Go Dutch This Weekend
The week after The Derby and The Oaks tends to be a quiet one, especially as most of the classier types are being aimed at Royal Ascot (June 19-23). However, there are a few decent races to look forward to, starting with a decent conditions race at Hamilton on Wednesday.
There’s also two Listed Races at Leopardstown on Thursday, and a Champion Hunter Chase on Friday at Stratford. Meanwhile, Haydock stages the main meeting of the weekend with two Group Races and a Listed Race. However, before we take a look at those, we’ll take a look back at The Oaks and The Derby.
What Happened In The Derby
Many purists were hoping that this season’s 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior was going to set-up a Triple Crown bid with victory in The Derby. However, I can’t see him running in the St Leger after his stamina seemed to ebb late on in The Derby after never travelling like the winner. Therefore, he could well revert to a mile or 10 furlongs for his next start. The same can be said of several of his rivals, including Roaring Lion and Hazapour. Therefore, whilst Masar won The Derby fair and square, it will be interesting to see how he fares when pitched against the older middle-distance horses later in the season.
What Happened In The Oaks
The Oaks was similar in many ways to The Derby in that only one horse seemed to have the prerequisite combination of stamina and speed, but the lightly-raced winner Together Forever could have much more improvement to come now she’s proven her stamina.
However, whilst The Derby was run on good ground, The Oaks was run on soft ground. Therefore, it could be worth forgiving the efforts of some of those horses that disappointed in behind when returned to better ground. This could especially be true of Magic Wand, who has earlier beaten the winner at Chester.
Hamilton (Wednesday 6 June)
British Stallion Studs Clyde EBF Conditions Stakes
The entries for the British Stallion Studs Clyde EBF Conditions Stakes has been cut-down to just six possible runners at the 48-hour declaration stage. However, it still looks the highlight of the mid-week action. Sir Dancelot looks the likely favourite as he bids to give a boost to the form of Harry Angel after finishing third behind last year’s Champion Sprinter in the Duke of York Stakes last month.
Laugh A Minute could be an interesting rival after winning a big sales race at Doncaster last season, and he could give a hint as to how this year’s three-year-old sprinters may fare against their elders after he was fourth behind Invincible Army last time. The presence of reliable yardstick Kimberella should ensure the form has some substance.
Leopardstown (Thursday 7 June)
The Glencairn Stakes is a Listed Race run over a mile, which was won last year by Brendan Bracken. However, the most interesting entry in this year’s renewal looks to be St Patrick’s Day. If turning out, he’ll be having his first run for Aidan O’Brien, having formerly been trained by Bob Baffert.
That looks an unusual switch, with more horses heading to America from Ireland and the UK rather than the other way around. He only has an official mark of 96 though, and he could face several 100+ rated rivals such as Pincheck, Rizayan, Allegio, Marshall Jennings, and Tennessee Wildcat.
King George V Cup
Aidan O’Brien won the 2016 edition of the King George V Cup, which is a Listed Race run over 12 furlongs. He looks sure to make a bold bid to win it this year too, as he has seven entries, including the unexposed pair of Madrid and Gardens Of Babylon.
However, they will have to improve past some unbeaten types, including Dynabee who is trained by his son Joseph O’Brien. Other unbeaten horses are Carlo Biraghi and Brandua, with the latter having won both his starts for Dermot Weld.
Stratford (Friday 8 June)
Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunters Champion Hunters’ Chase
The Pertemps Network Stratford Foxhunters Champion Hunters’ Chase is a hunter chase run over 3 miles 3 furlongs and 119 yards, and the trip takes some getting for horses that have seldom been asked to race over this far. The top-rated Balnaslow, who won this year’s Aintree Foxhunters winner, tried it in last year’s renewal but was outstayed by the re-opposing Young Hurricane.
Meanwhile, other interesting horses include Mendip Express, Kilbree Kid, and Wonderful Charm. The latter didn’t seem to want to race last year but stayed on powerfully when the race was over. Therefore, he could be one to watch out for if on a going day this year.
Beverley (Saturday 9 June)
Hilary Needler Trophy Fillies’ Conditions Stakes
The Hilary Needler is a race for two-year-old fillies and it is run over 5 furlongs. It is often won by a decent type and boasts Attraction (2003) and Easton Angel (2015) on its role of honour. Attraction’s trainer Mark Johnston has a couple of likely types in No Lippy and Octave.
Meanwhile, Kevin Ryan, who trained the winner in 2006, 2010, and 2011 has the useful looking Dame Glady’s entered. Other horses with a win under their belt include Good Thyne Girl (Richard Fahey), Gypsy Spirit (Tom Clover), K Club (Richard Hannon), and Pearl of Qatar (Brian Ellison).
Haydock (Saturday 9 June)
The Pinnacle Stakes is a Group 3 Race run over 1 mile 3 furlongs and 175 yards and it is open to mares and fillies aged four and older. This year’s top-rated entry is God Given, who could bid to give Luca Cumani his first winner in the race since 2004. The next highest-rated horse is Titi Makfi for Mark Johnston. However, perhaps the most interesting runner is Law Girl for Willie Mullins. Euro Nightmare and Cribbs Causeway may also not be far away.
The Achilles Stakes is a Listed Race that is run over 5 furlongs. The last three winners have been Take Cover, Kingsgate Native, and Final Venture. This year’s top-rated entry is the 111 rated Muthmir who would give another boost to the form of his owner’s Battaash if winning this.
However, as he’s the oldest runner in the race at the age of eight, it could be worth looking elsewhere for the winner. Last year’s winner Final Venture could double-up but he’s only the seventh highest-rated horse in the race this time around. Horses that are rated higher than him include Judicial, Alpha Delphini, El Astronaute, and Duke Of Firenze, the latter representing Take Cover’s trainer DC Griffiths.
John Of Gaunt Stakes
The John Of Gaunt Stakes is a Group 3 Race run over 7 furlongs and 37 yards and it is open to horses aged three and older. Last year’s winning trainer Andrew Balding could be represented by course and distance winner Donjuan Triumphant, though he would probably prefer softer ground. Two other recent winning trainers could also be represented with David O’Meara set to run one or both of Larchmont Lad and So Beloved.
Meanwhile, Hugo Palmer, who won the 2016 edition with Home Of The Brave, could be represented with Unforgettable Filly. However, they could have a tough nut to crack in the shape of Dutch Connection who has won five of his nine starts at 7 furlongs and loves fast conditions. He was also second at Haydock earlier in his career but is a much-improved animal now.