Saturday was a great day of action with Champions Day at Ascot and Best Solution winning the Caulfield Cup down under in Australia. Here are my thoughts on how it all went down.
Best Solution wins Caulfield Cup
Best Solution showed just how teak tough a horse he is by winning the Caulfield Cup for Saeed Bin Suroor and Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation.
The likeable 4 year old had a far from trouble free passage as he missed a beat at the start, forcing jockey Pat Cosgrave to have his mount five wide around the first corner from his nightmare draw in stall 17.
Cosgrave elected to then make a big move early in the race so to gain a prominent position as early as possible. This of course used up valuable energy that would potentially drain his mount in the latter stages.
However, the top weighted son of Kodiac still had the class and guts to fight off all challengers up the Caulfield straight to record a famous win.
Both horse and jockey deserve great credit as does trainer Bin Suroor, who also saddled Benbatl to win the Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes at the same venue last weekend.
Ryan Moore gets it wrong on Flag Of Honour as Stradivarius reigns supreme
Much has been made of Ryan Moore on Flag Of Honour allowing Frankie Dettori a charmed passage up his inside on Stradivarius, with the last named then going on to win the Group 2 Champions Long Distance Cup.
Sure, he shouldn’t have allowed it to happen, but the biggest mistake Moore made was setting too slow fractions through the body of the race. His mount is a tough, grinding type who was in receipt of eight pounds from the winner and whose best chance would surely have come from making it a stiffer test.
Instead, Stradivarius was allowed an easy passage and duly quickened up for his fifth straight win.
Moore is a top class jockey, but he does make a lot of seemingly unnoticed mistakes and is probably the most overrated rider in my lifetime.
Stradivarius has had a tremendous season and is a thoroughly professional racehorse with a lot of class. However, I see him as very beatable and if Ballydoyle decide to take him on in next seasons staying races with Kew Gardens, then I will be going in heavy on the latter.
Roaring Lion shows his class and versatility in the QE11
The Oisin Murphy ridden Roaring Lion coped very well with the drop back to one mile when landing the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes from the Aidan O Brien trained filly, I Can Fly.
It was a fourth Group 1 win in a row for the John Gosden trained colt who would have to be taken very seriously if lining up for the Breeders Cup Classic on November 3rd.
I’m a huge fan of both Murphy and Gosden, but was surprised to hear them both say afterwards that the horse “hated” the soft ground. Much was also made of the ground in the run up to the race with many good judges fearing soft ground for the Qatar owned grey. Personally, I backed him partly because I knew the ground would suit him.
Roaring Lion has a strong dirt influence in his pedigree. Contrary to popular opinion, dirt bred horses, though typically acting very well on fast turf going, also act very well on softer turf going. This is backed up by the stats and is especially prevalent at Ascot, where the topsoil has a covering of sand underneath.
Dirt bred horses always go well on soft ground at Ascot. Even the Ladbroke Hurdle, run at Ascot over two miles on invariably heavy ground in December, has had several dirt bred horses win or perform exceptionally well in recent years.
At the time of posting I tweeted that it was the strongest bet I have ever put up.
The second leg of the double is Latrobe in the Melbourne Cup on November 6th. Latrobe is currently 12/1, but courtesy of the double with Roaring Lion, followers of this website are now on @ just under 48/1.
Latrobe has a huge chance of getting the job done at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.
Joseph has been very happy with the horse and his progress since his last race at the Curragh and he travelled over to Australia very well, losing only 3kg on the flight. Most horses loose much more than this. Latrobe is a very quirky and intelligent type and it had been a worry that his intended travel companion, Master Of Reality, wasn’t able to board the flight with him.
However, he has been found a new buddy in Australia in The Pentagon and the word is that the horse is looking magnificent and is very happy and alert in his new surroundings at Werribee.
Obviously the race is still over two weeks away and he has to arrive in one piece, but presuming everything goes smoothly between now and then and he gets a half decent stalls draw and normal luck in the race, then this Irish Derby winning son of Camelot will win or go close.
Magical downs Gosden pair in Filly & Mares Stakes
The Aidan O Brien trained Magical gave Ballydoyle their only winner of the day when winning the Filly & Mares Stakes.
It was a first Group 1 win for the 3 year old filly who was previously twice a winner at Group 2 level. This likeable daughter of Galileo can progress further next season and perhaps be a force in all-sex Group 1 competition.
Lah Ti Dar was an even money favourite but was soundly beaten in third and looks to me like a type who would benefit from the fitting of headgear. Quite unlike her full brother, champion two year old Too Darn Hot, who is quite fizzy and enthusiastic, this talented filly looks lazy to me.
If getting her act together then she definitely has the potential to win at Group 1 level, but it remains to be seen if she will race next season or be sent to the paddocks for breeding.
Sands Of Mali is a brilliant winner of the Group 1 Champions Sprint
Just as the heading says, this unfashionably bred Richard Fahey trained 3 year old colt was a ready winner of the Champions Sprint at odds of 28/1.
The enigmatic Harry Angel, though troublesome at the start, got away on terms this time and kept on well for second despite having no answer to the Fahey inmate who, as a son of the dirt influenced sire Panis, relished the soft going on Ascot’s sand based turf.
I must also mention fellow Bansha man Con Marnane who bought Sands Of Mali for just 20,000 before re-selling him at the breeze up sale for 75,000.
The list of top class horses to have come through Con’s hands is pretty long at this stage and he remains one of the best, if not the best, at getting young horses ready. He is obviously a brilliant judge of a horse and proves this year in year out by producing calm, nice types ready to go into training.
Cracksman defends his Champion Stakes title in impressive fashion
Cracksman was by far the days easiest winner as he once again dominated the Champion Stakes field with an easy six length victory from the Michael Stoute trained Crystal Ocean in second.
In what was surely a sub standard renewal, the son of Frankel, sporting first time blinkers, powered clear with Dettori celebrating in customary fashion.
Cracksman will now be retired to stud and as a son of Frankel out of the Pivotal mare Rhadegunda, he will prove a very valuable commodity for breeders as he is a perfect out cross for mares by Dubawi, Cape Cross and Kingman amongst others.
The days action at Ascot ended with the one mile Balmoral Handicap, which was won by the Roger Varian trained Sharja Bridge.