James Doyle Wins Both Newmarket Classics and Michael Jung Breaks All Records in Kentucky

The first weekend of the month of May saw a double for James Doyle winning both classics at the Guineas Festival at Newmarket, the first two classics of the European season and of course the Landrover Kentucky horse trials in the USA in which Michael Jung from Germany frankly gave a master class.

Michael Jung takes the dressage phase with a record low penalty mark

After the first day at Kentucky, the riders from the USA held sway with the first five on the leader board all from the United States. Tamra Smith riding Fleeceworks Royal headed the board with 32.9 penalties after the dressage. Colleen Rutledge, Doug Paine, Elisa Wallace and Alexandra Knowles took the next four places with the first of the foreign raiders in sixth place – Pippa Funnell riding Majas Hope. Following the first day of dressage, complaints abounded saying that the judging was far too harsh. The problem with this was that if the judges relented and were kinder in their deliberations on the second day of dressage, it would skew the whole system. However, looking at the scores for the second day, this is exactly what happened!  So day two saw the leader from the first day – Tamra Smith drop to 8th place. The overall leader board before the cross country saw Michael Jung from Germany riding Fischerchipmunk in pole position with an amazing score of just 20.1 penalties. The second spot on 25.7 penalties was British rider, Sarah Bullimore riding Corouet. Bruce Davidson Jnr headed the charge from the USA with Carlevo ending the dressage in third place on 27.4 penalties. The next two on the board were both from Great Britain – Yasmin Ingham in fourth and Pippa Funnell on her second ride Maybach holding fifth place. Yasmin rode Banzai Du Loir.

Fence 13. Note the huge drop despite the easy looking fence at the top of the bank?

The cross country day at the Kentucky Three Day event sponsored by Landrover ended up being rather a foregone conclusion with Michael Jung riding a seamless clear round with no penalties or time faults, He remained on his dressage score of 20.1 penalties. If he could go clear in the showjumping phase, then Jung will have completed a 5 star three day event with the fewest penalties ever for a rider. The course designed for the eleventh year was Derek di Grazia. Using the natural terrain, Derek produced what looked like a fair and not too challenging course, but as one commentator put it, “There was a certain Machiavellian genius in the build”  The designer had cleverly used the terrain to disguise certain aspects of a jump, making it ask a bigger question than one would have otherwise thought. Fence 6 was a good example of this; a fairly simple looking, although with a large spread of three poles – a jump that looked a good one able to be negotiated at speed, but then there was the angle it was placed on the ground making the downside of the jump far steeper than it first looked. Again another example of this was a smallish looking innocuous fence at 13 when the horses jumped over, there was no way of seeing, (for the horse that is) a massive steep incline followed by the second and third elements of the whole fence.

Doug Payne )USA) has great event coming from 25th in dressage to be on podium

Back to the leader board for the day. As said, Michael Jung riding Fischerchipmunk ended on his dressage score. The second, also to finish on their dressage scores with no penalties at all was Boyd Martin from the United States riding Tsetserleg, finishing the day on 29.3 penalties. The third place was held by Yasmin Ingham from GB riding Banzai du Loir with 30.9 penalties. Yasmin picked up 2.8 time faults. The only other completely clear round was taken by Phillip Dutton riding Sea of Clouds for the USA. Despite his excellent clear, his dressage let him down and he finished the day in seventh place on 38.8. Sarah Bullimore from GB dropped well down the board after a run out and the leader on day one of the dressage Tamra Smith retired. She was one of eleven of the original starters either to retire or be eliminated. Two other horses were withdrawn before the day began. American Bruce Davidson Jr, who was in third place before the cross country started, dropped just one place to fourth following collecting 10 penalties for time.

Victory round for Michael Jung – New Record Holder

With over a two fence cushion for Michael Jung as the third day of the competition loomed, it was going to have to be a disastrous day at the office for Jung for him not to take the title. It was another good day in the office for Michael as he finished the showjumping round with a clear which not only gave him victory for this year’s Landrover Kentucky Three Day Event, but he did with a record low penalty score of all time for a five star event of 20.1. In the rest of the showjumping, Yasmin Ingham from GB ended up second with a clear round but 0.8 penalties for time giving her a final score of 31.7. Doug Payne headed the riders from the United States ending the event in third with a total score of 38.4. He was riding Quantum Leap and after his dressage in which he collected 37.2 penalties leaving him in 25th place at the time – went on to have only 1.2 penalties in his cross country and a clear in the showjumping giving him a podium finish. Of the thirty runners in the final showjumping phase, only six had completely clear rounds. Boyd Martin, in second before the showjumping, had two poles down leaving him on 38.5 penalties for the three days and in fourth place. The fifth place was also claimed by an American, Bruce Davidson Jnr, finishing on 38.6 penalties. There was less than one fence between the third to seventh places, all of which were very tight.

And so onto Badminton this coming weekend, where you can be sure that the competitors will be relieved that Michael Jung is not to appear. It also means that the Rolex Grand Slam for eventing cannot be won this year.

The Newmarket Guineas Festival

Charlie Appleby carried the ace cards for the race

In Newmarket, Two Thousand Guineas day dawned bright and sunny – in fact a perfect English spring day. Native Trail started as the hot favourite for the classic trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin with his other runner Coroebus as second favourite for the team. Aidan O’Brien had a couple in the line-up for the straight mile race; Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale. Neither of the O’Brien runners had seen a race course this year but as two year olds were well thought of. In fact Native Trail was the only really fancied runner to have had an outing this term by comfortably winning the Craven Stakes at the same course a couple of weeks ago. The going was Good and good to firm in places. Newmarket have had to put a considerable amount of water on the course as there has been little or no rain in East Anglia for some weeks now.

Aidan O’Brien has had five Guineas winners since 2010

Since 2010, there have been some interesting facts about the Two Thousand Guineas which did not bode well for the hot favourite Native Trail. Unlike the early 2000s and 1990s, when the view was that a colt needed to have a run before the big race, now days, that looks like a fallacy. Since 2010, only four winners had a prep race before the big one. Secondly, the Irish have been really dominant since 2012 by winning the race with Aidan O’Brien winning five times since then and Jim Bolger winning twice. Both had decent runners in this year’s contest. The French won with Makfi in the period, so any thoughts that British trainers had a home advantage is completely dispelled. Finally, only five favourites have won the race since 2010 so being favourite doesn’t seem to count for much. The big positive thing in Native Trail’s chances were that he was rated before the race, at 122 – well above the average rating for the winner at 116.

As the above was written before the race, it is interesting to see just how things turned out.

Native Trail – hot favourite for the race

This year’s renewal of the Two Thousand Guineas was thought by all the professional pundits to be a strong race. There were several of the 15 runners in the race who shone quite brightly as two year olds. Only eight of the runners had a prep race this year before this and frankly most of those were always going to be outsiders. This left most of the serious contenders without a run this year. Native Trail is a big strong burly colt as he was as a two year old and was taller than most if not all the other runners. With no rain at Newmarket for over three weeks, although a lot of watering was done to make the ground as race perfect as possible, nothing can actually match real rain to provide proper ‘good ground’. When I saw Native Trail, he looked an absolute picture and is a horse who really fills the eye, but my concern was that as he needs cut in the ground, would this course be too firm for him to race comfortably?

In the race, the fifteen runners broke to an even break and was taken along, as expected by the Charlie and Mark Johnston trained Royal Patronage who went straight up the middle of the course. Perfect Power, one of the few who had a run this year and trained by Richard Fahey and the O’Brien trained Point Lonsdale were also well up in the front. As the runners came to the dip, William Buick, Native Trail’s jockey asked his mount for action, which although was forthcoming, was slow allowing his stable mate ridden by James Doyle, Coroebus to take charge of events. In the last furlong, in full flight, the pair fought it out with Coroebus getting the better of Native trail by ¾ of a length.

James Doyle wins both Guineas. His first British Classic wins

This did give Charlie Appleby his one two as expected, even if not the expected way round; but far more important it gave both trainer and jockey their first Two Thousand Guineas win and for James Doyle his first British classic win after 20 years of riding. It is the first time the same trainer has trained the one two in the race for twenty years when Aidan O’Brien did it, winning  with Rock of Gibraltar and  Hawk Wing coming second. Coroebus is by the now famous Dubawi out of a Teofilo mare. Native Trail is by Oasis Dream out of an Observatory mare and was bred in France. The third horse home this year was Luxembourg ridden by Ryan Moore for the Coolmore syndicate. He is by Camelot out of a Danehill Dancer mare. This was a fast run race with those setting off in the lead, basically cutting their throats when the business end of the race was played out.

Tenebrism was the favourite for this wide open contest

In the fillies’ equivalent, the One Thousand Guineas, there were 13 runners going to post. Like its colt’s counterpart, this looked a strong renewal of the race. Aidan O’Brien looked to have the form horse with Tenebrism, a filly by Caravaggio and winner of the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at the course last year. However, being out of a mare by Pivotal, there was always the chance that she would need more cut in the ground than she would get in this contest. Another fancied runner was the other from O’Brien in the form of Tuesday, a filly by Galileo out of a Danehill Dancer mare. Another, who was having her first run of the season, but whether she would good enough as only the winner of a maiden in Naas in Ireland to her record was a good point. However, with the magic of Frankie Dettori to guide her home, anything could happen. There were several with credentials to win this race including Appleby’s Wild Beauty, by Frankel, winner of her only race this year – the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury a couple of weeks ago. French raider Malavath, trained by Francis –  Henri Graffard with Christophe Soumillon on board was another highly thought of after her Group 3 success at Deauville a couple of weeks ago. Another bidding to take the prize home to France was the Andre Fabre Group 1 winning filly Zellie by Wootton Bassett, the winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac in bottomless ground at Longchamp. The final one needed mentioning before the race was from Jessica Harrington’s yard in Ireland, and an expert in producing fillies at just the right time, was Discoveries, a filly by Mastercraftsman and winner last time out of the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. So a very open renewal of this Newmarket race was eagerly anticipated.

During the preliminaries, we thought that generally the fillies were well behind the colts in terms of forwardness with many still slightly holding onto their winter coats. Wild Beauty got rather warm, and possibly the race was coming too soon after her win at Newbury.

George Boughley takes his first classic race.

At the off, the George Boughley trained filly Cachet took an early lead in a fast run race. As the race continued, Cachet still led with none of the others being able or wanting to take the leader on. Up the hill in the final furlong, Cachet was still in the lead with Prosperous Voyage coming up fast on the inside, and who ended up being second and Tuesday making ground on the far side. The line came just in time for Cachet giving the trainer his first classic win and ridden by James Doyle – adding another classic win to his repertoire in just two days. Rather like buses, you wait for years for one to come along and then suddenly two come at the same time!! Congratulations to James Doyle on a very well deserved weekend of victories. George Boughley, the winning trainer is actually just starting only his third year of training horses and trains in Newmarket, and this was his first classic success. Cachet is by Aclaim, only a £6000 covering fee, and out of a mare by Teofilio.

So where did the fancied runners come? O’Brien’s runners Tuesday was third with Tenebrism only managing 8th. Zellie, the Fabre French trained horse was 4th with the other French raider, Malavath coming 10th. Wild Beauty, who seemed clearly out of sorts with herself today was 9th. Discoveries, who we thought looked one of the best in the paddock before the race came 7th. So a very open race with a surprising winner.

images courtesy Shannon Brinkman Photography, Godolphin Racing and Suffolk News

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