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Plenty to catch up from last weekend and I will get to it and it's just as well the coming weekend is going to be MUCH quieter.

The feature on Saturday at Newbury is the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes (named after the 1971 Derby and Arc winner). 12 have been entered - RHYTHM MASTER's third in the Morny looks the best bit of form on offer. The ground is Good and should quicken up with a dry week forecast. We have a huge handicap - the Ayr Gold Cup which has spawned two consolation races - the Silver Cup and the Bronze Cup - rumours of a Paper Cup as the fourth consolation prize have been discounted.

Sunday sees the start of the 7-day Harvest Festival meeting at Listowel, a wallet-draining, liver-busting occasion by all accounts and though there's not a Group race to be seen, some decent horses have started their careers there and it's a meeting where Aidan O'Brien often introduces a nice one.

Nothing much happening in France either.

 

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Time to review the Doncaster action from last Friday with the ground drying all the time but a windy day with quite a headwind up the long home straight.

The two Group 2 races were hugely contrasting - the Flying Childers for the juveniles over 1000m and the Doncaster Cup for the stayers over 3600m.

The Flying Childers saw Lowther runner up SACRED go off favourite but it didn't quite go according to plan as she got caught on the wrong side of the track and couldn't quite get to UBETTERBELIEVEIT who provided a right boilover at 40/1. This was a first Group 2 for trainer and jockey and the horse had over-raced when trailing home last in the Gimcrack and clearly the 1000m suits well. SACRED did nothing wrong in defeat and back among her own gender she'll be very hard to beat. FRENETIC was disappointing - she broke well but simply didn't get home in the final 200m.

The Doncaster Cup was a poor renewal but SPANISH MISSION was a convincing winner dishing out the same beating to SELINO he had at Chester in Listed company. It's fair to see with STRADIVARIUS retiring at the end of the season, the staying division looks incredibly weak and while one of the 3-y-o might emerge as the "new kid on the block", SPANISH MISSION and NAYEF ROAD look the best of a weak older group. THE GRAND VISIR is a one-paced plodder but kept on for third and I suspect may next be seen in the Cesarewitch over 4000m at Newmarket. It was all too much for the handicapper REVOLVER but next year he may be up to this.

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Saturday was a huge day in the UK and Ireland with three Group 1 races and a number of Group 2 events.

At Doncaster, the final day of the Leger meeting took place on ground which had quickened to Good, Good to Firm in places. 

The Champagne was the big juvenile race of the meeting for the colts over 1400m. On paper, this looked a match between ALBASHEER and CHINDIT, both of whom came into the race unbeaten but it was CHINDIT who kept his 100% record with a hard-fought victory over ALBASHEER. I just think CHINDIT, with the benefit of a second run, knew more than ALBASHEER who had won his maiden by six and a half lengths and had probably learnt much less. I'm not sure if and when the two met again, you;d have the same result.

STATE OF REST came over from the Jospeh O'Brien stable and perhaps in a clue of later events ran a fine race to be a close third with the three over seven lengths clear of the remainder.

It's quite possible all three are above average juveniles but on breeding all three look to be milers.

The Park Stakes over 1400m was yet another strong race in a division which has looked full of quality and WICHITA benefited from having an excellent Frankie Dettori to just hold the challenge of ONE MASTER who came back to something nearer her form at this trip. MOLATHAM was a close third and he plan is for WICHITA and ONE MASTER to head for the Foret, which I still think is going to the race of Arc day.

On then to the Leger at Doncaster over 2800m, the oldest and last of the British classic races.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kTf3XwA7kg

For those who read my bletherings, I'll just remind you of this:

Among the bigger prices I'm keen on BERKSHIRE ROCCO who was running on at York behind PYLEDRIVER and is a knocking each way bet at 33/1.

Who wins the Leger? I like Group 1 form in Group 1 races and that means SANTIAGO - he is back in his own age group and is a classic winner so he'll do for me with BERKSHIRE ROCCO to sneak into the frame at a price.   

I have to say I really thought I was going to get a big draw from BERKSHIRE ROCCO and I also thought at one point SANTIAGO was going to win but the ground was probably quick enough for him. PYLEDRIVER just didn't quite see out the trip while HUKUM just didn't have the pace in a Group 1.

Having had a £5 each way on BERKSHIRE ROCCO at 33s and £20 win on SANTIAGO on 3/1 I made some money on the race but was left to reflect on what might have been.

Given the paucity of the stayers' division, I really hope they send BERKSHIRE ROCCO over 3200m next season - both he and SANTIAGO look really promising stayers.

Over to Leopardstown and day one of Irish Champions Weekend which featured two Group One heats.

The Matron was for the fillies and mares over 1600m.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj8KlxsXUig

Another wonderful finish but it was former jockey turned trainer Johnny Murtagh who got the money with CHAMPERS ELYSSES who just ran down PEACEFUL in the final 100m. It's hard to think the winner won a handicap off 86 back in June and was winning this off 110 defeating multiple Group 1 winners in PEACEFUL and FANCY BLUE who once again ran very close. As I suspected, it all happened too quick for FANCY BLUE over 400m shorter on a sharp track - PEACEFUL came to win her race and was mugged in the final 150m. KNOW IT ALL was a close fourth and ALBIGNA was fifth so this was a strong renewal.

On then to the Irish Champion Stakes, arguably the top race of the Irish Flat season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW_ZAz1eGeQ

Another wonderful race and a change in tactics by Ballydoyle brought about the downfall of GHAIYYATH. In truth, the front two were there every step of the way and Seamie Heffernan was always there giving William Buick no peace on the favourite. MAGICAL is a superstar - take out ENABLE and we'd be hailing her as one of the best fillies of recent times. True, she was slightly below par at York but Leopardstown has always been a venue she has enjoyed whereas Longchamp has never worked. In truth, she's a 2000m filly albeit off a strong gallop and I'd love to see her in a Cox Plate.

GHAIYYATH ran another fine race in defeat - perhaps it was quick enough after York but he's had a wonderful season. ARMORY and SOTTSASS were third and fourth while JAPAN disappointed once again over a trip I think short of his best especially on a sharp track. I know Ryan Moore thinks the world of the horse and though he's 33/1 for the Arc I just think he's capable of running a real race back up in trip.

Elsewhere on the card, CADILLAC shot to the top of the 2000 Guineas market with an impressive performance in the Group 2 Champions Juvenile over 1600m. Clearly, the soft ground didn't help last time but on a sound surface he's proved himself a real talent. Finally, my old mate SAFE VOYAGE did me another nice turn when winning the Boomerang albeit by a short head from SINAWANN who ran a huge race in defeat. SAFE VOYAGE will probably go for the Queen Elizabeth at Ascot on Champions Day and we know he goes on slow turf. In ordinary years, the Foret would be the option but that looks a red-hot race this year.

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Eight stand for Saturday's Mill Reef at Newbury. RHYTHM MASTER's Group 1 placed form at Deauville reads much better than the maiden FIVETHOUSANDTOONE won at Newcastle for all the latter won it easily. BAHRAIN PRIDE is unbeaten in two but both were on soft ground and on breeding he'll want at least 2000m if not further so I suspect he won't have the foot for this while RHYTHM MASTER got bogged down in the French mud last time and will be much better back on this decent ground.

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Last Sunday featured six Group 1 races in Ireland and France so an afternoon of real quality.

I'll start at The Curragh where the ground was perfect and the weather likewise for the second day of Irish Champions Weekend.

The first of the four championship races was the Flying Five over 1000m for which 14 sprinters went to post:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSB28CDzh5k

As might be expected, a close finish but GLASS SLIPPERS is an autumn filly and her target will be to retain the Abbaye which she won last year. You'd be forgiven for thinking, given she has been well held twice by BATTAASH at Ascot and Goodwood this season, she'd be on a fool's errand taking him on again but BATTAASH won the Abbaye in 2017 when it was at Chantilly and has been an expensive failure the past two years and he looks especially vulnerable if it comes up soft or heavy.

GLASS SLIPPERS loves slow wet turf and must have a big chance. The question over the form is or are the placed horses - both fillies but KEEP BUSY is borderline Listed class for all she ran very well last time while SONAIYLA was coming back in trip after a third in Group 3 company last time. The fancied raiders, QUE AMORO, A'ALI and EQUILATERAL were all well held with A'ALI especially disappointing trailing home last.

The two juvenile championship races started with the Moyglare for the fillies over 1400m. PRETTY GORGEOUS went off a solid favourite after a clear win in the Debutante last month.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot10Vqa7UDc

SHALE got her revenge on PRETTY GORGEOUS from the Debutante and it's hard to see there being any fluke about it. OODNADATTA got closer to SHALE than she had in the Silver Flash and while I think the former could be a decent longer-term prospect, it does seem as though the first two are the two top Irish juvenile fillies and perhaps we'll see one or both of them at the Newmarket Future Champions Meeting next month.

The National Stakes was robbed of a degree of interest with the late defection of BATTLEGROUND (coughing) but MASTER OF THE SEAS and LUVCKY VEGA brought solid juvenile form to the table.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rufsi4CJjqU

A messy and unsatisfactory race from where I was sitting. That said, THUNDER MOON got hampered, stopped in his run and still had a really strong turn of foot to get back in front close home which augurs well for the future. This was only his second run - he's by Zoffany out of a Sadler's Wells mare so 2000m at least should be within his compass but that turn of foot makes me think he's a miler in the making. The unconsidered WEMBLEY ran on down the outside and went straight into the notebook - this was his first run on decent ground having endured three or four runs on much slower surfaces.

MASTER OF THE SEAS did plenty early on and had nothing left in the final 200m while LUCKY VEGA was anything but getting baulked twice and while I'm not saying he would have won, I think he'd have finished second with a clear run and while some thought after the race he hadn't proved he stayed 1400m, I'm convinced and I hope connections bring him to Newmarket to take on the likes of CHINDIT, ETONIAN and the top British juveniles. 

The Irish St Leger over 2800m has occasionally had a bearing on Melbourne's Spring Carnival and it was improving British handicapper FUJAIRA PRINCE who shared favouritism with the 2019 Irish Derby winner SOVEREIGN.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua4LB0FsZtw

SEARCH FOR A SONG regained her title in this race having shown clear signs of a return to form behind MAGICAL in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. It was another tremendous training performance by Dermot Weld which would attain added poignancy in the following days with the passing of Weld's former stable jockey, Pat Smullen, whose charity race, run on this day last year, drew a number of ex-jockeys(both flat and jumps) out of retirement. 

FUJAIRA PRINCE and TWILIGHT PAYMENT both ran strong races in defeat but it may be only the latter of the front three will end up at Flemington as it seems more likely both SEARCH FOR A SONG and FUJAIRA PRINCE will head to Champions Day for the staying race.

The Group 2 supporting Blandford Stakes for the fillies and mares saw a convincing win for CAYENNE PEPPER who was second in the Irish Oaks and whose form with TARNAWA would get an unexpected boost (more below), Back to 2000m seemed to work well for CAYENNE PEPPER and it'll be interesting to see where she goes next.

Off to Longchamp at the end of the Bois de Boulogne in Paris for Arc Trials day but a different format this year with the Niel, the trial for the 3-y-o colts, replaced by the rescheduled Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over 2400m.

Ten went to post and this featured the loing-awaited return of the English Derby winner SERPENTINE, who had not been seen since his Epsom romp. He faced a numbe rof those he beat that day including ENGLISH KING and some useful local challengers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OWG-MmYOx0

One or two reputations left in tatters on the Parisien turf - PORT GUILLAUME ran a shocker while ENGLISH KING was never travelling and SERPENTINE's Epsom winner was revealed to be the fluke many thought it was at the time. The English 3-y-o colts look distinctly average and the French little better but for MOGUL this was redemption. This is a horse Ryan Moore has always loved but with Moore at The Curragh it was Pierre Charles-Boudot who came in for the plum ride and he gave MOGUL a beautiful run round and in the end did this easily.

I'm to be convinced I've seen an Arc winner - MOGUL has twice finished behind PYLEDRIVER and the latter was held in the Leger so it all reads a bit average if I'm being honest. The placed horses, IN SWOOP and GOLD TRIP,  had finished third and first in the Greffulhe way back in June but hadn't much since and with MISHRIFF having won the Jockey Club you're struggling to see a decent French 3-y-o colt as well.

The 3-y-o fillies have been a better bunch with LOVE in particular looking like a potential champion but they had their Arc Trial in the Vermeille along with the older fillies and mares. RAABIHAH was strongly fancied.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPuNdUQeeUA

An emphatic win for TARNAWA who looked really good on this evidence. She is one of those slow-maturing Aga Khan fillies with which Dermot Weld does so well and on an afternoon where Weld picked up another Group 1 with a filly, this capped a fine day for the master trainer. TARNAWA had won the Blandford last year and on her re-appearance after a 294-day break had beaten CAYENNE PEPPER (this year's Blandford winner) at Cork.

TARNAWA heads for the Fillies & Mares at Ascot on Champions Day and must have real claims if the ground doesn't come up too deep - she ran in the race last year and got bogged down in the mud. RAABIHAH ran okay but you had a sense the bubble was burst for that one and with less than two lengths between her and Irish Oaks winner EVEN SO in sixth, the sense for me was that LOVE and ENABLE have little to worry about from the other fillies and, with the defeat of GHAIYYATH at Leopardstown, the older colts either.

The current Arc betting in the UK is 13/8 LOVE, 9/4 ENABLE, 12/1 Bar which tells you all you need to know.

The Group 2 Foy was the Trial for the older colts and featured the 2019 Derby winner ANTHONY VAN DYCK and the top European stayer, STRADIVARIUS. They were prominent all the way in a race which, predictably , turned into a sprint off the home turn. Barzalona rode a fine front-running race on ANTHONY VAN DYCK out-smarting Dettori on STRADIVARIUS but the two ran their Coronation Cup form from way back in June almost to the ounce. You'd have to think the Arc will be run more as a British race than a French race - with a stronger gallop - and that will help STRADIVARIUS but on this evidence all he can hope for is a place. It may just be the winner, whose limitations have been exposed since his Epsom triumph, is finally getting over those exertions and may yet be a useful older colt.

I also thought NAGANO GOLD ran well given he lost ground at the start.

Strangely, ANTHONY VAN DYCK became the first Derby winner since HARZAND in 2016 to win another race after Epsom which is incredible. HARZAND was ridden by Pat Smullen whose death at the incredibly young age of 43 from cancer has dominated the racing media this week.

 

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I'll get to the very short review of last weekend presently but a heads up for the weekend ahead and there's a 3-day meeting at Newmarket starting on Thursday. This is the first of a series of Newmarket Saturday cards through the Autumn run on the Rowley Mile. 

We've had a real Indian Summer in recent days and the ground is currently Good to Firm but it's due to turn much colder and more unsettled from Wednesday so we'll see where we are by the end of the week.

The quality builds through the meeting and on Friday there are a pair of Group 2 events. Seven have been entered for the Rockfel over 1400m for the juvenile fillies. MONDAY comes over from the Aidan O'Brien yard having won a Listed at Leopardstown last time. ISABELLA GILES won a Group 3 by seven lengths at Goodwood last time but that was on soft ground and SANTOSHA needs to bounce back from a dismal effort in the Lowther. HAPPY ROMANCE picked up sales races at Newbury and York before winning a Group 3 at Salisbury last time and in a sub-standard renewal, she looks most interesting.

The Joel for the older milers has 19 entries and looks a really strong race. BENBATL will love the fast ground and won this last year slamming the useful KING OF COMEDY by five lengths. He meets another Qatar-owned rival in 2000 Guineas winner KAMEKO who hasn't really gone on from the June classic win. In his last three he's finished fourth in the Derby, Sussex and Juddmonte International so you can't say he's not been keeping good company.

TILSIT won in controversial circumstances at Goodwood but is clearly on the upgrade while it's interesting to see GLOBAL GIANT come back to 1600m from 2000m though his form behind EXTRA ELUSIVE wasn't franked by the latter on Saturday.

Saturday sees three Group races for the juveniles - the Group 2 Royal Lodge over 1600m for the colts and the 1200m Group 1 championship races - the Cheveley Park for the fillies and the Middle Park for the colts. 

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Just to wrap up last weekend - the Group 2 Mill Reef at Newbury went to ALKUMAIT who had too much speed for FIVETHOUSANDTOONE in the final 100m. RHYTHM MASTER, for whom it happened all too quickly over 1200m on quite fast ground, ran on for third and will relish a step up in trip.

The winner was only having his third run having won nicely in a maiden at Goodwood on his second run - this was a big step up and he took it well and was a nice tonic for this trainer who had lost MOHAATHER to stud after injury. ALKUMAIT is by Showcasing out of a Dutch Art so even 1600m may be pushing it and I expect he's a Commonwealth Cup horse for next year.

On then to Newmarket and the 3-day Cambridgeshire meeting starts tomorrow. The final declarations are through for Friday - just five run in the Rockfel for the juvenile fillies over 1400m. ISABELLA GILES, a daughter of freshman sire Belardo, romped home by seven lengths at Goodwood last time and could be improving fast. Any rain will be a huge help and she's opposable on the current Good to Firm ground. Favourite is MONDAY from the Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O'Brien. This will only be her third outing but she looked decent when winning in Listed company at Leopardstown last time and I suspect quick ground would hold no fears for her. SANTOSHA has to bounce back from a poor run in the Lowther and while both ALBA ROSE and NAZUNA have both won races, ratings of 83 and 87 respectively shouldn't be winning Group 2 races.

Put simply, if there's no rain, MONDAY should win - if the heavens open, ISABELLA GILES is the likely beneficiary.

The Joel has 8 runners but looks a fascinating clash between the 2000 Guineas winner, KAMEKO and the winner of this last year in the form of BENBATL. Throw into the mix the improving 3-y-o  TILSIT and it looks a quality renewal. BENBATL loves quick turf and is wholly effective on Dirt. After winning this last year. he flopped on the heavy ground at Ascot but returned in style at Meydan winning Group 2 races on the grass and dirt and on his last outing was third to MAXIMUM SECURITY on the Dirt at Riyadh in the inaugural Saudi Cup. That was a massive run and to be fair if he produces that level of form after a break on his favoured conditions it'll take a good one to stop him.  

Normally the 2000 Guineas winner would be considered a "good one" and KAMEKO collected the first classic back in June but it didn't go well in either the Derby or the Sussex and he was again found out in the Juddmonte. Back to 1600m on a track he has proven form he has no excuses and, to be fair, both the horses placed behind him at Goodwood in the form of WICHITA and PINATUBO have won decent races though both have been shown to be 1400m horses. I think given the truncated nature of the re-start, the 2000 Guineas was too early to be the race it usually is and wasn't the best renewal.

TILSIT won in controversial circumstances at Goodwood and TOP RANK picked up a weak Group 3 on soft ground at Haydock. REGAL REALITY is another who seems to relish very quick ground but while he looked good in Group 3 class at Salisbury, his limitations were exposed on soft ground in Group 2 company at Goodwood. It's not a race for me as a punting vehicle but I edge toward BENBATL and especially if the rain stays away.

On to Saturday and while RUSSIAN CAMELOT bids to continue the upward trajectory in the Underwood, Newmarket stages two Group 1 races for the juveniles over 1200m and a Group 2 for the juvenile colts over 1600m - is this Future Champions Day you may ask? Nope, another fortnight to wait for that.

Final declarations tomorrow - 11 have been entered for the Royal Lodge over 1600m, 6 of whom are from Aidan O'Brien's yard. The Middle Park for the colts has 10 entries including the unbeaten METHOD, impressive Gimcrack winner MINZAAL and the Phoenix winner LUCKY VEGA, back in trip after a luckless run in the National a fortnight ago. The Cheveley Park for the fillies has 12 entries including Lowther winner MISS AMULET, the speedy SACRED and the unbeaten DANDALLA, who would really need soft ground.

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So to Saturday and at Newmarket, after overnight rain, the ground has eased back to Good.

Just five stand in the Group 2 Royal Lodge over 1600m and it looks a modest renewal. Top rated is NEW MANDATE who won in Listed class at Doncaster a fortnight ago. It was a decent effort but COBH is favourite possibly less because of the balance of his form than because of the quality of opposition and more especially the horse who beat him at Ascot two runs ago, CHINDIT, who is a leading player in the 2000 Guineas betting. I like the unbeaten GEAR UP who won the Acomb at York last time and wouldn't mind a drop of rain. I'm worried about any Aidan O'Brien challenger and the master of Ballydoyle runs ONTARIO who was a close third in the Futurity last time.

9 go in the Group 1 Cheveley Park for the juvenile fillies over 1200m. Top rated is MISS AMULET who did me a nice favour in the Lowther beating SACRED. The latter was a close second over 1000m at Doncaster and just gives me the impression she is all speed. DANDALLA is the class act having won the Albany at Ascot and then the Duchess of Cambridge on the July track but she really needs soft ground to be at her best so every drop of rain works to her advantage. UMM KULTHUM won Scotland's only Group race at Ayr last week (ILLYKATO well held in fifth) but I'd be surprised if that was good enough.

HAPPY ROMANCE won a couple of valuable sales race before winning a Group 3 at Salisbury last time beating the inexperienced ALCOHOL FREE (only having her second run) and the latter has reasonable prospects of reversing the places and at 10/1 she looks the each way value but I'd be on MISS AMULET as the likely winner.

The Middle Park for the colts over 1200m has 8 runners and looks a warm race. Favourite is the unbeaten METHOD but you're backing him on what he might be rather than what he has shown. MINZAAL was a taking winner of the Gimcrack and would be my choice just in front of LUCKY VEGA who won the Phoenix in Ireland (their equivalent of this) and had a luckless run in the National. He's a serious challenger as is SUPREMACY who was an impressive winner of the Richmond at Goodwood two months ago - the worry is whether some have improved past him. 

TACTICAL won the Windsor Castle at Ascot but was well held in the Morny and I just think he's a speedball and the same may be true of Norfolk winner THE LIR JET who was no match for LUCKY VEGA in the Phoenix last time. MINZAAL is my idea of the winner but I'm really worried about both LUCKY VEGA and SUPREMACY.

The free-to-air tv coverage on Saturday up here will also include the Group 2 Beresford Stakes at The Curragh over 1600m for the juvenile colts. It's actually Ireland's equivalent of the Royal Lodge and it does seem odd to have the two races on the same day.  HIGH DEFINITION represents Ballydoyle and he was a nice winner on debut (which isn't that common with Aidan O'Brien juveniles) over course and distance and that form looks better than WUQOOD's maiden win at Gowran.

The North American autumn season continues its journey towards the Breeders Cup meeting in early November and top older Dirt performer, MAXIMUM SECURITY, returns in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. He looked back to near his best at Del Mar last month and this should be a nice continuation of his preparation for the Classic at Keeneland.

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19 hours ago, meomy said:

@stodge

 👍 Fantastic to see the UK have Free to Air coverage on TV of The Sport of Kings & Queen's Horse Racing industry.

 

New Zealand must get it's act into gear for the betterment of Society & our economy.

 

Have a great weekend 😊 

We're also getting free coverage of the Arc and at least three other Group 1 races on the Arc card (probably will also have the Arab Group 1 which is run immediately before the big race).

Over here, the economics are that live free-to-air coverage boosts off-course betting turnover which goes back into the industry. Races run on th free-to-air channel bring in funds to the racecourses through the media rights deal so ITV (the free to air channel) have shown odd races from smaller tracks such as Pontefract, Cartmel and Perth which showcases the venues but also gives them additional income (and the betting).

The specialist racing channels aren't big enough to make the difference.

Hope you enjoy your weekend too, my friend.

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Time to look back at Friday's action from Newmarket where it was blowing a gale with a real taste of autumn. The ground had eased to Good, Good to Soft in places following rain.

The two Group 2 races started with the Rockfel for the juvenile fillies over 1400m. This went to ISABELLA GILES, the daughter of freshman sire Belardo, who made almost all and ran on far too strongly for the others. She seemed to love really soft ground at Goodwood and while this was quicker she relished a little bit of juice. The Irish raider MONDAY ran a dismal fourth. The winner might go for the Fillies' Mile next month but this wasn't the strongest Group 2 ever and she'll need to improve.

The Joel Stakes was a much warmer race and featured an intriguing clash between BENBATL, previous winner of the race, runner up in a Cox Plate and third in the Saudi Cup and the 2000 Guineas winner KAMEKO. Thanks to the conditions of the race, KAMEKO, despite being a 3-y-o, was giving the older BENBATL 1 lb by virtue of an 8 lb penalty for winning a Group 1.

It made no difference - BENBATL led but couldn't clear away from the field on the slower ground while KAMEKO, back at the scene of his Guineas triumph, seemmed, to this observer, to relish the slower turf and came home in front of REGAL REALITY who nicked second from BENBATL. Both first and second have proven form over 2000m but the wind was blowing behind the runners so perhaps the ground was slower than the times indicated. Either way, it was appropriate recompense for KAMEKO and his connections for whom it all went wrong in both the Derby and the Sussex before having his limitations at 2000m cruelly exposed by GHAIYYATH at York.

Given what happened to Roaring Lion, I can understand Sheikh Fahad seeking a quick stallion replacement but there must be a temptation to keep KAMEKO in training as a 4-y-o given the paucity of the older mile division. I think he's tailor made for the Lockinge and the Queen Anne.

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A huge week up here as we move towards Arc Weekend in Paris. Heavy rain has turned the ground Very Soft and has caused some anxiety among fans of LOVE for whom slow ground is an unknown and whose action, many think, is ideally suited to decent ground. ENABLE, we know, goes on soft turf and as much she is now 6/4 favourite for the big race on Sunday.

In terms of the French races, it's a two-day meeting and on Saturday we have two Group 1 races - the Royallieu over 2800m for the staying fillies and mares and the Cadran over 4000m for the real stayers. There are three supporting Group 2 events, the Dollar, Chaudenay and the Daniel Wildenstein.

Sunday has six Group 1 races making it the best single day's racing in Europe of the year. Aside from the Arc, we have the Lagardere and the Marcel Boussac for the juveniles, the Opera for the fillies and mares, the Abbaye for the sprinters and the Foret for the 1400m horses.

The running order is to be confirmed and I'll be updating through the week as we approach the big weekend. 

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A chance to look back on the weekend just gone and it was a bleak and blustery afternoon at Newmarket for the final day of the Cambridgeshire meeting. A strong tailwind would be of significance not only in terms of drying the ground to Good but also in favouring front runners and it was an afternoon to be close to the pace if not leading.

The two juvenile Group 1 races kicked off with the Cheveley Park over 1200m.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-x9wHl7RI8

A superb performance on just her third outing by ALCOHOL FREE to see off the fancied MISS AMULET in the final 50m. From a betting point of view, although I backed the winner each way at much bigger odds than her final return of 7/2, I backed MISS AMULET to win so had the result been the other way round it would have worked better for your correspondent.

On breeding, you'd think ALCOHOL FREE would get 1600m but not much further but she will hopefully grow through the winter and be a real classic prospect. MISS AMULET seemed to hit a flat spot much as she had at York but finished well. UMM KULTHUM came on a lot for her win in Group 3 company in Scotland while HAPPY ROMANCE was held in fourth and the rest were well beaten off including DANDALLA.

The Middle Park looked a strong renewal on paper with plenty of Group 2 winners in opposition and three such filled the first three places:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prWRLAoXI6Y

SUPREMACY made almost all and on a day tailor made for front runners it did feel it flattered him a notch but the opportunity was there and Adam Kirby took it. The trainer had been worried about the softening ground earlier in the week but the drying wind had just done enough. SUPREMACY is all speed and won't be aimed at classics but at the Commonwealth Cup. LUCKY VEGA did very little wrong and it'll be interesting to see if Jessica Harrington steps him up in trip again next spring. He looks the Guineas type to me while third placed MINZAAL looks another speedball - if anything, I'd love to see him at 1000m. Of the others, METHOD's run can be forgotten as the saddle slipped badly.

Earlier, NEW MANDATE had put up a decent performance to win the Group 2 Royal Lodge but as a gelding a lot of doors are closed to him. I suspect the proximity of ONTARIO will convince Aidan O'Brien he has little to fear from the English juveniles and in the Beresford Stakes HIGH DEFINITION put up a visually highly impressive performance coming from last to first to run down MONASSIB close home. You never quite know when you see a performance like that whether the winner was flattered by others stopping on what was quite slow ground but HIGH DEFINITION is now favourite for the 2021 Derby. Kevin Blake on ITV opined HIGH DEFINITION might not be the sure fire stayer he seems - the full brother, INNISFREE, won the Beresford in 2019 but was then well beaten by KAMEKO in the Vertem Futurity and hasn't seen as a 3-y-o.

The other full brother, ROYAL AIDE, was incredibly slow but won a 2400m handicap at Bellewstown. He was later gelded and sent over jumps and he now plies his trade over 4800m in hurdles so you never can tell.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of all was in America in the early hours of Sunday morning (UK) as IMPROBABLE brushed aside stable companion MAXIMUM SECURITY in the Awesome Again and propelled himself to the forefront of the Breeders Cup Classic betting. Out the back, he just went round the while field and drew clear to win hard held by five lengths. He had won the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Whitney but they had looked sub-standard renewals but this was a top-notch performance.

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As said earlier, a massive weekend approaching and in many ways the climax to the European season with Arc day in Paris.

It's a huge weekend elsewhere with Group 1 racing in the UK and the small matter of the Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday evening.

Newmarket hosts the Sun Chariot Stakes, a Group 1 for the fillies and mares over 1600m. The ground is currently Good to Soft but more rain is forecast with Saturday looking a really bleak day. 17 have been entered and favourite currently is CHAMPERS ELYSSES (ironic for Arc weekend) who won the Matron last time in style. She beat PEACEFUL that day but the latter is very good and may be better suited back to a straight 1600m. Top rated is the 4-y-o TEREBELLUM who was second in the Queen Anne before just failing when beaten half a length into third behind NAZEEF in the Falmouth. NAZEEF was very disappointing last time at Deauville and I think TEREBELLUM has real claims. 

Plenty of quality throughout this field and it'll be interesting to see who stands on Thursday.

The Preakness at Pimlico on Saturday evening (UK) sees the return of Kentucky Derby winner AUTHENTIC and he'll be very hard to beat. The filly SWISS SKYDIVER is a fascinating runner in a race which few fillies contest but on all known form AUTHENTIC looks the one.

Notwithstanding the Epsom and the Metropolitan, great races thought they are, the eyes of the racing world turn to Paris for the two-day Arc Weekend at Longchamp. 

The ground remains Very Soft and with more rain forecast, it could be really testing. Saturday has two Group 1 and three Group 2 races to savour.

The Royallieu is for the staying fillies and mares over 2800m. 15 have been entered with seven older fillies and eight 3-y-o making up the field. Favourite is MANUELA DE VEGA who is proven on soft turf at 2400m. Granted, she was no match for LOVE last time but that's no disgrace. The Irish are well represented with Joseph O'Brien entering PISTA who won the Park Hill at Doncaster last time - she won on heavy ground at Galway but that was a maiden not a Group 1. EBAIYRA loved the step up to 2400m when winning the Pomone last time - 2800m on deep ground is a question but I think she's the one likely to have the answers.

The Cadran over 4000m is the championship staying race in the French season. CALL THE WIND is a really good horse - he was second in this last year - and looked good when winning the Kergorlay at Deauville. There are some interesting horses in opposition including the 2019 Irish Derby winner SOVEREIGN but he was well held in the Irish St Leger last time.

The Chaudenay is a Group 2 over 3000m for the 3-y-o - it's the French version of the English St Leger while the Royal Oak later in the year is generally known as the French Leger but is open to older horses (like the Irish Leger). Nine have been entered including two British runners and two from Aidan O'Brien but I quite like MEASURE OF TIME from the Fabre yard.

The Dollar is over 2000m. 14 have been entered and it looks a trappy heat. The Daniel Wildenstein over 1600m has 18 entries and my eye is drawn to CENTURY DREAM who loves soft or heavy ground as he showed when winning the Celebration Mile at Goodwood.

At the moment, 16 are in Sunday's Arc de Triomphe, Europe's richest race with a first prize of £1.45 million. Aidan O'Brien has supplemented English Derby winner SERPENTINE but TELECASTER has been scratched after working poorly this morning. The betting this evening is 13/8 ENABLE, 11/4 LOVE, 15/2 STRADIVARIUS and 10/1 Bar.

SOTTSASS was third in the Arc last year and hasn't run back at this trip since - at 10/1 he looks a knocking each way price at this stage. 

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21 hours ago, Tauhei Notts said:

Stodge, your comments are very much appreciated.  Any other site would have a paywall around writing of your quality.

You're very kind, my friend.

People might pay for the words but they wouldn't pay for long with the selections as well. If I were a better punter, I wouldn't have to work for a living.

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We've got entries through for the other Group 1 races on Arc day.

Free to air viewers will see three thoroughbred Group 1 events and an Arabian Group 1 (the only Arabian race televised all year). The other three Group 1 races will only be available in betting shops or on Sky Sports Racing.

The ground at Longchamp is Very Soft but there seem some conflicting views with some saying the sprint track is nearly Good but I have to say it's rained in London this afternoon and more rain is forecast especially on Saturday.

The free to air viewers get the two juvenile championship races over 1600m. The Jean Luc Lagardere is for colts and fillies. Nine have been entered and favourite here is Coventry winner NANDO PARRADO who chased home CAMPANNELLE in the Morny and I suppose you'd have to ask the question about the extra 400m. I'm fascinated to see WEMBLEY among the entries - he was an eye-catching runner up in the National at The Curragh.

The Marcel Boussac is for the fillies only - 19 have been entered and Moyglare runner up PRETTY GORGEOUS is 6/4 favourite over here. FEV ROVER won the Calvados at Deauville and has claims. The best local form is with KING'S HARLEQUIN who won the Aumale over course and distance beating HARAJUKU but the latter was only having her second outing and I'd take her to go close.

16 have bene entered for what looks a quality Opera for the fillies and mares over 2000m. ALPINE STAR won the Coronation at Ascot but was touched off in the Diane and then beaten by PALACE PIER in the Marois. That's top form and she's an obvious contender. TARNAWA comes back 400m after an impressive win in the Vermeille and connections understandably swerved the Arc.

14 have been entered for the Abbaye over 1000m. Last year's winner GLASS SLIPPERS won the Flying Five and if the ground is deep she's a real threat to BATTAASH who was below par when winning the Nunthorpe and all the evidence is he loves quick ground. 

15 have been entered for the Foret over 1400m and the eye is drawn to EARTHLIGHT and SAFE VOYAGE as well as last year's winner ONE MASTER.

Supplementary entries can be made as late as Friday when final fields are declared. 

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Huge news today with LOVE scratched from the Arc de Triomphe field by trainer Aidan O'Brien. There have been concerns all week about the ground which is already very soft and with more rain forecast, the Longchamp authorities are warning it could be Heavy by Sunday.

LOVE will probably head for the Breeders Cup Turf with further runs in the Japan Cup and in Hong Kong not ruled out.

Back to the more immediate, we have the final declarations through for Saturday in the UK and France.

The ground has gone Soft at Newmarket for the Sun Chariot where 12 have been declared. This looks wide open with CHAMPERS ELYSSES, the Matron winner, 7/2 favourite and PEACEFUL, the Matron runner up,  at 4/1. They were separated by a length and a quarter at Leopardstown and while the soft ground suits both, I just wonder if PEACEFUL's proven 2000m (she ran well in the Diane) might just give her extra stamina if it's a real slog.

I'm not convinced about TEREBELLUM on the ground and while NAZEEF won the Falmouth on soft ground, she was dismal on even slower ground at Deauville and is on a retrieval mission. 

BILLESDEN BROOK won this last year beating VERACIOUS and let's not forget the former won the 1000 Guineas in her time but VERACIOUS is lightly raced and on her fourth in the Queen Elizabeth II  last year is right in this. CLOAK OF SPIRITS was second in this year's 1000 Guineas and returned to form in Listed company last time but she has a lot to do.

My idea of the winner is PEACEFUL but I fancy VERACIOUS to run a big race.

At Longchamp, 12 stand in the Royallieu over 2800m. No surprises in the final declarations and MANUELA DE VEGA has proven soft ground form at Haydock and her fourth to LOVE in the Yorkshire Oaks reads well in this race. PISTA has steadily improved from winning a Galway maiden to picking up the Park Hill at Doncaster last time. WONDERFUL TONIGHT was a fair fifth in the Vermeille and I prefer Pomone winner EBAIYRA who looks a real staying filly.

9 go in the 4000m Cadran and I can't look beyond CALL OF THE WIND, who, apart from a surprising reverse in the Vicomtesse Vigier, has established himself as France's top stayer.

Just 6 go in what looks a sub standard Chaudenay over 3000m. The Ralph Beckett horses are in scintillating form and he sends over MAX VEGA, who was fourteenth in the Derby and returned with a fair second to HUKUM in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury. HUKUM wasn't quite up to Group 1 standard in the Leger but this is much weaker and the form of MAX VEGA should see her get past the improving filly VALIA.

8 go in the Dollar over 2000m and SKALLETI's defeat of SOTTSASS in the Gontaut Biron at Deauville on Heavy ground reads pretty well in the context of this Group 2. OCEAN ATLANTIQUE has to bpunce back from a poor run in the Jockey Club and I'm more interested in GLYCON from the Rouget stable who is proven on the ground and won a Group 3 last time.

8 also go in the Daniel Wildenstein and this sees the belated re-appearance of THE REVENANT who hacked up in this last year. From there, he was runner up in the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot and if he comes back in that form, he wins this. SHAMAN is a horse I've always liked but he was five lengths behind THE REVENANT in this last year. To be fair, he won the Harcourt and was third in the Ganay before a flop behind PERSIAN KING in the Ispahan so he's always kept very good company and I think back to 1600m on this ground might be a help.

A very big autumn night in North America on Saturday with trial races for the Breeders Cup at Belmont and the Preakness at Pimlico. 11 go in the latter for which AUTHENTIC is the favourite on the back of her Derby win at Churchill Downs. The alternative looks to be ART COLLECTOR but he hasn't run in a Group 1 and looks to have plenty to do against AUTHENTIC.  

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A horrible day in London with rain from dawn to dusk - rain also in Paris where the Longchamp ground has, as expected, gone Heavy.

Sunday's final declarations are through - arguably the best single day's racing in Europe all year with six Group 1 races.

The card opens with the Jean Luc Lagardere over 1400m for the juvenile colts and fillies. Just six go and it doesn't look a strong race with four of the runners from England and Ireland. The Coventry winner NANDO PARRADO came up just short in the Morny so the ground should be fine but the extra 200m is an ask. ST MARK'S BASILICA represents Aidan O'Brien and I think he'll love the surface. His third to THUNDER MOON in the National reads pretty well and he'll do for me.

14 go in a competitive Marcel Boussac for the fillies over 1600m. PRETTY GORGEOUS comes here after a second in the Moyglare and that looks solid form though FEY ROVER did it nicely in the Calvados. At a bigger price I fancy Andre Fabre's HARAJUKU who ran second to KING'S HARLQUIN in the Aumale last time but the former was only having her second run and could improve past some of these.

13 go in the Opera for the fillies and mares over 2000m. This is a very strong renewal. ALPINE STAR did me a huge favour when winning the Coronation at Ascot and ran strong seconds in the Diane (behind FANCY BLUE)  and the Marois. FANCY BLUE has the proven form at the distance and stamina might be the key over this trip. However, I'm going to put two up against these excellent fillies - TAWKEEL is herself a Group 1 winner having won the Saint Alary and won the Nonette last time but my idea of the winner is TARNAWA who won the Vermeille and will relish this trip on the heavy ground. I've backed TARNAWA at 7s with the British bookies.

11 go in the Abbaye for the sprinters over 1000m and the big news this morning was the withdrawal of BATTAASH who is just not suited by heavy turf. Last year's winner GLASS SLIPPERS looked on the way back when winning the Flying Five last time and while KEEP BUSY was second, the fact is she is now a 1 lb worse off and on this ground that's going to make a difference. LIBERTY BEACH needs to re-capture her best form as does MAKE A CHALLENGE.

11 go in the Foret over 1400m. ONE MASTER has won this the past two years and she has every chance of the hat-trick but this is a strong field. EARTHLIGHT was once thought a classic contender but it didn't quite work out. He was fourth in the Maurice de Gheest but beat TROPBEAU last time. This will be the sixth Group 1 LOPE Y FERNANDEZ has contested this season and his two runner up places in the Irish 2000 Guineas and Jean Prat would put him right in this. The 1200m at Haydock might have been short for him last time and he's a definite each way plater. My idea of the winner is SAFE VOYAGE who was fourth in this last year and went on to run third in the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot. This season, after a narrow defeat to SPACE BLUES (whose presence would have been the icing on the cake for this race), he has improved handing out a decisive beating to ONE MASTER at York and winning a Group 2 at Leopardstown last time.

So then to Europe's richest and most prestigious race, the Arc de Triomphe, over 2400m worth £1,452,000 to the winner. 15 go to post and the question is whether the ground will stop ENABLE as it did last year. She is a champion and has won in excess of £10 million in win and place prize money. The truth is she's a 6-y-o and the very soft ground last year contributed to her narrow defeat to Waldgeist. I'd love it to be a fairy tale farewell but I have doubts and I wouldn't be playing at 6/5. Defeat by GHAIYYATH at Sandown in the Eclipse over 2000m was no disgrace and while she has had bloodless wins in the King George and at Kempton last time, she's not been challenged and on this field in this field she won't have it easy though the draw has been very kind.

Her stable companion STRADIVARIUS may be her biggest rival. He's the top stayer and cemented his place in history when winning his Gold Cup on soft ground. That was 4000m, this is 2400m and while he ran well in both the Coronation Cup and a slow-run Foy over the distance, the truth is the more this becomes a heavy-ground slog the more he will like it and he's an each way bet to nothing at 7s. IN SWOOP represents Germany and while the overall quality of German racing may not be what it was, Danedream and Star Appeal won the Arc. IN SWOOP won the German Derby and was second to MOGUL in the Grand Prix de Paris. There's little doubt the heavy ground will help and he has real claims.

The ground might be the issue for fluent movers like MOGUL and JAPAN while SERPENTINE didn't do much to convince me his Epsom Derby win wasn't a fluke. I can't have PERSIAN KING o/n this ground over this trip for all he's a very good horse. WAY TO PARIS beat SOTTSASS in the Ganay but as the song goes, that was then but this is now. SOTTSASS was a close fourth in the Irish Champion and he was third in the Arc last year and I just think back up to this trip on this ground he's going to go close.

I said earlier in the week I fancied SOTTSASS to win and I still do but the betting angle here is STRADIVARIUS each way.

 

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I'll reflect on the weekend just gone over the next few days but a heads up for the coming weekend.

Newmarket stages Future Champions Weekend with meetings on Friday and Saturday. The ground has dried slightly to Soft after the weekend deluge but more rain is forecast in the coming week.

Friday sees the Fillies' Mile over 1600m, a Group 1 and the Challenge Stakes, yet another 1400m Group 2. The former has drawn 16 entries and the exciting INDIGO GIRL is early favourite.

Saturday sees the juvenile championship race for the colts, the Dewhurst, over 1400m. 18 have been entered and it looks, as we say up there, a belter. Joint favourites at 5/2 are National Stakes winner THUNDER MOON and Champagne Stakes winner CHINDIT but I'll talk more about this during the week.

In France, we have the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte which is now run at Chantilly, a Group 2 over 1200m for the juveniles,

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To start the review of the past weekend, Saturday at Newmarket was a miserable day with persistent rain turning the ground Heavy.

The feature Sun Chariot Stakes was a Group 1 for the fillies and mares over 1600m.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT5bPCSVMUM

Redemption for NAZEEF after her disappointing effort at Deauville and this was a second Group 1 after the Falmouth. I suspect that's the last we'll see of her this year and there must be a strong possibility she'll be off to the paddocks where of course she'll be a hugely desirable broodmare. Another huge win for likeable jockey Jim Crowley who interviews as though he can't believe it's happening to him.

HALF FREE had run second in the Rothschild and the softening ground proved a big help - I also think she prefers a straight 1600m to a round course. CLOAK OF SPIRITS had run second in the 1000 Guineas back in June and after a few disappointing efforts it was good to see her run a place and justify trainer Richard Hannon's faith.  

Of the more fancied runners, CHAMPERS ELYSSES got well back and though she ran on well there was too much to do and I thought Colin Keane should have tried to be closer in the ground. TEREBELLUM was a shade disappointing in fifth while PEACEFUL trailed home last on what was proving a frustrating weekend for Ballydoyle and jockey Ryan Moore reported the filly was never going on the ground.

Off to Longchamp and a busy day of Group races on the first day of the Arc Weekend. I'll start with the supporting Group 2 races - the Chaudenay saw VALIA come from off the pace under Christophe Soumillion and clear way for a comfortable win. They went a dawdle and sprinted the final 400m but she was far too good and though no match for the top notchers in the Vermeille, her future prospects as a staying broodmare look solid.

I thought SKALLETI was the bet of the weekend in the Dollar and he did it very well (and that would provide a big clue for events on Sunday). He won the Dollar in 2019 and had beaten SOTTSASS at Deauville last time. PATRICK SARSFIELD ran a decent race in second and may yet compete at the highest level. 

Just as SKALLETI had followed up last year's win in the Dollar so THE REVENANT did the same in the Daniel Wildenstein and to be honest if you'd backed the odds-on you never had much to worry about. Although he had been off 350 days he's a class act in heavy ground and did this very well and it might well be another trip to Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes where he was runner up last year. Ascot lost their meeting on Saturday due to waterlogging and with more rain in the forecast it seems inconceivable it will be anything other than soft or heavy ground for Champions Day on the 17th even if they move some of the races to the jump track.

So to the two Group 1 events - first the Royallieu over 2800m. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3koo12Xb-t0

A superb result for the raiders with favourite WONDERFUL TONIGHT coming on from a fine fifth in the Vermeille and just seeing it out over the extra 400m. I thought they went a decent gallop and the way they finished strung out like 4800m chasers suggested it had been a strong gallop on the ground. PISTA continued her upward trajectory from the Group 2 at Doncaster and if she stays in training could be a very interesting 4-y-o. EBAIYRA also ran well but couldn't quite get home in the conditions.

The Cadran over 4000m is the premier staying race in the French calendar. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMUlHgpLAHU

If the Royallieu was a battle this was a war and I've seen 6400m chasers finish closer. ALKUIN made a huge attempt to make all but the Irish raider PRINCESS ZOE mugged him close home. She had put together three wins on the really stiff Galway course on soft and heavy ground so the ground and trip held few fears but the class might have been the issue but on that kind of bottomless ground quality matters a lot less than handling the conditions. CALL THE WIND was just beaten in this last year and I just think 4000m stretches his stamina.

Horse racing takes you from the sublime to the ridiculous or vice versa in a few hours so in the evening it was top American racing on the Dirt at Pimlico with the Preakness, the final leg of the Triple Crown this year. The 145th running of this great race and SWISS SKYDIVER became only the sixth filly to win the race and the first since RACHEL ALEXANDRA in 2009. In an epic battle down the straight, she held off Derby winner AUTHENTIC and the two finished nearly ten lengths clear of the others. Three races and three different winners but we'll see how the 3-y-o match up against the older horses in the coming weeks at the Breeders Cup.

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While I pull together the epic that was Arc day, I'm reminded we have some decent races on Friday at Newmarket.

The ground remains Soft after last weekend's deluge and with more unsettled weather forecast.

The Group 2 Challenge Stakes over 1400m has 9 runners. It's a decent heat with eight of the nine rated within 5 lbs of each other from 107 to 112 so a true Group 2 event. KHALOOSY was taken out of a race at Redcar last weekend due to the ground and I have my doubts though he's the 4/1 ante post favourite. I fancied GLORIOUS JOURNEY to win the Hungerford which would be the equivalent of this race and he was beaten a long way so why should he win this?

ZAKOUSKI is a fascinating runner for Godolphin but he's been off the track since Meydan in February and is completely unproven on slow ground. HAPPY POWER won a Group 3 at Goodwood last time and looks the most likely of the favourites to handle the surface. 

Another fascinating contender is the 3-y-o filly DAAHYEH who was a close second to none other than LOVE in last year' Moyglare and ended up second in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf so this is Group 1 form in Group 2 company. She also won the Albany at Ascot on good/soft ground but that's a world away from deep autumn ground. The other problem is she's been off nearly a year and it's a huge ask for her to come back at the top of her game in this warm race.

Nine closely-matched runners is often a good punting option and I'm backing HAPPY POWER each way if I can get 11/2 or 6s tomorrow as it's a bet to nothing in my view but this has more variables than most.

The Group 1 Mile for the juvenile fillies has 11 runners. ISABELLA GILES won the Rockfel really well and is proven on the surface having trotted up at Goodwood on soft ground on her previous outing but this is a strong Group 1 as you would expect. INDIGO GIRL represents John Gosden and won the May Hill last time so the distance is no issue. The ground is more of a question though as she is out of a Montjeu mare you'd be hopeful she'd handle it. The irish are here in force with the first two from the Moyglare, SHALE and PRETTY GORGEOUS, in opposition. There's little between the Irish fillies but I think SHALE is more likely to appreciate the 1600m on this ground.

I would just prefer SHALE in the race but it's not an easy call and ISABELLA GILES in particular has to be respected.

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It's the time of year when we say a few farewells as some of the top horses are retired either to stud, the paddocks or to do something different.

LIMATO, as Harry has reported, has been retired and will be re-homed as a dressage horse.

FANCY BLUE, the Diane and Nassau winner, who also ran second in the Irish 2000 Guineas and third in the Matron, has been retired due to injury. I imagine she'll join the broodmare ranks at Coolmore's Ireland stud.

Back on the track, the weekend beckons and at Newmarket it's the Dewhurst on Saturday. The ground remains Soft and a larger-than-usual field of 14 has been declared.

To be fair, this looks as good a renewal as I've seen for a number of years. The first and second in the Champagne, CHINDIT and ALBASHEER, clash with Mill Reef winner ALKUMAIT while the Irish bring over National winner THUNDER MOON and the highly-regarded CADILLAC. Throw in the likes of ETONIAN and POETIC FLARE (both unbeaten) and it's a race to savour with the Soft ground adding a whole new level of variability. 

I've always liked CADILLAC but he's no more than a tentative fancy and the market is suspended currently - not sure why.

The Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte has six runners but looks a modest renewal. PLAINCHANT won a Group 3 on the heavy last time and comes here in good form.

Belmont and Keeneland aren't Randwick and Caulfield by any stretch but all four tracks stage top quality races.

In North America, it's Belmont's big autumn meeting. The feature races are the Flower Bowl and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which is the trial for the Breeders Cup Classic and sees TACITUS bidding to get back on track after a surprise defeat in the Woodward last time. At Keeneland, we have the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in which MAGIC ATTITUDE bids to follow up her Belmont Oaks success.

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Time to look back at Europe’s best single day’s racing in the whole season – Arc de Triomphe day at Longchamp.

The weather wasn’t too bad, but the deluge of rain had left the ground Heavy and it was a sticky, holding surface rather than the wet surface on which the races had taken place the previous day.

The day started with the sensational withdrawal of all the Aidan, Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien runners as a result of positive tests for zilpaterol from a contaminated batch of feed from Gain Supplies. This took the likes of MOGUL, SERPENTINE and JAPAN out of the Arc as well as other well-fancied runners in the Group 1 supporting events.

The card opened with the Jean-Luc Lagardere over 1400m.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILI6iBwjGSg

SEALIWAY absolutely trotted up clearly relishing the ground and was immediately announced a challenger for the Poulains and the Jockey Club next year. He’s by a French sire called Galiway and his best progeny so far was KENWAY who was fifth in this year’s Poulains so 1600m looks feasible but I’m doubtful beyond that.

NANDO PERRADO was in trouble at halfway but ran on well enough and I think he could be a smart 1400m horse next season.

The Marcel Boussac for the juvenile fillies over 1600m looked a wide-open heat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sy2jiom8UBk

TIGER TANAKA scored a memorable success for Charley Rossi and jockey Jessica Marcialis (I think they are a couple but I’m not sure). To be honest, I thought TIGER TANAKA, who had won a Group 3 last time, had it to do in Group 1 company but the Deauville win showed she loved heavy turf and she had the benefit of experience having won four races at provincial venues such as Lyon, Marseilles and Pornichet.

The second, TASMANIA, ran a huge race and I think she could make into a nice middle-distance filly next year especially on soft or heavy ground.

It was an incredibly rough race, and a number were done no favours including FEV ROVER and HARUJUKU as one or two of the fillies became unbalanced on the holding ground. I’m not sure this was in any way a vintage renewal, but time will tell (it always does).

The Opera for the fillies and mares over 2000m looked a strong race on paper despite the O’Brien defections.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pHq1cBDZI8

Nerve wracking to see two of my favourite fillies going to war in the final 200m but TARNAWA justified my punting faith though ALPINE STAR ran a magnificent race in defeat. Both are quality fillies and I hope we’ll see them again though I’m not confident.

AUDARYA followed up her Romanet win with a fine effort in third while TAWKEEL was prominent all the way in fourth – with the first four home all Group 1 winners this was a quality renewal of this race.

The Abbaye was the sprint championship race over 1000m and featured last year’s winner GLASS SLIPPERS bidding to retain her crown:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-ithHNY1Lg

Desperate stuff in the ground but WOODED probably benefitted from the rail and the fact he was proven at 1200m. GLASS SLIPPERS ran a huge race in defeat but I suspect that may be the last we see of her on the racecourse.

The French don’t often win the Abbaye and the English raiders filled the next four places in the bunch finish. I thought LIBERTY BEACH, who was third in the King’s Stand, ran particularly well on ground she probably didn’t enjoy and looks an interesting prospect for next year.

The Foret is the only European Group 1 for the older 1400m horses so is often a highly prized race. ONE MASTER came into this race having won the last two renewals but faced some serious opposition as might have been expected.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXQpJhCHiec

A wonderful race – perhaps the highlight of the afternoon. ONE MASTER did what another 6-y-o mare couldn’t and won her third Foret. I thought Mikhail Barzalona rode an enterprising race on EARTHLIGHT and the gamble almost paid off. SAFE VOYAGE was tapped for pace 300m out but was closing in the final 50m and I imagine connections will fancy a trip to Ascot on heavy ground for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

EARTHLIGHT hasn’t really lived up to his juvenile promise, but I’d love to see him back next year over 1400 and 1600m. As for the winner, she owes her connections nothing and if this is the end of her racing career, she signed off in the best possible way.

So then to the big one, the Arc de Triomphe over 2400m. Just 11 went to post with the O’Brien withdrawals which also threw open the whole way the race was going to be run with eight French horses facing ENABLE. STRADIVARIUS and the Japanese-trained DEIRDRE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76zn0LPm1gA

SOTTSASS went two places better than last year and in the end won well. Jena-Claude Rouget had planned the entire season around this one race and SKALLETI’s win in the Dollar the day before had only shown the strength of the form. The horse has been retired and will join the Coolmore stallion roster in 2021.

IN SWOOP ran a huge race on just his fifth outing and both this and a strong run by a former German Derby winner, LACCARRIO, in America show the quality of top German racing and it’s unfortunate the country isn’t a stronger racing nation. It’ll be interesting to see if IN SWOOP is brought back next year as he relishes the autumn mud.

PERSIAN KING was given a brilliant ride by Pierre-Charles Boudot who almost pulled off the trick of getting a doubtful stayer home. Indeed, he and SOTTSASS ran their 2019 Jockey Club form to the ounce and there’s no doubt in my mind PERSIAN KING is a star at 1600m and perhaps on this evidence 2000m as well.

GOLD TRIP was the only one who came from off the pace, but he didn’t do one or two of the others any favours in his run which flattened in the final 100m. He ran third in the Grand Prix de Paris with IN SWOOP second behind MOGUL so there’s evidence that was a cracking trial.

RAABIHAH never got involved and was a shade disappointing in fifth.

It just never happened for ENABLE – she didn’t go to the start well and frankly looked and ran flat. Yes, she hated the ground, but I just think she’s not the same horse this year and the writing was on the wall in the Eclipse. I had hoped she would be retired but it now seems she may run in the Champion Stakes at Ascot – I hope connections re-consider because the ground is likely to be testing once again.

STRADIVARIUS was coltish in the paddock and never really got involved. The plan is for him to emulate the great Yeats and win a fourth Gold Cup next year.

Edited by stodge

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