Sir Michael Makes it Eight and the ‘Strad’ Plays a Great Tune at York
Our last article related the fortunes of the younger generation of racehorses at the May York meeting. Now we look at two races for the older generation, the Group Two Yorkshire Cup and the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. The Yorkshire Cup, a race over 1 mile 6 furlongs, and the first UK qualifier for this year’s Weatherby Hamilton million pound bonus won last year by one of the runners, Stadivarius. The Newbury contest, is a straight mile race for older horses in which the five time Group One winner Laurens took part.
The Lockinge Group One
The Lockinge Stakes, sponsored by Al Shaquab is the only Group One race to be run at Newbury throughout the year. It is always considered one of the best mile races to win with a prize fund of £350,000; and the winner receiving £198,000 of the fund.
Apart from Laurens the sensational filly, winner of both French 1000 guineas and French Oaks among her five Group One wins as a three year old in 2018, the thirteen other runners all appeared to have been one hit wonders. Take Billesdon Brook, winner of the Newmarket 1000 Guineas and Romanised, winner of the Irish classic 2000 Guineas in 2018, neither horse managed another win all season. There were others who also won one prestigious race last season but failed to fire again, including 2018 Queen Anne winner Accidental Agent. This made this year’s Lockinge a very open contest – the most open for years.
Laurens, having her first run of the season looked fit but from a trainer currently out of form, so would she need the race? Others thought to have a big chance were Beat The Bank, dual group two winner at Goodwood and winner of this year’s Bet 365 Mile at Sandown; Without Parole, winner of The James Palace Stakes last year, and Mythical Magic, the Godolphin owned horse, winner of the group two Zabeel Mile only a couple of months ago in Dubai. The betting was open with so many possibilities. Laurens and Beat The Banks started as 5/1 joint favourites. All the fourteen runners took the preliminaries well except Le Brivido, from the Aiden O’Brien stable, who got well worked up at the start.
All broke well from the gate with Le Brivido taking a pull to give him cover and both Laurens and Ostilio ran on, the latter weakening in the final furlong. Laurens with a wall of other horses a furlong out was driven to the line. Out of the pack however came the Sir Michael Stoute trained Mustashry to win by 2.5 lengths ahead of Laurens with Accidental Agent taking the third spot. This was Sir Michael’s eighth win of the Lockinge, the first being in 1986. Winning jockey Jim Crowley said that he thought the horse was still a bit weak and he thought he would continue to strengthen and go onto further big race wins. The trainer said after the race “We knew he was in very good shape. He’s had his niggles over his career but we have never had him in better shape.” The other joint favourite Beat the Bank was well beaten.
Mustashry is owner bred by Juddmonte Farms and is by Nayef out if Safwa.
The Yorkshire Cup
The Yorkshire Cup sponsored by Matchbrook, is run over 1 mile and 6 furlongs. It is part of the Weatherby Hamilton million pound bonus series. There are three long distance races, this one, the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup. There are also races in the series abroad. The winners of each of the races then qualify for a final, held again at York Racecourse in August for a bonus of £1million. Last year this was won by Stradivarius, and the now five year old horse, bigger and stronger returned for a second go at winning.
The John Gosden trained horse looked in great shape, but he was not the only steed who not only looked the part, but had decent claims to win. Eight runners lined up before the starter including the Aiden O’Brien trained Southern France by guess who, yes Galileo. Ispolini, another useful runner trained by Charlie Appleby for the Godolphin team and Mark Johnson, a master at training long distance horses had Mildenberger.
This was a French run style race where the runners start slowly, more or less in a fast canter and then sprint for the final five or so furlongs. Stradivarius was held up by Frankie Dettori along with the Hugo Palmer trained Mootasidir and Aircraft Carrier, who was always in the rear, while the others jockeyed for a good position in the lead. When entering the straight, the speed picked up dramatically and made this contest a real test of stamina. It was an exciting finish with the first two horses finishing in a blanket with Stradivarius getting the better of Southern France by a little under half a length. Mildenberg was third, five and a half lengths behind. Stradivarius is by Sea The Stars out of the French mare Private Life and owned by B.E. Nielsen. The horse has now earned over £1.5 million in prize money.