has had. I’m just fortunate to be the one jockey around at the time this horse is here. It’s like getting the lotto numbers.”
Frankel is reported to have taken his exertions without turning a hair.
“He’s absolutely fine and he’s come back to the yard very pleased with himself,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the BBC’s voice of racing for 50 years, described Frankel’s performance as “mesmerising”.
He said: “I thought it was absolutely mesmerising and very emotional. It was a wonderful display all round. It was spectacular. The whole exercise was covered with an apparent minimum of effort. When you think of the talent of St Nicholas Abbey, who is a very good horse, he just went up to all of them and was pulling all over them.”
Cecil hails Frankel effort
Sir Henry Cecil has described Frankel’s tremendous performance in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International at York as an occasion he will never forget.
The world’s highest-rated racehorse tested the water beyond a mile for the first time in the extended 10-furlong Group One and looked at least as good as ever as he put multiple Group One winners in their place with a truly awesome display.
Races like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Champion Stakes are potential targets for the four-year-old as the end of his racing career draws close, but Cecil is in no rush to commit his pride and joy to a definite race.
“Wednesday was a day that we, at Warren Place, will never forget,” the trainer told his website.
“Frankel did everything right. He behaved beautifully and seemed to get the trip really well. The outcome was a tremendous relief to me and, if there was anyone who doubted him in any way, surely their thoughts were put to rest.
“As for his next race, Frankel will tell me what is the best thing to do and obviously I will discuss it with the Prince (Khalid Abdullah, owner) and Lord Grimthorpe (racing manager). The Prince will make the final decision.”
Cecil reserved special praise for the appreciative crowd on the Knavesmire.
He said: “The Yorkshire racing crowd gave Frankel a wonderful reception and I was so pleased that we managed to get him to the Knavesmire as the North really appreciates seeing good horses.
“I would like to thank so many people who helped to make it such a wonderful occasion - one I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.”
Olympiad strikes York gold
Dermot Weld’s raider Olympiad landed the BetVictor.com Handicap at York.
The 9-2 favourite, carrying the colours of Sir Robert Ogden, led over two furlongs out and stayed on well to beat Very Good Day by a length and a half.
Winning jockey Pat Smullen said: “Olympiad showed his ability as a two-year-old, but he has just taken time. I think he’ll mature into a very decent staying handicapper. The sky could be limit for him if he keeps improving the way he has in the last 12 months.”
Thought Worthy benefited from a brilliant ride by William Buick to lead from pillar to post in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes. The 9-1 chance set only a modest gallop in the mile-and-a-half contest, but he quickened before the home turn and caught one or two of his rivals a little flat-footed.
His advantage was eroded as they headed inside the last couple of furlongs, with 13-8 favourite Main Sequence the biggest threat. But the John Gosden-trained Thought Worthy gave Buick everything he had as the line approached and held on to claim the Group Two prize by a neck.
Buick said: “He galloped well and stayed very well. He battled on well and stuck his head out. You have to admire a horse like this because he always tries his best.”
Gosden said: “The great thing about having an outside draw in a small field is that you can watch everyone. William gave him a very smart ride and nicked three lengths travelling into the home straight.
“His brother (Lucarno) won this and went to the Leger and won. There is no reason why he shouldn’t run either. We always thought he could be a Leger horse.
Gosden is intent on putting up a strong challenge to Triple Crown-seeking Camelot at Doncaster on September 15.
“They are all there to run (in the Leger) if they are in good order. Shantaram was due to come here but he had mucus in his lungs and Great Heavens has improved all year. They (the owners) have been talking about the Prix Vermeille (for Great Heavens), but we’ll see,” said the Clarehaven handler.
Pale digs deep to claim Galtres
Dermot Weld’s lightly-raced Pale Mimosa provided the trainer with his second winner of York’s Ebor meeting in the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Galtres Stakes.
Having won a Galway maiden on her second start just three weeks ago, the daughter of Singspiel took the step up to Listed class in her stride.
Settled in third by Pat Smullen, she really came into her own inside the final two furlongs and the 9-4 chance pulled two and a quarter lengths clear of Sequence close home. Cracking Lass, under pressure early in the straight, stuck on gamely for third with the eyecatching Bite Of The Cherry in fourth.
Weld said: “It was a terrific performance. We’ve been waiting for a bit of decent ground for her. I was a bit worried when the rain came, but it didn’t get into the ground.
“Today was the day, really, as Dr Lambe (owner) likes to have a winner at York.
“She’s a filly with a big future and we will look at races like the Park Hill (at Doncaster) for her.”
Fairy Bridge goes to Wingshot
Lady Wingshot supplemented her Listed Galway Festival triumph with Group 3 honours in the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary.
A narrow victor over Yellow Rosebud at the Ballybrit circuit earlier in the month, Jim Bolger’s Lawman filly was sent off a 7-1 chance, with Yellow Rosebud 2-1 favourite in light of a 2lb swing in the weights.
But Kevin Manning’s mount hadn’t read the script and after travelling strongly off the pace, she came to the front just over a furlong out and stayed on strongly to hold the market leader half a length at bay.
Joe Foley, representing the winning owners Ballylinch Stud, said: “I’m delighted with that. This race suits us as we won it before with Modeeroch (2006) and we were second in it last year with Anam Allta.
“She is steadily progressing and Jim was confident she had progressed since her last run. She didn’t get the run of the race two runs back (5th in Sweet Mimosa Stakes at Naas behind Empowering).
“She will probably come back here for the Concorde Stakes and she has plenty of entries and lots of speed.
“She is entered in the Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh, a six furlong race at Ascot on Champions Day and a seven furlong race at Longchamp on Arc weekend. She has a nice pedigree and could stay in training next year.”
Sugar Boy made most of the running to see off Designs On Rome in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Premier Nursery Handicap.
Taking a slight drop in trip having opened his account at Galway, Chris Hayes was keen to utilise the proven stamina of Patrick Prendergast’s charge.
The pair kicked clear two furlongs out and the 11-4 winner held on by two lengths from the rallying runner-up.
Hartside defies his penalty
Hartside carried a 5lb penalty in the Rosslare Handicap at Wexford but punters were undeterred and their faith was rewarded when the 4-5 favourite won again.
Tommy Carmody’s three-year-old, who scored by 11 lengths on his previous outing at Tramore, carried the now familiar colours of Andrew Tinkler.
Everything seemed to be going to plan when he took it up half a mile out, but Mulleady proved a tough opponent and Ben Curtis had to work to get the market leader home by two lengths, with the rest well beaten off.
The jockey said: “He’ll make a nice jumps horse. He jumps nicely and I know he schooled before his last win and that probably sweetened him up.”
Aidan O’Brien’s colt Lebron relished the step up in trip to nearly a mile and a half in very testing conditions as he came out best in a three-way battle for the Follow Wexford Racecourse On Facebook Maiden.
Joseph O’Brien was always on the pace on the 11-8 shot and though impressive Galway bumper scorer Cul Baire put in a strong challenge along with Gumption, the son of Galileo pulled out the stops to win by a neck.
The trainer, who was at the track, said: “He was very green the last day (when second), but he learned a good bit from it. He’ll come on for this win. I haven’t been at this track for around 20 years. It is in some order.”
Lebron had previously finished second in a Leopardstown maiden and the fourth home that day, the Pat Shanahan-trained King Of The Picts, won a thriller for the Pinnacle Handicap, Ronan Whelan driving the 9-2 shot to the front close home to beat Much Acclaimed by a neck.
Shanahan said: “He is a grand, genuine horse. He was fourth in two Leopardstown maidens. I wasn’t sure the handicapper was right giving him a mark of 74, but he was proved right.
“He is in the sales at Newmarket, but I hope he won’t be sold. He will make a nice jumping horse and he loves a cut in the ground. I will run him again before the sales and try and get another bracket for him.”
Highway to take French route
Princess Highway is likely to have her next start in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp on September 16.
The hugely impressive Ribblesdale Stakes winner could finish only third to Great Heavens in the Irish Oaks on unsuitably soft ground.
Trainer Dermot Weld is keen for her to win a Group One before the season is out and is targeting a few trips abroad.
“Princess Highway will run in either the Irish Champion Stakes or the Prix Vermeille, and I’d say right now the Vermeille is the favourite,” said Weld.
“She’ll have to meet Shareta, but no matter where you go, you’ll meet the best fillies in Europe.
“She’ll have an entry on Champions Day and she’s also in the Breeders’ Cup Fillies And Mares Turf.
“I think she deserves a Group One, she’s a very good filly and the way she won at Royal Ascot suggests she’s good enough.”
Munster National aim for Caim
Caim Hill could revert to fences for the Munster National at Limerick in October following his victory at Bellewstown on Thursday evening.
The nine-year-old gelding bounced back from a subdued display at the Galway Festival to take a decent two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle in some style.
Trainer Philip Fenton said: “I’m very pleased with him. I don’t know what happened to him in Galway. He never rose a gallop, but has been fine since. He’s been freshened up and got the job done.
“He could go back over fences, maybe to Limerick for the Munster National. He’s a good money-spinner.”
Shadow to revert to level
Shadow Eile could return to the Flat for her next start after she had to fight to justify odds-on favouritism at Bellewstown on Thursday.
The Dot Love-trained seven-year-old won a mares’ hurdle by a length to supplement two victories at Galway in August.
Love said: “The ground was a little holding for her, but she is so honest and so good.
“She could go for a Flat race at the Curragh now, but we will see how she comes out of this. She is a great one to have in the yard.”
Upgrade for mares races
Fairyhouse and Punchestown will stage new Grade One hurdles for mares next year after several events were upgraded by Horse Racing Ireland.
The EBF Mares Final at Fairyhouse on March 31, for novices over two and a half miles, has been elevated from Grade Two to the top level, as has the Grade Three ITBA EBF Champion Mares Hurdle over two and a quarter miles at Punchestown on April 27.
A handful of other races have been given elevated status as well, and HRI’s director of racing Jason Morris said: “The upgrading of five mares black type races for the 2012-13 National Hunt season underlines HRI’s commitment to encouraging the production and retention in Ireland of high quality mares for National Hunt racing.
“This support for the National Hunt breeding industry is further reflected in that HRI has progressively increased the number of mares only jump races for the past five seasons and also raised the mares allowance in open competition from 5lb to 7lb in October 2011.
“The two hurdle races will be the first Grade One National Hunt events exclusively for mares in either Ireland or Britain.
“The upgrading of the novice hurdle at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting was merited based upon its historical quality, while the promotion of the open mares race at the Punchestown Festival was a strategic decision to provide an end of season championship event which will hopefully attract all the best mares from Ireland and oversea