2000 Guineas Series
I return to my 2000 Guineas series this week with a look at the Richard Hannon-trained colt Van Der Neer, writes Andrew Fletcher. He is currently available at best-price 25/1 for the first Classic of the season and it will be interesting to see whether he emerges as a contender for the Guineas come the spring.
He showed a glimpse of his potential racing ability when running out a comfortable winner of a Yarmouth maiden on debut. He was always handy during the six furlongs contest and having been asked for an effort with a furlong to run, he ran out a ready winner of a race that has turned out to be quite useful. There were no less than five subsequent winners in that field although none of the others scaled the heights of their conqueror on this occasion.
It was almost a month before he returned to the racecourse in a Conditions event at Leicester which saw him take on seven furlongs for the first time. This time he settled at the back of the pack before being moved to the outside with two furlongs still to travel. He picked up the leaders with consummate ease in the closing stages and having sewn up the race in a matter of strides, recorded an impressive 1¾ length success easing up.
His Leicester performance was impressive enough for Richard Hannon to run the colt in Group 1 company in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. Once again his jockey Richard Hughes used waiting tactics on him before asking his mount for an effort with a couple of furlongs still to run. He looked to hang towards the stands rail under pressure before finishing off his race in taking fashion to grab second place on the line. It is worth noting here that although Van Der Neer never really troubled the winner Kingsbarns, he did finish ahead of three Group winners in Steeler (3rd), First Cornerstone (4th) and Trading Leather (5th).
His effort in the Racing Post Trophy rounded off a good campaign for the colt in which he continued to improve when facing the challenges of both a step up in trip and Grade. Also, the fact that he hung slightly at Doncaster suggests he was still a little green and that with more experience he could well have finished closer to the winner. In terms of a visual impression he seemed to see out the mile well at Doncaster in testing conditions meaning that the 2000 Guineas would look a suitable target for this colt. He is still relatively unexposed and it will be interesting to see from his pedigree whether further improvement should be expected.
His sire is Dutch Art who during his own two-year-old campaign won the Prix Morny and the Middle Park Stakes as well as the Norfolk Stakes at the Royal meeting. At three he was third in the 2000 Guineas behind Cockney Rebel before being beaten half a length and a length in the July Cup and the Prix Maurice De Gheest respectively. Perhaps the best of his progeny at stud so far has been Caspar Netscher who won both the Gimcrack and the Mill Reef Stakes as a two-year-old before successes in the Greenham and the German 2000 Guineas a year later. Other useful products include Listed and Group 3 winner Producer, Listed sprinter Slade Power and Listed-winning filly Miss Work Of Art. There is no doubt that Dutch Art has already shown an ability to pass on his talents including speed to most of his progeny, but looking at his own pedigree there is reason to suggest there is also some stamina lurking in there. Dutch Art is by Medicean who won both the Lockinge (8f) and the Eclipse (10f) at Group level during his career and is out of Halland Park Lass who although disappointing on the racecourse has also produced a dual Group-winning filly in Up. Dual Group 1 winner Spectrum appears on the maternal side of the pedigree as the damsire and can be considered another stamina influence given that he sired a 2000 Guineas winner in Golan who also won a King George. This information suggests that Dutch Art’s offspring could well have sufficient stamina to stay between a mile and ten furlongs.
On the other side of the pedigree, Van Der Neer is out of an unraced mare called Lalectra. She has produced two half-siblings in the form of Goodwood Treasure who won at up to 10f on the all weather and Common Denominator who was placed over a mile. Lalectra is by the former Aidan O’Brien trained King Charlemagne whose career highlight came when winning the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest over seven furlongs. It is probably fair to say his offspring have been useful without pulling up any trees with perhaps the best being Listed winning sprinter Aiboa.
The overall conclusion in terms of pedigree seems to confirm the visual impression from Doncaster that Van Der Neer appears to get a mile without any problem. In fact with a number of milers and ten furlong horses in his family it does not seem unreasonable to foresee him running over slightly further in time.
In terms of the 2000 Guineas it is difficult to work out which of Richard Hannon’s three-year-olds will head for the first Classic of the season. It appears that Olympic Glory looks set to head for the French Guineas, perhaps Toronado will head for a race such as the Dante, leaving the likes of Havana Gold, Wentworth and Van Der Neer in contention for the Guineas. If he does make it to the start at Newmarket, he looks to have a chance based on his performances to date. Based on the fact that he was only given three runs at two suggests that connections feel he was always set to be a better three-year-old. His run in the Racing Post Trophy puts him amongst some of the best juveniles of last year and I feel it is fair to say that Richard Hannon’s colt will improve for better underfoot conditions and a winter to develop. Whether he ultimately has the ability to beat the likes of Dawn Approach remains to be seen but with more likely to come, I would be reluctant to rule him out at this stage.
For those of you looking for your flat racing fix, Andrew Fletcher is back with his second article in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas Series which looks ahead in search of 2013 Classic Winners!
My examination of this year’s 2000 Guineas continues this week with a look at George Vancouver. The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt performed creditably at the highest level during his 2yo campaign and similar performances could see him dining at the top table in the 3yo division.
George Vancouver’s racing career began in June 2012 when he contested a 6f Median Auction Stakes at Navan. Having been purchased as a foal for US$ 450,000, expectations were high but having chased the leaders in the early stages at halfway it was evident that he was not going to win. He finished fifth of six runners and trailed Patrick Martin’s winner Versilia Gal by 3¾ lengths. As a result he was back on the racecourse only two weeks later at the Curragh. Once again he tracked the leaders and looked to be going well entering the final two furlongs, but the tank soon emptied and he was a nine-length fourth to Dermot Weld’s Rawaaq. Whilst this was another disappointing effort from the colt it is worth noting that the winner was subsequently second in a Group 3, the second Leitir Mor won a Group 3 and the third horse finished third in the Acomb Stakes at York.
Mid-July saw George Vancouver try a synthetic surface for the first time when tackling a 6f Maiden at Dundalk. He was quick enough out the starting stalls to be left in front early on, before others took up the gauntlet at halfway. As he had done on his second start at the Curragh he looked to be travelling the best with over a furlong to travel but on this occasion he quickened away and drew clear to score by 3¼ lengths. Following this impressive display the colt was sent to Deauville to try Group 1 company for the first time in the Prix Morny. This time he was held up by his jockey Ryan Moore before being asked for an effort with just over two furlongs to travel. Despite perhaps being outpaced for a short period, he continued to stay on and secured second position in the closing stages. This performance put him in the top bracket of juveniles with no less than three other subsequent Group winners in the field.
His trip to France meant that he started 8/13 favourite for his next start in the Group 3 Go and Go Round Tower Stakes over 6f in September. However, he failed to replicate his last two starts and looked one paced in the closing stages finishing sixth. His final European start as a 2yo was to be the Dewhurst at Newmarket in which he would take on the all-conquering Dawn Approach as well as seven furlongs for the first time. Having been settled towards the rear he was asked for an effort two over a furlong out and continued to stay on without making much impression on the winner or his pacemaker.
As I have already alluded to, his campaign was not finished there as he was entered for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf over a mile at Santa Anita. He broke well and sat in mid-division in the early stages and looked to be travelling well turning for home and having found a gap, he ran on strongly to score by 1¼ lengths.
That success rounded off an up-and-down season for the colt but there were enough good displays to suggest that the talent is there. It is also notable that George Vancouver appears to be a different horse on quicker ground and this is something worth bearing in mind when considering his chances in the Guineas. His performances at Santa Anita and Deauville look the stand-out pieces of form from his juvenile campaign and the Dewhurst has given him valuable experience of the dip on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile. He won over a mile at Santa Anita, although some might say that non-stayers can get the distance around a tight track. That said he always seems to go better the further he goes and his electric turn of foot on quick ground makes him a serious consideration in those conditions.
In terms of his pedigree, his sire is Henrythenavigator who himself won the 2000 Guineas in 2008. He also added three further Group 1 successes during that season in the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’ Palace and the Sussex Stakes. He was a miler of the highest quality and also finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on the pro-ride surface. He has made an excellent start to his stallion career having sired two Group 1 winners in his first crop. Pedro The Great won the Phoenix Stakes over 6f at the Curragh and as I have mentioned George Vancouver joined him courtesy of his success in America. Of course it is difficult to gauge how his three-year-olds will get on although he himself was a better horse at three than he was at two. George Vancouver looks to have inherited fast ground preferences from his sire and it is therefore quite possible that he will also grow into a better three-year-old. There is certainly plenty of speed on the paternal side of the pedigree; Henrythenavigator is by triple Group 1 winning miler Kingmambo who is out of Champion miler Miesque. The dam of Henrythenavigator is Sequoyah who won the seven furlong Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes as a two-year-old. Whether George Vancouver will be able to get further than a mile remains to be seen but there is certainly plenty to suggest his pedigree is of the top order.
On the other side of the family, George Vancouver’s dam is a mare called Versailles Treaty. She was trained by Claude McGaughey III in the US and was a multiple Grade 1 winner between eight and ten furlongs and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on two occasions in 1991 and 1992. As a broodmare she has produced Saarland (Unbridled) who was a winner over nine furlongs in America and was Grade 1 placed in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont over a mile.
The damsire is Danzig who was unbeaten in his first three starts before injury ended his racing career. He was an outstanding stallion, siring the likes of Haydock Sprint Cup winner Danehill, champion sprinter Dayjur as well as top miler Polish Precedent. He has also had great success as a sire of broodmares with the likes of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus and dual Group 1 winner Strategic Choice having been produced by his daughters.
In terms of nicks, it is too early to gauge the success of the Henrythenavigator-Danzig cross but the Kingmambo-Danzig cross could well be worth looking at. This cross has produced six winners from fourteen runners, which is a 43% winners-runners ratio. Further into the pedigree, George Vancouver also represents a product of the famous Mr Prospector – Northern Dancer cross from which many top racehorses originate from, including the aforementioned mentioned Fusaichi Pegasus.
In terms of the 2000 Guineas for George Vancouver, the state of the ground is likely to play a big part in his participation. His juvenile campaign showed that like his sire, he was much more comfortable on quicker ground than the slower conditions he encountered on his first few starts. Last season did not provide quick ground very often, with many of the season’s highlights run on soft or heavy ground such as in the 2000 Guineas and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His pedigree is filled with quality and speed on both sides and given the right conditions I feel he could become a very good three-year-old miler. The conclusion therefore is that he is a horse full of ability and if he lines up for the 2000 Guineas he would worth a shout, however the ground would have to be at least good and anything slower would blunt the turn of foot which he showed to great effect at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.
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Photo 1: George Vancouver winning at the Breeders’ Cup - Source: www.bloodhorse.com
Photo 2: Pedro The Great was Henrythenavigator’s first G1 winner - Source: www.racingpost.com
Photo 3: The damsire Danzig - Source: www.bloodhorse.com
For those of you looking for your flat racing fix, I am pleased to say that I will be producing a series of articles in anticipation of this year’s Classics, writes Andrew Fletcher. Last year’s articles proved popular and these will take the same form with five horses considered for each of the first four Classics. This will include an examination of their racing career to date and more importantly the families from which the horses come.
This week I begin my look at the 2000 Guineas by considering the chances of the Marco Botti-trained Moohaajim. Despite only four starts during his juvenile campaign, the colt did enough to suggest that he could be capable of being one of the top of his generation as a three-year-old.
His career got underway at Ascot in mid-July, with a fairly straight-forward success over the straight six furlongs. Having sat on the shirt tails of the leaders, he was asked for further effort with two furlongs to run and he responded, drawing away from his rivals to score by one and three-quarter lengths. As a result of that effort he stepped up to Group 1 level in the Prix Morny at Deauville. This time he sat at the rear of the field for most of the six furlongs contest, but having shown signs of greenness under pressure, finished fifth despite being beaten only 2½ lengths.
Following a break of 34 days, Moohaajim returned to action in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury. Having been well supported he was sent off the 5/2F for the contest and did not disappoint, showing a sharp turn of foot inside the final furlong to rout his rivals by 1¾ lengths. This set up another clash with Prix Morny winner Reckless Abandon in the Middle Park Stakes, where they were sent off as joint-favourites. Having travelled in the middle of the pack he made headway before laying down the challenge to his market rival inside the final furlong. He ran on well, heading Reckless Abandon before being run out of it in the dying strides by a neck.
The fact that he was beaten only a neck in Group 1 company outlines the quality the colt possesses. Some might say that the fact that the fact he didn’t appear to last home over six furlongs would suggest he would have some difficulty getting a mile in the 2000 Guineas. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to jump to that conclusion and only through careful consideration of the horse’s pedigree will we have a better idea of his potential to stay.
His sire Cape Cross was a Group 1 winning miler courtesy of his triumph in the 1998 Lockinge at Newbury before subsequently adding two Group 2 successes to his resume as a five-year-old. As a stallion, he is perhaps best known for siring two of the best 12f horses in recent years. Ouija Board managed to win seven Group 1s during her career including victories in the Oaks at Epsom, the Hong Kong Vase and two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Fillies’ and Mares’ Turf. Having watched Ouija Board’s victories, it was the wish of Ling Tsui, owner of the mare Urban Sea that her mare be covered by Cape Cross as well.
The resulting progeny was a horse named Sea The Stars who was unbeaten as a three-year-old, winning six consecutive Group 1 races including the 2000 Guineas, Derby, Juddmonte International and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and in turn cementing his place as one of the best racehorses of all time. It is also worth noting that the progeny of Cape Cross do tend to improve as time goes on much like their sire did; therefore it is not unreasonable to think that Moohaajim could develop into a very good three-year-old.
Whilst the two horses just mentioned were best between 10f and 12f that is not to say that Cape Cross is solely an influence for stamina. His dam Park Appeal was a dual Group 1 winner as a two-year-old in the Cheveley Park Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes and his sire Green Desert won the July Cup during his own racing career and is renowned as a strong speed influence.
Moohaajim’s dam is a mare called Thiella, who was a winner of a seven furlong maiden when trained by Dermot Weld. She is a half-sister to Niagara Causeway who was a Group 3 winner over 12f and Moohaajim is the first produce of the nine-year-old. Thiella is by top miler Kingmambo who has sired many milers including 2000 Guineas winners King’s Best and Henrythenavigator as well as Russian Rhythm who won the 1000 Guineas. Camelot boosted Kingmambo’s reputation as a sire of broodmares with victories in the 2000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby last season, joining the likes of Duke Of Marmalade and Midday as those who have found success with Kingmambo as their damsire.
Interestingly, the Cape Cross-Kingmambo nick has produced three winners from five runners to date. Moohaajim’s Mill Reef success meant he became the second Group 2 winner in the nick following Cape Dollar’s success in the 2010 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket. Master Rooney is the other winner as a result of two triumphs at five and six furlongs.
To try and come to some sort of conclusion, it would certainly be easier to make a judgement had Moohaajim tried at least 7f during his juvenile campaign. In terms of the Middle Park Stakes, I feel that Reckless Abandon was assisted by running against the rail at Newmarket and there is ultimately very little between the pair. I understand that connections believe that he will get a mile in time and as long as he develops in the way that many of Cape Cross’ produce do over the winter, I see no reason to doubt this. His pedigree looks well-balanced with plenty of speed but with enough stamina to suggest that he would be able to get a mile eventually. His trainer used the Greenham over seven furlongs with Excelebration a couple of seasons ago, he also only ran over six furlongs as a two-year-old and he is now renowned as a top miler. It will be interesting to see whether he uses the same race for Moohaajim before plotting an assault on the 2000 Guineas. It is fair to say that he was towards the top end of his generation as a two-year-old given that he was rated only 5lb behind Dawn Approach on 116 and though he needs to prove he can stay a mile, his turn of foot makes him an interesting candidate for the first Classic of the season.
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1 – Moohaajim winning the Mill Reef
2 – Sea The Stars also by Cape Cross
This article sees the conclusion of my series looking at the 2000 Guineas from a pedigree angle, writes Andrew Fletcher. The final instalment sees me consider another Coolmore horse that may have been overlooked by many people, Daddy Long Legs.
His racing career began in a 7f maiden at GowranParkback in August, when he sat in the middle of the field during the early part of the race under Joseph O’Brien. He was encouraged to move forward with 3½ furlongs still to go, once into the straight he was switched to the wide outside and found much improvement to win by 1½ lengths in a fairly comfortable fashion. In behind him on the day were only two future winners, Leatherwood (3rd) who broke his maiden at Listowel over 7f in September and Foot Soldier (4th), a winner at Roscommon over 7f at the end of September.
Following this success, the colt was stepped up into Group company for the first time in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes over 7f at Doncaster. During the race he sat second behind the leader Entifaadha in the early stages before being shaken up with 2f to go. He was possibly caught for a turn of foot as there were four in a line inside the final furlong and he finished 4th but was only beaten 2¾ lengths. The winner of the race was Trumpet Major, who beforehand had won a Goodwood maiden, before taking a Conditions race at Newmarket over 7f and following his success in the Champagne finished 5th in the Dewhurst behind Parish Hall. Red Duke (2nd) was a Group 2 winner going into the Champagne courtesy of the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and also ran in the Dewhurst finishing 8th of 9 runners. Entifaadha (3rd) had won aNewmarket maiden and the Acomb Stakes (7f) atYork. His last run as a juvenile came in a sales race atNewmarket where he finished fifth and he was second in Listed company (8f) yesterday at Meydan in his first start as a 3 year old.
Daddy Long Legs was sent back to the racecourse just a fortnight after his Doncaster defeat when running in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarketover a mile. This time, he was asked to make the running by his jockey Colm O’Donoghue. Giving the rest a lead, he tried to quicken the pace with 4f to go and with 2.5f left he was really asked to extend, the colt was very game in front and went clear winning the contest by 3¼ lengths. His two nearest rivals were Tenth Star (2nd) who had won a Listed event back in June and Wrote (3rd) who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Gr1 8f). Also behind was Rockinante trained by Richard Hannon who was a Listed winner over 7f atDeauville in August and won a Group 3 atNewmarket in October taking the Autumn Stakes (8f).
His final start as a two year old saw him sent to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over 9f on the dirt. He was drawn wide in stall 11 of 13 and after a slow start was trapped wide towards the rear of the field going into the first turn. After the turn he didn’t appear to enjoy his race and beat only one horse home finishing tailed off. After the race his jockey Ryan Moore reported that he ran very green, like a horse having his first run again. He has since been entered into the American Triple Crown due to the dirt influence he has in his pedigree which I will examine shortly.
Daddy Long Legs’ sire is one of Coolmore’s American stallions, Scat Daddy. During his racing career he was twice a Group winner as a 2 year old including the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes over 8f on dirt at Belmont. As a 3 year old he won two more Group contests including the Florida Derby over 9f on dirt. In terms of his stud career, Daddy Long Legs was from the first crop of two year olds by the stallion. Other progeny include Finale, a three time winner at 2 from 6-8f in the US which included a Grade 3 event on turf over a mile at Woodbine. Another product Daddy Nose Best was a winner over 9f as a juvenile and won on his first start as a 3 year old in a Group 3 event over 9f on Tapeta. Due to this crop being Scat Daddy’s first group of three year-olds I will look at his sire in order to look for clues as to their prospects.
Scat Daddy’s sire Johannesburg was a four time Group 1 winner as a 2 year old at distances from 6-9f, his most high profile success being the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His produce as a stallion have included Sagebury a Listed winner over 10f at Deauville and a Group 1 winner in the Prix D’Ispahan over 9f. Turffontein won three Group races inAustralia, two of which were Group 1s, the Sir Robert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield over 7f and the William Reid Stakes over 6f at MooneeValley.
The dam of Daddy Long Legs is Dreamy Maiden, a Listed winner over 7f on dirt at Keeneland and winner over a mile in the Likely Exchange Stakes. She has produced a dual winner in the US, Tres Dream who won the Esplanade Stakes over 5½ f and the Ponca City Stakes over 6f. She has also had a three-parts brother to Daddy Long Legs in Lake Ontario, who was a winner of a 7f maiden at Naas as well as a contest over 10f atCork. It is also worth mentioning that he was beaten favourite in the Acomb Stakes atYork as a two year old.
The damsire is Meadowlake, a Grade 1 winner in the Arlington-Washington Futurity by 8¾ lengths over a mile. His quality offspring have included Meadow Star, a winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies over 9f in 1990. Greenwood Lake, who was placed in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes over 8f before winning the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes on dirt over 9f. Wildcat Bettie B was a three time Group winner in the US over 6f including a Grade 1 success in the Prioress Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Belmont Park.
The inclusion of Daddy Long Legs in the entries for the American Triple Crown races is not surprising given the dirt influence that he has on both sides of his pedigree. However he never appeared to be comfortable on dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but perhaps on that occasion the wide draw may have hindered his chances significantly. The O’Brien operation also have Crusade who finished 6th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Wrote who won the Juvenile Turf for potential campaigns in the US and due to his apparent distain for the dirt Daddy Long Legs may stay in Europe.
Whilst his form as a two year-old was not spectacular, his victory in the Royal Lodge looks to be a significant piece of form due to the ability of the field he had behind him. It is also worth considering that it was the first time the race had been run on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket and therefore it provides course and distance form ahead of the 2000 Guineas. This combined with a pedigree that suggests a mile would be fine and that he could probably get up to 10f means he could be a surprise contender in the first classic of the season, especially if he gets the run of the race as he did in the Royal Lodge.
Fancy a bet on Daddy Long Legs? Back him at 33/1 with Ladbrokes!
As this is the last instalment of the series, I thought I would update you on a few runners and put forward some other thoughts. As expected, Dabirsim’s connections have chosen to stay in France for the 2000 Guineas and so we will not be seeing him at Newmarket, however there is still the possibility we will see the colt at Royal Ascot. Harbour Watch now appears to be in a race against time to make theGuineas after his trainer Richard Hannon said the Greenham would come too soon and he therefore may go straight toNewmarket. However he also pointed out that the Irish 2000Guineas and Royal Ascot were also targets and that they would not risk Harbour Watch in the Newmarket Guineas if he was not ready.
There are also some horses that I have not looked at in this series as I looked at them in my Derbyseries. The most obvious of these being the market leader for both races Camelot, who appeared to show enough speed in the Racing Post Trophy to suggest the Guineas would be a realistic target. However, I would point to another son of Montjeu, St Nicholas Abbey who won the Racing Post Trophy but after disappointing in the 2000 Guineas was not seen again as a three year old. With this in mind, I think that the main target for Camelot is the Derby and given the plethora of talent Ballydoyle possess with the likes of Power and Nephrite, I would not be surprised if Camelot missed the Guineas in order to prepare solely for the Epsom classic.
Parish Hall, the winner of the Dewhurst also looks set for a tilt at the Derby but would not be without a chance in the 2000 Guineas given that his trainer Jim Bolger sent 2008 Derby winner New Approach to the Guineas where he finished second before going to Epsom. John Oxx’s Born to Sea is a three-parts brother to Sea the Stars and a mile looks to be the limit of his stamina based on his pedigree. He has not been seen since finishing second to Aidan O’Brien’s Nephrite in the Killavullan Stakes; where there looked to be little between the two of them given that Born to Sea was reported to be lame afterwards. Interestingly the last horse to do the Killavullan and 2000Guineas double was Footstepsinthesand who was also trained by Aidan O’Brien. So given that O’Brien has used this race as a trial before means Nephrite would have to be considered part of the increasingly large group of horses that could run in the 2000Guineas for Ballydoyle.
To conclude, I hope that this series and the one before it has provided a useful insight into the colt’s classics this year from a pedigree perspective. I also hope that I have pointed out some names which may have come as something of a surprise and have perhaps altered your judgement of the race. Given that Dabirsim will not be attending and Camelot’s participation is still in doubt it leaves a number of quality horses with an opportunity to enhance their reputation atNewmarket. It is also worth pointing out that once the usual prep races such as the Craven and Greenham have been run it will be easier to make an informed view of the prospects of the runners and until then there remain plenty of questions which require answers.
Make sure you check back next week when I begin my look at the potential contenders in the first fillies’ classic of the season, the 1000 Guineas.
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My 2000 Guineas series continues this week with a look at a horse that may have slipped under the radar, Roger Charlton’s Top Offer.
His race record at two consisted of just one start in a 7f maiden at Newbury in August. He was restrained towards the rear of the field early on and with just over 2f to go was shaken up by his pilot Steve Drowne. He was shoved out and drew away under hands and heels to dispatch his nearest rival by 3½ lengths. Despite being impressive, it is worth noting that this was a fairly ordinary maiden given the fact that only three of the other 14 runners managed to win before the end of the season.
Despite this his trainer Roger Charlton was very impressed with the colt and suggested a step into Group company would not be far away, with the Dewhurst or the Racing Post Trophy as the long term aim. Unfortunately, he got loose one morning coming back from his work and whilst he didn’t suffer a serious injury it was enough to rule him out for the season. Obviously, he is very unexposed having only had one run and therefore it is difficult to gauge what will be his most effective trip, perhaps his pedigree can provide us with some clues.
His sire is Dansili, the three time Group winner over a mile who was also second to Giant’s Causewayin the Group 1 Sussex Stakes in 2000. As a sire, his progeny have been successful over a variety of distances and probably the best of them is Harbinger. He is the highest rated of Dansili’s produce with a Timeform rating of 140 as a result of winning five times at Group level including an 11 length victory in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (12f). Rail Link is another of Dansili’s most successful progeny having won four times at Group level including two Group 1s in the Grand Prix de Paris and the Arc in 2006. Other offspring include Delegator, the Craven Stakes winner and second to Sea the Stars in the 2000 Guineas of 2009 and Famous Name, an eight-time Group winner from 8-10f.
Top Offer’s dam, Zante was a winner of a Kempton maiden over a mile and had Listed success over 10f at Salisbury. As a broodmare, other than Top Offer she has produced one more winner from four foals, Kefalonia, a filly by three-time Group winner between 7 and 9f Mizzen Mast, she won a 10f maiden at Lingfield. Zante shares her granddam Monroe with Didina, who produced the dam of two of Roger Charlton’s current stable stars Bated Breath and Cityscape, Tantina.
The damsire is Zafonic, a winner of four Group 1s including the Prix Morny (6f), Dewhurst (7f) and the 2000 Guineas (8f). During his stud career Zafonic produced several good horses including Xaar, who is a close relative of Top Offer’s dam Zante. Xaar was a dual Group 1 winner at two over 7f in the Prix de la Salamandre and the Dewhurst. He also won the Craven (8f Gr3) as a 3 year old and was second in the Eclipse (Gr1) over 10f as a four year old. Iffraaj was a three time winner at Group 2 level over 7f, twice winning the GNER Park Stakes and the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood. The final product of Zafonic to mention is Trade Fair, who has four wins at Listed and Group 3 level over 7f. He is also interesting because he comes from a similar Zafonic-Danehill cross that produced Top Offer.
Roger Charlton holds this colt in high regard and was disappointed that he was not given the chance to run him again during his juvenile campaign. He did however feel that the colt would make a better three year old and perhaps significant improvement has been seen over the winter. Although his sire Dansili has produced winners over 12f such as Harbinger and Rail Link, there was stamina on the dam’s side in both cases. Harbinger’s damsire was Bering, winner of the French Derby (12f) in 1986 who was also second to Dancing Brave in that year’s Arc and Rail Link’s damsire is winner of the Man o’War Stakes (11f) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Theatrical. This suggests that with Zafonic on the dam’s side that a mile would more likely be his preference.
With that in mind, he could appear early in the season with a run in the Greenham or the Craven before a tilt at the 2000Guineas. Whilst this is less than ideal, these three year olds only get one chance at theNewmarketshowpiece and the temptation to run would have to be there. In time, it would appear that a mile will be his trip and with his trainer suggesting he is better than three-time Group winner Cityscape there would be plenty to look forward to in the future. If Top Offer does turn up for the Guineas he would not be an obvious selection due to the poor quality of the field he beat on debut but may be worth keeping an eye on in the future.
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Photo Credit: Top Offer on his sole start www.attheraces.com
Photo Credit: Harbinger rossdales.com
Andrew Fletcher continues to looks at likely contenders for the first classic of the flat season, the 2000 Guineas. Andrew has already looked at Harbour Watch and Dabirism in Part 1&2 of the series, but in the third installment Andrew analyses the chances of the Coolmore contender Power.
For the third part of my series looking at the 2000 Guineas I am analysing the chances of Aidan O’Brien’s colt, Power. His juvenile campaign led to him being placed joint-second in the rankings for European two year-olds alongside Parish Hall with a rating of 117.
His race career began in a six furlong maiden at the Curragh back in May. He led the field early on before being shaken up with 2f to go, he won by two lengths pushed out under hands and heels. In breaking his duck at the first time of asking he beat Remember Alexander who later won a Group 3 over 7f. He was dropped back to 5f when stepping into Listed company later in May, once again he led and was asked to quicken with 2f to go. He was headed but stuck on and got up on the line to win by a short-head, the second placed horse Tough as Nails was later 2nd in the Group 2 Railway Stakes and 3rd in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. Others who finished behind Power that day included Fire Lily a Group 3 winner and dual second in Group 1s, and Listed winner An Ghalanta.
Power’s step into Group company came at Royal Ascot in June when moving back to 6f in the Coventry Stakes (Gr2). He was settled in rear travelling in the standside group before moving through the field under pressure and kept finding to win by a neck. The second, Roman Soldier later finished second to Windsor Castle winner Frederick Engels in the Group 2 July Stakes before being sold to race in Hong Kong as a 3 year-old.
His first defeat on the racecourse came in August in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes over 6f at the Curragh. He was ridden prominently and quickened to beat the rest of the field two lengths but was nailed close home and was beaten ¼ length. The filly that beat him, La Collina was 3rd in the Moyglare later in the season to Power’s stablemate Maybe. Amongst the rest of the field were Lilbourne Lad who was second to Crusade in the Middle Park Stakes and the Dewhurst winner, Parish Hall.
Power was back to winning ways in September when stepped up to 7f for the first time in the Group 1 National Stakes. He tracked the leaders under Seamie Heffernan before being ridden along with 2f to go; he stayed on well in the closing stages to win by ½ length. Dragon Pulse finished second that day having won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes the month before. Power’s stablemate David Livingston was 3rd in the National Stakes and went on to win the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over a mile a fortnight later.
His final outing as a juvenile saw him sent to Newmarket for the Dewhurst over 7f. As expected he tracked the leaders before being asked to quicken with 2f to go but hit a flat spot and needed switching before he began to pick up and stay on. He was closing at the end but finished second by half a length from Jim Bolger’s Parish Hall. After the race his trainer Aidan O’Brien said he was delighted with the colt’s run and that they were looking forward to 2012 with him. The Guineas would seem to be the first of his targets for this year but he has yet to go a mile and so there must be questions about him staying.
His sire Oasis Dream was a winner of the Middle Park (6f Gr1) at two and was a dual Group 1 winner at three winning the July Cup (6f) and the Nunthorpe (5f) at York. As a sire he has produced anything from sprinters to middle distance horses and perhaps the best of his progeny is Midday.
She was a six-time Group 1 winner, including three victories in the Nassau Stakes over 10f at Goodwood. Tuscan Evening is a son of Oasis Dream who has eight Graded wins to his name in the US at distances from 7-10f, his sole Grade 1 victory came over 9f. Aqlaam was a Group 3 winner in the Jersey Stakes over 7f as a three year-old and won the Group 2 Summer Mile as well as the Group 1 Prix du Moulin (8f) as a four year-old.
Power’s dam is Frappe who was the winner of a 6f maiden at Kempton as a 2 year-old. She raced over distances up to 10f and is a half-sister to the 2000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand. One of her progeny and a half-sister to Power is Thakafaat who won a maiden over 7f at 2. She was a winner over 10f as a three year-old and won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes over 12f at York.
His damsire is Inchinor, who was second in the Dewhurst in his own juvenile campaign. As a 3 year-old he notched three Group 3 successes in the Jersey Stakes (7f), Criterion Stakes (7f) and the Hungerford Stakes (7f) in 1993. As a sire, his offspring have included Summoner, the winner of the QEII stakes over a mile in 2001 and triple Group winner over 6-8f in Golden Silca. Perhaps the best of his offspring is Notnowcato, a dual winner over a mile in handicap company. He was also a five time Group winner including successes in the Group 1 Juddmonte International in 2006 and the Group 1 Coral Eclipse in 2007 both over 10f.
To date in his racing career, Power has yet to finish outside of the top two places in six starts. He showed with his victories and the number of quality animals he beat during the campaign that he is a high-class individual. It can also be said that he is very genuine given the ability he has shown off the bridle in his races so far. His pedigree has plenty of speed given that he is a son of Oasis Dream but there is enough stamina with the likes of Notnowcato and Midday to be confident he would get a mile. It must be said that he may stay a mile but like his damsire could be best at seven furlongs and in the Guineas he may face colts capable of staying further which could leave him vulnerable to a late challenge.
The 2000 Guineas would provide his toughest task to date and he would probably have to improve to be competitive. But the fact he was given a run in the Dewhurst at Newmarket suggests connections think he will get a mile and that the Guineas is the target. The apparent flat spot he hit in the Dewhurst may have been a result of the dip on the Rowley Mile and he may handle it better next time, that aligned with the way he was staying on in the Dewhurst suggests to me the mile should not be an issue. His stablemate Camelot is the current market leader for the Guineas but should Power turn up at Newmarket you would have to put him right up there on juvenile form and any improvement would see him go very close.
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Photo Credit: – Power winning the National Stakes www.tattersalls-millions.com
Photo Credit: – Midday – daughter of Oasis Dream www.skysports.com
Andrew Fletcher is back with his second installment of a brand new five part series – he is studying five of the main protagonists for the 2000 Guineas! Last week Andrew looked at Harbour Watch, this week he crosses the English Channel to study the impressive Dabirism.
For the second part of my 2000 Guineas series, I have chosen to take a look at the Christophe Ferland-trained Dabirsim. He had an impressive juvenile campaign and looks set to have some influence on big prizes as a 3 year-old.
His race record was flawless last year and began with the dispatching of two 3 runner fields over 6f at La Teste de Buch, the racecourse at which his trainer is based. Both of these displays were comfortable victories and allowed a careful introduction into racing for the colt. Late July saw him stepped into Group company for the first time in the Prix de Cabourg over 6f at Deauville (Gr 3). He was dropped towards the rear of the field and asked to quicken with 2.5f to go, he found plenty off the bridle and won by a length in comfortable fashion. He beat B Fifty Two of John Hills who had beaten Lilbourne Lad before going to Deauville and winner of a future German Listed event, Chica Loca.
Dabirsim’s step up to Group 1 company came in the Prix Morny again at Deauville over 6f. The colt took a strong hold in mid-division before being switched to the inside by Frankie Dettori, once switched he was pushed into contention before skipping clear to win 3 lengths. The field he beat consisted of Frederick Engels who had recorded wins at Listed and Group 3 level prior to the Morny as well as Sofast who took a Group 3 event later in the season.
The final test as a two year-old came on Arc day in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere over 7f at Longchamp. He was ridden very patiently by Dettori despite the front runner in the race developing a sizeable lead, when asked to quicken up the inside he showed a great turn of foot and got up to win in the last 50 yards. Sofast was beaten by Dabirsim for the second time and the losers also included Listed winner American Devil and Fort Bastion, who was placed in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes.
Dabirsim’s juvenile campaign attracted a great deal of attention towards himself and his trainer. There were very large offers rejected for the horse by his owner Simon Springer who said it would be ‘like losing one of the family’. This is probably because the horse’s unusual name comes from the names of members of his family, son David (Da), wife Birgitte (Bir) and himself (Sim). The colt’s unbeaten campaign also saw him recognised as the joint top rated 2 year-old in Europe alongside Aidan O’Brien’s Camelot and led to speculation about potential targets as a 3 year old. He will most likely be aimed at the top mile races but what does his pedigree suggest his capabilities are?
His sire Hat Trick was a first season sire last year and Dabirsim was the best of his first crop. Hat Trick himself was a dual Group 1 winner over a mile in Japan and was recognised as Japan’s Champion Miler as a four year-old in 2005. His first crop also produced a Listed winner over 9f in the US in Howe Great. There is obviously not much to go on within Hat Trick’s progeny but we can look at his sire Sunday Silence for some clues. Sunday Silence completed two legs of the American Triple Crown winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before being well beaten in the final leg, the Belmont Stakes. He furthered his reputation by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic as a 3 year-old in 1989 and was accordingly named American Horse of the Year. At stud he produced many top class progeny before his death in 2002, perhaps the best of these was Deep Impact, a 7 time Group 1 winner from 10-16f in Japan. He also finished third in the Arc behind Rail Link before being disqualified for failing a dope test. Other offspring of Sunday Silence include Durandal, twice winner of the Grade 1 Mile Championship at Kyoto in 2003 and 2004, who was also a Group 1 winner over 6f. Daiwa Major was a five time Group 1 winner over distances between eight and ten furlongs and also completed the Mile Championship double in 2006 and 2007.
Dabirsim’s dam is Rumored who during her racing career was placed in two contests in the US. She has also produced a half-brother to Dabirsim, Preferred Yield who was second in two Listed events over a mile in the US. She also had a colt Majuba, who was trained by Kevin Ryan and failed to break its maiden in eight starts. The dam’s side of the family also has speed in it thanks to the damsire Royal Academy, the winner of the July Cup (6f) and Breeders’ Cup Mile Turf in 1990. His progeny have possessed stamina including Oscar Schindler, the dual Irish St Leger winner in 1996-97 as well as speed. Val Royal was a five time Group winner including the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Mile and was originally trained by Andre Fabre before moving to the US. Bullish Luck was a five time Group 1 winner and four of these victories came over a mile in Japan.
Dabirsim’s excellent two year-old record suggest that he could be a top miler as a three year-old. However the handicappers for the World Thoroughbred Rankings only gave him a rating of 119; the lowest mark for a top horse since 1993 suggesting that last year’s crop was below par. His pedigree is filled with top class milers such as Daiwa Major and Bullish Luck on both sides of the family as well as enough stamina to suggest he is not a sprinter with Deep Impact.
He is reported to have filled out over the winter but there is still a doubt as to what his target will be. His trainer suggested a decision had yet to be made but that he would have a trial before either race with the Djebel before the 2000 Guineas or the Fontainebleau before the French equivalent. It must be said that the French Guineas would probably provide an easier task for the colt, and as we know his excellent turn of foot is suited to the French style of racing where they go slow at the start and fast at the finish. That said I would imagine we are more likely to see him in the French Guineas before a trip over for Royal Ascot later in the season. This is just speculation on my part however as a decision has yet to be made but what is certain is that whichever Guineas he takes in he would be well worth a look.
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Photo Top: Dabirsim www.sportinglife.com
Photo: Val Royal http://www.sporthorse-data.com/
After a successful first Epsom Derby series, Andrew Fletcher is back with a new five part series – this time he is looking at five of the main protagonists for the 2000 Guineas, the first classic of the UK flat season!
During the next few weeks I will be analysing the chances of some of the contenders for this year’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket through a study of their pedigrees and race records. The first colt to be discussed is the one-time ante post favourite for the race, Harbour Watch.
Harbour Watch began his racing career in June last year in a fairly ordinary Salisbury maiden over 6f. Having been settled in mid-division by Richard Hughes, he was gently encouraged to take the lead with a furlong to go and began to draw away to win by 3¾ lengths. His next mission was a Conditions race at Newmarket in July again over 6f, on this occasion he was a little keen early on but settled before being asked to quicken by Ryan Moore. The last ½f saw him draw away from Burwaaz to win by an impressive 4½ lengths. This form was given a boost when Burwaaz was second in two Group 2’s over 5f as well as finishing 3rd to Caspar Netscher in the Gimcrack atYork over 6f.
What turned out to be his final appearance of the season was the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood over 6f. As in his previous two starts he settled in behind the leaders, before being moved out to begin his challenge with two furlongs left to run. He was carried into the middle of the course however costing him valuable ground, nevertheless drew away at the end under hands and heels from Richard Hughes to win by 2¼ lengths. The field that Harbour Watch dispatched with some ease at Goodwood was a good one considering the likes of dual Group 2 winner Caspar Netscher and Listed winners Bogart and Bannock were defeated.
It was his victory in the Richmond Stakes that propelled him to the top of the market for the 2000 Guineas, earning quotes of around 10-1. However, as I have already alluded to he was not to see a racecourse again as a juvenile. It was reported by his connections in September that he had suffered a setback and that he would miss his preferred target the Dewhurst Stakes atNewmarket. In the last fortnight, his trainer reported that the colt was almost back to full health and that the Greenham at Newbury in April will be his first target for the year before a possible run in the Guineas. This would represent his first attempt at 7f and will give us chance to see what if any impact his setback has had on his ability. There are also questions about his ability to stay a mile and complete the Greenham and 2000Guineasdouble that was achieved by the brilliant Frankel last year.
In terms of his pedigree, Harbour Watch is by Acclamation, who was regarded as a sprinter in his racing career. He was a winner at Group 2 level in the Diadem Stakes at Ascot, but was placed notably when second to Choisir in the King’s Stand and third to Oasis Dream in the Nunthorpe. His progeny have mostly been early two year-olds and sprinters like himself and most of his offspring’s earnings have come at distances between 5 and 6f. His produce include Equiano, twice winner of the King’s Stand Stakes in 2008 and 2010, who was also second to Starspangledbanner in the July Cup in 2010. Sparkling Power was the winner of the Group 3 Macau Trophy at Sha Tin in March 2011 over 7f; it is worth noting here that there was lots of stamina on the dam’s side in this case. Another of Acclamation’s offspring was Dark Angel; he was a dual Group winner as a 2 year-old winning the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury and the Middle Park Stakes atNewmarket.
The dam of Harbour Watch is Gorband, who is a half sister to a Group 2 winner Kabool. Kabool was a three time Group winner and one of these victories came in the Prix Guillaume D’Ornano over 10f. Gorband’s granddam was Fall Aspen who was the grand dam of Dubai Millennium, who of course was a four-time Group 1 winner at up to 10f. Harbour Watch’s damsire is Woodman, the champion two year-old of Ireland in 1985 and a winner at 6-8f. His progeny have had success at a mile and further, Hawk Wing was the winner of the Futurity Stakes and National Stakes at 2 and was second in the Guineas and the Derby as a 3 year-old. His two further Group 1 victories came in the Eclipse over 10f and the Lockinge over a mile. Bosra Sham is also by Woodman; she won the 1000 Guineas and went onto win the Champion Stakes and Brigadier Stakes over 10f. Hector Protector won three Group 1’s as 2 year old including the Prix Morny over 6f and the Grand Criterium over a mile. As a 3 year-old, he went on to win the French 2000Guineas and the Prix Jacques le Marois.
To conclude, what we saw of Harbour Watch as a juvenile was very impressive and this is supported by the quality of the fields that he dispatched. Whilst there are no doubts about his quality there must be some surrounding his ability to stay a mile. Whilst he has evidence of stamina on the dam’s side there is little evidence as yet to be found amongst the produce of his sire Acclamation. He could go the way of another Richard Hannon trained colt Canford Cliffs, who although turned out to be an outstanding miler was too keen in the Guineas at Newmarket and it cost him the race. He could equally go the way of Strong Suit, whose best trip looks to be at 7f and not a mile. Should Harbour Watch retain his turn of foot and be able to settle and stay a mile in the Guineas he would be well worth considering. But ultimately, the racecourse will inform us of Harbour Watch’s stamina and so it is with eager anticipation that we await his return at Newbury in April but more importantly in May at Newmarket.
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Photo: Harbour Watch winning the Richmond Credit: www.skysports.com