Wednesday 20 November 2019

Ballydoyle seeking to make most of French connection

For the second weekend in a row, a Ballydoyle lorry is bound for Deauville.

Following Excelebration's triumph in the Jacques Le Marois, it is the turn of Parliament Square and George Vancouver in the Darley Prix Morny.

Parliament Square missed last weekend's Phoenix Stakes due to the ground and the supposed first string Cristoforo Colombo made an unceremonious exit at the furlong pole, but Pedro The Great nevertheless advertised Aidan O'Brien's two-year-old muscle.

If the ground, currently given as good, were to get testing, Parliament Square's prospects of maintaining his handler's 100pc strike rate in this season's juvenile Group Ones would be enhanced. As it is, though, George Vancouver looks the one.

Granted, this is a hot enough contest, and Joseph O'Brien's decision to stay at home in a bid to eat into Pat Smullen's five-strong lead in the jockeys' championship at Dundalk might be perceived as a negative.

That said, Ryan Moore is a fine deputy, and George Vancouver didn't half impress when leaving behind two indifferent starts on heavy ground to sluice up on a more consistent surface at Dundalk a month ago.

Lottie Dod, second then, kept on for a respectable third in the Phoenix, which at least gives the form a glossy hue.

If George Vancouver can improve again, he will give the likes of Reckless Abandon and Sir Prancealot plenty to think about.

The card's other Group One, the Prix Jean Romanet, is an absolute gem of a race. Snow Fairy, Timepiece, Galikova and Izzi Top are among the nine-strong line-up, but preference is for Alain de Royer-Dupre's Giofra.

Beaten only by Cirrus Des Aigles in the Ganay (in April) in her last five starts, the Dansili four-year-old plundered the Falmouth at Newmarket last month. That form has been paid a couple of compliments since, not least by the Rothschild heroine Elusive Kate, so Christophe Soumillon's mount is difficult to oppose again now.

Outsider to note

John 'Shark' Hanlon takes six fairly moderate horses to Southwell tomorrow.

Monterrey is the pick of the lot but will be priced up accordingly, so Do The Bookies is put forward as one that could live up to its name by nicking a place at fancy odds.

The eight-year-old boasts just two runner-up finishes from 10 starts at home, but he will relish the good ground that he will encounter tomorrow when he makes his fencing debut in the novice chase.

Rajnagan, a faller when clear at Stratford recently, will be hard to beat if his jumping holds up.

However, on his last start at Cork in 2010 before being sidelined for two years, Do The Bookies' second place off a mark of 102 was encouraging, and he should strip fitter now for his first two outings since then over the past couple of months.

Sunday Yankee

Deauville 1.30 -- George Vancouver

Deauville 2.40 -- Giofra

Southwell 3.00 -- Do The Bookies

Dundalk 3.40 -- Invincible Ridge

Numbers game

1866 When racing was first recorded at Tweseldown in Hampshire. The former racecourse has been the flagship point-to-point track in the south of England for years, but will soon join Hereford and Folkestone in ceasing its racing operations.

3 Irish Classics that will be run on Saturday evenings in 2013. The experiment was trialled with the Derby in June, and continues with the St Leger and next year's Oaks.

Quote of the week

"It goes without saying that the first few experiences of a novice chaser should be good experiences and I don't think increasing field sizes necessarily makes it a good experience. This is asking for problems -- horses need to be educated."

-- Don McCain on the news that 20pc of novice chases are to be slashed in Britain as part of a revised programme to tackle the issue of small fields.

Three things we

learned this week

1 It could be a big weekend for Aidan O'Brien. After a blistering haul of nine Group One wins in May and June, July yielded just a solitary top-level triumph for the champion trainer.

With Pedro The Great and Excelebration coming up trumps last weekend, however, that lull came to an abrupt end.

Tonight, the show moves onto Arlington, where Treasure Beach (Million), Daddy Long Legs (Secretariat) and Up (Beverley D) all line out. Tomorrow, George Vancouver and Parliament Square contest the Morny.

Given that O'Brien had 17 up at the same stage en route to clocking 23 in 2008, Bobby Frankel's world record of 25 Group Ones in a year seems a way off now, but when the Ballydoyle maestro first clocked 23 back in 2001, at the same point he had one less than his current tally of 12.

With the likes of So You Think and Homecoming Queen now being campaigned in the breeding shed, the record is a big ask, but one or two triumphs over the next two days would be a fine return. It doesn't require a massive stretch of the imagination to envisage him at least equalling his previous personal best.

2 Irish jockeys excel in Mongolia. Donie Fahy and Richie Killoran, two ex-pats based in Britain, overcame a combination of alien terrain, hot days and cold nights to finish first and second in the Mongol Derby.

No normal middle distance Classic, the Mongol charity edition is run over six days and 1,000km, with contestants required to chart their own route -- GPS aided.

They had to locate stations that Genghis Khan used to relay messages across the ancient empire, where they would pick up fresh 'semi-wild' mounts.

In all, 35 riders took part, though presumably Fahy was the only one who had recently recovered from a broken back. Clearly, a sucker for punishment.

3 Channel 4 racing coverage is about to change. Long associated with Highflyer Productions, whose Irish arm is responsible for the RTE racing output, the contract will be taken over by the Clare Balding-fronted IMG from 2013. Sadly, John Francome's dry wit will be no more, as he has ruled himself out of the new team.

Racing Diary

Monday: Roscommon*, Tramore, Kempton* (AW), Stratford, Thirsk, Windsor*, Wolverhampton (AW)

Tuesday: Gowran Park, Sligo*, Brighton, Perth, Warwick*, Worcester*, Yarmouth

Wednesday: Bellewstown*, Kempton* (AW), Lingfield, Newton Abbot*, York

Thursday: Bellewstown*, Tipperary*, Bath, Cartmel*, Folkestone*, Ffos Las, York

Friday: Kilbeggan*, Wexford*, Ffos Las, Goodwood*, Hamilton*, Newcastle*, Newmarket, York

Saturday: Curragh, Cartmel, Goodwood, Newmarket, Redcar*, Windsor*, York

Sunday: Cork, Curragh, Beverley, Goodwood, Yarmouth

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