Monday 18 December 2017

Picture-perfect Caravaggio puts future on line in Commonwealth


Irish business magnate John Magnier. Photo: Sportsfile
Irish business magnate John Magnier. Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Today's Commonwealth Cup - just the third renewal of an excellent concept - is hugely significant for Coolmore.

The success of Galileo in Fethard has been nothing less than astonishing, yet the proliferation of mares sired by the 2001 Derby winner ensure that John Magnier's operation needs other sires too and ones on which he can rely.

An experiment with War Front has had mixed results. Fastnet Rock has gotten some top-class sorts without being a sensation. Scat Daddy has belatedly been a major cog for "the lads" - sire of Tuesday's Coventry third Murillo and Norfolk winner Sioux Nation - and, with that sire deceased, Coolmore seeks a replacement in his son, Caravaggio.

Set to go off a raging hot favourite in the six-furlong Group One, everything seems set for victory. One suspects he will retire to stud at the end of the campaign and Coolmore will be really keen he remains unbeaten, though his sublime performance at Naas last month suggested there is a good chance of that.

"I've never seen a quicker horse," Aidan O'Brien stated in the post-parade. He will also need to show stamina to repel Godolphin's duo, Harry Angel and Blue Point, but he rates a really confident selection.

Scat Daddy's father, Johannesburg, was a brilliant juvenile for O'Brien, and there are some high-class two-year-old fillies in the Albany. They include the Scat Daddy-bred Fairyland, from the Wes Ward barn and a notable ride for Donnacha O'Brien.

O'Brien runs Winter's sister (Snowflakes) and Clemmie, a sister to Churchill, which looks a decent play at 8/1. Her debut effort was brimming with promise and the ground just might be a shade quick for Alpha Centauri, which nevertheless is greatly feared.

On the day of Caravaggio, it would be fitting if stablemate Sir John Lavery did the job too, and he can in the King Edward VII Stakes. Michael Stoute's Crystal Ocean sets the standard but Sir John Lavery, a smart juvenile, can leave his Derby trial flop behind.

There will be long faces aplenty in Co Tipperary if Winter does not take the Coronation. This remarkable grey cannot be opposed and even though ratings only put her 3lb or more ahead of each foe. Her Curragh performance, even if there are holes in the form, was scintillating.

Irish representatives are the foundation of the Queen's Vase, laden with depth. Though he was a shade disappointing at Navan, blinkers replace cheekpieces on Belgravia, and he remains a promising stayer for Ballydoyle.

There is no Irish runner in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. However, Eddystone Rock has a connection with this country: John Murtagh used to train him. John Best does now and he comes into the argument here at around 33/1 on his early-season Lincoln form.

Ultimately, today is all about the picture-perfect Caravaggio.

Irish Independent

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