Friday 27 April 2018

Monday's Outlook: 'Angel' does his bit for the Classic crop

Key Group One wins for Godolphin ensure fascinating rest of campaign

Adam Kirby celebrates after partnering Harry Angel to victory in Saturday’s Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Photo: PA Wire
Adam Kirby celebrates after partnering Harry Angel to victory in Saturday’s Darley July Cup at Newmarket. Photo: PA Wire

Johnny Ward

Frankie Dettori's flying dismount was nearly as much of a certainty at the Curragh's Oaks meet on Saturday as his filly Enable's victory in the feature, but over in Newmarket another legendary rider bore a rather different expression in the aftermath of its big race.

If looks could kill and all of that. According to Matt Chapman on At The Races, Ryan Moore's scowl might easily have been enough to mute a concert. Still, it was hard enough to know why he was so apparently livid at Caravaggio's defeat in the July Cup, won by sponsor Godolphin (in the form of its stud wing, Darley).

As in the Commonwealth Cup, Caravaggio was not behaving like a true sprinter at the gates, but he lost more ground on this occasion. Aidan O'Brien's star sprinter had to be ridden for a Sole Power-like turn of foot, Moore tracking the well-established Limato, which ended up not being the main danger.

Limato gave his running but neither could live with Harry Angel, which did his bit for the Classic generation by beating some top-notch elders. It has been a year in which a fair appraisal of the three-year-olds has been challenged by extenuating circumstances.

How good is the Derby form, and how good was Derby winner Wings Of Eagles? After all, he was beaten at the Curragh - but this was after sustaining a career-ending injury mid-race.

What about Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher? He took on his elders in the Eclipse, but mid-race interference cost him around half a dozen lengths, and the run can be pretty much ignored.

How good is dual Guineas winner Churchill? This will likely only be answered in the Sussex at Glorious Goodwood when he tackles Ribchester, as he was nowhere near his best at Royal Ascot.


The season got a whole lot more intriguing, however, with Godolphin having done better than Coolmore in the St James's Palace, Eclipse (albeit Barney Roy losing narrowly) and now July Cup. This rivalry, which is clearly beneficial to racing, has not gone away.

Sheikh Mohammed turned 68 on Saturday and these are fascinating times for Godolphin. Robert Hall of RTé doesn't shirk his sense of journalistic duty in his interviews and he was not afraid to ask CEO Joe Osborne some tough questions on Saturday from the Curragh.

Osborne's frank answers - given the obsequious nature of the vast bulk of public utterances of any of the Sheikh's many minions - were refreshing in the extreme, especially when Hall queried as to whether the boys in blue may put an end to a ban on buying any yearlings sired by Coolmore stallions, in place since 2005.

Osborne said: "It possibly can. We are in a competitive business and I'd liken it to what Kilkenny hurling has done, raising everyone's game.

"Competition between us and Coolmore has probably been good for the racing and breeding side of it. Who knows? First yearling sales are almost upon us and we have to figure out what we are going to do. Coolmore have a lot of good horses and so do we, that's what keeps the thing going."

Osborne is a fascinating replacement as Godolphin CEO for John Ferguson, who left so acrimoniously earlier in the summer. He is steeped in Irish breeding and racing, and Harry Angel can look forward to that enviable position of being a popular stallion very soon.

Where does Caravaggio go from here? He was notably warm beforehand, missed the break and probably suffered in a race in which it paid to be handy. If he were to meet Harry Angel again, there would be little between them it seems, like in the Commonwealth Cup, when the Clive Cox runner did the hard work up front.

There is not much racecourse evidence to suggest Caravaggio is blessed with incredible cruising speed - compare his run on Saturday to Oasis Dream's when he won the race. Indeed, he was off the bridle a long way out and is not living up to his trainer's description of him as "the fastest we have ever had."

Connections are still eyeing a trip to Australia for the very valuable The Everest at Royal Randwick in October, which is intriguing with a view to the grey's career at stud, which remains so important.

Certainly, he lost some value on Saturday. "He needs to be commercially priced in his first few seasons to get the necessary support to get him off the ground and I can see him retiring at a fee of something like €35,000," says Adam Potts of European Bloodstock News.

Coolmore and O'Brien are competitive and will surely fancy another crack at Harry Angel, yet the plans that were intimated yesterday suggested this may not happen. "Talking to John (Magnier) today," O'Brien said at the Curragh yesterday, "the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville could be next."

That race would mean a step up in trip for the son of Scat Daddy - albeit a modest one - and that tallies with how Caravaggio raced on Saturday. He is said to have clocked the fastest miles-per-hour time ever recorded at Ballydoyle, but he simply was not speedy enough on Saturday, and only at the track can he be judged.

Minding retires but is in demand

Minding's retirement was lamentable, given how short the careers of racehorses are nowadays on the level, but her stud career will be fascinating. By Galileo, the most probable two stallions for her first dalliance would seem to be Deep Impact, the sire of September, or War Front, in which Coolmore have put so much faith.

Would that the Boys in Blue's apparent mellowing see Coolmore consider one of Darley's stallions again, such as Galileo's big rival Dubawi? Now there is a thought.

Passing of two of racing's greats

It was a sad week for Irish racing, with the deaths of Martin Molony and Tommy Carberry. Molony was possibly the greatest dual-purpose rider there has ever been, winning the Irish title six times and landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup, three Irish Nationals and three Irish Classics, all before injury cruelly ended his career aged just 26.

Carberry, who trained and rode a National winner, was a superb rider, and his legacy will live on for many years. Wife Pamela is a daughter of Dan Moore - quite a pedigree then that Paul, Nina et al have.

Most touching were the words of Martin's son Peter at the funeral. "He was an unbelievable husband to my mother. She was in a wheelchair for 40 years. He nursed her and looked after for 40 years - he was incredible to her."

Ride of the week

Declan McDonogh certainly had a willing partner in Caspian Prince in the feature sprint on Saturday at Flat HQ but his own strength and pace judgement was critical too, the raider winning by a short head. Indeed, McDonogh said afterwards that "it was a little bit awkward for the first five strides - the saddle shifted on him as he jumped so quickly!"

Gamble of the week

Bookmakers can find it hard to price up runners when Aidan O'Brien has at least two in a race and so it was in Saturday's Curragh opener, his daughter Ana's mount, The Pentagon, winning by half the track at 9/2 having been 16/1 after a relatively inauspicious debut.

Quote of the week

"I've always had it in my mind he's the best. He'd have won last time, without a shadow of a doubt, but we were a little bit unfortunate with the way the race turned out. I came back saying I should have won and it was in the bottom of my heart that today, he'd show them the way it was."

- Adam Kirby, still mounted on Harry Angel, after his stunning July Cup victory. Having done just 9st on the horse, Kirby deserved this, and his humility was really endearing afterwards too.

Tweet of the week

"When will our insecure little industry start to concentrate on It's genuine fans & stop worrying about outsiders who will never like us?"

- Ger Lyons (@gerlyonsracing) on the reaction to an article on the whip in the 'Racing Post'.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport