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.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Who are the Leading Contenders for the 2019 Epsom Oaks?

"Epsom Downs is home to The Oaks" by Framax97 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Oaks at Epsom Downs Racecourse is the second fillies' only Classic of the British Flat horse racing calendar.

Two trainers in particular, Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden, have dominated the 1m 4f test for three-year-olds on this undulating racetrack in recent years - winning six of the last seven renewals between them.

Ahead of this year's running of the Epsom Oaks on Friday, May 31, who are the leading contenders for Classic glory at the Surrey venue?

Pink Dogwood

If the betting on The Oaks is anything to go by, then favorite Pink Dogwood is the main O'Brien hope from his Ballydoyle stables. This filly is out of Epsom Derby winner Camelot and her sire won three Classics in all back in 2012, with 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket and later the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Pink Dogwood's damsire, meanwhile, was the prolific stallion Shamardal who landed the French Derby. As thoroughbred pedigrees go, she has the ideal breeding to get the trip.

What has Pink Dogwood done on the track, though? She got a mile as a juvenile and was unlucky to finish fifth in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac during Arc weekend at Longchamp in Paris last October.

Although swamped and short of room that day so she was unable to mount a challenge, Pink Dogwood has come out and won a Listed event at Navan on her return to action over 1m 2f under a hands and heels ride in ready fashion. There is clearly more to come from her and she looks sure to feature among many experts' Epsom Oaks betting tips as a result.


The leading British contender, meanwhile, looks to be Mehdaayih. Trained by Gosden, this daughter of the mighty Frankel could attempt this trip which is something her sire never tried in his glittering career, but she'll have to be supplemented by her owner.

Any worries about her lasting this distance can be quickly belayed by the fact that Frankel was out of Epsom and Irish Derby winner Galileo. Again, such a pedigree strongly suggests Mehdaayih will have the stamina to last a mile-and-a-half.

After winning her final start as a juvenile, she bolted up by 14 lengths on reappearance on an artificial surface before returning to turf with a visually impressive 4 1/2 lengths victory in the Cheshire Oaks.

That is a key trial for the Epsom equivalent because that race distance is just over 1m 3f, and the emphatic nature of both her wins this season means Mehdaayih commands the utmost respect.


Only the late, great Sir Henry Cecil has trained more winners of The Oaks in modern times than O'Brien, and another of his leading Irish raiders is the 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa.

She was given a bold, enterprising ride on the front end by Wayne Lordan at Newmarket when landing that Classic on the Rowley Mile. Such is the curious world of equine thoroughbreds that Hermosa is Mehdaayih's aunt as she's by Galileo out of a Pivotal mare.

Unlike some of the other Epsom Oaks contenders, she had plenty of racing as a two-year-old but is clearly bred to come into her own this year. O'Brien is already talking up an English Classic double following her length victory over Lady Kaya.

There were no excuses for those in-behind Hermosa, but the difference between the Guineas and Oaks is four furlongs - half a mile. That greater stamina test will suit some that could take her on again at Epsom better.


Like Mehdaayih, the William Haggas trained Maqsad is related to Hermosa through Galileo who is her damsire. This filly is unbeaten in two starts as a three-year-old and has already stepped up to 1m 2f when taking the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket by a decisive five lengths.

She does have juvenile form from Yarmouth to turnaround with her cousin, however, and both have clearly trained on. Maqsad had her Newmarket rivals well strung out behind her, but the same can be said of Mehdaayih. It makes choosing between them tough.

As Maqsad is available ante-post at bigger odds, she represents solid each-way value and The Oaks must come into consideration for her connections now. She does have lots of options in both France and the UK.

Wherever Maqsad lines up next, and that could include the French Oaks or the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, her progression this season certainly suggests she is a group calibre filly in the making.