Saturday 20 January 2018

Danedream now one of best mares of all time

Maybe it's because she's not from around here, but it seems to have almost gone unnoticed that the German starlet Danedream might now be considered one of the finest middle-distance mares of all time.

In beating the gallant Nathaniel in a quality renewal of the King George at Ascot on Saturday, the four-year-old that cost just €9,000 confirmed the stunning impression that she made by hosing up in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

The first of her sex to win the Ascot showpiece since 1983, she is the first filly to ever win both of Europe's premier middle-distance events. Other exceptional fillies to land the Arc in modern times include Zarkava, Allez France, All Along and Urban Sea.

However, all those earned their stripes against their own, before rubber-stamping their legacies with a flourish against the boys at Longchamp. Sportingly, Danedream was brought back for more and, under the exquisite Andrasch Starke, delivered in style.

Just as was the case in the aftermath of the dramatic 2011 King George when Rewilding suffered a fatal injury, it was John Gosden, minutes after watching his stable star be denied a second Group One in two weeks by the narrowest of margins, that most accurately conveyed the significance of what everyone had witnessed.

Reflecting at the Curragh yesterday, he was again phlegmatic. "Nathaniel is fine this morning," he reported, "and the great thing is he doesn't know that he got beaten -- he thinks it was a dead heat!

"But Danedream is a great filly. What she did to the colts in the Arc last year, to break the track record that Peintre Celebre held, was amazing. She came back to her best on Saturday and such is life. I was thrilled with Nathaniel; a little frustrated, but he ran well to go so close just two weeks after his Eclipse win."

St Nicholas Abbey came from stone-last for third, prompting both Aidan and Joseph O'Brien to finger the slow ground for his defeat. For the third time this season, though, they were making excuses for a horse that looked like he had lost a race that he might have won.

At Dubai in March, at the Curragh in May and again on Saturday, O'Brien Jnr set St Nicholas Abbey enormous tasks, ones that he failed to rise to each time.

The Ballydoyle handler suggested afterwards that St Nicholas Abbey needs 10 furlongs on fast ground to be seen at his best.

It was an unusual statement about a horse that has been beaten at long odds-on by vastly inferior horses on his only two career starts over that trip, that has never won over less than 12 furlongs since his days as a two-year-old, and that was staying on menacingly over that trip here.

All St Nicholas Abbey's form suggests that he is a decent Group One horse over a mile and a half -- and no more or less. Saturday's result substantiated that theory although, the way things transpired, it again looked an opportunity lost to convince the doubters that he really is all that he is made out to be.

In the event, Joseph O'Brien incurred a seven-day ban for excessive use of the whip.

The 19-year-old has rarely failed to justify the immense faith that his father and the powers that be at Coolmore have put in him, but Saturday was a day to chalk down to experience. To rub salt in the wound, he got a further two days for his whip use at the Curragh yesterday.

If he is to maintain his jockeys' championship lead -- which currently stands at one -- he could do without another weekend like that.

Motherway gets his first rise on the Flat

Cloyne-based James Motherway, who saddled Bluesea Cracker to a famous Irish Grand National victory in 2010, sent out his first Flat winner when Authorization made all to take the 10-furlong maiden under Pat Smullen at the Curragh on Saturday.

Owned by the RTE racing presenter Brian Gleeson and his wife, Claire, it was the three-year-old's first start since coming third on his Cork debut last autumn.

Kent and Whelan will have a Cut at Galway

Custom Cut is Galway-bound after the much-improved former Dermot Weld runner made all for a fourth victory on the spin for Tramore's George Kent on Saturday.

Up 18lb in the handicap since landing the first of his quartet at Cork in June, Custom Cut was providing Ronan Whelan with the second leg of a double on the day. Whelan then took the last at the Curragh yesterday on Balladiene. His seventh winner in 11 days puts him top of the apprentices' championship.

Glynn's dark horse is toast of Cartmel

Noel Glynn's Inamalabalusaloon landed a gamble under the record-breaking point-to-point jockey Derek O'Connor at Cartmel on Saturday.

The Ennis handler's seven-year-old showed little over flights two years ago, but was a ready point-to-point winner in May.

Running in a handicap off his hurdle rating on his fencing debut here, he was backed from 5/1 into 9/4 favouritism and scored accordingly.

Owen's Panther to go on prowl at Curragh

The Michael Owen-owned Brown Panther, seventh in Saturday's big race at Ascot, might have his next start in the Gain Horse Feeds Irish St Leger at the Curragh on September 15.

"After that we may look at the Breeders' Cup Marathon," trainer Tom Dascombe reported.

Rebel causes stir for Winters and Russell

The well-backed Rebel Fitz came home in convincing style to deny Captain CeeBee and The Real Article in the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary yesterday.

A smart novice last year, the 9/4 shot was always in command in the Grade Three under Davy Russell, and was cut from 16/1 to 10/1 joint-favourite for the Galway Hurdle.

Trainer Michael Winters confirmed that is the target, "provided he doesn't get too much of a penalty from the handicapper."


100 Mick Halford's percentage strike rate at the Curragh yesterday, when his only two runners on the card, the Aga Khan's Dibayani and Zariyna, combined for a brace.


@Gerlyonsracing Ronan Graham on RTE now, couldn't agree more. Tracks getting their TV money guaranteed, they forget about the regular punter who goes racing.

-- Ger Lyons agrees with the bookmaker, who laments the situation that sees racecourses receive around €40,000 per meeting just for putting on the racing.

Irish Independent

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