There was plenty of excellent racing at York last week where John Gosden again proved he’s the man to follow as Stradivarius hit all the right notes to win the Yorkshire Cup and set-up a season in which he could easily become champion stayer.
However, it was Roaring Lion who stole the show when winning the Dante in impressive fashion to see his odds for the Derby slashed. Gosden thinks the French Derby would suit him better but his owner will surely be tempted by The Derby having never won it before.
This week, there’s great racing on Thursday at Sandown with the likes of the Henry II Stakes and the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.
Meanwhile, Battaash could whet the appetite for a what could be a brilliant year of sprinting as he heads to Haydock for the Temple Stakes. However, the weekend is mainly about the Irish Guineas as Aidan O’Brien aims to add to his already envious record of Irish Classic winners.
Warwick (Wednesday 23 May)
The Wigley Group Carnival Handicap Chase (4.15) warrants an early mention as it’s a race that could feature some very decent horses. The weights are currently headed by the Paul Nicholls trained San Benedeto, whilst Nicholls also has the good ground loving Tommy Silver lurking much further down the weights.
However, there are plenty of other entries that catch the eye including Gods Own who should also relish good ground, whilst Kapstadt can’t be dismissed easily at the bottom of the weights for the in-form Ian Williams.
Goodwood (Thursday 24 May)
The Height of Fashion Stakes (4.20) is a Listed Race for fillies run over a trip just short of 10 furlongs. It is a recognised trial for the Oaks, with 2010 winner Snow Fairy being the last horse to complete the double. John Gosden has his unbeaten filly Derrymore entered but, as Gosden hasn’t won this race since 2008, she could be vulnerable. David Simcock’s pair of Mrs Sippy and Lady Of Shalott both look likely types.
Sandown (Thursday 24 May)
National Stakes (6.35)
The National Stakes is a Listed contest run over 5 furlongs and 10 yards and it has very much been dominated over the last few years by the Hannon Stable which has won six of the last eleven renewals. Richard Hannon Jnr had two entries at the five-day entry stage but, with Come On Lester winning at Windsor on Monday, he looks set to be represented by Wedding Date for whom Ryan Moore was a noticeable early booking, as he has ridden two of the last five winners.
Heron Stakes (7.05)
The Heron Stakes is a Listed contest run over a mile and this year’s renewal could be a fiercely competitive one on paper. Without Patrol attracted some shrewd each-way money for the 2,000 Guineas before he met with a slight setback, but he has clocked some seriously impressive figures when winning his two races to date. His list of potential rivals is headed by the Sir Michael Stoute trained Regal Reality for whom Ryan Moore was again an early-booking.
Meanwhile, Hugo Palmer has two possibilities in Mootsadir and Silver Quest, with James Doyle likely to be aboard whichever one runs.
Henry II Stakes (7.35)
The Henry II Stakes is a Group 3 contest run over 2 miles and 50 yards. It has been won in recent seasons by star stayers such as Big Orange and Brown Panther and some interesting horses could line up to get their name on the role of honour.
Sheikhzayedroad tops the list of hopefuls after two back-to-form runs in Meydan, whilst Weekender could be another top-class stayer in the making for John Gosden. Add in the likes of Red Verdon, Montaly, and last year’s Cesarewitch winner Withhold and this could be one to watch with interest.
Brigadier Gerard Stakes (8.10)
The Brigadier Gerard Stakes is a Group 3 contest run over 1 mile 1 furlong and 209 yards. Sir Michael Stout and Ryan Moore have teamed up to win the race three times in the last seven years, with Moore also riding a fourth winner in that period. They won it last year with Autocratic, who is amongst the early entries, however Stoute looks to have booked Moore for the top-rated Poet’s Word who improved throughout last season.
Haydock (Saturday 26 May)
Sandy Lane Stakes (3.25)
The Sandy Lane Stakes is a Group 2 Race run over 6 furlongs and it has been won by some serious sprinters in recent season including Slade Power and Quiet Reflection, whilst last year it was won by Harry Angel who went on to be named champion sprinter. Whether there is another horse of his quality in this year’s field remains to be seen but there are some interesting types. Invincible Army has already won a Group 3 this season whilst Sands Of Mali, James Garfield, and Heartache could all improve rapidly as three-year-olds.
Temple Stakes (4.00)
The Temple Stakes is a Group 2 race run over 5 furlongs and it has been won be some proper Group 1 horses in recent seasons such as Sole Power and Profitable. However, this year’s ante-post favourite Battaash is already better than that duo after his Prix d’Labbaye win last season. He faces some useful rivals in Kachy, the veteran Take Cover, and the unbeaten improver Dreamfield, but they probably won’t see which way Bataash goes if he turns up anywhere near his best.
Irish 2,000 Guineas (Saturday 26 May)
Aidan O’Brien has trained seven of the last 10 winners of the Irish 2,000 Guineas and he looks sure to be mob-handed as he bids to make it eight wins in 11 years. He has the favourite Gustav Klimt though he finished two places behind the re-opposing Elarqam in the English 2,000 Guineas. Home advantage could be significant, but it’s worth remembering that Elarqam was having just his third start in the 2,000 Guineas and this slightly stiffer test of stamina may suit him ideally.
Irish 1,000 Guineas (Sunday 27 May)
Happily is likely to be all the rage to extend Aidan O’Brien’s winning record in the Irish 1,000 Guineas to five winners in 11 years. She was third in the English equivalent, whilst she also beat the recent French 2,000 Guineas winner in France last season. Again, home advantage will probably help as she won’t have as far to travel as she did for those races and it will be a surprise if she’s beaten as she has the best form in the book.