Sunday, 20 October 2019

Workforce

Workforce
Bred by Juddmonte Farms, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Workforce was a bay colt by 2,000 Guineas winner King’s Best, famous for winning the Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2010. In fact, Workforce won just four of his nine races between 2009 and 2011, but his two successes at the highest level contributed to total career earnings of over £3.2 million and were sufficient for him to be named Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt in 2010.

Having won his maiden at Goodwood in September, 2009, with consummate ease, Workforce was beaten 3 lengths by subsequent Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes at York on his reappearance the following May, although his cause wasn’t helped by the bit slipping through his mouth in the closing stages. In any case, he was sent off 6/1 joint second favourite for the Derby at Epsom three weeks later and, having collared pacemaker At First Sight with over a furlong to run, drew away to win by 7 lengths. In so doing, he broke the track record set by Lammtarra 15 years earlier.

The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July was his next target but, despite starting 8/11 favourite against the older horses, he ran the proverbial ‘stinker’, trailing in fifth of six, beaten 16¾ lengths, behind the 4-year-old Harbinger, also trained by Sir Michael Stoute. Sir Michael said afterwards, “I didn’t know which was the better horse. I’ve never pitted them together. It was just a question of which horse had progressed the most since his last run.”

Workforce wasn’t seen again until the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October where, in a rough race that saw the eventual seventh, Planteur, disqualified for causing interference, he ran on strongly to beat Japanese challenger Nakayama Festa by a head. In so doing, he gave Sir Michael Stoute his first winner of the race. Stoute said, “I'm thrilled to have won it with this horse, especially after he was so brilliant in the Derby and inexplicably disappointing in the King George.”


Monday, 30 September 2019

Altior the One to Beat In King George VI Chase



With the National Hunt season set to get in full swing in October, we take a quick look ahead to the second most prestigious chase on the English hunt racing calendar.
 
 

Prestigious race

 

The King George VI Chase is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the pecking order of National Hunt chases. The Grade 1 steeplechase is run at Kempton Park over a distance 3 miles (4,828 metres) on Boxing Day each year. Horses aged four-years-old and over qualify for the event which was won by the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan des Obeaux in 2018.

The race was first held in 1937 and has produced famous stars such as four-time winner Desert Orchid and five-time winner Kauto Star. Jockey Ruby Walsh was on board for each of Kauto Star’s wins and remains the most successful rider in the history of the race.
 
 

Prospect of big-name showdown

 
 
Although the race is some months away, preparations are already underway and the stage is being set for a showdown between two of the sport biggest names. The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior has been targeted for the race and will warm up with a run at Ascot in the Christy 1965 Chase in November. There, he will almost certainly go up against Cyrname who could also line up in the King George.
 
 

Early bookmaker’s favourite

 
 
Altior is unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps but has never run more than two and a quarter miles before. If all goes well, he could even take a shot at the Gold Cup next year. His is already favourite for the King George VI Chase in the early horse racing odds with ante-post prices of 5/2 available, while Cyname can be backed at 5/1.
 
 

New kid on the block

 
 
Cyrname is the new kid on the clock who will be hoping to upset the party having already excelled at Ascot this year. The handicapper has rated the newcomer slightly higher but the Christy 1965 Chase should offer some clarity on their respective credentials before the Boxing Day bash.

Altior has barely put a foot wrong in the last four years has already gained superstar status. He regained the Champion Chase at Cheltenham earlier this year to make it four-consecutive years with a festival win.


The Gold Cup question

 

Those two races will be crucial in deciding whether Altior will go on to compete in the Gold Cup or revert back to the Champions Chase. If he can go on the claim the King George and the Blue Riband prize at Cheltenham, he will go down in history as one of the greats. But there is a lot of work to do between now and then.


 

 
 
Whatever happens in November and December, the prospect of seeing these two horses going head to head during the Xmas festival at Kempton has already got National Hunt fans licking their lips in anticipation. The big question is: Can Altior make the step up in distance?

 
 

Monday, 2 September 2019

Ouija Board

Ouija Board
Owned by Lord Derby and trained by Ed Dunlop in Newmarket, Ouija Board has the distinction of being named Cartier Horse Of The Year twice, once in 2004, when she was also named Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly, and again in 2006, when she was also named Cartier Older Horse. Dunlop once said of her, “Having her outweighs everything. She’s changed my career, changed my life, changed [owner] Lord Derby’s life.”

Her three-year-old campaign was, undoubtedly, her best. Having won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Newmarket by 6 lengths on her seasonal debut, she turned the Oaks at Epsom into a procession, surging clear in the closing stages to beat All Too Beautiful and Punctilious by 7 lengths and 3½ lengths. She beat Punctilious again, albeit by just a length after being eased in the closing stages, in the Irish Oaks the following month, but wasn’t seen again until the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 77 days later.

Initially held up at the rear of the field, she finished strongly down the centre of the track but, at the line, was 1½ lengths adrift of the winner, Bago. She ended the season on a winning note, though, running on strongly to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Lone Star Park, Texas.

Ouija Board didn’t reappear until June, 2005, when she was beaten out of sight in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, run at York while Ascot was being redeveloped. Having resumed winning ways in the Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes at Newmarket in September, she finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park, Chicago, fifth in the Japan Cup at Tokyo and completed her season with a convincing win in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

The following season, she proved her York run all wrong by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and added the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and another Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, this time at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, to her winning tally later in the campaign. All in all, she won 10 of her 22 races, including seven at the highest level, and earned just over £3.5 million in total prize money.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Enable


enable horse
Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden – both of whom described her as a “filly of a lifetime” – Enable was named Cartier Horse of the Year in 2017 after a phenomenal three-year-old campaign, in which she won five Group 1 races.

Having won her sole start as a juvenile, Enable was beaten in a condition stakes race over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Newbury on her three-year-old debut, staying on to finish third, beaten 2½ lengths and a head by stable companion Shutter Speed and Raheen House. However, her proximity to the 110-rated Raheen House, who’d finished fourth in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster the previous October, earned her an 18lb rise in the weights.

She proved that the weight rise was justified, though, by winning the Cheshire Oaks by 1¾ lengths, eased down, on her next start at Chester. Winning jockey Frankie Dettori said afterwards, “She’s a very nice filly, who is improving all the time. She is beginning to know what she is doing.”

The daughter of Nathaniel certainly knew what she was doing by the time she arrived at Epsom for the Oaks proper, drawing clear in the closing stages to beat the odds-on favourite, Rhododendron, by 5 lengths, with her old rival Alluringly a further 6 lengths away in third.

She won at the Curragh, with a minimum of fuss, to become a dual Oaks winner and moved on to Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in which she faced older horses, including colts, for the first time. Frankie Dettori wasted down to 8st 7lb, his minimum riding weight all year, to take the ride and Enable quickened clear in the closing stages to win by an impressive 4½ lengths.

After another facile victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York in August, at odds of ¼, Enable made her final start of the season came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, run at Chantilly during the redevelopment of Longchamp, in October. Sent of 10/11 favourite, she was ridden clear 1½ furlongs from home to beat Cloth Of Stars by 2½ lengths. Her Timeform rating of 134 is only a few pounds behind the best fillies of the last five decades or so and she stays in training as a four-year-old, so she could still be better yet.