Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Doings at York

Thursday’s Group One Yorkshire Oaks, figures to be a sensational affair with three of the very best fillies in the world, Snow Fairy, Sariska, and Midday, ready to rumble. Competing at 12 furlongs over the York course, each look to prove who is the top distance running filly in Europe by winning the historical race which dates back to 1849. The three fabulous fillies have combined to account for the last two runnings of the Epsom and Irish Oaks, as well as, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Fillies & Mare Turf.

The slight betting favorite may be Sariska, a four-year-old daughter of Pivotal. Trained by Michael Bell, Sariska has won 5 of 9 lifetime starts and pulled of the prestigious double of Oaks victories in 2009. She has only run twice so far this year, but has a sharp win over Midday at York, and finished second to current Arc de Triomphe favorite, Fame And Glory in the Group One, Coronation Stakes last time out.

Midday, also a four-year-old, is well known to American race fans thanks to her front running victory in last Fall’s Breeders’ Cup, but she has yet to get the better of Sariska in each of their three meetings to date. She finished 2nd in the Epsom Oaks and 3rd in the Irish Oaks to Sariska last year, and finished 2nd again to her in this May‘s Middleton Stakes, in what was both fillies opening race of the season. Midday followed that solid effort up with a sharp score in the Group One, Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on July 31, highlighting both her class and current form.

If youth is to be served tomorrow, it will be Snow Fairy who is the beneficiary. After winning only 1 of 6 races while sprinting as a juvenile, the Ed Dunlop trained sophomore is undefeated in three starts and has been more impressive each time. In emulating the dual Oaks feat of Sariska, Snow Fairy absolutely crushed her foes when winning the Irish Oaks by 8 lengths in her latest start.

A meeting of three standouts like this does not happen everyday, so the Yorkshire Oaks will be a must see, much the way yesterday’s Juddmonte International proved to be.

Rip Van Winkle awakened his massive talents yesterday to run his best race in at least a year, if not ever. Displaying an irresistible closing run, the four-year-old Aiden O’Brien trained colt swooped by in the closing strides to get up over the Prince Khalid Abdullah duo of Twice Over and Byword in a rousing stretch run. The victory at York once more elevated the reputation of Rip Van Winkle as one of the world’s best horses. The International was his first in three starts this year, and his connections said he could be headed to America once again for a Breeders’ Cup attempt.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Videos of an Overdose Romp and Makfi Defeating Goldikova

The Budapest Bullet …

Makfi surprises Goldikova …

Monday, August 9, 2010

Harbinger Will Be Missed

It was announced today that Harbinger, the world's top-rated horse by both Racing Post and Timeform, has been retired. Despite successful surgery to his fractured cannon bone, it was decided that calling it a career would be the best course of action for the son of Dansili. Thankfully, news from his ownership has been good since the injury. Harbinger is recovering well, and should begin a happy second career as a stallion next year.

Owned by the partnership of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, Harbinger certainly goes out a winner. His 11 length tour-de-force victory in the historic King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes was one of the most spectacular performances of the 21st century.

A group 3 winner as a three-year-old, Harbinger was far from the star he became this year. Beginning with the Finest Surprise Stakes in April, Harbinger became first a consistent winner, and then race by race progressed into the monster we saw last month. A promising win in another group 3 stakes followed his four-year-old debut, and it would be on to Ascot for the Sir Michael Stoute trainee. And it would be at Ascot that Harbinger would be first considered a potential superstar. A smashing victory against a solid field in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June opened the world’s eyes, and then the absolute dismantling of a stellar bunch in the Group 1 King George left mouths agape.

Overall, Harbinger won six of his nine starts and earned nearly $1.2 million.  The bay colt was injured in a workout preparing for York’s Juddmonte International on August 17. A win there would have sent the four-year-old colt to huge races such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and possibly the Breeders’ Cup Turf as a strong favorite. After such a marvelous performance like his last, you always want to see the horse come back and repeat that form. It is a shame that Harbinger will never get that chance.

Photo by Alan Crowhurst of Getty Images

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Harbinger of the Breeders’ Cup Turf

Did you see that??? This has been the repeated response after viewing yesterday’s turf shattering performance. Anyone who wants to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf come this November, may want to seriously root against a certain 4-year-old son of Dansili from making the trip across the pond. Yesterday’s result in the $1.5 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot should be proof of that. Facing a compact, but class filled field of six, Harbinger crushed his foes into submission with a stretch run that harkens back to the best performances ever witnessed at the tradition rich racecourse. The result was impressive on every front as he cantered home to a stunning 11 length victory.

Underlining the quality of the performance was the final time of 2:26.78 on the good turf, bettering the former track record by nearly half a second.  Harbinger’s victory margin was the greatest in the history of the King George, England’s most important race for older horses at the classic 12 furlong distance. The eye-catching margin came at the hands of Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco, English Derby winner Workforce, Hong Kong Vase winner Daryakana, and three-time Arc runner-up Youmzain. So impressive was Harbinger yesterday, that some betting houses in England have knocked down his future odds to win the Arc to an astounding even money.

The win raised the Michael Stoute trained runner’s record to six wins in nine starts, with a perfect record in four increasingly impressive starts this year. The second choice at 4-1, the bay colt gave trainer Michael Stoute back-to-back King George victories. Last year he trained Conduit to victory, before successfully defending his crown in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Stoute trains him for Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, a partnership that includes American interests. After the race the connections praised their colt, and looked to the future, mentioning the Arc and the BC Turf as possible targets.

I like several of the American turf horses this year, such as Paddy O’Prado, Gio Ponti, and The Usual Q.T., but honestly, I do not think they want any part of this...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

English Nonsense, or. . .Do You Believe in the Snow Fairy?

Trainer Ed Dunlop is so impressed with Snow Fairy’s recent improvement that she soon will be at the same level as Ouija Board, in his estimation. Say what? Is he really comparing the Irish bred, and English based three-year-old filly, who only won a single race in six tries as a juvenile, to the great, multiple champion, Ouija Board? Clearly this has to be an egregious case of horse racing blasphemy. Maybe.

Moments after Sunday’s Group 1 Irish Oaks there was good reason to let the hyperbole fly. With pacemaker, Ice Empress, setting a strong pace, rider Ryan Moore had Snow Fairy more than ten lengths off the lead for the first mile of the 12 furlong classic. As the real running began in the Curragh’s long stretch, Moore guided his mount off the rail for clear sailing. Snow Fairy quickly responded with an explosive turn of foot. The rally culminated with an eye-popping, eight-length demolition of a strong Oaks field. Snow Fairy left the field farther behind with each powerful stride. The romping win, in the historic race, spoke volumes of her ability and gives credibility to Dunlop‘s bold statement.

The victory came six weeks after Snow Fairy, owned by Anamoine Ltd, first announced herself as a high class individual with a victory in the Group 1 English Oaks. But make no mistake, Sunday’s race was another huge step up from the neck victory at Epsom. This is a filly that is improving leaps and bounds with every start. After moderate success running exclusively in sprints at two, she is now undefeated in three starts as a sophomore, with all three wins being run at a distance. He second consecutive classic victory placed her in an elite sorority by becoming only the 13th filly to complete the English and Irish Oaks double.

It was the third Irish Oaks victory for Dunlop, who called the victory “pretty spectacular,” and added that he would think of going down a similar path as the one he mapped out for Ouija Board. He also sees no reason why the daughter of Intikhab will not continue to run as an older horse. If Snow Fairy is to indeed follow in the huge hoof prints of Ouija Board, she will become an equine globetrotter. Dunlop’s former great, campaigned in seven countries over her four year career, with 10 wins in 22 starts against the best of competition. And the potential good news for U.S. fans is that Dunlop brought Ouija Board over for the Breeders’ Cup in three straight seasons.  Look out American turf mares ... here comes Snow Fairy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Planteur in the Grand Prix de Paris?

by Dan Munn

On Wednesday, Aidan O Brien unleashes Jan Vermeer on Longchamp in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris. Normally a classy individual is required to win this race and one who relishes the 1m 4f distance. With that in mind, and taking into account my large sway of Jan Vermeer in the Epsom Derby, I'm unsure if Jan Vermeer is really that kind of horse.

Ideally, Jan Vermeer would have won a slowly run Irish Derby last time out if he were the classy horse we all believed he was yet he was beaten by his stablemates Cape Blanco and Midas Touch on that day and, despite being bumped a bit in the final few furlongs, pretty much franked the form with Midas Touch on their Epsom run. The main questions for me in the lead up to this race are: Does Jan Vermeer stay 1m 4f well enough to win a Group 1 on foreign soil? and What has Jan Vermeer beaten? With too many questions surrounding Jan Vermeer, the 7/4 is hardly value to me and i'll be swerving him come Wednesday.

Instead three French colts really take my eye and none more so than Planteur. Planteur's form since the tail end of 2009 is a 6 length demolition of a highly Fabre colt Lumineux, a 2 length beating of Rewilding when he was also with Andre Fabre and a 3 length second to Lope De Vega in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. On Wednesday trainer Elie Lellouche runs his pacemaker Vivre Libre to yet again set the perfect pace for Planteur and the step up to 1m 4f.

My second choice in this race would be Goldwaki. Owned by Wertheimer & Frere (owners of Goldikova and US G2 winner Exhi) this colt is trained by Andre Fabre who won this race last year with Cavalryman. Ironically, Cavalryman was stepped up to Group 1 level in exactly the same way as this colt and it is eyecatching that Andre Fabre already sees Goldwaki as a Group 1 contender. Goldwaki, partnered by Olivier Peslier, has had one run in Group level prior to this race when winning the Prix du Lys over Manshoor and Prizefighting. However, he has been campaigned at this kind of trip in all of his starts this year and is arguably the more experienced of all the runners in terms of the distance. At 8/1, taking into account Fabre's record with similar style colts and the distance experience, it would be wise to keep this in your portfolio for the day.

Finally, Ice Blue ran no kind of race in the Prix du Jockey Club and it would take more than one bad run to put me off of him. Arguably, Ice Blue has run to form in the Prix du Jockey Club in keeping 2 lengths between him and Handsome Devil whom he has beaten by that distance on four occasions this year. However, the hype surrounding this Juddamonte inmate is hard to ignore and Pascal Bary really believes that this colt is something special. Will he benefit from a step up in trip to this distance? Possibly and with that he has to be the saver in the field.

A small note on Behkabad who was surging towards the finish in the Prix du Jockey Club. The extra distance will play in his favour and it may hurt to ignore this one. However, Ice Blue is one I'd much rather keep on my side for this weeks race.

The Suggestion (Using 10pts)
PLANTEUR 5pts @ 3/1
ICE BLUE 2.75pts @ 11/2
GOLDWAKI 2.25pts @ 8/1

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Emirates Singapore Derby

by Su-Ann Khaw

The sound of a race field galloping past the finishing post. Definitely a sound that I never grow tired of and always, without doubt brings a rush of excitement through my veins.

Singapore racing has truly upped the ante over the past few years. With horses such as Golden Shaheen runner up, Rocket Man and recently retired 2009 Singapore Derby winner Jolie Shinju making their mark Internationally, we can only expect more to come from Kranji racecourse.

As I arrived at Kranji ten minutes before the first race, I saw an array of beautiful hats and fascinators reminding me of a feature Autumn/Spring raceday in Australia. I walked by the mounting yard, situated at the back of the course (similar to Moonee Valley in Victoria), catching a glimpse of horses parading and a big smile broke on my face. It always does every time I see a thoroughbred.

The Corporate Boxes are situated on the 4th floor and is in perfect sight of the finishing post, most of the mounting yard action is watched on flat screen TVs as we eagerly wait for the runners to head out.

12 races (30-40 minutes between races) in a day seems a large number considering back over in Australia it’s around 7 to 9 races in a day. What I find great about the races at Kranji is how quickly the jockeys return to scale and payouts are cleared immediately.

I didn’t think I would be making any trips to the mounting yard but ended up heading down (in the scorching 35 degrees Celsius weather) for one of the earlier races before the Derby.

All I can say is, I cannot blame any of the horses for throwing a little buck here and there. It was very warm outside and as I watched the 2YOs parading and some playing up, I carried out conversations with my eyes darting around to make sure I wasn’t in the line of bucking fire!

By the 6th race I returned back to the Corporate Boxes where the AC is cranked up on full blast and the 2YOs heading out to the barriers. Four more races to go till the Derby!

Next to the SIA Cup and KrisFlyer Sprint, the G1 Singapore Derby is the feature race of the year with SG $1150000 prizemoney attached to the race for the top 4YO stayers in the country. Singapore Racing’s prizemoney has increased significantly over the years attracting owners from around the world, in particular Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s Derby field of 16 reflect pedigrees from both NH and SH. Escamonda (Alpha Plus ex Wise Girl) bred in Argentina, My Drumbeat (Montjeu ex Maskaya) and Tarankali (Selkirk ex Tarakala) both bred in Ireland flying the flag for NH bred Derby contenders. According to the local form guide, My Drumbeat (6th) was purchased for 650,000 Euros as an entire and has since been gelded as of Feb 2010.

On course favourite, New Zealand bred Race Ahead (Al Akbar ex Mertie Love) was the pick of Singapore racing fans at Kranji. Although despite his last two starts seemed disappointing on form; running 8th to scratched Derby contender Ghozi (Catbird ex Finito Fling) and 10th to Intercept (Zerpour ex Haughty Miss) in G1 1600m Patron’s Bowl.

Trainer, Bruce Marsh made changes in Race Ahead’s gear and added blinkers to the gelding and evidently, in the last 400m of the race with ears pinned back Race Ahead kicked away from Powerful Ruler (5th) with Australian bred mare New Rose Wood (Love A Dane ex Western Explorer) and Intercept (3rd) at his heels.

Much credit must be given to the Desmond Koh trained New Rose Wood for making up exceptional ground in the last 400m but it was Race Ahead’s day with a brilliant ride by NZ jockey Opie Bosson on board.

As the field is heading out for the last race and the sun is beginning to set. Some of us feeling very contented with the race day, after all – ‘winners are grinners!’ Others gripping on to faith in the Racing Gods for a ‘get out of jail’ card with the last in dire hope for a roughie pick to win!

I returned home feeling contented from what I believe was a wonderful day of racing at Kranji and expect many more to come from the Singapore Turf Club on the rise.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Canadian Chip of the Old Block

Do you recall a horse named Tenpins? In the early part of the last decade, he became one of those horses who I had a ton of respect for. You know the type, tough as nails and game through the wire. He was not around for the Triple Crown of 2001, nor was he a star under the bright lights of New York or California. What he was … was a really good horse. The big chestnut won graded stakes in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland and New Jersey. Tenpins won more than half of his lifetime starts and earned more than a million dollars. Much to my pleasure, I was able to catch a glimpse of this old warrior in the form of one of his sons. Big Red Mike is a three-year-old chestnut gelding who appears to have inherited not only his sire’s talent, but also his strong desire to get to the wire ahead of his competition. Yesterday he put these attributes to great use and became the equine toast of a nation.
***The remainder of today's column can be found on*** Click Here

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

French Fantastique

(1 Mile -Sunday, July 4 at Chantilly)

1 SIYOUNI   Lemaire C

2 SORMIOU   Roussel L

3 XTENSION   Kirby A
4 LOPE DE VEGA   Guyon M 
5 FROZEN POWER   Dettori L 


7 HEARTS OF FIRE   Fortune J

8 JOANNA   No Rider

All eyes will be on the new French superstar, Lope De Vega, who has thoroughly impressed with wins in the Poule D'Essai Des Poulains and the Prix Du Jockey Club in his last two starts.  A third consecutive Group 1 win is the expectation and would make the Andre Fabre trainee the biggest thing in France short of the fantastic mare, Goldikova.  It will not be an easy task though, as he drops back down in distance from 1 5/16 and faces some of the toughest sophomore milers in Europe.  Chief among his potential vanquishers will be Dick Turpin and Hearts of Fire.  Dick Turpin has been a model of consistency with three straight 2nd place finishes in Group 1 miles in Europe, including a 1/2 length loss to the choice in the Poule D'Essai Des Poulains.  He is coming off a strong 2nd in the St. James's Palace to Canford Cliffs, and could capitalize by any slip up by Lope De Vega.  Speaking of the St. James's Palace, it was Hearts of Fire who many felt would have faired better than his 3rd place finish with any racing luck.  The belief is that his one bad showing in the English 2000 Guineas was not the real Hearts of Fire, making him a real threat on Sunday.  I like the Godolphin entry of Frozen Power, by way of Dubai and Germany, as the next biggest threat, although both Xtension and Siyouni have been close to the best of their generation in recent tries.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Espoir City is Coming to America

Who is Espoir City? If you follow Japanese racing at all, you know he is their reigning champion on dirt. The five-year-old son of Gold Allure by Sunday Silence, out of Eminent City, by Brian’s Time, might be best known in American circles as the easy winner of last year’s Japan Cup Dirt, a race that was to be entered by Summer Bird before being injured while training in Japan. Trained by Akio Adachi for owner Yushun Horse, Espoir City returned in February to win the Grade 1 and aptly named February Stakes, the first grade 1 of the year in Japan, in similarly convincing style. He has now won nine of his eleven starts on the dirt, and most impressively is riding a six race win streak, all coming in graded stakes in Japan.

Why is he coming to America? For the Breeders’ Cup Classic of course. Adding to the intrigue of the November 6 race at Churchill Downs that may be coming up absolutely huge. If he is to find success in the Classic, he would become the first Japanese trained horse ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race. The prospect of facing American horses like Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, Blame, Rail Trip, and Lookin at Lucky seems quite daunting, but his connections feel he is better than ever, and plan on spending the $200,000 supplemental fee to enter. Do not take him too lightly America, Espoir City may be the best horse that Japan has ever sent.

Espoir City is currently enjoying some time off before an expected return in the Grade 1 Nanbu Hai in October. A race that Espoir City won impressively last Fall. Here is a look at his stroll to victory in the Japan Cup Dirt…

Photo Courtesy of Kate Hunter

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Great Racing at Royal Ascot

The great Goldikova holds off Paco Boy by a neck ...

Goldikova is further flattered by a big win by Byword in the Prince of Wales's.

And Canford Cliffs claims his spot as the best three-year-old miler in the world ...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Goldikova to be Crowned the Queen of Royal Ascot!

by Ciarán De Barra

Royal Ascot gets underway tomorrow and the meeting starts as it means to go on with an absolutely mouth-watering clash of older milers in the Queen Anne Stakes. Goldikova is slightly favoured in the betting to build on her record-breaking Prix D’Ispahan win and take full honours here. It will be no cake walk however, as she finds herself up against Sussex Stakes and QE II victor; Rip Van Winkle and last year’s Queen Anne Stakes winner; Paco Boy.

Paco Boy has been ultra impressive so far this season with smooth successes in the Bet 365 Mile and the Lockinge Stakes. He was propelled to favouritism for this race following his easy score in the Group 1 Lockinge but as the market has taken some money and after Goldikova’s Prix D’Ispahan win, he now finds himself third favourite behind the superstar mare and the top three year old miler of 2009, Rip Van Winkle. The latter rival was last seen when failing to perform in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was however on the early pace that day and none of those on the early fractions figured at the business end in the Classic. He is a quality miler and if he shows up at full fitness he is not to be dismissed.

Goldikova and Sea the Stars were my two favourite racehorses of the 2009 season and I find it really difficult to see anything beating the star mare. She is a steely mare with so much speed and gameness. I expect another exemplary performance from her tomorrow and moreover fully expect her to record a third BC mile success this Fall. Rip Van Winkle was also a favourite of mine last year but I can not see him getting the better of the dual BC Mile winner. The straight mile at Ascot isn’t too dissimilar from the mile at Deauville where she has put in some of her best performances and I expect another thrilling performance from the mare that I think is the best miler in the world; Goldikova!

Moving on to the Classic crop of milers, the St James’ Palace Stakes later in the card is another thrilling race on Day 1 of the Royal meeting. Here, the first three home from the Newmarket 2000 Guineas re-oppose, as well as some interesting challengers in the shape of Siyouni, Steinbeck, Beethoven and the American invader Noble’s Promise. Canford Cliffs provided the most explosive mile performance by a three year old in Europe yet this season when he blew away his opposition in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Apparently, Steinbeck was a fast finishing fourth in that race but no matter how many times I watch it back I can’t take my eyes off Canford Cliffs for long enough in order to spot him.

I think this race will revolve around the market principles; Makfi, Canford Cliffs and possibly Siyouni. Olivier Peslier has picked up the ride on Makfi, as Christophe Lemaire has been retained by the Aga Khan to ride Siyouni; a horse who finished ahead of Lope De Vega on the pair’s seasonal reappearance and who didn’t run his race in the French Guineas. I think it could be a really good day for Peslier with Goldikova and Makfi to look forward to. As impressive as Canford Cliffs was at the Curragh, I find it very difficult to oppose an undefeated Guineas winner. Driving down to the Curragh for the Irish Guineas, I was looking forward to a good race from Canford Cliffs and co. but was a little disappointed that the best three year old miler wouldn’t be present and I won’t alter my stance on that until the results say I have to! We haven’t seen Makfi asked yet and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do if Peslier has to pull out all the stops with him!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Epsom and French Derby Superstars

by Ciarán De Barra

WOW!! That was all I could say after Workforce’s demolition job at Epsom on Saturday. In fact, I don’t think I said much at all after his performance. And how else should I have reacted? That was the fastest derby I’d ever seen; it was the fastest derby anyone has seen! Workforce went off at 6/1; third favoured in the betting behind Ballydoyle’s 9/4 favourite Jan Vermeer and Godolphin’s Rewilding who went off at 9/2 in the betting. The early fractions were set by the Ballydoyle pacemaker; At First Sight and he went off at an even gallop from the start. He steadily wound up the pace into a really good gallop and coming around Tattenham corner, the 100-1 Aidan O Brien chance looked like he might wire the highly talented field. With three furlongs left he was six lengths ahead, as Workforce led the challenge to catch him.

Workforce was really motoring but could he catch the pacemaker...with one and a half furlongs left he reached him, went by with ease and powered home to win by seven lengths and provided jockey Ryan Moore with his first Derby win. It was a sublime performance, twelve furlongs covered in 2 minutes 31.33 seconds on ground rated as good to firm. At First Sight was best of the rest in second, Rewilding was half a length behind in third with the favourite Jan Vermeer a further four lengths behind in fourth. It was a hell of a race, fast and ferocious!

The winner could not have been more impressive. The race panned out to suit him and he had a very real target to pick off in front after being tucked in at the back of the main group for most of the race. One race does not make a superstar and things could not have fallen any better for him on the day.  He could not have been more impressive. I’ve said that already but it’s worth saying twice. Though everything fell for him on the day, there were other horses out there whom the pace would have suited too, amongst them Jan Vermeer. The favourite did however lose two shoes during the race but it would not have altered the result in my opinion; it’s also worth noting he lost one shoe in his impressive Gallinule Stakes win at the Curragh last month. Plans aren’t apparent yet for the awe inspiring Workforce but it is highly likely his next port of call will be the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot next month.

The following day to my surprise and delight, I saw an equally impressive display from the French Guineas winner Lope De Vega, as he absolutely blitzed the field in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly. Connections of this son of Shamardal were apparently worried about him getting the ten and a half furlong trip but you wouldn’t have noticed as he was ridden aggressively on the heels of the pacemaker throughout. Two furlongs from home he quickened up, to take up the running from Vivre Libre and he had put the race to bed in the next few strides. Eased in the final fifty yards his winning distance was three lengths to Planteur, with Pain Perdu three quarters of a length further back.

Now, European media have fallen into a nasty trap of comparing every three year old that notches up a good performance with Sea the Stars,which is just plain unfortunate for this year’s crop. I have been asked this week whether Workforce’s record breaking derby means he is better than Sea the Stars. The answer is a plain and simple no.

I have to say though, that of the two derbies I watched last weekend, Lope De Vega’s was more reminiscent of Sea the Stars, his early pace when breaking from the stalls and the sheer abundance of pace when asked to go by his rider Maxime Guyon at the business end of things. An utter joy to watch and a very exciting horse who will be campaigned from a mile to ten furlongs, most likely. The Prix Jacques Le Marois in August, over a mile, has been mentioned by connections as the next target for Lope De Vega and he will probably have his hands full in that one with so many older milers still knocking about! He is likely to stay in training next season too, which means there will be plenty of time for this beautiful chestnut colt to add to his already impressive CV. It was a great weekend of action and performances like these that leave you feeling like you’ve just seen something a little bit special is what the sport of kings is all about!