Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Longchamp hosts Grand Prix Paris on Bastille Day: Jan Vermeer, Irish raider, favored

I have said on more than one occasion that the British have elevated gambling to art form. All you need is a proposition. Consider this. The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a Group I race, will be run at Ascot on July 24. Workforce, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, is the even money favorite. Ryan Moore, Stoute’s retained jockey, will ride Workforce, the Epsom Derby winner. Stoute has another runner in the King George. Harbinger made mincemeat of his rivals in Royal Ascot’s Hardwicke Stakes. Stoute is looking for a jockey to ride Harbinger. The British bookmaking fraternity went into overdrive. Odds were offered for, at least, six jockeys. Olivier Peslier is the 5-4 pick. Kieren Fallon is at 7-4. Richard Hughes, who is on a self-imposed exile, is at 4-1. Frankie Dettori is a 6-1 chance. Paul Hanaghan, the current leader in the jockeys’ contest, is 16-1. Richard Mullen is a nourishing 25-1.

As it turned out, Sir Stoute has taken Olivier Peslier. Jockey Peslier is one of the friendliest guys. I spent a great deal of time with him in Tokyo during the 2005 Japan Cup. Peslier is one of the perennial leaders in France.

There was a reference to a bet that nominates the runner who finishes last in a race. In England, you can ask for odds and make a wager. Especially, in major races, odds, as a matter of routine, are offered on the last finisher. Imagine several runners trying extra hard to get home last.

In England, stewards have become extra vigilant. The funny thing is that jockeys get punished but disqualifications do not occur in keeping with the severity of the offence committed. In France, the rules are stretched and often bent without being broken to bring about a disqualification. Chris Catlin is one of the better riders in England. He had three winners on Tuesday at Brighton. A train takes you to Brighton from London Victoria. It is a long but enjoyable ride. In one of his Tuesday wins, jockey Catlin was found to have been guilty of interference. The ban will keep Catlin out of the Glorious Goodwood (a very prestigious) meeting on July 27, 29 and 30. Jockey Catlin disputes the severity of the ban and has said that he will appeal.

In the same vein, let us consider the plight of Richard Hughes, the Bangalore Derby hero. Hughes is on a self-imposed exile. The time off covers a ban and if Hughes incurs the wrath of the Stewards during the ban, the punishment doubles or becomes much more severe. It is called the ‘toting up’ procedure. If you commit an offence when under a ban, you suffer more serious consequences. Hughes has spoken openly about the situation and wants to make sure he will be able to ride at Glorious Goodwood where his rides, for the most part, will be high profile.

Paul Hanaghan rode a treble at Musselburgh on Tuesday. As racing began on Wednesday, Hanaghan has a 14-win lead over Richard Hughes and a 17-point lead over Ryan Moore. Moore’s strike rate has taken a dip. Hughes is taking time off. William Hill offer 4/7 on Hanaghan and 6-4 on Moore. Hughes is a 12-1 chance. Trainer Richard Fahey’s stable has been clicking in recent weeks. Hanaghan is Fahey’s stable jockey.

Snow Fairy has been supplemented to the Irish Oaks to be run at the Curragh on Sunday. The Epsom Oaks winner is one of 17 runners in the 2400-metre race that was won by Sariska, Jamie Spencer up, last year. Hibayeeb, a Godolphin flagbearer, has also been supplemented. Ladbrokes make Snow Fairy and Hibaayeb, the joint 7-2 favorites. Coral take a different view. Meeznah, Snow Fairy and Rosanara are joint favorites at 100-30.

George Steinbrenner is dead. Steinbrenner owned the New York Yankees, America’s premier baseball team. The Yankees won the World Series, the ultimate prize in baseball, seven times. Steinbrenner owned horse tracks and dog tracks. He was part owner of Maywood and Balmoral Parks, two harness raceways in the Chicago area. Steinbrenner owned a stud farm in Florida. He had Bellamy Road, the favorite in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, who failed. He was 80 and cause of death was a heart attack.

The Hong Kong jockeys’ race will not be decided until the last and 767th race of the season is run on Wednesday at Happy Valley. Doug Whyte seeks his tenth consecutive title and has a 100-98 lead over Brett Prebble. It is a twilight card at Happy Valley. John Size, an Australian trainer plying his trade in the island, has an insurmountable lead in the training department. He is seeking his sixth championship.

Kieren Fallon rides in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday. Fallon is joined by Pat Smullen, Kevin Manning and Ioritz Mendizabal, the French star. They square off in a four-race competition against a local five-member team led by Halis Karitas, Turkey’s leading light. The Europe vs Turkey tournament is being called the Veliefendi International Jockey Challenge.

Wednesday is Bastille Day in France. That is the day the monarchy fell and democracy took hold. It is a national holiday. Longchamp has a twilight card and the feature is the Group I Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris. Making the trip across the channel and expected to justify favoritism is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Jan Vermeer. Most recently, Jan Vermeer was third in the Irish Derby at the Curragh. The Montjeu colt, who won the Group I Criterium at Saint Cloud on soft turf last year as a freshman, will have the services of John Murtagh. O’Brien won the Grand Prix on Bastille Day in 2005 with Scorpion. The race will be run at 8 20 P M Paris time-one hour ahead of England.

O’Brien commented. “We have not done much with him since the Curragh. The distance (2400) is not a problem. I will be happy if the ground is good. The possibility of a pacemaker makes me glad.

Goldwaki is a supplement and will be ridden by Olivier Peslier. Although campaigned in France’s secondary circuit, Goldwaki has been progressive and been equal to the task when there was more on his plate. There are other French sophomores who check in with credentials that merit a second look.

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