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 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.

Friday, 12 July 2019


Bred by Sir James Goldsmith, owned by Michael Tabor and trained by John Hammond in Chantilly, France, was a bay gelding by Sadler’s Wells, probably best remembered for winning the Derby, the Irish Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a 3-year-old and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes as a 4-year-old.

In fact, his victory in the latter contest, in 2000, is widely considered the easiest since Nijinsky and Lester Piggott toyed with the opposition three decades earlier. Certainly, Montjeu started the shortest-priced favourite, at 1/3, since Nashwan, at 2/9, beat Cacoethes by a neck in 1989. Facing just six rivals, all of whom had 11lb or more to find on official figures, Montjeu made progress from the rear of the field with two furlongs to run and cruised home by 1¾ lengths from Fantastic Light with jockey Mick Kinane barely moving in the saddle. Kevin Darley, rider of the fourth home, Beat All, said afterwards, “It looked as if he [Monjeu] had just joined in at the turn.”

Montjeu ran his last race at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, in November, 2000, finishing a never-nearer seventh of 13, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Kalanisi in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. At the end of his racing career, he had won 11 of his 16 races, including six at the highest level and earned over £2.2 million in total prize money. His Timeform rating of 137 was the same as that achieved by Derby winners Grundy, Troy and Peintre Celebre.

He was retired to Coolmore Stud, Co. Tipperary for the start of the 2001 breeding season, initially with a stud fee of £30,000. However, Montjeu proved extraordinarily successful as a stallion, siring Motivator, Authorized, Pour Moi and Camelot, winners of the Derby in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Consequently, his stud fee rose considerably, to as high as €125,000 in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

When he died in 2012, due to complications arising from acute septicaemia, trainer John Hammond said, “He was a wonderful racehorse and a wonderful stallion. If you wanted to get yourself a Derby horse, he was your man. If he had been human, he would have been an eccentric genius.”

Tuesday, 25 June 2019


Nowadays, Galileo, by Sadler’s Wells out of Urban Sea, is best known as a champion sire. Indeed, in 2017, he was named leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland for the ninth time in ten years, with 12 Group 1 winners, including Classic winners Churchill and Winter, and just under £12 million in prize money. Since 2012, he has stood exclusively at Coolmore Stud, Co. Tipperary, for a “private” fee, which is reputed to be in excess of €400,000.

In a racing career lasting exactly a year and a day, Galileo won six of his eight races, including the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in 2001, and earned over £1.6 million in prize money. He raced just once as a juvenile, winning his maiden, over a mile, at Leopardstown, by 14 lengths from subsequent winner Taraza. He reappeared in the Listed Ballysax Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at the Co. Dublin course the following April when, at odds of 1/3, he made short work of stable companion – and future St. Leger winner – Milan, winning easily by 3½ lengths. He stepped up in class for the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over the same course and distance less than a month later but, although he had to work a little harder for victory, he stayed on strongly to beat Exaltation by 1½ lengths.

As an unbeaten colt with a top pedigree, owned by Mrs John Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien, it was really no surprise that Galileo started joint favourite, at 11/4, for the Derby at Epsom. His main market rival, Golan, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was also unbeaten and already a Classic winner, having beaten Tamburlaine in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the previous month. Nevertheless, it was Galileo who prevailed, leading inside the final quarter of a mile and drawing clear for an impressive 3½-length win over Golan, with Tobougg a never-nearer third, beaten a further neck. Galileo earned a Timeform rating of 132, making him one of the best Derby winners since the turn of the century, alongside Authorized and Workforce.