Wednesday, April 21, 2010
PLANET TAKES GOLD AT PUNCHESTOWN
An action-packed renewal of the feature Grade 1 Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup saw Planet Of Sound, trained in Somerset by Philip Hobbs, spring a 14/1 surprise when scoring by three and a half lengths.
Denman, who was sent off 11/8 favourite, finished only fourth, although the biggest cheer came for the 11-year-old 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition who was retired after finishing a gallant second.
“I’m chuffed to bits,” said Hobbs of the winner. “He’s always been a very nice horse. It was his first start over three miles but he stayed on very well today. He made one mistake down the far side, but apart from that jumped very well.
“He’s always looked very good, but at Cheltenham he choked and so we put a tongue tie on him today. He gurgled that day but has never done it before or since, at home or on the track. He was very flat after that race as well, which is unlike him, he’s a very genuine horse. He has been a forgotten horse and when I saw 25/1 in today’s paper I couldn’t believe it!
“We knew he’d get the trip and he stayed on well. We can dream all summer now. He has plenty of pace go the King George would probably be the aim before Christmas and we can dream on after that. He could start off in something like the Betfair Chase at Haydock.”
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary took a break from the current aviation problems to pay tribute to his star horse War Of Attrition.
“Apart from the birth of my children, this horse has given me the best days of my life,” said O’Leary. “Winning the Gold Cup was probably the greatest day but was closely followed by his success at Punchestown three weeks later. As long I own racehorses we’ll never repeat it.
“There’s no way he’ll run again and the plan is take him home in another week or two. He’ll go hunting in the winter and keep active.”
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Denman, said: “Ruby and I spoke at length beforehand and we both thought he’d be OK today and he ran some race given the ground he gave away.
“He’ll stick to left-handed tracks from now on. After he jumped the third I said to (partner) Georgie (Browne) that he was in trouble then because he was not going to win when he jumped like that.”
AMERICAN SPEEDSTER KINSALE KING HEADLINES ROYAL ASCOT SPRINT ENTRIES FROM NINE COUNTRIES
Kinsale King (Carl O’Callaghan) is set to follow up his victory for the USA in the Dubai Golden Shaheen with an ambitious raid on Royal Ascot’s Golden Jubilee Stakes, where he could meet representatives of no fewer than nine nations.
“The Golden Jubilee is one of the most prestigious races in the world,” O’Callaghan said.
“The places a trainer dreams about winning at are Dubai, Royal Ascot and the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve got one of the three. Hopefully I can get them all.
“Kinsale King couldn’t be doing any better. He is back on the track and we’ll leave for Maryland on 17th May where we will be staying at Michael Dickinson’s Tapeta Farm so we can train up a straight. I have already arranged for our rider, Garrett Gomez, to come down and get a feel for what we need to do changing leads on a straight. We’ll spend a few weeks there and ship to Newmarket on 2nd June.”
Kinsale King could be joined by compatriot and recent impressive Keeneland winner, West Ocean (also entered in the King’s Stand Stakes), who would be a first runner in the UK for multiple Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, Todd Pletcher.
A further fascinating possible runner for the USA in both sprints or the St James’s Palace Stakes comes in the shape of Radiohead, successful in the Norfolk Stakes last year when trained by Brian Meehan and now in the care of Richard Dutrow Jnr.
Hong Kong looks set to be doubly represented in the Golden Jubilee Stakes with Joy And Fun (D. Cruz), winner of the Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai, and Happy Zero (J. Moore), winner of the Group One Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup at home in March and second to Good Ba Ba in the Group One Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile in December.
Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, said:
“I welcome the enterprise and initiative of the connections of both horses. I think it is fair to say that, by embarking on this mission, they are making yet another statement of the fact that Hong Kong racing has truly come of age as a major force on the international stage.
“I am confident that they have the ability to record another win at the Royal Meeting for Hong Kong following the victory of Cape of Good Hope in 2005.”
Also entered in the Golden Jubilee Stakes for Asia is Rocket Man (Patrick Shaw), second to Kinsale King in the Golden Shaheen for Singapore. He will next run in the KrisFlyer Sprint in his homeland where he is set to meet both Happy Zero and one of three Golden Jubilee Stakes entries for Australia, Gold Trail (Gary Portelli).
Gold Trail made a highly satisfactory return to action in the Group One Galaxy Handicap at Randwick, when a close up sixth under top weight, and won the Group One Railway Stakes at Ellerslie in January.
Alverta (Paul Messara) is very much on course for the Golden Jubilee Stakes following victory in the Group One Coolmore Classic in March, whilst the third Australian entry, Nicconi (David Hayes), winner of the Group One Coolmore Lightning Stakes at Flemington in January, has the King’s Stand Stakes as his primary target.
“Nicconi has the right form line following the other Aussie horses to have completed the Lightning / King’s Stand double (Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast), said Hayes.
“He is undefeated at five furlongs and he runs well fresh. The plan is to run him first up in the King’s Stand. If he travels well I expect him to be very competitive.
“I obviously have a very international focus having trained in Hong Kong. Bringing international horses, owners and trainers together through the Global Sprint Challenge is an outstanding initiative for the promotion and benefit of our industry and its participants - it has certainly put Aussie Sprinters on the map,” Hayes added.
The highest profile name amongst the potential European defence in both Ascot legs of the Global Sprint Challenge is Overdose (Jozef Roszival), Hungary’s “Budapest Bullet,” whilst Aidan O’Brien spearheads a very strong Irish Challenge with Alfred Nobel and the fascinating Australian import, Starspangledbanner, fourth to Nicconi in the Lightning and a subsequent winner of the Group One Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield. He also has the Queen Anne Stakes as an option at Royal Ascot.
A total of six French-trained horses have been entered across the two sprints, including 2008 Darley July Cup winner, Marchand d’Or (M. Delzangles), whilst Sweden could be represented by Alcohuaz (Lennart Reuterskiold), a winner of a Listed race in Germany in October.
Fleeting Spirit (J. Noseda), entered in both races, found only Scenic Blast too good in last year’s King’s Stand Stakes before going on to win the July Cup. She looks the strongest of the British contingent at this stage although Newmarket second, Main Aim (Sir Michael Stoute), could be being primed to have another crack at her in the Golden Jubilee Stakes as he is not entered in the Queen Anne Stakes at this stage.
Dual Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner, Borderlescott (R. Bastiman), is another high profile local name to note in the King’s Stand Stakes whilst Equiano (B. W. Hills), winner of that race in 2008, is in both sprints following a successful reappearance in the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.
Away from legs two and three of the Global Sprint Challenge at Royal Ascot, other entries in the Group One races from outside Europe are made up of Mourilyan (Herman Brown) in the Gold Cup and three American-trained possibles in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Radiohead is entered in the mile contest in addition to being considered for the sprints, and could be joined by Noble’s Promise, for Kenny McPeek, who sent over Hard Buck to finish second in the 2004 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Noble’s Promise was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and the St James’s Palace Stakes is one option for him in the UK along with the Investec Derby.
Making up the triumvirate is Leaving New York, accompanying Kinsale King for trainer Carl O’Callaghan. His possible Royal Ascot targets are the St James’s Palace Stakes, Jersey Stakes or the Britannia Handicap.
In addition to the above, Wesley Ward, responsible for two two-year-old winners at last year’s Royal Meeting and Cannonball, who was second in the Golden Jubilee Stakes, is planning another visit this year with, amongst several possibilities, Final Mesa, a recent maiden winner at Keeneland, who is being aimed at the Queen Mary Stakes.
“To have representation from pretty much all around the world in the initial entries for the King’s Stand and Golden Jubilee is very pleasing,” said Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot.
“The Aussies have a powerful hand as is becoming customary, and will be looking for a fifth Royal Ascot winner, but to have strong Asian and American interest is particularly good news, especially with two horses in Joy And Fun and Kinsale King, who have proven international pedigree having won on their visits to Dubai in March.
“If one of the Americans were to run in the St James’s Palace Stakes that would add to what is often a strong international flavour on our opening day, whilst no one will be sending off Wesley’s two-year-olds at huge prices again this year.
“Many of the sprinters coming to Royal Ascot have already been provisionally entered for the last of three Global Sprint Challenge races in the UK, the Darley July Cup, and it is probably only a matter of time before one of the visitors completes the Royal Ascot / Newmarket double.”
BALDING PAIR ON COURSE FOR StanJames.com GUINEAS FESTIVAL AT NEWMARKET
- 27 REMAIN IN StanJames.com 2000 GUINEAS
- 30 GO FORWARD FOR StanJames.com 1000 GUINEAS
Trainer Andrew Balding is weighing up a possible double Classic raid at Newmarket next weekend with recent Listed scorer Lord Zenith aiming for glory in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas on Saturday, 1st May, and progressive filly Pipette being considered for the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas the following day.
Both horses have made impressive starts to their three-year-old campaigns with Lord Zenith relishing the step up to a mile to land a Listed contest on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on 10th April.
The son of Zamindar, one of 27 colts remaining in the £400,000 contest, posted a six-length maiden victory at Salisbury in June and was denied a clear run when coming home fifth in the Group Two Meydan Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July Festival.
Pipette, who is among 30 fillies going forward for the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas, also made a winning seasonal return on Polytrack, readily scoring in a mile conditions stakes at Kempton Park on 3rd April. In two juvenile appearances, the George Strawbridge home-bred made a winning debut at Salisbury in September before staying on strongly to take third in a Newbury Listed contest at the end of October.
Balding revealed: “Lord Zenith is a more than likely runner in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas. He has come out of his Lingfield run well and we are very happy with him at the moment. He did well there considering that the track wouldn’t have been to his liking.
“We have always thought that he was a lovely horse and he ideally wants fast ground - hopefully he can run well at Newmarket.
“We have left Pipette in the StanJames 1000 Guineas but a lot will depend on the weather - she won’t take her chance if the ground is too fast. She also has the possibility of running in the Haveago@StanJames.com Pretty Polly Stakes and we will make a call nearer the time.
“She is a bit of a mixed bag regarding her breeding - being by Pivotal and out of a Sadler’s Wells mare - and she has always given the impression that she will get further than a mile in time.
“I was very pleased with her win at Kempton and there is no question that she is a nice filly.”
St Nicholas Abbey, a 13/8 chance with Stan James, currently heads the betting for the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas and the Aidan O’Brien colt, who stormed to victory in the Group One Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October, is one of four remaining entries from Ballydoyle along with Jumeirah Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Fencing Master, Fighting Brave and Viscount Nelson.
Also among the 27 acceptors is Elusive Pimpernel, who stormed to an impressive four-length victory in the Group Three Racing Post breezeupbonus.com Craven Stakes at Newmarket on 15th April.
Marcus Hosgood, racing secretary to trainer John Dunlop, reported: “Elusive Pimpernel has come out of his Newmarket run in good order and we have been pleased by his progress since.”
Also going forward in the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas are the Richard Hannon-trained pair of Dick Turpin and Canford Cliffs, first and second respectively in the Group Three Greenham Stakes at Newbury on 17th April.
Special Duty, trained by Criquette Head-Maarek and successful in last season’s Group One Electrolux Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, is the current 7/2 favourite with Stan James for the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas and heads the 27 fillies going forward. Also among the 27 still engaged is fellow French raider Joanna, who had Special Duty back in third place when taking the Group Three Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte on 8th April.
Music Show has twice won on the Rowley Mile, having taken the Group Two Lotus Evora Rockfel Stakes on Champions’ Day in 2009 and then proving her well-being with a winning seasonal reappearance in the Group Three Leslie Harrison Memorial Nell Gwyn Stakes on 14th April.
The next confirmation stage for both the StanJames.com 2000 and the StanJames.com 1000 Guineas is on Monday, 26th April, when there is also a £30,000 supplementary entry stage.
Latest Stan James prices (non-runner = no bet)
StanJames.com 2000 Guineas
St Nicholas Abbey 13/8
Elusive Pimpernel 5
Canford Cliffs 12
Fencing Master 16/1
Dick Turpin 16
Al Zir 20
StanJames.com 1000 Guineas
Special Duty 7/2
Music Show 6
For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink