Champions Tour in Holland – Germany Returns to Dressage and Several Group 1’s
In a more normalised week for sport horse competition there was another Longines World Champion Tours round. In dressage, the holiday for the German Olympians has come to an end and racing saw a plethora of Group 1 races in the UK, France and the United States. Meanwhile the Paralympians continued to ready themselves for the fray with their games beginning in Tokyo later this week.
The Longines Champions Tour for showjumping had its eleventh round in Holland this weekend at Valkenswaard, the second time this year that a round has been held at the venue. Course designer Uliano Vezzani was again gainfully employed building a 13 obstacle 16 jumping effort course. The maximum height was 1.60 m and there was a time allowed of 81 seconds. Thirty three came forward for the first round from fifteen different nationalities making the class another truly international affair. Eight of those went through to the jump off including world number one Daniel Deusser riding Bingo Ste Hermelle who was clearly back on form after a disappointing Olympics as he won in 44.66 seconds with a double clear round. Behind him was Sanne Thijssen from the Netherlands riding Con Quida RB in 46,28 seconds, and again with a double clear. There were two other double clears, one for Edwina Tops-Alexander riding Fellow Castlefield who was third; and the final double clear was Max Kuhner from Austria. Although an international field came forward, it has to be said that it was a rather unremarkable renewal of the Global Champions Tour.
The main dressage event in the world was at Crozet in France, where there was a 4 star CDI. There were only 14 combinations from four different countries taking part in the Grand Prix, two of which had just returned from Tokyo as Gold medal winners for Germany, so there was little doubt that provided there were no major hick-ups, the top riders would be German with the rest trailing in some way behind. Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl chose this competition to provide a personal best score of 75.152% while riding Ferdinand BB with her Olympic playmate Dorothee Schneider riding Faustus coming second, just behind with 75.130%. In a clean sweep Germany also took third place with Carina Scholz riding Tarantino. Carina Scholz then went on to win the Grand Prix Special with 75.277% with Estelle Wettstein riding Quarterboy for Switzerland coming second with 69.809%. In the freestyle, the Germans were again in the fore with Jessica Von Bredow Werndl winning and Dorothee Schneider coming second. Like the Grand Prix itself, the Germans completed a clean sweep with Mathias Rath coming third riding Foundation. All three German riders collected over 75% each in the class.
The UK staged one of its major meetings of the year at York, the Ebor meeting with the main feature race of the week being The Ebor Handicap, the richest handicap in Europe. This year, there were twenty runners to take on the 1 mile 6 furlong (2800M) in a deluge of rain. Despite the rain, the ground was good going as the rain only really turned up just in time for the race, so had little effect on the conditions.
The winner was Sonnyboylisten ridden by Irish jockey Ben Coen who flew over for the race despite his fear of flying! The winning trainer was Jonny Murtagh, former multiple champion jockey. Of the others, Quickthorne was second, just beaten by a neck, and trained by Hughie Morrison and ridden by Jason Hart. The third home was Alounak trained by Andrew Balding ridden by Silvestre de Sousa who was 1 ½ lengths behind the first two. In other races during the week, the first day saw the Juddmonte International over 1 mile 2 furlongs, and as usual there was a strong field to attempt to take the Group 1 honours. There were seven runners including Love, Mishriff, Mohaafeth and classic winner from 2021, Alcohol Free and Mac Swiney. On good ground, David Egan kept Mishriff well in touch in a very slow run race in the early stages until the 4 furlong marker when he sent his mount to the front and just kept going to win by a massive 6 lengths. Mishriff has now won over £10 million all over the globe in Group 1 races, but this was the first Group 1 he has won in the UK for the Gosdens. Alenquer was second with Love coming in a close third. The second day saw the Yorkshire Oaks, another Group 1 race which was sponsored by Darley Stud. There were again seven runners to take on the 1 ½ miles.
This was not such a strong renewal, but the main stay was Snowfall, winner of this year’s 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks and unsurprisingly went off hot favourite. She duly obliged by 4 lengths ridden by Ryan Moore for Aidan O’Brien. Albaflora was second ridden by Rossa Ryan trained by Ralph Becket, and third home was the second of three runners in the race for Aidan O’Brien, La Jaconde who was the pace maker in the race and who just kept going! The 150/1 outsider was ridden by Hollie Doyle. The final Group1 of the meeting was the sprint, The Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes in which 14 ran. Silvestre de Souse, in good form took the race riding Winter Power for local trainer Tim Easterby. Emaraaty Ana was second with Dragon Symbol third. Although only a Group 2, for some extraordinary reason, the Yorkshire Cup, otherwise known as the Lonsdale Cup over 2 miles and ½ a furlong was won again by our old friend Stradivarius with Frankie Dettori on board. This was the 7 year old stallion’s sixteenth pattern race win from twenty four runnings in pattern races.
A final mention of the UK racing scene over the weekend was the Solario Stakes, a Group 3 run at Sandown for 2 year olds only, where the Queen’s horse Reach for the Moon won a comfortable race for Her Majesty over 7 furlongs. The significance of the race was that several winners in the past, including this horse’s sire Sea The Stars won this race before winning the Epsom Derby the following year. Wouldn’t it be fantastic for The Queen to breed and own the Derby winner, something She has always wanted to achieve, in Her Platinum Jubilee year? If it did happen, would it not be “arise Sir John Gosden”?
In Del Mar in the United States, prep races for the Breeders Cup later in the year are now well underway. This card saw two Group 1 races, the first of which was the Del Mar Oaks over 1 mile 1 furlong with nine runners. The winner was the hot favourite Going Global trained by Phillip D’Amato and ridden by Flavian Pratt. The winning margin over the second home Closing Remarks was 1 length with Fuffy Socks close up behind in third. The second Group 1 of the meeting was TVG Pacific Stakes, a race for 3 year olds and up on the dirt over 1 mile 2 furlongs. Tripoli took this one with Tizamagician in second and Dr Post in third. The winning trainer is John W. Saddler and the horse was ridden by Tiagi Josua Pereira.
At Deauville in France, the racing summer season continued with the running of one of the top two year old Group 1 races in Europe, The Prix de Morny. Fourteen runners took part over the 6 furlongs. Perfect Power, on a raid from Richard Fahey’s yard in the UK ridden by Christophe Soumillon had a hard time establishing the lead, but once done the colt won the race by 1 ½ lengths going away from the rest of the field. The second home was French trained Trident trained by Andre Fabre with Mickael Barzalona in another difficult run, only getting to the position the jockey wanted after bumping and boring through. Third home was another British trained horse, Asymmetric trained by Alan King.
In the other Group 1 of the afternoon, the Prix Jean Romanet, for fillies and mares over 4 years, Grand Glory just pipped the rest at the post and won by a short head. Trained in France by Gianluca Bietolini and ridden by Cristian Demuro, the 6 year old mare was held up at the rear for most of the race before being asked to go to win. This was a 1 mile 2 furlong contest on good to soft ground and rather like the Morny was a fairly rough affair with Audarya trained by James Fanshawe coming second and Thundering Night coming third. There were eight runners. Lady Bowthorpe, who was the favourite after her recent exploits came nowhere after a disappointing run. Both these two Group 1 races were sponsored by Darley Stud.
In bloodstock sales news, it was announced over the weekend that Goffs of Ireland would be staging their first ever breeze up sale in Meydan in the Dubai next year during the World Cup Festival in March.