Most Open Guineas Classics at Newmarket for Years
In the most open Guineas Classics at Newmarket for many years, we are left rather wondering whether the three year olds of 2021 are below par compared with their peers of recent years? Isabel Werth comes back to competition with vengeance and Andrew Kocher a show jumper from the USA is banned for ten years.
The Rotterdam CDI and CSI have been moved from its original date in June to July 1 to 4th. It will now host a leg of the European Nations Cup for show jumping together with the other classes already announced.
American show jumping rider Andrew Kocher has been banned for ten years following proven allegations that the rider used electrified spurs in competitions during some CSI 5 star events during 2018 and 2019. In a statement from the FEI, they concluded on photographic evidence that Andrew Kocher used electronic spurs, firstly, at Hickstead in the UK in June 2018 and on another nine occasions, mainly in his home country of the USA but also at Calgary in Canada in both 2018 and 2019. Andrew Kocher was also fined $10,000 and ordered to pay a further $7,500 for legal costs.
The Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead in the UK is to be severely cut back with the King George V Gold Cup, (The Grand Prix CSI 5 star) and the British leg of the Nations Cup have been cancelled. The show will have more of a national look as international travel is still looking most uncertain. The normal showing classes are expected to be staged as in the schedule for the show.
Tattersalls sales company in Newmarket held their annual Breeze up sale and this year introduced a horses in training section, both held virtually. There were just under 300 lots in the combined sale of horses in training and the traditional Guineas Breeze up sale. In the Horses in training section had a small catalogue of just 43 individuals with 30 actually going through the ring, the average was just under 11,000 guineas. The top price was for Nortonthorpe Boy, a three year old gelding by Swiss Spirit making 55,000, who was sold only last autumn for just 7,000. He has won 6 times in the interim on the all-weather.
In the two year old section, the top price was for a colt by Postponed making 135,000 gns. This was the first sale of 2020 to be ravaged by the current pandemic and this year, with virtual sales, phones and other ingenious methods employed by sales companies to keep their turnover turning, the sale stood up remarkably well in terms of average and numbers presented and sold. The average was a very respectable 29,948 gns with a median price nearly matching the record for this sale of 24,500 gns. There were 184 presented for sale from a catalogue of 236 lots of which 150 found new addresses.
In dressage, the main news of the week was the come-back of Isabel Werth at the Manheim 4 star CDI. She won both Grand Prix on offer at the show with Bella Rosa and her other great ride Weihegold OLD. Bella Rosa also took the Special, the second part of that Grand Prix and Weihegold took the Kur, the second part of that Grand Prix. It does not look likely that Isabel will be relinquishing her world ranking places of number One and Two any time soon!
This weekend saw the first two of the British classics run at Newmarket, The One thousand and Two thousand Guineas. In what has not been the easiest spring preparation for trainers with the weather being so dry, but particularly the cold throughout April has meant that horses have been slow to come in their coats.
First up was the Two thousand Guineas for the colts. There were fifteen runners taking on the straight mile course with good representation from Ireland as well as the UK. Aiden O’Brian had three runners including the favourite Wembley, who last year won a maiden in Ireland before coming second in two Group 1s: The Dewhurst Stakes and the National Stakes. Joseph O’Brian also had a good representative in Thunder Moon, also a winner of a maiden but actually beat Wembley in the National Stakes before being beaten into third by Wembley in the Dewhurst. Clearly little to choose between them? American bred Battleground was a second runner for Aiden who was second in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in the autumn after winning the Group 2 Vintage stakes at Goodwood. The best of the British runners was from Charlie Hills’ stable Mutasaabeq, a colt by Invincible Spirit bred by the late Hamdam Al Maktoum and now owned by Shadwell Estates. This one is from the same family as Height of Fashion, dam of Unfurwain and Nashwan, both former champions, so on paper at least and being unbeaten before this race, also looked an interesting prospect. Then there was the Godolphin pair, Bold Ruler and Master of the Seas, both well touted. So this was one of the most open guineas for many years. So the race for the tenth consecutive Qipco sponsored Two Thousand Guineas got underway. On fast ground, the race was a fast run affair with Naval Post, the Godolphin pacemaker leading the field until a furlong or so out from the finish. Now down to 14 following the withdrawal of Albadri due to an incident in the paddock during the preliminaries.
Master of the Seas started his run and took the lead with the Jim Bolger runner, Poetic Flare and another Irish trained runner Lucky Vega going with him. On the nod on the line, the judge gave the race to Poetic Flare with Master of the Seas coming second and Lucky Vega third. All the fancied runners, well beaten. Jim Bolger, so often overlooked and who never sends a horse to the races without a decent chance did it again. Not only did Bolger train the winner, but also bred him, owned him and his son in law Kevin Manning rode him – a truly family affair. The fifty four year old jockey was full of praise for his father in law of 79 years of age in an interview immediately following his win, but was reticent to suggest his mount would stay the Derby distance. Also as a footnote, the Bolger/Manning duo has now been together for 39 years, the longest of such racing partnerships in the world. The second home is trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick with the third home trained by Jessica Harrington and ridden by Shane Foley. We don’t believe that the 2021 Two Thousand Guineas will be remembered as a vintage event, unlike the victory of Frankel ten years ago this year!
In the fillies equivalent, The One Thousand Guineas, there were 12 runners declared but Lullaby Moon was withdrawn on the morning of the race. An Aiden O’Brian runner had been touted all winter, Santa Barbara, a filly by Camelot and winner of her only race to date, a maiden at the Curragh. Why she was so fancied before the race remains a mystery to me, or just perhaps this year’s three year old fillies, rather like the colts, appear to be nothing special! Others fancied were Cheveley Park stud’s Sacred trained by inform William Haggas, although her sire Exceed and Excel does suggest she may not be stoutly enough bred for a mile classic? Sacred’s best run was winning the Nell Gwyn Trial last month. However, the other Guineas trial at Newbury, The Fred Darling Stakes was won by another fancied runner from the also in form Andrew Balding stable – Alcohol Free, and who last year won the Cheveley Park Stakes. Soon after the start, Statement took the field along with several close up. At the 2 furlong marker, Santa Barbara and Alcohol Free started their run along with Saffron Beach and Fev Dover, but on the outside, Aiden O’Brian’s other runner, Mother Earth came like a steam train with Frankie Dettori in full flight. From that moment on, Mother Earth made the others look rather ordinary, which in our opinion they were. This was the 39th British Classic win for Aiden O’Brian and the 20th British Classic win for Frankie Dettori, now 50 years of age but no less competitive and exuberant than he was 30 years ago!
Like Cheltenham and Aintree, the early classics at Newmarket were taken by Irish trainers. It seems that 2021 is going to be a golden year for Irish trainers in terms of spectacular wins in the UK?
There were other Group 1 races in Australia and America, but the only one we highlight in this article is the 20 runner Kentucky Derby run on the dirt over 1 mile 2 furlongs. All the runners in this race were both American trained and bred. The race was won by the Bob Baffert trained Medina Spirit ridden by John Velazquez who won from pillar to post with Brad Cox trained Mandaloun in second.