Epsom Derby Preview 2022

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Unfortunately, there is no royal representative in the Derby in 2022, the year of the Platinum Jubilee, and the Queen will not be making the pilgrimage to Epsom to watch the most coveted British Classic. This year, the race is named after one of the greatest jockeys off all time, Lester Piggott, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.

Recent Derby winners have had mixed fortunes since landing this prestigious contest. Ruler Of The World has already sired a Derby winner, Wings Of Eagles, who has already been pigeon-holed as a National Hunt sire. Serpentine has even been denied a place at stud after being gelded in Australia earlier on in the year. Last year’s winner, Adayar, pictured above, went on to win the King George and remains an exciting prospect for this season. It seems like the motivation for Derby glory is still there and seventeen runners are set to head to post for this year’s renewal to honour Lester’s memory and it looks to be a cracker for Her Majesty to enjoy from the comfort of Windsor Castle.

The Fielden Stakes at Newmarket in April could potentially be a good hint to the chances of Masakela and Sonny Liston. They raced at a dawdling pace and it was won by Eydon, who is a sad absentee from the Derby and had a turn of foot that the other runners couldn’t cope with. Masakela hung right, finishing second, and Sonny Liston dropped out tamely. It is going to be interesting to see how these two horses handle a mile and a half. Masakela will be more suited to this trip. He is out of a winner at this distance by Doyen, who is known for his National Hunt progeny. His sire is El Kabeir, an American miler, and, currently, he is the best of his progeny. It is a big deal for him to have a Derby runner from his first crop. Masakela has some excellent two-year-old form, having finished behind Native Trail, Royal Patronage and Coroebus and beat Bayside Boy. He was upset in the stalls, leading to him being withdrawn before the Dante so he comes into this race off the back of an absence of fifty-one days.

Sonny Liston showed much more in his next race, the Dee Stakes at Epsom. He was drawn wide in six and, from this particular start, it meant that he was locked on the outside with no cover down the home straight. He scuttled around the first bend after Marco Ghiani managed to anchor him at the back of the field. He was snatched off heels a couple of times on the way round and he was pushed wide, once again, in the straight. He finished off the race well and there’s plenty of stamina in his pedigree to suggest he will get further. Tom Marquand gets on the horse for the first time and he has a record of five winners from twenty-eight rides for Charlie Hills.

The Dee Stakes was won by Star Of India. He seems a really straightforward individual. He was nestled on the inside rail and Ryan stretched him out and he – head bowed – galloped strongly through the line. He started his career in October at Leopardstown over seven furlongs and he had to be ever so slightly encouraged to pick up the bridle in fourth place. But, when he got daylight, he gradually progressed into the lead, putting it to bed in a matter of strides to be an eased down, two and a half-length winner. The only blip on his record is the Craven on his second start where he was encouraged to make the pace and he was first to be pushed along, dropping out to be fifth. His chilled-out attitude could be an asset at Epsom. He isn’t particularly fast and the trip looks ideal.

Star Of India’s stablemate Changingoftheguard (who would be a fitting winner for the Jubilee) struggled in maidens, well-fancied on all three starts. River Thames beat him on his third outing and that horse has since been well-beaten by Westover, albeit getting upset in the stalls beforehand. Changingoftheguard has looked much improved as a three-year-old, stepped up in trip and being raced more prominently. He won at Dundalk by six lengths in a six-runner event in April and that earned him a place in the Chester Vase field. There were only four runners with 4/11 favourite New London holding many people’s hopes. However, Changingoftheguard bounded into the lead. Ryan Moore gave him a momentary breather and allowed the chasing pack to move closer to his tail, before kicking him on at the five-furlong pole and, in the end, asserting by well over six lengths. This horse is a gorgeous, bold galloper and seemingly stays all day. 14/1 for the St Leger is not the worst price in the world and it will be significantly shorter if he puts in a positive showing at Epsom, with cheekpieces applied first time.

The pace of this race is a fascinating conundrum with Changingoftheguard seemingly benefitting from being ridden more prominently but this is also the position that stablemate Stone Age has assumed through his career. Placed on his first two starts in maidens, he was dropped into group two company and only beaten a neck in September, before finishing sixth of nine behind Angel Bleu on Arc weekend. He was second in a group one at Saint-Cloud and, for those three races, he didn’t lead. He went to Navan at the end of March to get a win under his belt and he did so by nine lengths, popping out of the stalls and straight into the lead. He was sweaty that day and enthusiastic in the lead. It was simple as simple can be and he won by nine lengths. In the Leopardstown Derby Trial, he led and it looked like they could never be going quite fast enough for Ryan Moore. Glory Daze raced comfortably disputing third until the three furlong pole when he started to be pushed along. Stone Age asserted dominantly for a scintillating performance, confirming himself as a lead Derby player.

However, in behind, Glory Daze ran with great credit after looking out-paced to claw back second place from French Claim. Andrew Oliver has had group two and group three winners and he has sent over fifteen runners to England, but none since 2013 and only one winner. It must be so exciting for the team to have a runner in the Derby. He was purchased for just £3000 at the Goffs Sportsman Yearling Sale at Doncaster in 2020. Oliver had bought his brother in the previous year’s sales season and there is plenty of black-type on his page, but his dam never won a race. He is from the first crop of Cotai Glory, who was an extremely fast sprinter. Only one of his progeny has raced at one mile four to date and that is Myriad for Richard Hughes, placing on one of two starts at the trip. Glory Daze ran at a decent level as a two-year-old and was extremely unlucky in the Eyrefield Stakes in October. His maiden win in the Curragh was good and hopefully he puts up a good performance for connections.

On the other end of the spectrum, Derby favourite Desert Crown cost a massive £280,000 at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale (Book 2) in 2020. He made a perfect start when visually impressive at Nottingham in November. They went a fast gallop and he raced on the outside of the leader, enthusiastic rather than keen. He dropped back to third and was slightly urged along for a small section of the race, green more than anything. They came down the middle of the track, with Richard Kingscote keeping him buried behind the leaders. He switched out before the two-furlong pole and was momentarily locked into a battle with Schmillsson, who has convincingly won a maiden at Bath since, before asserting to a five-length victory, albeit looking green.

A son of Nathaniel, he is already the second-best flat progeny behind Enable for the stallion, who produces all kinds of horses and gives a healthy dose of stamina, siring the likes of Kitty’s Light and Kaizer, who stay well over three miles. His dam, Dream Berry, won a Lingfield maiden and produced Sha Tin group three winner Flying Thunder, earning his connections a cool £185,435, just short of double what Desert Crown received for landing the Dante stakes, a group two and well-respected Derby trial. He was buried amongst horses in that race, but Kingscote kept his hands off his neck and had to urge him to an extent to keep his position. He cruised into the lead but Royal Patronage wouldn’t lie down easily. Kingscote gave him a couple of taps around the tale and slaps down the neck, before switching his whip into the other hand. The horse hung under the drive and that would be a concern at Epsom because of the camber of the track – any shifts in either direction will just be accentuated. His form from only his two races has not been the strongest. Workforce won the Derby on his third start for Sir Michael Stoute and he was not even unbeaten.

Royal Patronage looks to emulate recent winners Masar and Anthony Van Dyck by winning on his ninth start, having been purchased from Tattersalls October Yearling Sale (Book 1) in 2020 for £62,000. Highclere won the 1000 Guineas with Cachet, but Royal Patronage has been a real flagbearer for the team over the last twelve months. On his third start, he made all around Epsom over seven furlongs and followed that up with wins in the Acomb and Royal Lodge. In the latter event, he beat 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus and he is the only horse to ever do so. He was struck into at Doncaster in the Vertem Futurity Trophy when he came last. He began his season in the 2000 Guineas when he ran much better than his eighth place suggested. He was bang there until about three quarters of a furlong from home before fading when the top four accelerated. It suggested he would benefit from a step up in trip and that was evidenced in the Dante too. He just couldn’t cope with the change of gear Desert Crown showed. His dam is a half sibling to an Irish Derby third. Royal Patronage has a wonderful attitude and is sure to try his best.

Hoo Ya Mal also came out of the Book 2 Sale for £60,000. He has been remarkably consistent for connections and has some strong form. He was third to group one winner El Bodegon on debut, before winning comfortably at York. He ran in the Flying Scotsman Stakes, only beaten a nose by Noble Truth after starting poorly. Since then, Noble Truth has finished four and quarter lengths ahead of Stone Age at Longchamp. As a three-year-old, Hoo Ya Mal has been beaten five lengths by Native Trail and he was seven lengths behind Nations Pride in the Newmarket Stakes. He was held up and raced enthusiastically in his green hood, unable to quicken when Nations Pride asserted. Marco Ghiani has ridden this horse – and Sonny Liston – all season so it is a tough blow for him to be displaced by other riders. Hoo Ya Mal is a half sibling to grade three winning chaser Really Super so stamina shouldn’t be a problem.

Nations Pride heads the Goldolphin trio. Out of a listed winner and from the same cross (Teofilo x Oasis Dream) as Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment, he has only even been beaten by one horse: Millennium Moon at Yarmouth when he hung left throughout. After this, he absolutely bolted up at Lingfield and Chelmsford in October and November. In the winter, he went to Meydan and won over one mile two by three and a quarter lengths. In the Newmarket Stakes, he quickened instantaneously under hands and heels. He went clearly into the lead and dawdled somewhat once he was there. A lovely big horse, he is the pick of William Buick. Charlie Appleby has had only nine runners since Native Trail won the Irish 2000 Guineas two weeks ago and his filly in the 1000 Guineas was last.

Adam Kirby rode the winner in 2021 for Charlie Appleby on Adayar and he partners Nahanni this year. This chestnut son of Frankel only made his debut in January and cheekpieces were on first time, when second to his stablemate over the Derby trip. He won next time under Kirby, making all, before hacking up at Leicester by nine lengths. He stays absolutely all day but connections dropped him to one mile and two furlongs for the Blue Ribband Trial, where he became acquainted with Grand Alliance, who runs in this.

Nahanni was a step slow away, but William Buick rousted him into the lead and Grand Alliance was pushed along to get his position. He basically slipstreamed the Godolphin colt a few lengths behind on the rail. This became something of an issue when James Doyle had to sit and suffer in behind Nahanni, until a gap opened on the rail and Grand Alliance sneaked up his inner. He didn’t have the substance to pass and Nahanni was never headed, winning cosily.

Grand Alliance is from the first crop of Churchill, who did not quite stay one mile two himself. A suggestion of stamina is that his dam is a half sibling to a two-mile winner under National Hunt rules. Charlie Fellowes’ colt only started out in December and he did not have the pace for a mile at Wolverhampton and Newcastle. He went on to win at Chelmsford and Doncaster in February and March. Grand Alliance is partnered by Danny Tudhope, who is in flying form, and the fact that he has competed at the track is a massive advantage.

In the Blue Ribband Trial, United Nations was fourth and he went on to win the Lingfield Derby Trial. This puts the final Godolphin horse to mention, Walk Of Stars, with ground to make up on Nahanni and Grand Alliance. On literal form, he has two and three quarter lengths to make up with Nahanni and two and a quarter lengths with Grand Alliance. However, he is the pick of James Doyle, who rode Coroebus and Cachet to Guineas success earlier in the year, and I have heard plenty of interesting whispers about this horse. He was second in the Lingfield Derby Trial just like Adayar, but the fact that O’Brien is not running United Nations does reduce the attractiveness of this horse’s chances. He ran an odd race in the trial – he dwelt coming out of the stalls; was keen; hung right and even swerved over the line. He will need to be much more professional at Epsom as he will not get away with it there.

Frankie Dettori (Photo courtesy of JTW Equine Images)

The start went wrong for Frankie Dettori in the Oaks and connections of Piz Badile will be hoping he can be seen to better effect after they asked him to ride the horse. He is an exciting runner for Donnacha O’Brien and the Narchios Family have owned his family for generations. His granddam, Shiva, won the Earl Of Sefton and Tattersalls Gold Cup in 1999 and Brigadier Gerard in 2000 for Sir Henry Cecil. His dam was a listed winner and he managed to win at Killarney over a mile on debut. Next time, he was second to Duke De Sessa by half a length, when suffering interference. At Leopardstown in early April, he was mid division and nipped through the inner into the lead. However, Buckaroo, a subsequent listed winner, did nose ahead of him, but he fought back. Since then, Buckaroo has won a listed race and Duke De Sessa has been over nine lengths behind Stone Age and well-beaten by Native Trial, which translates to Piz Badile having a bit to find.

The last main trial to mention is the Sandown bet365 Classic Trial, which was won by Westover. It was this trial that Adayar, who is by Frankel as well, raced in on his penultimate start before the Derby. Westover won on debut as a two-year-old, looking a bit fiddly off a slow pace, but he battled really smartly. Strangely, next time he was keen and sweaty, seemingly remembering the exciting experience from last time and wanting to get on with the job. In the closing stages, his head was quite high and he seemed to be grabbing at the ground, hanging in behind the winner. He got hot and was buried amongst horses next time at Pontefract. The ground was pretty terrible that day and he was all over the place down the straight. He actually fought back to only go down a neck, but the horse who beat him has not won since. Westover is a battler, that is for sure. He hung left when making his challenge and but powered past the third horse and Cash was running on for second. His pedigree suggests he wants further.

West Wind Blows would be a fairy tale winner for local boy Jack Mitchell, who had a great spin round on Rogue Millenium in the Oaks on Friday. His mount in this is unbeaten and made his debut on the 28th December, winning by half a length. One winner has come out of the race. West Wind Blows wore a hood that day, suggesting he is buzzy. He was intended to run for the first time as a three-year-old in April at Newbury against Walk Of Stars with both horses wearing red hoods to post. However, he decided to throw off Ryan Moore and gallop off around the track, so he was withdrawn. He ran brilliantly next time out, though. He led from pillar to post and remained strong and tenacious at the end. He is unexposed.

The most unexposed of the field is El Habeeb to be partnered by the oldest jockey in the race, John Egan. This horse has raced just once and was supplemented into the race. He is drawn in number 13 with Star Of India, Changingoftheguard and Grand Alliance the only ones wider. El Habeeb is the only horse to have run in Britain for the sire Al Rafai. This stallion only won a Kempton maiden as a three-year-old in 2015. His son debuted in the listed Fairway Stakes, where he was keen when restrained in the early stages. In all fairness to him, he stayed in contention and a made a run for it on the outside before dropping out when the others quickened. He managed to beat one rival home and, although there was a 300/1 winner in Ireland last week, it will be a surprise if he plays a part in proceedings at 250/1.

The race is fascinating in terms of pace angles for the race. As mentioned earlier, the O’Brien pair of Changingoftheguard and Stone Age benefitting from racing prominently. They are drawn on opposite sides of the track in sixteen and four respectively. Masakela has been ridden prominently in the past; he jumps from eight. One of the Godolphin trio could be sent into the lead, most likely Nahanni, drawn in 6, as he will most definitely stay. Grand Alliance will probably drop out from his position but it will be a fierce pace from the outset.

As the above graphic shows, the draw of five has cropped up most in the top four finishers from the Oaks and last three Derbies. This is Nations Pride’s birth for the contest and William Buick will partner him. He managed to win the first two races of the meeting. Royal Patronage has the plum draw with Tuesday and Adayar coming out of stall one and winning. However, on Friday’s Oaks card, they came up the middle, meaning that every horse, regardless of draw would be given a live chance. It would not be ideal if West Wind Blows, Westover or Walk Of Stars were caught out wide as they’re buzzy and could probably do with some cover.

My Shortlist

I expect Nahanni to stay on for a place as his stamina is completely assured. Adam Kirby has had 11 winners from 92 rides at Epsom and has a 26% strike rate for Charlie Appleby on turf and 33% on the All Weather (all time). He has ridden seven times for Appleby this year, winning two. He calls on him for the big occasions and Nahanni could run better than a seemingly third-string. Grand Alliance looks considerably over-priced, too, after finishing second to him last time.

Desert Crown is a horse that has had so much hype about him in the lead up to and since the Dante. The fact he hung at York is not ideal at Epsom. His form has not stacked up to much yet and I fear there has been a massive over exaggeration with some things relating to him. For example, he has the same official rating as what Lady Bowthorpe finished her career with after winning and placing in group ones. He looks to be a very talented horse and we could do with a superstar. I think he could possibly run into one.

I am keen on STAR OF INDIA for the race under Seamie Heffernan, but all of the Aidan O’Brien horses have excellent chances in their own right. I like the way this horse goes about his job – he is so relaxed and willing and I think that is important at a track like Epsom with all the excitement going on within the track. O’Brien and Galileo have such a sensational record in the race and, whilst he is not drawn particularly favourably, I think Star Of India will be bang there at the finish.

Unbreakable – Lata Brandisová’s Story

‘Unbreakable’ by Richard Askwith is the biography of Lata Brandisová, a female jockey in pre-Second World War Czechoslovakia. It won the Biography of the Year in the Telegraph Sports Book Awards.

I received this book for Christmas and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. ‘Unbreakable’ is a riches to rags journey of incredible sporting achievements to complete obscurity and spans some of the most terrible and turbulent times in Czechoslovakian – and European – history. Lata Brandisová faced off against the Nazis to realise her ambition of winning arguably the most dangerous steeplechase of all time: the Velká Pardubická.

Recently, I was lucky enough to speak to Richard Askwith about ‘Unbreakable’ and he described the process of researching this book as “hard work, but it was really enjoyable”. On first look, a significant amount of Lata’s story was unknown, “Finding out the full story of Lata’s life wasn’t at all easy. It all took place a long time ago, most of the people who knew Lata in her racing days were dead, and the evidence in the archives was very incomplete. Also, of course, for forty years under Communism – and six years under the Nazis before that – it hadn’t been acceptable to talk or write about her. But I did eventually manage to track down a surprisingly large number of people with direct knowledge of particular aspects of Lata’s story, along with various documentary sources, and eventually I think I was able to re-assemble most of the jigsaw of her life.”

Initially, Askwith thought that he could write a “nice magazine article” about Lata but it eventually became something much more, “I felt that it needed a whole book to do it justice, partly because Lata was such a remarkable person who deserved to be properly remembered, but also because her story was intertwined in such a fascinating way with the story of Czechoslovak democracy and story of the early women’s liberation movement, and with the twin tragedies of Nazism and Communism. Whichever way you look at it, Lata Brandisová’s story certainly isn’t just a horse-racing story. It’s the story of a remarkable and courageous woman, living in dramatically difficult times.”

I truly recommend purchasing ‘Unbreakable’, which you can do so here, because it is an incredibly emotive and well-written book. It’s no spoiler to say that Lata wins the Velká Pardubická – it says so on the cover of the book– because the fence-by-fence account of her hard-won victory makes for thoroughly gripping reading.

This story begins on the 26th June 1895 when Countess Maria Immaculata (Lata) Brandisová was born. Lata lived in a chateau owned by her mother, Johanna von Schäffer, in Ritka, which was south-west of Prague. The book describes her being free to roam the land, riding and shooting with her father, Count Leopold Von Brandis, a horse breeder and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Austrian army. She loved horses and became an extremely skilled rider.

When the First World War began in 1914, Lata was nineteen and her father returned to active service. Her twenty-year-old brother, Mikulas, was enlisted to fight and, tragically, he was killed in action in Italy, leaving the family, and especially his mother, heartbroken. Lata was left to look after the estate, her sisters and her mother. Throughout her life, she was a pillar of strength for her family in the torrid times that they endured. After the war, Czechoslovakia became a republic and suddenly her title (not that she seemed to flaunt its benefits) was rendered worthless.

Lata was keen to ride horses in competitive races but was allowed to compete only in trotting races or unofficial display races. She was close with her cousin Zdenko Radslav Kinský – affectionately known as ‘Ra’ – who was described as having an “obviously sunny nature”. Around 1927, the pair decided Lata was such a skilled horsewoman that she should ride Ra’s horse in the Velká Pardubická.

To say this decision caused controversy would be an understatement. There were protests and petitions because the Velká Pardubická was considered to be the race that sorted the men from the boys. It is one of the greatest tests of equine stamina and a rider’s resolve. A four-mile course of imposing obstacles with banks, ditches and hedges, scarier than the infamous Grand National fences. The inside cover of the book shows sketches of the obstacles and they look intimidating – even on paper! The Czech Jockey Club wrote to the English Jockey Club for guidance and, based on their advice, allowed Lata to compete.

Her mount, Nevěsta, had been specifically bred for this type of race, like a Galileo foal for a Derby. Nevěsta was a Kinský horse. This breed of warmblood had a unique golden coat. Oktavian Kinský was Lata’s great-uncle and he founded the Velká Pardubická in 1874. He was a daredevil horseman and had designed the race for those with a similar mentality.

On Sunday 9th October 1927, Lata and Nevěsta did something that no one expected them to do – she completed the track! Back then, ‘completed the track’ meant that you didn’t leave the course in the Ambulance Coach or your horse didn’t decide they’d had enough. Lata and Nevěsta parted company three times but were the fifth combination to cross the finishing line.

Lata completed the race on a few more occasions over the next ten years. She created a beautiful bond with Norma, a Kinský mare with the trademark golden coat and a pale mane and tail, not dissimilar to that of her rider. Whilst the combination had competed in the race before, the 1937 Velká Pardubická was going to be the most crucial, both for them and the Czechoslovakian people.

Czechoslovakia was now vulnerable. In March 1936, Hitler sent German troops into the Ruhr, breaking the Treaty Of Versailles and creating tension with France. Across Europe, Nazi officers were keen to assert their Aryan dominance in sport and SS and SA officers set their sights on winning the Velká Pardubická.

Lata personified what the Nazi’s believed a woman shouldn’t be like – at forty-two, she had never married; she had no children; she used to be a countess and she was an independent sportswoman. All of this, and the fact that she was a Czech, made the country’s people love her even more. She became a figurehead for national pride and hope against the fear of impending Nazi invasion.

The chapter in ‘Unbreakable’ recounting the 1937 Velká Pardubická is quite brilliantly named ‘Battle of Parbudice’. The men in this race were tough, no stranger to the battlefield. A remarkable example of this was SS-Unterscharführer Lengnik. He was riding a grey Trakehner called Herold, who crashed out at one of the fences, throwing Lengnik who broke his collarbone. However, he was able to remount, recover lost ground and eventually finish third! This happened at ‘Taxis’, the most formidable obstacle on the course. At this time, it consisted of a two-meter deep and five-meter-wide ditch, shielded behind a one-and-a-half-meter hedge. Lata went clear – she knew how to ride this fence from her experience in the race and schooling over Ra’s replicas.

Shortly after five horses came to grief at the formidable ‘Snake Ditch’ (described as “the worst of several deceptively simple-looking water ditches, 4.5m wide, with a treacherous drop from take-off to landing – but with no visible obstacle”), it became a two-horse race between Norma and Quixie. Quixie was ridden by a man called Schlagbaum, who would join the German army at the first opportunity and lost his hard hat at some point in the race.

With two jumps to go, Quixie was in the lead but Norma still had a lot to give. Lata was holding her back, waiting. At the last, they saw their opportunity and soared into the lead. They crossed the line with a winning margin of seven lengths. Norma’s ears were pricked with joy and the crowd’s response was “volcanic”.

Lata Brandisová, a Czech woman, had won the Velká Pardubická.

On that day, the Czech people’s national pride was at a high. Lata took great pleasure in the success being shared by everyone, “I will never forget the moment when thousands and thousands of hands waved and everyone shouted “Norma!” And when everyone rejoiced, applauding and cheering for our victory, it seemed to me that never before were people so truly and amicably united.”

When I read of Lata’s historic victory, I was so invested in her life that this quote from Lata herself made me feel quite emotional, “Never had I known such happiness – the feeling that, far and wide, there was no one who did not like me.” Lata doesn’t come across as a woman who craved approval, but she was never what society wanted – an ex-countess, an independent woman, a sportswoman who united a country and inspired hope but was all but forgotten as she didn’t fit in with the ruling regime’s agenda.  

On 15th March 1939, Czechoslovakia was invaded and, by 3rd September, Europe was at war – again. Over the next six years, Lata went through life quietly and modestly. She was part of the Czech resistance and gave food parcels to the fighters. During the liberation of Prague, she travelled in secret to care for the injured.

In 1949, Lata lined up at Pardubice again, twelve years after her victory. At the start, she gave her riding hat to a young jockey, who had not got his and was too scared to ride without it. Disaster struck for Lata at the ‘Snake Ditch’ where she fell and was left in a coma. Communist propaganda proclaimed that she had tried to kill herself because she was on the wrong side of history. After a while, Lata recovered from her injuries but her family lost the Ritka estate. Lata and her two sisters moved to a cottage and lived there throughout the Communist stranglehold. Lata spent her final two years being cared for in Austria and she passed away on 12th May 1981, at the age of eighty-five.

‘Unbreakable’ left me feeling a range of emotions and I was interested to know what Askwith wanted readers to take from it, “I’d like readers to finish the book feeling inspired by Lata’s example, not just in terms of riding but in the way she lived her life. I like the fact that she wasn’t a flamboyant, flashy, “look at me!” kind of hero. She just quietly kept going on her chosen path, did what she thought was right, picked herself up after every setback, never complained, never gave up, and repeatedly did things that other people insisted were impossible.”

In the eighties or nineties, a female jockey rode in the Velká Pardubická and she was unaware that a woman had ever won the race. In fact, it wasn’t until 2017, the eightieth anniversary of Lata’s victory that she found out. That upset me. This story has really made me think. It deserves to be told. It interlaces with some of the most horrible and, for me, most interesting, times in our history. You don’t have to be a racing fan to embrace this and the incredible life that this woman lived – it would make a powerful and gripping film!

During her horseracing heyday, Lata Brandisová was a hero to the Czech people and now she is a hero to me. She faced battle-hardened Nazi officers in one of the toughest horse races of all time – and won. She helped in the resistance, staying loyal to the country that had taken so much from her, even when fascism enveloped Europe. She selflessly donated her riding hat to a jockey who was scared to ride without one. She did all of this with poise, bravery and cared deeply for horses and her family.

Lata Brandisová inspires me.

Get your copy of Unbreakable

You can purchase Unbreakable through Amazon – Unbreakable: WINNER OF THE 2020 TELEGRAPH SPORTS BOOK AWARDS BIOGRAPHY OF THE YEAR: Amazon.co.uk: Askwith, Richard: 9781784708405: Books

Through Hive – Unbreakable : WINNER OF THE 2020 TELEGRAPH SPORTS BOOK AWARDS BIOGRAPHY OF THE YEAR: Richard Askwith: 9781784708405: hive.co.uk

Make sure to check out Richard Askwith’s website too – Unbreakable: the Countess, the Nazis and the World’s Most Dangerous Horse-race (2019) – Richard Askwith

The Saturday Focus – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

The Caspian Caviar Gold Cup looks an early Christmas treat to savour with exactly a fortnight to go until the King George! First held in 1963, this race is over two miles, four furlongs and one hundred and twenty-seven yards around the ‘New Course’. The runners have seventeen fences to jump on good to soft ground. Seventeen runners go to post for this race, which is worth just short of £60,000 to the winner.

So, who will win?

Paul Nicholls knows exactly how to win this race as he is the winning-most trainer in the history of the race – courtesy of Poquelin in 2009 and 2010; Unioniste in 2012 and Frodon in 2016 and 2018. This year, Ditcheat send out three runners: Master Tommytucker, Southfield Stone and Saint Sonnet. Last season, Master Tommytucker was one of those horses that you watched from behind a cushion. So much so, that I think Harry Cobden could’ve rightly asked for double his riding fees if the horse had ran again in the 2019/20 season, after falling in the Kauto Star and Pendril Novice Chases. However, this season, after a wind-op, those jumping errors seem to have been rectified. Despite making errors on seasonal reappearance, when second to Al Dancer, he stayed on his feet. Since then, he has had two confidence-boosting runs when he won slickly by large margins but he has never faced a big-field task like this before and his jumping will be put to the test.

Good Boy Bobby (JTW Equine Images)

Last time, Master Tommytucker had Good Boy Bobby fifteen lengths behind and he, along with Al Dancer, are Nigel Twiston-Davies’ representatives in this. Good Boy Bobby won on his first start for new owners in good style at Bangor in October but was convincingly beaten by Master Tommytucker. There’s an 11lbs split between them in the handicap now. Sam Twiston-Davies rides the likeable grey, Al Dancer. He ran creditably in defeat on all three occasions after his first success over fences last October at Cheltenham. The win at Newton Abbot in October, over a few yards longer than this, was a welcomed one. Last time, he was third, beaten a little over four lengths, in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. He peeked on landing at the last and then plugged on, beaten by Coole Cody, who carried 1st3lbs less. He’ll like it if the ground doesn’t get too soft.

Coole Cody has been put up 6lbs for his front-running performance, where connections took home over £78,000. It is amazing that he even got round with some of the shocking jumps he put in. He ran boldly from the front, uncaring that he went through a few fences. He’s a really exciting nine-year-old from a yard who are starting to hit form again. He enjoys good ground and it was the first time out for Evan Williams when he won a novice chase by ten lengths in August. He was second over a trip too far in September before following Southfield Stone, beaten one and half lengths over a shorter trip. That was off equal weights but now Southfield Stone carries 2lbs more. This horse was beaten seventeen lengths next time out in class two novices’ chase and was dropped 1lbs for that. He has never raced in a big field like this before so Coole Cody’s experience could help to reverse the form.

Southfield Stone (JTW Equine Images)

Saint Sonnet, Southfield Stone’s stablemate, also took his chance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. Unfortunately, he fell when quite well-fancied. Previous to this, he had only had two runs in the UK and, after a four-length win at Catterick, connections threw him in at the deep-end. He ran in the Marsh and finished seventh. Aidan Coleman is booked to ride, which suggests he is third-string from the yard, but he is a brilliant jockey to have on side. The horse wears a tongue-strap for the first time.

Cepage and Romain De Senam have ran in the past few renewals. Cepage was fourth last year and second in 2018. After the good run last season, he was down the field over course and distance on New Years Day but won a grade three in January in great style. Militarian was in behind him. Cepage only went up 1lbs for that but only manged seventh in the competitive Ultima Handicap Chase. He could need the run off of a break. Militarian is right at the bottom of the handicap off a mark of 137. After following in Cepage, he was twelfth in the Kim Muir. On seasonal reappearance, he was a good third, staying on over just short of three miles. He has won over three miles and over one mile seven furlongs. Aged ten now, he is not without a shot but he has a little bit to find. Romain De Senam was fifth in 2017 and pulled up in 2018. His last win was at Newton Abbot in May 2019, beating Tea For Two, believe it or not. He’s a really classy horse on his day and is 3lbs lower than that win for the Skelton team, who he has moved to in recent years.

Northern trainers Brian Ellison and Sue Smith send down Windsor Avenue and Midnight Shadow respectively. Champion jockey Brian Hughes rides Windsor Avenue. This horse is ridiculously consistent, winning six of his twelve starts. He was beaten thirty-eight lengths by Sam Spinner in a grade two after two smart wins at Sedgefield and Carlisle. He fell at Haydock and, when last seen, in November he was only beaten two and a half lengths by the very talented Imperial Aura. He was staying on so the extra 127 yards will do him good. Champagne Mystery has form in behind Imperial Aura as, when last seen, he pulled up in the Northern Trust Handicap. He’s prolific at finishing second. Before Cheltenham, he followed in Greaneteen, who looks like a nice horse. His only win under rules was at this trip and he has had a wind-op. Midnight Shadow won the Dipper Novices Chase, a grade two, on New Years Day. Subsequently, he was second in a grade one next time before coming sixth in the Marsh. On reappearance, he was a poor tenth in the Old Roan. He normally needs the reappearance effort.

Darragh O’Keeffe is a jockey who people might not know a lot about in England. This season, he has given some amazing rides like on Sayce Gold for Mick Winters last Sunday. He teams up with the same trainer to ride Chatham Street Lad here at Cheltenham in this race. I was delighted when I saw his name amongst the entries on Tuesday as I was keen on him last Saturday but he unfortunately sustained a stone bruise. At the start of the season, he got over a 463-day absence to win at Ballinrobe. A 7 day absence proved difficult and he was fifth next time out. Last time, he was an easy winner at Cork and I don’t think connections would send him over if he didn’t have a great chance. The yard has had just two runners at Cheltenham and one placed second. The other ‘Lad’ in the race is Drumconnor Lad, who’s jockey, Connor Brassil, will wear similar colours to that of the aforementioned ‘Lad’. He won on his second start of the campaign on heavy ground in good style. Last time, he was taken off his feet a little bit over two miles in a more competitive race. He’s a dual winner over this trip but I would be surprised of he featured.

It is good to see Benatar back after 693 days. His last win was in a grade two novices chase in December 2017. He was third in a JLT next time and put in some good runs before we last saw him coming seventh to Cyrname in January 2019. He may just need it on his return but the yard is going well. Huntsman Son won last time out. It was his first run since May 2019 when he won a listed chase with some smart horses behind him. For that, he has been put up 9lbs, which is slightly harsh, but he’s extremely unexposed for a ten-year-old. He should love the ground and Kielan Woods is a very good jockey.

Annie Mc, the mare, completes the line-up. She scores a hattrick of wins around the turn of the year over fences at this trip. She was thought good enough to go to the Marsh, where she finished ninth. On her seasonal return, she was seventh in the Old Roan, ahead of Midnight Shadow. Whilst she was left outpaced in that race, she is only six and I guess her target will be the new mares chase in March at the Festival.

I think I’m going to side with CHATHAM STREET LAD. I don’t think this horse would’ve been sent over here if he didn’t have a very good chance. Coole Cody will run well after the brilliant win last time and I hope the horse who came third that day, Al Dancer, goes well too. If Windsor Avenue builds on the second from last time out, he will feature. Huntsman Son can’t be ignored either.

Al Dancer amongst horses (JTW Equine Images)

Your Thoughts

I always like to ask my Twitter followers who they think will win each race I preview as part of ‘The Saturday Focus’. Here is what they told me and, as always, join in the conversation over at my Twitter page.

Qipco British Champions Day Preview 2020

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Qipco British Champions Day is going to look a bit different this year with no crowds, but I guess this is just the world we’re living in at the moment. It is a shame as this is the best individual day of flat racing in the season and we’ve got a lot of superstars to see on the card!

STRADIVARIUS is the big name of the day. It was recently announced that the Champion Stayer will be kept in training in 2021, instead of going to stud. Connections obviously believe he has more left to offer as a racehorse and it isn’t his time to go to stud yet, which is interesting. He races in the first contest of the day, the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group Two). Long distance races are where Stradivarius shines – not so much over the Arc trip. His three defeats this season were all over one mile four and he’s versatile in the ground so has a good chance. He won this in 2018 before being nosed out by Kew Gardens in 2019.

Aidan O’Brien, Kew Garden’s trainer, has had a turbulent few weeks but has plenty of runners on Champions Day, like Broome, Sovereign and Dawn Patrol in this contest. The former hasn’t been seen for 134 days, when finishing fourth to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup. Last year, he finished fourth in the Derby and sixth in the Irish Derby but steps up in trip. Sovereign won the 2018 Irish Derby from the front in emphatic style, beating Broome. He was next seen coming third in a Curragh group three, before he finished second to Enable in the King George. Last time, he under-performed in the Irish St Leger, finishing sixth behind Search For A Song and Fujaira Prince. Dawn Patrol is only three but is a group three winner against older horses. He’s a half brother to Pour Moi and is interesting with an allowance.

Search For A Song is a filly and probably Stradivarius’ biggest threat. The dual Irish St Leger winner took a while to warm to the task this year but won she’s related to two mile winner Falcon Eight. Fujaira Prince is a lightly-raced, ultra-consistent six-year-old, who won the Ebor and was only beaten by Search For A Song. He’s definitely not reached his ceiling yet. Monica Sheriff finished fourth to Fujaira Prince in the Ebor. Trueshan finished eighth in the Ebor and he is a solid, listed-level horse. He has the jockey of the moment Hollie Doyle on board. Spanish Mission has each-way claims as he won the Doncaster Cup over two miles one in September and that race is a tried and tested route into this. The son of Noble Mission was behind Stradivarius in sixth at Glorious Goodwood so there is some ground to make up.

From stayers to sprinters: the next race is the Qipco British Champions Sprint (Group One). I really like these kinds of races as the horses are really likeable and hardy. It looks a very competitive race. The recent Prix de la Foret winner One Master takes her chance dropped a furlong in trip. She was second in this race last year on heavy going, behind Donjuan Triumphant, and mud-lovers often win this race. She’s a classy filly and Pierre-Charles Boudot rides, who gets on with her so well. DREAM OF DREAMS is the likely favourite after two classy performances in the Hungerford Stakes and Sprint Cup, which I was really taken with. He goes on softish ground and has some very good form to his name. He’s my idea of the winner but I’d love for Oxted to run well. He was last seen winning the July Cup and has had a wind-op since However, I fear the ground may have gone against him.

Glen Shiel was a really good second to Dream Of Dreams in the Sprint Cup and I believe he’s Hollie Doyle’s best chance of a coveted, first group one win on this card. For a six-year-old, he is really lightly raced and he won a group three at the Curragh in, beating Sonaiyla, who won two good races before that. Another interesting horse is Art Power. He was thought by many as a horse who could beat Battaash in the Nunthorpe but put in a really disappointing effort. He’s a three-year-old and likes the mud but was fourth to Dream Of Dreams and Glen Shiel last time. He gets just 1lbs from those two horses. Starman is also three and has just three runs, which he won, to his name. He beat Dakota Gold last time in a listed race and that horse has won since.

Onassis and Happy Power were very good winners last weekend.  The former won on heavy on Sunday and, as a three-year-old, she gets a handy allowance. She’s yet to win over six furlongs and there isn’t much speed in her family. Happy Power has won his last three races, rising up from class two, to group three to group two level. He has done most of his winning over seven furlongs but his stamina will probably come in handy on this ground! It is also good to note that it is The Tin Man’s sixth appearance at the meeting and it would be great if he could run well!

Next up, the fillies take centre stage in the Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares (Group One). A really nice group of fillies take their chances here, like the two Oppenheimer horses, Dame Malliot and Frankly Darling. The former is a tough filly and she won at Newmarket in a group two, which was the trainer Ed Vaughan’s biggest winner. Vaughan has since announced he will stop training at the end of the season. She was third in her next two starts in Germany and France. Frankly Darling is a very hot filly and she was well beaten by Love on two occasions. Frankie Dettori has picked Mehdaayih instead. We haven’t seen this filly since Royal Ascot, when she was sixth of seven, but she’s classy on her day.

Even So was a taking winner of the Irish Oaks, beating three subsequent winners. Her sixth at Longchamp behind Dame Malliot, Laburnum and Wonderful Tonight was a bit of a disappointing performance. However, her Classic victory and official rating puts her in contention. Thundering Nights goes for the St Leger winning combination of Tom Marquand and Joseph O’Brien. She won on soft to heavy ground in the backend of last year and then in August on good ground, so she seems versatile. She won a group three on soft ground, beating the well-regarded Albigna in convincing style and was third to Cayenne Pepper and ahead of Gold Wand in the Blandsford Stakes last time.

I’m siding with the Arc Meeting winner WONDERFUL TONIGHT. This filly relishes soft going, which is really important for this meeting. She had Passion and Manuela De Vega in behind that day. Her last run in England was two places behind Cabaletta but Wonderful Tonight has improved past her I think. I’m hoping the in-form William Buick and steer her to victory for a deserving team in the David Menuisier Stable.

The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Sponsored By Qipco) (Group One) acts as an appetiser for the big race of the day which comes next. Palace Pier will be about odds-on for this but, to be honest, I’m not a big fan of this horse. Don’t get me wrong, he’s done absolutely nothing wrong. He’s won at Royal Ascot and in the Prix Jaques Le Marois. I’m not sure how strong both those races were though. His last start was on heavy ground and he handled it well though. Circus Maximus was third that day and he is such a good horse at this level. He always tries so hard, which was shown in the Queen Anne when he gamely won. He was second to Mohaather at Glorious Goodwood next time. Lancasster House also represents Aidan O’Brien too but he’s gone downhill since a good win over seven furlongs at the Curragh. Royal Dornoch completes the Ballydoyle trio at 66/1.

I’m with THE REVENANT. He only made his seasonal debut at the beginning of the month and I get the impression he’s quite delicate as he has only raced six times since March 2019. His reappearance was in a group two that he won well and he was second in this race last year to King Of Change. As well, Nazeef looks a huge price at about 11/1. She’s been brilliant in fillies’ races lately. She won the Falmouth Stakes on soft ground before struggling when trying to give weight away and then on bottomless ground. Last time out, she was a brilliant winner of the Sun Chariot Stakes by over a length and I don’t think she should be underestimated.

The feature race on the card is the Qipco British Champion Stakes (Group One). Eleven runners go to post and I’m really interested by SERPENTINE. I love this horse! He obviously won the Derby in June over one mile four so it makes him interesting dropped to one mile two. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve last time in all honesty so, I think that William Buick should ride him like he’s Ghaiyyath. His stablemate and last year’s winner Magical is one of the leading players. She has done nothing wrong in 2020 with three group one victories in the Pretty Polly, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Champion Stakes. Another Aidan O’Brien runner, Japan, has not shown his true colours this year sadly and I don’t think he handles this kind of ground.

Mishriff is likely to be the second favourite after a trio of victories, including the group one Prix du Jockey Club. He likes soft ground but I think it is a bit unfair that David Egan, retained rider for the owners, doesn’t get the ride but that’s a reality of racing, I guess. It was a bit of a surprise when Sottsass was beaten at the beginning of the year and he obviously went on to win the Arc. The horse that beat him was Skalleti. That was on heavy going and next time he won a group two at Longchamp by over a length to Patrick Sarsfield, who is a solid horse. He is having his first try in group one company but there’s no reason why he can’t feature at this level.

Lord North was a surprising winner of the Prince Of Wales’ Stakes and he made easy work of Addeybb in that race. He was last seen coming third to Ghaiyyath, who was later beaten by Magical, and if he returns to previous form he can run well. Addeybb was in great form in Australia and he is a classy horse when he’s at peak and goes on rain-softened ground. Pyledriver had a huge reputation before the St Leger and he ran really green for some reason. He drops in trip which may be better. Desert Encounter, Extra Elusive and San Donato are probably not up to this level.

The final race is a very competitive looking Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored by Qipco). I’ve whittled down my short list to three. Obviously, I’d like to see Raising Sand win for Nick Bradley Racing. He loves it here at Ascot and the soft ground will do him no harm. Top weight may make things a bit difficult for him. I like the chances of Tempus too. This horse is about third favourite and he was pushed along from a long way out in the Cambridgeshire. He’s ridiculously well-bred. David O’Meara has won two of the last three renewals and ORBAAN is his sole representative. He’s 3lbs higher than his last winning mark but ran well to be fourth last time out staying on at the end behind Tempus. He’s worth keeping an eye on at about 14/1 as David O’Meara knows how to get a horse ready for a big day.

Selections

Race One – Stradivarius

Race Two – Dream Of Dreams

Race Three – Wonderful Tonight

Race Four – The Revenant / Nazeef (EW)

Race Five – Serpentine

Race Six – Orbaan

Weekend Racing Round-Up

A drama filled weekend that had everything from jubilation to deflation, shock last minute withdrawals and much more. A couple attempts at immortality and duels galore! In this, I’ll review all the action from across the weekend from France, America and an impossible win in Japan. But first we shall start with the sole Group 1 in Britain.

Saturday

Britain:

Newmarket

Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (Group 1)

The Sun Chariot was a high-class renewal with 5 of the 12 runners being Group 1 winners and a further 3 being placed at the highest level. Matron Stakes winner Champers Elysees, now in the ownership of Teruya Yoshida, went off the 11/4 favourite. Like most of the meetings that took place over the weekend, the going was Heavy. The race was a closely run with the John Gosden trained Nazeef prevailing by 1 ½ lengths from the Henri-Alex Pantall trained Half Light in second and Richard Hannon’s Cloak of Spirits a neck behind in third. The favourite didn’t have a clear run and had to weave behind a wall of horses from the 2-furlong pole. The Irish 1000 Guineas winner Peaceful was said to have been unsuited by the ground but it seems she just didn’t fire as she has placed 2nd at Newmarket on Heavy ground before, granted against lesser company. Nazeef’s win means that she is now 6 from 6 over a mile so we could presume that she may run in the QE2 on Champions Day, for which she is a general 8/1 shot for.

France:

Longchamp

The ground at ParisLongchamp was classed as Heavy. This was a severe disadvantage for many British raiders, as the soft ground in France is very different to that of the soft British turf. This is because ParisLongchamp is located beside the River Seine, which has an alluvial river bottom so the ground ends up deep and holding, as previously stated by John Gosden.

Qatar Prix Chaudenay (Group 2)

The first race of the Arc weekend went to the H H Aga Khan owned Valia, who stormed to victory down the outside of the field under a very confident ride by Christophe Soumillon for Alain de Royer-Dupre. Godolphin’s Nemean Lion was 2 lengths behind in second and Yann Barberot’s Step by Step a short neck behind in third. The race gave us the first look as just how bottomless the ground at ParisLongchamp was. Ralph Beckett’s Max Vega kept on at one pace to take fourth and Mykiss and Mythical weakened and dropped out.

Qatar Prix Dollar (Group 2)

This years renewal of the 1m 2f Group 2 went the way of last year’s winner Skalleti, even though with a couple of furlongs to go, you wouldn’t have thought it! Faced with a field of 7 rivals, including the old warrior Subway Dancer, Irish raider Patrick Sarsfield and the French charge! Most of the race was headed by the Czechoslovakian horse Raging Storm who came back to the field 2F out and hampered Skalleti. Whilst this was going on Frankie Dettori and Patrick Sarsfield had taken up the running but once Skalleti had found the gap it was game over. The Champion Stakes at Ascot might be on  the agenda for him.

Qatar Prix de Royallieu (Group 1)

One of the feel good stories from the weekend! Wonderful Tonight was a very popular winner for Tony Piccone, David Menuisier and all his team at Coombelands. Although she hanged left towards the end of the race, Wonderful Tonight still managed to keep the Joseph O’Brien trained Pista at bay. They both pulled 5 lengths clear of the third placed horse Ebaiyra. This race showed the effect that the Heavy ground had at Longchamp as 15 ½ lengths covered those still racing and 68 between the Wonderful Tonight and the twelfth placed horse Spirit of Appin.

Haras de Bouquetot- Critérium de la Vente d’Octobre

This race provided one of the most eye-catching winners of the whole meeting, for me, with Jadoomi absolutely hosing up by 7 lengths under Mickael Barzalona. He traveled very well throughout the race and he quickened up and went away from the field with ease. What I was most impressed with, was how he wasn’t for stopping! To do that in Heavy ground at Longchamp, was very striking. I spoke with connections, who told me that he had come out of the race in good condition and that there are currently no immediate plans for his next run, as the race at ParisLongchamp was the aim after his confidence-boosting win at Wolverhampton. They will wait a few days before they start to consider his options! I will be very interested to see where they go with him next, he seems to relish the heavy ground.  

Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein (Group 2)

The Revenant was one of the star performances from last year, winning this race last year then going on to place in a top class QE2. He hadn’t been seen since that race and after almost a year off, he made his largely anticipated return and he didn’t disappoint! Give a patient ride by Pierre-Charles Boudot, he contested the lead with a furlong to go and went clear to win by 2 lengths. He will go back for another bid at the QE2 and with the ground being just as bad at Ascot, he may stand a very good chance! He is a general 8/1 for the race.

Qatar Prix du Cadran (Group 1)

Another one of the feel good stories! Princess Zoe was rated 70 when her winning streak started and since then she has gone  from strength to strength! She faced tough opposition which included Freddy Head’s top French stayer Call The Wind. The race was a very slowly run race, as you would expect with the bottomless ground. The race was led by Frederic Rossi’s Alkuin, ridden by Eddy Hardouin. As they came around the bend, it became clear that Alkuin wasn’t coming back to the field! Joey Sheridan and Princess Zoe set their sights on the runway leader. Call The Wind just didn’t have the pace to go with Princess Zoe and was all out, which reinforced that it was very testing ground! What ensured was almost reminiscent of Red Rum v Crisp in the 1973 National, the slow motion finish up the straight leaving you wondering whether she’ll get there?! Had Hardouin stolen it? Many watched with bated breath as Princess Zoe relentlessly perused her opponent, none more so than her trainer Tony Mullins and her connections! A truly remarkable training feat, a ride of a champion by Joey Sheridan and an unbelievable race!

America:

Pimlico

Dinner Party Stakes (Turf- Grade 2)

On paper, this race may not seem that interesting. However, I was very taken with the winner, Factor This. Ever since joining Brad Cox’s barn he has looked imperious and wasn’t so far behind Digital Age in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. He was always in control of the race and stormed to a 3 length victory and was rewarded with a Timeform Speed Figure of 131, which is incredibly fast! He may not go to the Breeders’ Cup but he is definitely worth at least an each way shout if he does!

Geore E Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Dirt-Grade 2)

One of the unofficial filly Triple Crown races, the Black-Eyed Susan seemed to be a walkover for Bonny South. Last seen 3½ lengths behind subsequent Kentucky Oaks second Swiss Skydiver (more on her in a minute!) in the Alabama Stakes, it was Bonny South’s to lose. Coming around the bend Bonny South was 4 wide and had a mountain to climb to catch the leader in Miss Marissa, trained by James Ryerson and ridden by Daniel Centeno, who had kept her lead stoutly and started to pull away. Bonny South gave a very gallant chase and was flying but was held by Miss Marissa by a neck! Miss Marissa earned a Beyer speed figure of 92, which suggests that it was quite a slowly run race.

Preakness Stakes (Dirt-Grade 1)

The final race of a completely jumbled up Triple Crown was poised to be a cracker! A field of 11 went to post including: Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, Alabama Stakes winner and Kentucky Oaks second, Swiss Skydiver, Blue Grass winner Art Collector, Bob Baffert’s Thousand Words and Ny Traffic, who had finished a nose behind Authentic in the Haskell Invitational. In the end, it just came down to two horses who put everything on the line which culminated in an epic stretch duel down the straight,  that drew comparisons to Easy Goer and Sunday Silence 31 years before! The filly, Swiss Skydiver, just prevailed from the Derby winner Authentic to become the first filly since the legendary Rachael Alexandria in  2009. They both finished 10 lengths in front of the third placed horse Jesus’ Team.  It was a truly thrilling race and a fitting end to the 2020 Triple Crown!

Keenland

First Lady Stakes presented by UK HealthCare (Turf- Grade 1)

Only a small number of horses in this race but still a high class renewal. It boasted last years Turf Mile winner Uni, the ever consistent Beau Recall and the seemingly rejuvenated Newspaperofrecord. The race quickly developed into a 3 horse race with Uni running down Newspaperofrecord in the dying stages, who was then nabbed for second by the fast finishing Beau Recall. It was good to see Uni back to her best after a below par run in the Fourstardave. The main aim for the three of them will probably be the Turf Mile.

Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (Turf- Grade 1)

The race had all the usual suspects including dual Grade 1 scorer, Raging Bull, former English trained Without Parole and the favourite, and Breeders’ Turf Mile fancy, Analyze It. However, there was a slight upset as the winner came in the form of, the 3 time Group 1 winner in Argentina, Ivar. He came charging down the centre of the track to book his ticket for the Breeder’s Cup Turf Mile. Raging Bull was a length behind in second and wouldn’t have caught Ivar. He was given a 126 Timeform Speed Figure which, in this class of opposition, is very interesting indeed. He is a general 16/1 shot for the race.

Belmont Park

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (Turf- Grade 1)

The favourite for this race was the Chad Brown trained  Rockemperor, who I’m sure will get his Grade 1 at some point! The race also included the ever consistent Saddler’s Joy, who many will remember for placing 3rd behind Enable and Magical in the Turf Classic two years ago, and the equally as good Channel Maker, who looked to be back to his old best in his last Grade 1 winning run. The race was dominated by Channel Maker who went from gate to wire to secure a routing of the field. Saddler’s Joy lost second in the closing strides to the German trained Laccario. Rockemperor finished in 5th after not having the speed to go with the others.

Kelso Handicap (Dirt- Grade 2)

Named after one of the greats of American horse racing, the Kelso Handicap had quite a small field with only 4 going to post. Of those four,  it was safe to say it would be a two horse race between last year’s Travers Stakes winner Code of Honor and the Chad Brown trained Complexity, who was last seen just missing out on winning the Forego when collared by Win Win Win. As they came round the bend it was clear the two horse race was about to begin, as Endorsed started to weaken and Stan the Man was never closing. The big two pulled clear by 9 ½ lengths but it was Complexity who won by 2 lengths from Code of Honour, who was always held. However, Code of Honour was giving Complexity 5lbs so It would be a close matchup if they were both to meet on level weights.

Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (Turf- Grade 1)

A low key affair which centred around the favourite Gufo, who went off at 6/4 and won very readily from Todd Pletcher’s No Word, a length away in second. Gufo was very unlucky not to win at Saratoga the time before, when coming from the heavens to be a neck behind the winner in second. His best attribute is the late burst of speed that he has that enables him to fly past all his  opponents in the straight. With this win, he now qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (16/1) but connections also said that he may bypass this for the Hollywood Derby later on in the year. He certainly looks to be the next rising star of American Turf racing!

Sunday

 France:

Longchamp

A new strip of grass was laid to try and make the ground less heavy and it worked, to an extent. It was still nowhere near enough to have a real impact. The ground was marginally drier than the day before but it was still heavy and tacky.

Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère

From 150/1 shot winner at Royal Ascot to 3/5 favourite for one of the biggest juvenile races around, Nando Parrado is one of the most unlikely success stories of this year and full credit has to go to trainer Clive Cox. Many thought that it would be a close race between the five runners so nobody expected the absolute demolition job done by Sealiway who cantered clear on the bottomless ground to win by 8 lengths from Clive Cox’s horse. He traveled very well through the race under Mickael Barzalona. He’s now ranked 116 by Timeform and it will be interesting to see whether it was a case of him handling the ground, or if he is a genuine horse! He has a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but it remains to be confirmed whether he will go!

Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac

Another of the incredible stories from over the weekend as Tiger Tanaka capitalised on a very messy race to win the Marcel Boussac under Jessica Marcialis, who made history by being the first female jockey to win a Group 1 in France. The story was also bolstered by the rise of Tiger Tanaka, who at the beginning of the the year was running in claiming races, so praise must be given for the trainer Charley Rossi. As I said, it was a very messy race and there are many hard luck stories, Harajuku, King’s Harlequin, but none so much as the favourite Fev Rover, who was impeded when starting to make her run and then was shunted from both sides. She gallantly ran on to finish 4th and would’ve definitely would’ve been up there if she had a clear run. I spoke with connections who confirmed to me that she was thankfully none the worse for the run and that a decision would be made in a couple of weeks on if she will run again this year. If she does then some possible targets include the Critérium International over one mile at Saint-Cloud, or the Breeders’ Cup.

Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

What could have been! All eyes were on the incomparable Enable as she bid to make history with an unprecedented third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Sadly, a combination of very testing going and being bumped at the wrong time meant that our hearts were broke again! By no means did this take anything away from Sottsass’s well deserved win. Jean-Claude Rouget had planned the route out ever since Sottsass was 3rd in the race last year. He was always going well and just repelled the challenge of the 3 year old, In Swoop, to win by a neck, giving J-C Rouget and jockey Cristian Demuro their first Arc wins! Andre Fabre’s Persian King just held on to 3rd place from Gold Trip. Although there was the notable absentees of the Aidan O’Brien cavalry, it was still a top class renewal of the jewel of French racing, with 8 of the 11 runners having struck at the top level before. Sottsass has now been retired to stud, along with Persian King. There is currently no decision on whether Enable will run one last time. If some of the 3 year olds stay in training, it will be very interesting to see their paths for next year.

Prix de l’Opéra

The l’Opera saw the clash between the Prix Vermeille winner Tarnawa, the classy Alpine Star, the unbeaten Prix Saint-Alary winner Tawkeel and James Fanshawe’s Prix Jean Romanet winner Audarya. I was highly surprised to see Audarya at such a big price in the betting, considering she had won on the French soft ground before. The race was every bit the clash everyone expected. Tawkeel took up the running and with 100 meters to go they were all in a line! With about 50 yards to go, the battle became a ‘head-bobber’ between Tarnawa and Alpine Star, with Tarnawa just prevailing. One runner that did catch my eye was the Polish runner Inter Royal Lady, who was 78/1 and finished 8th, a short neck behind Grand Glory in 7th. She was virtually unbeaten in Poland, with her sole defeat coming when she was a close second to her stablemate in the Polish Derby. She had never ran on the ground before and was only 6 lengths behind the very best in the business!

Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp

Anyone will tell you that when it comes to the Abbaye, the draw is key. Wooded, ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot, had the very inside draw and just narrowly prevailed by a neck from the  favourite Glass Slippers, who was closing with every stride. She had draw 10, which was nearly the outside draw, but in a small Abbaye, there was less of an effect. She also gained 4lbs off Wooded, having the filly allowance, so that definitely helped. Take nothing away from her though, she ran a very good race. Liberty Beach (Draw 4) just lost second to Glass Sippers and Lady in France ran a cracking race for Karl Burke in 4th at 30/1.

Qatar Prix de la Forêt

Well… a mare did make history by winning 3 of the same Group 1, just not the one we all thought!! To make it even more impressive, One Master did them back-to-back as well. This seems to have slipped under the radar a bit, however, it’s some performance from Boudot and William Haggas to achieve this feat. Narrowly prevailing in a battle, as always, with the 3 year old Earthlight and the popular Safe Voyage a short head behind them. Tropbeau (remember her?) finished a 1 ½ lengths behind in 4th. It was the perfect way to cap off a very eventful Arc weekend with the incredibly gutsy mare battling to cement her place in history.

America:

Keenland

Bourbon Stakes (Turf- Grade 2)

For his debut race, Mutasaabeq earned an 84 Beyer speed rating for his win. Now for a two year old, that is razor sharp. This was on the final day of the Saratoga meeting, where there is normally a good two year old that always comes out of a maiden. For example, last year’s was Tiz the Law. He then went straight to contest a Grade 1 over 7F at Saratoga and was dropped by Chad Brown’s Reinvestment Risk and the current favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Jackie’s Warrior. He made his first start on turf and over a mile and a half  for this race. He dwelt from the start and was five horses wide going around the corner and 5 lengths off the lead coming into the home stretch. He quickened up very nicely and passed the other 10 horses in the field like they were stood still to win by 2 lengths. He punched his ticket for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and is a 6/1 shot for the race.

Japan:

Nakayama

Sprinters Stakes (Turf- Grade 1)

The Sprinters Stakes is the second of the two big Grade 1 sprint races, with the other being the Takamatsunomiya Kinen in March. The field included the winner of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, Mozu Superflare, who was handed the race via the disqualification of Kurino Gaudi, who was also in the Sprinters. Multiple Graded winner Danon Smash, Diatonic who was 3rd that day and Gran Alegria, who was 2nd. Gran Alegria was the 6/5 favourite having been placed in multiple Grade 1 races, winning the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) last year and last time out, she defeated the brilliant Almond Eye in the Yasuda Kinen, over a mile. Gran Alegria blew the start and was about 5 lengths off the pace and coming into the straight with around 1 ½ furlongs left, she was about 10-15 lengths off the lead, if not more. She then flew down the centre of the track, in a style that Chautauqua would be proud of, and won by 2 lengths from Danon Smash. She will next contest for the Mile Championship at Kyoto on the 22nd of November. It may have been overlooked by all the other racing on this weekend but she was highly impressive.

By Kieran McHugh

Why Should Kids Go Racing?

By Niamh Townsend

 

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Standing by the winning post for the Group 1 QIPCO Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 2017

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has been lifechanging for everyone, particularly children. As life returns to some sense of normality there is still a long wait for many kids before they return to school, and that means they will need something to keep them entertained over the extended summer break a lot of them have had. While the usual activities may include swimming, sports, going to the cinema, theme parks and many other attractions, my suggestion to any parents or guardians reading this is to take your kids for a day at the races!

 

Every sport relies on its fans, and the racing industry is no different. There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about how we can interest younger fans in going racing and I truly believe that the key to this is getting them to the racecourse and introducing them to the sport through that medium as opposed to just watching it on the television. I speak from personal experience here, when I was younger I would happily watch the racing on TV if it was on due to my love of horses; but it wasn’t until my grandad actually took me to Aintree to watch it all from the course that my obsession truly started.

 

My point is, taking your kids racing is easy, affordable, and most importantly it is fun. Not only that, but it is vital now, even more than ever, that racing can interest the next generation of racing fans to fall in love with the sport.

 

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Frodon at home during my visit to Paul Nicholls’ Manor Farm Stables in 2016

 

Like many businesses during the pandemic, the majority of racecourses have felt the financial pressure. With the cancellation of racing initially and now the lack of crowds, they are receiving very little income. In recent days there have been more positive signs that crowds will soon be allowed to return to the racecourse and the news broke that Goodwood will be the first racecourse to allow a limited crowd of 5000 people to watch racing at the beginning of August, an initiative that has been introduced in France already. As soon as crowds return to racecourses, I would love to see as many tickets sold as possible to support our racecourses and introducing new racegoers will be key to that.

 

Most people will live within an hour of a racecourse, there are 60 racecourses across Britain (a list of which can be found here – https://www.britishhorseracing.com/racing/racecourses/). Most major towns and cities will have a racecourse nearby and they are all relatively easy to access by both cars and public transport such as buses and trains.

 

I suppose the concern for many right now would be the cost of taking an entire family to the racecourse, but the honest truth of it is that to get into most racecourses for a full day out it will set you back less than a family trip to the cinema, since all children get entry into any racecourse in the UK for free. Just find where your local racecourse is, go onto their website and see that price list for yourself for any of their upcoming fixtures. You can book online (often for a discounted price if you book in advance) or it is just as easy to turn up on the day and buy tickets at the gate. On top of that, there are rarely queues to enter the racecourse, so the kids won’t have to stand around for too long.

 

If you’re concerned that the racing itself won’t appeal to your child, then I would suggest looking at the ‘Family Days’ your local racecourse offers since the majority will hold at least one every year. These are great occasions to introduce kids to the racecourse because it is not just the draw of the racing on offer, but many other activities such as fairground rides, petting zoos, face painting, etc. Therefore, it’s the perfect opportunity to test the waters and see if racing is something you might like to watch again as a family without necessarily wasting the money to enter because there are plenty of other things to entertain the kids on the day if they don’t necessarily take an interest in the horses and the racing itself.

 

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“A visit to the racecourse will give you direct access to the stars of the sport.”

 

Horse racing is unlike any other sport, because a visit to the racecourse will give you direct access to the stars of the sport – the trainers, jockeys, and of course the horses. A visit to the parade ring will allow you and your kids to see the horses up close from behind the barrier, the perfect opportunity to pick which horse to cheer on in the next race. If you ask nicely as well, more often than not, you will be able to get a picture or autograph with one of the jockeys as they come out of the weighing room before the next race. If your child takes a liking to horse racing, they will have direct access to their favourite athletes.

 

It has been 9 years since my first trip to the races, and since then the sport has become deeply embedded in my life. Not only has it provided a welcome distraction from life’s various stressors, but I have also been able to integrate it within my school work whether that be an end-of-year research project aged 11, or the central focus of my EPQ at A Level. I have visited racecourses around the country, taken trips to see ‘behind the scenes’ at many yards, met some of the sports greatest horses, jockeys and trainers, and currently work part time in a racing yard. Even now, at the beginning of my journey into the working world, my one goal in my professional life is to become a broadcaster so that I can apply this passion I hold for the sport into my everyday work. I owe all that to my very first trip to the races at Aintree in June 2011.

 

But don’t just take my word for it, listen to what some of the younger generation had to say about their own race day experiences:

“I like going racing because I can watch the horses closer than on telly.  They are much nicer in real life.  I also like to wear my best clothes. I have met some jockeys that my Grandma knows, and her horses at the yard and the racecourse.  I quite like the family days at the races, but not when they keep you so far away from the paddock, cos then you have to run really fast in time to see them.  I have been to Stella Barclay’s yard, my favourite horse there is Sharrabang. He’s been my favourite since he was born.  I’ve been to Luke McJannet’s yard in Newmarket, and he let me sit on a horse which I was scared at first, but the horse was really nice so I wasn’t scared after. I have also been to see Bean who belongs to Rosie Margarson.  He is proper funny. I can’t wait for us to be allowed to go racing again cos I miss the colours and excitement.” – Amelia, 10

 

“I love going racing with Daddy and Grandma, it’s well funny when they start shouting the horses names, but the people next to you don’t know their  pet names, and they give you funny looks.  It’s sad a bit though cos you can’t go in the paddock to see your horse cos there are rules about  not being old enough to go in.  But I know racehorses cos they are my friends, and I’ve sat on a few and they are kind.  My favourite horse ever is Nicky Nook (Rosie) I love her.  She is big and shiny, but she doesn’t run very fast so she’s going to have a baby.  I don’t like the big queues at the family days, and it’s really far to walk to the parade ring from where the family bit is.  I love the big shiny horses, the jockey’s sometimes wave and I like the colours.  When we are not at the races for real, we watch it on the telly.  It’s nice because I can say I know that horse! I have a silk for my riding hat that is the same colours as Grandma’s horses silks! I want to go racing again soon, but there are germs, so I have to wait.  I don’t like waiting.” – Lexi-Mae, 8

 

“My dad tells me that I was only a few inches tall when I first went racing. It was at Wincanton on 27th of March 2010 and I was in a big blue pram. I only had one view of the racing that day – looking around a steel frame with a blue middle. My mother doesn’t go racing often but she was there with my father and one of my brothers. I remember that there was a lot of mud and cars. In the distance there was a group of people wearing bright colours on huge brown and grey things. We were in one of the car parks and, to this day, I am not sure whether this happened or it is what I imagined happening. I am now ten years old and have been racing 237 times and 29 at Wincanton. The memories which first come to mind at Wincanton would be playing cricket in one of the fields past the grandstands, as soon as we feel the ground shake we run straight to the fence and watch all the horses just a meter away. At Fontwell, I think of a rainy day with close to no people there and the stunning architecture of the owner’s area. I have been to lots of racecourses now and they all have something good about them. But what I like most about going racing is the shaking of the ground and my favourite, the glorious sight of a horse jumping a fence.” – Sam, 10

 

I like going to the races as its one of the best sports to watch seen as you can get really close to the horses, jockeys and even trainers at smaller courses. I don’t think in football you get to meet the stars of the sport at every game as there are thousands upon thousands crammed into a stadium – in racing, apart from The Cheltenham Festival where there’s 70000 people, you get signatures and pictures (if you collect them). However, though I was brought into racing by my dad, I think it’s harder to get into racing without people like my dad as some go only for a day out, but if you go more constantly you can grow on the sport.” – Joshua, 13

 

“One of the main things I enjoy about the races is the social aspect, being able to go with friends or meeting new people with the same interests can make the day even more enjoyable. I also like being able to follow the horses, owners and trainers throughout different races and choosing a horse in the parade ring that I think will win the race, which adds to the excitement when you see the horses run.” – Jessica, 15

 

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I’ve been lucky enough to get up close to some of the stars of the sport, including the great Sprinter Sacre in 2016

 

The honest truth of it is that racing is not going to appeal to every single child out there, but if there is even the slightest opportunity that a day at the races could spark a new craze for your child then surely it is worth giving it a go. With a visit to the races being so affordable for families, and with a vast majority of courses and days to visit, what is there to lose?

 

It changed my life, and it is a sport that will change the lives of many more to come after me. I really hope you will give it a go, and I hope you enjoy it.

Wonder Mares: Petite Etoile

Petite Etoile, by Petition o/o Star Of Iran


By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)


Before I discovered this beautiful painting (pictured above), I knew virtually nothing about Petite Etoile. I’d never heard of her or her extremely successful exploits on the track. I was given the painting by a friend of my grandparents, Robert Rowley, who I’d always discuss racing with whenever I saw him. I’ve found it really interesting to look into this filly’s career.


Petite Etoile was a grey filly born in 1956, by Gimcrack and Eclipse winner Petition and out of Star Of Iran. In her racing career, she was owned by Prince Aly Khan and trained by Noel Murless, who was Champion Trainer nine times (1948, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1967, 1968, 1970 & 1973). He won all of the Classics more than twice but he was, in particular, extremely successful with his fillies, winning the 1000 Guineas six times and the Oaks five times. There is a one mile six furlong race at Ascot this each year in late September, early October which remembers him. His best colt was Royal Palace, who won the Acomb, Royal Lodge, 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Coronation Stakes, Coronation Cup, Prince Of Wales’ Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.


Petite Etoile was one of his best too and her name, which translates to Little Star, is extremely fitting. From what I’ve heard, she wasn’t the easiest to deal with and only liked to work with other grey horses on the gallops! Noel Murless has been reported to describe her as a “monkey” and “peculiar”. In 1959, when she was two, on her first start, she was beaten by Chris, who went on to win the Kings Stand, at Manchester Racecourse. She won the Star Stakes at Sandown, finished second in the Molecomb and won the Rose Stakes at Sandown at odds of 1/6. On ratings, she was just short of the top band and was considered to be a fast filly, who wouldn’t make an impact beyond sprint trips.


Because of her success at two, she carried top weight when making her three year old debut in the Free Handicap. Partnered by Doug Smith, who rode four classic winners and trained one, they won and went on to be an 8/1 shot in the 1000 Guineas. Smith kept the ride as Lester Piggott chose to ride Collryia. He chose wrong though as she stayed on in the closing stages to win by a length. It was all part of Smith’s plan though – he underplayed how good this filly was in hope Piggott wouldn’t want to ride her.


Her next target was the Oaks and Piggott took over the riding duties, but they were unsure if she would stay. She was second favourite behind an unbeaten horse, Cantelo, who many believed had superior staying ability. The Charles Elsey-trained did have superior staying power as she won the St Leger but was without the turn of foot that Petite Etoile showed. She was one of six winners in the Oaks for Piggott, who is one of the greats of the weighing room. His others were Carrozza (1957), Valoris (1966), Juliette Marny (1975), Blue Wind (1981) and Circus Plume (1984). He won the Jockeys Championship eleven times and, for a flat jockey, he was quite tall at 5ft8in. Petite Etoile won the rest of her races in 1959 – the Sussex Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Champion Stakes.


To win all these races in one year is absolutely insane – especially for a filly. From what I can work out, she is the only horse to have ever won all of these races in one season. Incredibly, nowadays the prize fund for winning those race, in total, is £2,181,194. Back in 1959, it was a mere £57,058. The difference is absolutely mind-boggling!


In May 1960, Prince Aly Khan was killed in a car accident and his son, Aga Khan VI, inherited the ownership. She got off to a good start for the new owners by winning the Victor Wild Stakes and was then sent to Epsom for the Coronation Cup. Her SP was 1/3, despite the fact that she was running against the Derby winner Parthia. Her blazing turn of foot assured her the win and she made Parthia look like he was a “selling plater”. It was so impressive that an American buyer offered £320,000 for the filly, but it was denied.

Petite Etoile (Pinterest)


Next time out, Petite Etoile went to Ascot on rain-softened ground for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Piggott was confident, describing her as “the best I have ever ridden”. I’ve been searching the Internet for a video of this filly racing and this is the only race I could find. (Watch it Here) She was kept near the rear and her jockey tried to take her down the inside rail but found the passage blocked and she had to switch wide. Even though she finished strongly, it wasn’t enough and she was beaten half a length. She was deemed “Petite Etoile, the wonder filly,” by the commentator an she really was wonderful. On looks, she really reminds me of Phoenix Of Spain, the big grey son of Lope De Vega trained by Charlie Hills to win the 2000 Guineas, because, in comparison to the others, she’s huge!


Petite Etoile, despite rumours of her retiring, raced again at five. She began with a narrow victory in the Coronation Stakes at Sandown and then won a second Coronation Cup. At Royal Ascot, she won the Rous Memorial Stakes (since discontinued). She came second in a race named after her late owner and then won the Scarborough Stakes at Doncaster. She concluded her career coming second in the Queen Elizabeth II when 2/9 favourite.


The next step for Petite Etoile was going to stud. She was an underwhelming broodmare with three foals achieving very little on the track. Despite this, a descendant of her is Zarkava. This bay mare was unbeaten through a seven race career, including five group ones. Herself, she is the dam of Zarak, a group one winner, and Prix Vermeille third Zarkamiya.


The word ‘remarkable’ springs to mind when thinking about this unique, quirky filly. Aged three, she won British Horse of The Year and Timeform Top-Rated Three Year Old. Aged four and five, she was the Timeform Top-Rated Older Female. From nineteen faces, she won fourteen and came second on three occasions. Not many fillies would take the same route as she did nowadays. For example, only one filly has ran in the Sussex Stakes in the past three renewals. Attitudes are different now compared to sixty years ago when this mare was in her prime and we’ve just got to hope we’ll have some more incredible mares that can serve it up to the boys this season!


Wonder Mare.

I wrote another article about the items Robert Rowley gave to me, which you can read here – Golden Days : 1998 Gold Cup

Three selections for racing at Dundalk

By Luke

Mid week racing this week comes from the only All weather track in Ireland, Dundalk. An eight race card gets underway at five o’clock.

My first selection is in Race two, the Dundalk Stadium Claiming Race over one mile. The Ado McGuinness trained Master Speaker makes the most appeal. While he may not be in the best form of late, he has a great chance at the weights. His last win came back in July at Killarney when he bet Yuften comfortably giving him a pound, Master Speaker now receives three pounds when you take the riders claim away from Yuften’s allotted weight. I think he will bounce back to form here with Ronan Whelan in the saddle.

Race four is the Book Your Christmas Party At Dundalk Handicap over one mile. Kafu has been running well of late for trainer Ger Lyons. On his penultimate start, he finished second behind Franklyn who has since franked the form, winning twice at Listowel. That race was in July and he wasn’t seen again until earlier this month when he finished second at Dundalk over seven furlongs. He will have come on for the run and will enjoy the step back up to a mile. I think he will go close with Colin Keane in the saddle.

The penultimate race on the card is the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Stadium Handicap over seven furlongs. Eacharn has returned to a winnable mark after being rated seventy in January. He has previously won off a mark of sixty three when winning over course and distance last December. He was last seen finishing midfield at the Curragh last week after being off the track since May. I think he will be sharper for the run and will will go close with Andrew Slattery in the saddle.

Preview of Day Five at Royal Ascot

By Luke

The final days racing at Royal Ascot gets underway with a Listed Race that is the Chesham Stakes over seven furlongs for two year olds. One of the most intriguing parts of Day five will be the race for the Champion jockey for the meeting. As things stand Ryan Moore is two behind Frankie Dettori. I think Ryan will close the gap to one after he rides Lope Y Fernandez. This expensive son of Lope De Vega made a very impressive debut when winning at the Curragh over seven furlongs earlier this month. As with most of Aidan’s they will improve for the run, and if he does improve for the run I think he will be very hard to beat at 13/8.

Race two is the Group 3 Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs for three year olds. I think this could be a quick fire double for Ryan Moore as he partners So Perfect. This daughter of Scat Daddy was last seen winning a Group 3 at Naas last month over six furlongs. She made her reappearance in the Fred Darling at Newbury back in April over seven furlongs. She wasn’t beaten far on that occasion when possibly needing the run over a distance she had never tried before. She has good form from her two year old campaign, including a second behind the Commonwealth winner Advertise. I think she is the classiest horse in the field and I think she will win at 5/1.

Race three is the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over one mile and four furlongs. Masar makes his seasonal reappearance here after just over a year off the track. His last run was when he won the Derby beating some nice horses. Prior to that run he was placed in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket finishing behind Saxon Warrior. Out of all the horses in the race I think he has the most potential to go on and win a Group 1 later this year. If he comes in here fit, I think he will win at 4/1.

Race four is the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs. Blue Point was last seen winning the Kings Stand on Tuesday when lowering the colours of Battaash. He is the best horse in the race and the biggest question will be how he will be after his run on Tuesday. He has won over six furlongs at Ascot back in 2017 so the trip won’t be a problem . If he is none the worse for his run on Tuesday I think he will win at 2/1.

Race five is the Wokingham Stakes over six furlongs. Hey Jonesy was last seen finishing fifth in a Group 2 at York back in May. Prior to that he finished second behind Dream Of Dreams at Chelmsford, the winner is running in the Diamond Jubilee before Hey Jonesy. I think he will enjoy the big field handicap and has a good draw in stall in 18. I think he will run well at 14/1.

The last race of the week is the Queen Alexandra Stakes over two miles and five furlongs. I think Max Dynamite will end the meeting on a high note. He hasn’t run since finishing down the field in a Group 1 at Chantilly. If he can return to the form of his second in the Doncaster Cup last September. If he can see out this extreme trip I think he will win and possibly win Ryan Moore the jockeys championship at Royal Ascot.

Preview of Day four at Royal Ascot

By Luke 

After Frankie Dettori had a fantastic day three I think Ryan Moore will take centre stage on day four with a good book of rides. Race one is the Group 3 Albany Stakes over six furlongs for Fillies. I think Lil Grey will out run her odds. She was last seen winning at the Curragh over six furlongs. The third from that race Alligator Alley, has one previous run when finishing fourth behind Sunday Sovereign and the Coventry winner Arizona. Lil Grey will have no problem seeing out the stiff six furlongs at Ascot as on debut she finished second at Leopardstown over seven furlongs. I think she will outrun her odds of 33/1 and go close with Robbie Colgan in the saddle.

Max’s selection: Galadriel 

Samantha’s selection: Daahyeh

Killian’s selection : Lil Grey ew

Race two is the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes over one mile and a half. This one looks to be very straight forward with Japan lining up. He was last seen finishing a close third in the Derby just beaten over half a length by Anthony Van Dyck. On official ratings he his ten pounds clear of the second highest rated in the field, Humanitarian. If he shows up in close to his best form he will win this easy and get Ryan Moore off the mark for the day.

Race three is the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup for three year olds over six furlongs. I’m siding with the man of the moment Frankie Dettori who rides Advertise. He was a good two year not finishing out of the first two for that season. He was a Group 1 winner, winning the Pheonix Stakes over six furlongs at the Curragh. He has form over course and distance from last year when he finished second in the Coventry Stakes at this meeting last season. I would put a line through his reappearance when finishing down the field in the 2,000 Guineas. He will be sharper for the run and I think he will go close at 9/1.

Killian’s selection: Advertise ew

Race four is the Group 1 Coronation Stakes over one mile for three year old Fillies. Hermosa should win this. She is the dual 1,000 Guineas winner, winning at the Curragh and Newmarket. I think this could be an Aidan O’Brien trained one two as I think Happen will run a good race. She stayed on strongly over seven furlongs to win at the Curragh last time out. The step up to one mile will suit and I think she will run well at 16/1.

Race five is the Sandringham Stakes over one mile for three year old Fillies. This race looks wide open and the one I am going to take a chance on is Gypsy Spirit at 66/1. She was last seen in France finishing third behind Obligate and Pure Zen at Chantilly in a Listed race back in May. Since, the first two home have come out and finished one, two in a Group 2 race at Chantilly. Gypsy Spirit ran a nice reappearance this season finishing mid field in the Group 3 Fred Darling at Newbury. I think she will enjoy the stiff mile at Ascot and has a good draw in stall twenty one. I think she will outrun her big odds with Luke Morris in the saddle.

Race six is the Duke Edinburgh Stakes over one mile and a half. I like last years runner up Corgi. He finished half a length behind Baghdad in this race last year when a close second. He was receiving two pounds last year but now receives five pounds off Baghdad. This will be his second run after a wind operation which will hopefully help him as well. I think he will run another good race and go close at 6/1.

Killian’s selection: Lethal Steps ew