Last week’s selection, Almanzor, proved himself the best 3yo around when winning last week’s Champion Stakes, probably the best race run anywhere on the planet this year. He is to be kept in training as a 4yo, and with that electrifying change of gear, may well go on to prove himself one of the all time greats.
This week’s contest was originally conceived of by the founder of the Timefom organisation, Phill Bull, and was first run as The Timeform Trophy in 1961. It continued in various guises until The Racing Post took over in 1989. Plenty of top class animals, such as Ribocco, Vaguely Noble, and High Top, came from the early days of the contest but it wasn’t until Refefence Point, in the hands of Pat Eddery scooted home by eight lengths in 1986 that we saw a future Derby winner. Four future winners of the Epsom Classic have prevailed since, with the Aidan O’Brien trained Camelot in 2011 the last. O’Brien, with 21 Grade1 victories to his credit already this year, is within touching distance of the great American trainer, Bobby Frankels, all time record of 25, so victory in this Group1, which he has already won seven times, would be particularly sweet. He is most likely to be represented by three sons of the great Galileo, who has been so significant in the success of the Ballydoyle operation in recent years, and it’s difficult to choose between two of them.
Capri made his racecourse debut at the Curragh in July, and, easy to back in the market, finished second at 6/1. He made no mistake 2weeks later, taking an 8 1/2f Galway maiden, and only 7 days after that, easily won a 7 1/2f Tipperary listed affair. Stepped up to Group2 level at the Curragh next time, (1mile heavy Sept 25) he beat his two stable companions, Yucatan and Exemplar by 3/4L and the same, with the fourth horse 16L behind. Clearly the form looks pretty strong, but I just wonder if the runner up, (went off at 10/1 behind the strongly fancied winner, 8/11) is the one to take out of the race. Yucatan was a very late foal, (May 17) which actually makes him more than 3 months younger than his stable companion, and little was expected of him when making his racecourse debut, (August 7th) as he went off at 10/1. Again three weeks later, when a seemingly unfancied 4/1 shot behind his 7/4 stablemate, Taj Mahal, he won a Curragh mile maiden cleverly. His last run, in that Group 2 behind Capri at the Curragh, was another step forward, and this son of Galileo, whose dam, Six Perfection’s, won the 2003 Breeders Cup Mile, and whose own dam Yoga, was a half sister to the two times Breeders Cup Mile winner, the immortal Miesque, is clearly bred to be a champion, and it will come as no surprise if he improves past his talented stablemate.
Young handler, David Merusier, is beginning to make his presence felt in the training ranks, and has an interesting contender, Contrappasto, who showed promise when finishing second to Rivet in the Convivial Stakes at York on only his second outing. Described by his trainer as a “big baby” he ran green but once he got the hang of things ran on strongly to get within 3 1/4L of the Haggas horse. Given plenty of time by his talented trainer he showed the benefit when comfortably taking a Nottingham Maiden seven weeks later. Much more will be required at the weekend but this son of Cacique is clearly going the right way.
Contrappasto’s York conqueror, Rivet took a big step forward in his next race when winning the 7f Group2 Champagne Stakes over Saturday’s Course three weeks later, but then disappointed when only 5th in the 7f Dewhurst Stakes. By the Australian champion sprinter Fastnet Rock he may be best at distances short of a mile. However he is due to be ridden by Andrea Atzeni who has partnered the last three winners of the contest, for three different trainers, so who knows.
Brian Meehan runs his Sea The Stars colt, Raheen House, and this well bred animal, (dam is a half sister to the Queen Mary winner, and 1000gns third, Maqassid) is quietly progressive on the racecourse. Second in his first two races he won his last, a 1m York Maiden Auction in workmanlike style. Plenty of improvement is required but his able trainer won this in 2008 with Crowded House, so knows what is required. This well bred animal is on an upward trajectory and is worth considering.
E.W. : Raheen House