Before the third race at Newmarket on Friday, the going was officially changed to ‘soft.’ Hooray was dipping her toe in uncharted waters and trainer Sir Mark Prescott had doubts about his filly’s propensity to handle soft ground. Fans, however, were unwavering in their faith and Hooray was the best fancied in the 1200-meter Cheveley Park Stkes, a Group I Contest for freshman girls. The Sir Mark Prescott trainee,coming off a romp in Kempton's Sirenia Stakes, was the 7/2 favorite.
Seb Sanders got away well and in a matter of strides, Hooray established control. The margn widened as the race developed. Sanders had little or no work to do as Hooray went on to win by four and one half lengths in a time of 1 14.09 seconds. That was Hooray's fourth win in seven starts. Hooray is by Invincible Spirit out of Hypnotize who's by Machiavellian.
Natagora and Special Duty, winners of the Cheveley Park Stakes in recent years, have gone on to win the English 1000 Guineas the following year. Will Hooray follow in their footsteps? Sir Mark Precott tried to answer that question. "I did not think she would handle the ground. When they are useful as she is on fast ground, you worry. She has been improving. We stopped restraining her and let her go on. It has been the making of her. She was very impressive although I believe she will not be an effective miler," Sir Prescott averred.
Jockey Sanders expressed his opinion. "She is improving all the time. Her best performances have been on fast ground but she handled today's ground."
The other Group I race at Newmarket on Friday was the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes. It was a race over 1200 metres for two year-old (entire) colts. Dream Ahead, coming off a facile victory in the Prix Morny at rain-softened Deauville, was going for a hat trick and was the 5/4 favorite. William Buick had the David Simcock trainee held up in the rear of the eight-runner field. Strong Suit, Richard Hughes up, drew first blood as they raced into the dip. Dream Ahead was seen making quick headway. As the leader was sighted coming out of the dip, it was Dream Ahead who had said 'goodbye' to the field. Despite veering across the track,the Diktat colt won drawing away by nine lengths in 1 14.28 seconds.The time tells you how (very) soft the ground was. Strong Suit edged Approve for the runner-up berth. Land of Dreams (by Cadeaux Genereux) is the dam of Dream Ahead. The Middle Park win gave Dream Ahead a three for three career record.
The Racing Post called Dream Ahead's effort a 'barnstorming performance.' Dream Ahead was introduced to the 2000 Guineas market as a 4/1 chance. Trainer Simcock spoke about how much his colt loves soft ground. "He won't run with any 'firm' in the description this year. He is an exciting horse. It is very much a relief and we are lucky to find one like him."
Jockey Buick spoke. "He's an amazing horse. He gave me a feel that no other horse has ever given me.He will be hard to beat. Bring on next year," he exulted.
Here are tidbits that you should find interesting. Blame arrived in New York early Friday afternoon. He had a workout at Keeneland before being put on the plane.
Belmont Park cancelled Friday's card. Saturday's weather forecast is encouraging.
Grand Couturier has been retired. The son of Royal Lodge earned $1,449,701. He was a hard nut to crack on the grass. Trainer Robert Ribaudo talked about the physical problens that plagued his pupil. The announcement came on Thursday. Grand Couturier won the Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational in 2007 and 2008. He also won the 2008 edition of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
In England on Friday, Richard Hughes won with Scottish Boggie, the 5/4 favorite, at Newmarket. Paul Hanaghan had one winner, the 11/8 favorite, Haylaman, at Wolverhampton. Hanaghan has a nine-win lead going into Saturday's races.
Maxime Guyon clicked with three winners at Saint Cloud on Friday. The going was extremely soft. Jockey Guyon won with Golden Lilac, the 4/5 favorite trained by Andre Fabre. The duo won again with the 59/10 Kreem. Guyon's third winner was the 23/10 favorite, trained by E Leenders. Guyon is among the leaders in the riding department in France.
Sha Tin had two big races on Saturday. Sacred Kingdom, a multiple Group winner, made a worthwhile addition to his tally. The ultra quick Sacred Kingdom landed the 1000-metre Grade III Sha Tin Sprint Trophy as the 9.4 favorite. The time was 55.95 seconds on the Sha Tin turf course. Brett Prebble rode for trainer P F Yiu.
The other event, the National Day Cup over 1400 metres (turf) was taken by Lucky Nine who was the 27/20 favorite. Caspar Fownes, who has strong India connections, trains Lucky Nine. It was another high profile win for jockey Brett Prebble.
In the next blog, we'll look at Saturday's Newmarket action. There are big fields and wide open races. Three races have 20 or more runners. The feature is the Group I Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes over 1600 metres for fillies and mares. The Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap) has 35 runners and it is a 1800-metre race.
Longchamp has four Group II races on Saturday. We will look at the results briefly. America has a boatload of stakes action.
Saturday at Longchamp was damp and discouraging and there was a 5000-strong crowd. The skies are clearing in Paris and the forecast calls for dry weather until late Sunday. The rainfall has been so heavy that the going is likely to be soft. The Arc is supposed to attract 50,000 fans. A large throng is expected from Ireland and England.
October 2, 2010