Baaeed Imperious at York – Verry Elleegent Not So Smart in Deauville

There are two racing festivals in Europe during August, one at Deauville in France and the other at York in the UK. Both had some excellent racing on the cards including Baaeed, currently the number one rated horse in the world; and secondly, the Australian wonder mare – Veery Elleegent – over for a European autumn campaign. We look at the plethora of Group 1 races spread over the two race courses.

York Ebor Meeting

Baaeed – Imperious as he wins the Juddmonte International with ease

In York, the Ebor Meeting enjoyed staging a further three Group 1 races as well as the long distance Ebor Handicap, the richest handicap in Europe with a prize fund of over £ ½  million to the winner. The first day saw the Juddmonte International Stakes where there was again a smart line up. This race over 1 mile 2 ½ furlongs would test the stamina of some of the 6 runners, including Baaeed, the current highest rated horse in the world. He was successful at Goodwood in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, but only over a mile along with other Group 1 successes at Royal Ascot and Newbury – his only three outings this year. The four year old trained by William Haggas was ridden by Jim Crowley. Another of note was Native Trail, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick and victor of the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, but since disappointed at Sandown in the Eclipse Stakes when he was third. Finally, John and Thady Gosden had Mishriff running in an attempt to win the Juddmonte International back to back.

William Haggas – trainer of Baaeed for Shadwell

The gates opened to an even break and Baaeed was quickly pulled to the back to get cover for the other runners. Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, who has always promised but never quite delivered, went to the front by some margin, pushed along by jockey Ryan Moore. Mishriff was kept in second by James Doyle at a comfortable pace. Native Trail was also prominent, but 2 furlongs from home, weakened visibly and finished fifth from the six runners. High Definition ran out of petrol and came last. Meanwhile, while all the jockeys were working hard, Jim Crowley on Baaeed sat still. About a furlong out, Crowley pressed the go button and Baaeed simply changed up about three gears and cruised to the front winning by over 6 lengths. It was a breath taking performance – quite as good as Frankel’s ten years ago. Mishriff came second and the old fellow – Sir Busker – who was slowly away, came third. The fourth horse home was another trained by William Haggas – Dubai Honour.As one commentator put it “an imperious run which demolished all the other runners”

Sir Mark Prescott – Newmarket’s senior trainer and responsible for five time Group 1 winning Alpanista

The second day at York saw the Yorkshire Oaks. There were seven runners headed by the Sir Mark Prescott filly Alpinista – ridden by Luke Morris. This too was a strong renewal, even though the number of runners was small. Another of note was Patrick Twomey’s La Petite Coco, winner of her last four races, all Group contests, but all in Ireland. Nevertheless, she was perfectly entitled to be at the race and be one of the top favourites. She was ridden by Billy Lee. Another we picked out before the race was the Jessie Harrington trained Magical Lagoon, the 3 year old winner last time out of the Irish Oaks. She was ridden by Shane Foley. The final hot shot in this was Tuesday, the Aidan O’Brien trained winner of the Epsom Oaks earlier this year. As a June foal, and only a three year old, it was very noticeable how she had strengthened up since her last run. At the off, Magical Lagoon took the lead and carried the field on at a steady pace. She was joined just behind by La Petite Coco who was rather too keen really and Tuesday, who ran at a comfortable pace. Just behind the leaders, but keeping well in touch was Alpinista. Two furlongs out, La Petite Coco faded and the dual between Tuesday and Alpinista was on. Alpinista got the better of Tuesday in the final furlong and went on to win by a length with Tuesday in second beating the third home – La Petite Coco by a further six lengths.

The third day’s feature race was the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes and this year was the 100th renewal of the race. Fifteen runners went to post for the five furlong charge. There were no outstanding runners – but a decent selection of possible winners. Royal Aclaim was one such; she had run three times before this and was unbeaten. Her last run was a listed race at this track. Another filly was only a 2 year old – Platinum Princess. She had run five times winning three although one of her runs was at Royal Ascot in the Queen Mary where she didn’t bother the judge. Flotas, trained by Simon and Ed Crisford was a Group 3 winner before this along with a couple of other races. Flotas was very difficult going down to the start and probably was lucky not to have been automatically withdrawn.

Highfield Princess – winner of two Group 1 races within two weeks

The final possible before the off was Highfield Princess – trained by John Quinn and ridden by Jason Hart; just returned from her triumph in France. It was only a short year ago that this filly was being trounced in lower class races, but she has come up the ranks, and finally won the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Guest. See earlier in this article. The five furlong charge broke to an even break and Platinum Princess took the lead – where she stayed until the final 200 yards when she was overtaken by Highfield Princess who won her second Group 1 in less than 2 weeks. The other Princess, Platinum that is, was second having made a valiant attempt to use her weight for age to blitz the others off the field and third was Emaraaty Ana – a Group 3 winner last year. She is trained by Kevin Ryan and ridden by Kevin Stott.

The final day of the meeting brought the 1 mile 6 furlong handicap – The Ebor Handicap – sponsored by Skybet and the race after which the whole meeting is named. This isn’t a race that has ever done much for me personally, but as the feature race of the meeting it should be mentioned. There were twenty runners in the race and at the off, all stayed in a pack with the exception of one, Frankie Dettori on Trawlerman trained by John and Thady Gosden. The trainer and jockey walked the course together before the race and decided to keep Trawlerman well out – the same trick Frankie played in the Arc on Trawlerman’s  sire Golden Horn some years ago. Then at the first turn, bring the horse a bit nearer the others, hopefully near the front of the field. The trick worked a treat. It wasn’t until 3 furlongs out did Frankie finally join the field and near the front and he just pushed the horse out to take the win by a short head. The second home was Alfred Boucher, trained by Ian Williams and ridden by P.J. McDonald, who did actually take the lead for a few seconds before the line, but the winner came back to overhaul him on the line. The third home was Earl of Tyrone, the favourite trained in Ireland by Paul Twomey and ridden by Billy Lee. He was actually sent off favourite and he was a length behind the first two.

Racing Summer Festival at Deauville.

Deauville – the heart of French racing and sales for August

In Deauville, France, the month of August always attracts some of the best horses in Europe to the seaside track for a chance at some prestigious races and excellent prize money. The middle of the month always sees the top movers and shakers in the bloodstock world attend the classy Deauville Yearlings sales. While all records at the sales were broken, the racing was equally compelling. The first Group 1 of the August days of racing was Prix Rothschild – a mile race (1600m) over the straight course at Deauville. There were seven runners. The favourite for the race was Jane Chapple Hyam’s Saffron Beach, a UK raider. When the gates opened, she had a good start and went to the front with William Buick dictating the pace. The 4 year old New Bay filly then pushed on after being shaken up going onto win. Tenebrism, trained by Irish raider Aidan O’Brien with Ryan Moore in the saddle tried to take the lead a furlong out but just didn’t have the legs to accomplish the move. The 3 year old filly was beaten into second by 2 ½ lengths. The third was a French trained horse – Goldistyle ridden by Maxime Guyon for Christophe Laffon-Parias.

Saffron Beach wins again one of Europe’s top Group 1s.

A few days later, Deauville staged its next Group 1 – Prix Maurice de Guest a race over 7 furlongs (1400m) and this is one of the very few Group 1 races over this distance in Europe. For example, in the UK, no such race exists! The ground going was good. In this race there were 14 runners. Of the first seven runners to pass the line, six were from the UK raiding trainers and one from Australia. The winner was Highfield Princess, ironically a French bred 5 year old mare by Night of Thunder. She won by ¾ of a length ahead of Minzaal, who raced from the rear and came up the outside at some speed, but not enough to take the lead. The winner is trained by John Quinn and ridden by Jason Hart – his first success at Group 1 level. The second is trained by Owen Burrows with Jim Crowley in the saddle. The third home was another raider Charlie Hills with French jockey Ioritz Mendizabat on board who was always prominent, but didn’t have the legs to take the win. The two fancied runners were fairly well out with the washing. Perfect Power, who disappointed last time out as well came seventh and the Australian horse Artoris, who ran well at Royal Ascot and The July meeting in Newmarket was sixth.

The third Group 1 at Deauville is usually top European mile championship race, and this year was no exception – Prix Du Haras de Fresnay- le-Buffard Jaques Marios. The prize pot for this race was 1 million euros with 571,400 to the winner. There were some fancied runners in this year’s renewal. Inspiral with Frankie Dettori on board for John and Thady Gosden.

Inspiral back to her winning ways after disappointment at Newmarket

She won the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on her first outing this year, but flopped badly in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket three weeks later. Coroebus, winner of this year’s Newmarket Two Thousand Guineas and not seen out again since under the charge of Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick; Order of Australia, from the Balydoyle stables of Aidan O’Brien ridden by Ryan Moore and winner of Minstral Stakes at the Curragh this year, but recent races have been disappointing; Prosperous Voyage, winner of the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket last time out, trained by Ralph Beckett and ridden by Robin Hornby; and finally Erevann, the best of the French runners, trained by Jean Claude Rouget and ridden by Christophe Soumillon. At the off, the Japanese raider – Bathrat Leon took the lead with Order of Australia taking a keen hold and keeping near the front. The rest were held up just off the pace. Insprial was ridden along from 3 furlongs out and took the lead and showed she was back to her best form beating the rest of the eight runners who was boss. She won by only a neck however from Light Infantry ridden by Jamie Spencer, who also ran in mid division before trying his luck on the outside and just failing to catch the winner. The third home was Erevann for the home team by just another neck. It was a typical French run race where they all start slowly for the first half of the race before ending up in a sprint finish. The next three home were Order of Australia, Corebus and Prosperous Voyage.

Ryan Moore wins The Mornay for Aidan O’Brien with Balckbeard

The summer season ended at Deauville with the Prix Mornay, a Group 1 for two year olds and the Prix Jean Romanet for four year olds and up for fillies and mares only. The Prix Mornay over six furlongs, could only be described as a disappointment for such a high prestigious race. There were only five runners and not one of them were French bred – owned or trained. The favourite was Persian Force, trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Frankie Dettori. The field were fairly tight for the whole six furlongs with Persian Force in third or fourth. The leader was between Manhattan Junction trained by Amy Murphy and Blackbeard trained by Aidan O’Brien, (who had two in the race). At the line, Manhattan Junction faded and ended in fourth beaten by a total of four lengths while Blackbeard took the honours with Ryan Moore on board. Although Persian Force tried to make an impression up the outside, he ended being second not having the legs to beat the winner who won by ½ a length. The third home was the other O’Brien trained The Antarctic. The winner is by No Nay Never out of a Born to Sea mare.

Richard Hannon wins with Aristia

The Prix Jean Romanat over 1 mile 2 furlongs had seven runners, one of which was Verry Elleegant from Australia and a mare who we have mentioned on many occasions in this blog. She was sent over from Australia from Chris Waller to French trainer Francois Gaffard for a European autumn campaign. The seven year old mare is the winner of several Group 1 races down under; including this year the Chipping Norton Stakes at Ranwick. On her European debut, under Frankie Dettori, she was slowly away and although she did catch the other six runners up, was unable to make any impression, and came last. Her current trainer said afterwards that Veery Elleegant was ring rusty and would come on massively from the race. He was aiming the mare at The Arc in October. Of the others, Richard Hannon trained the winner Aristia ridden by Sean Levy. Levy took the filly to the front and there he stayed and as the others came to challenge, Levy was able to press the button to keep Aristia ahead of Rosscarbery who tracked the winner throughout the race but didn’t have the legs to take the win. Aristia is trained by Paul Twomey in Ireland and ridden by Billy Lee. The third home was the first of the French runners from Francois Gaffard’s yard was he other runner, Ebaiyra ridden by Christophe Soumillon.

Both the Deauville summer racing and this Ebor meeting at York were both the same in the great sport they provided. Baaeed had to be the headline act of both meetings, but there were several other winners who showed their determination to come out on top.

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