Category Archives: Horse Racing

Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown on Saturday

Here is how the field stacks up this weekend.

So You Think (141 Timeform) – 3 from 4 in the UK incl. 2 at G1. Likely to join the prestigious honour roll of champions.

Snow Fairy (133) – Irish mare and winner of 2010 Epsom & Irish Oaks, QE II Commemorative Cup & HK Cup.

Famous Name (131) – last start runner-up in German G1, the Dermot Weld stakes winner is 4 from 6 this year. Never won beyond G3.

Roderic O’Connor (126) – last two starts were 6th in Irish Derby (G1) and Prix du Jockey Club (G1), won Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) in May. Same stable as So You Think.

Recital (126) – didn’t seem to handle Epsom last start in Investec Derby (G1), another Aiden O’Brien runner.

Dunboyne Express (121) – has lengths to make up on several of these.

So You Think, then under the guidance of Bart Cummings

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Ireland, France and US for So You Think, but no Australia

It is a race renowned for turning out champions of the turf and future leading stallions. Thus it is fitting that the former Bart Cumming trained galloper So You Think will line-up against Europe and the world’s best in this weekend’s Irish Champion Stakes.

Held at Leopardstown Racecourse in Ireland, the Irish Champion Stakes is raced over 2,012 metres for three-year olds and up. The honour roll is a who’s who of world racing and has become well-known to Australian’s due to many champions shuttling down under to stand at stud.

The 2010 winner Cape Blanco, one of the great European racehorses of all time – Sea The Stars, New Approach, Dylan Thomas, Oratorio, High Chaparral, Fantastic Light, Giant’s Causeway, Daylami, and Suave Dancer to name several.

Behind that list of valuable bloodstock are the dominant powerhouses with the likes of (trainers) Aidan O’Brien, HH Aga Khan IV, John Hammond, and Saeed bin Suroor and Michael Stoute, and (jockeys) Michael Kinane, Kieran Fallon, Johnny Murtagh and Frankie Dettori claiming the prize multiple times.

Now owned by the all-powerful Coolmore international breeding organisation, will O’Brien collect another Irish Champion Stakes with the dual Cox Plate victor?

Since being sold by Dato Tan Chin Nam in 2010 for a reported $A25 million, So You Think has won three from four including the group 1 Tattersalls Cup and group 1 Eclipse Stakes in which he defeated Workforce (2010 Derby and Arc winner).

So You Think has been entered for the weekend’s race at Leopardstown against only a handful of other contenders and will be extremely hard to hold out. What’s in store for the 2010 Australian Champion Three Year Old after that?Franceand then most likely the US Breeders Crown seems to be on the cards; not Australia and the Cox Plate.

That isn’t what the Moonee Valley Racing Club wants to hear. If So You Think was to fly back to Australia, he would be aimed at equallingKingstonTown’s record of three wins in our ‘best’ race. But the breeding value far outweighs a third Cox Plate.

Ever since running fifth in the Caulfield Guineas, the High Chaparral (IRE) stallion has continued to stamp himself as a true racetrack champion and it is only a matter of time before he becomes a very happy male in the breeding barn.

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My Dream Caulfield Guineas Field

Being an avid horse racing follower who has worked as a strapper at Flemington and Caulfield during my teens, I take pleasure in watching the youngsters take to the track. The Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper, Victorian and AJC Australian Derby, and Crown Oaks – all races that become eyewitness to greatness begin and flourish.

There is one race however that for me stands alone. The Group one Caulfield Guineas over 8 furlongs.

The Guineas is the blue riband for the three-year olds as is known for producing future stallions and turf champions. I can still recall vividly the 1999 event where the crowd were witness to one of the races’ great contents between Redoute’s Choice and Testa Rossa; I can still hear Greg Miles’ call in my head.

I sat down recently (as the races in only weeks away) and analysed the race to come up with my best Guineas field.

1. Lonhro.

2. Redoute’s Choice.

3. Mahogany.

4. Manikato.

5. Surround.

6. Vain.

7. Luskin Star.

8. Tulloch.

9. Ajax.

10.  Red Anchor.

11. Heroic.

12. Storm Queen.

13. Encounter.

14. Our Maizcay.

15. Dual Choice.

16. Weekend Hussler.

Lonhro – went into the race as John Hawkes’ second-ranked runner after Viscount who had won the G1 George Main Stks in Sydney. In a field (possibly the best Guineas assembled) including Dash for Cash, Viking Ruler, Pure Theatre, Magic Albert and the Bart Cummings trained Ustinov, Lonhro dropped back to last, settled, and once the field turned for home, the big black champion swept over the top to win; an amazing effort. Lonhro was a champion on the track and at present a champion and leading sire in the breeding barn. In 2004 Lonhro was named World Champion Miler in 2004 and finished his career with a Timeform rating of 128.

Redoute’s Choice – The Danehill bay produced a phenomenal effort to win in 1999. His triumph over Testa Rossa and Commands (both stallions) gave the roaring crowd more than what they had paid for with a dogged, head to head slug down the straight. He too has become a leading sire and demands a mammoth stud fee.

Mahogany – Kerry Packer’s favourite horse. An eight-time G1 winner including the Victorian Derby and Australian Derby, he took home the Guineas prize in 1983. Two years later Mahogany would run oh-so close to Octagonal in the Cox Plate.

Manikato – what a galloper he was; a Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper, five straight William Reid Stks wins, and four Futurity Stks firsts. Manikato was successful in the guineas in 1978.

Surround – The only filly to have won the Cox Plate before taking out the VRC Oaks not long after. Surround won the Guineas by two and a half lengths over a very good line-up comprising the AJC Derby winner Great Lover.

Vain – I’ve seen footage of this champion but what’s better than that is having worked for Jim Moloney – Vain’s trainer. I have had the pleasure of listening to the great horseman speak about his loved racehorse. One of the greats of the turf who turned consistently turned in brilliant performances which encompassed the 1969 Caulfield Guineas.

Luskin Star – When you speak about Vain you soon bring up this champion. Luskin Star was unstoppable in 1977 and followed in Jim’s star by claiming the Golden Slipper and Guineas. The chestnut colt went into the Guineas not having run for four-week and still won.

Tulloch – one of Australia’s finest racehorses who did it all from 1000m to two miles. As a three-year old alone, he won 14 from 16 starts; he won the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, VRC and AJC Derby’s, and the Guineas in 57’ to mention a few. Tulloch is in both the Australian and NZ Racing Hall of Fames.

Ajax – Inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 2004, Ajax was a true champion on the track and like Redoute’s Choice and Lonhro, a champion sire. He would win the Caulfield Guineas in race record time in 1937.

Red Anchor – 14 starts, 9 wins, 4 seconds and a third; an impressive record. Trained by Tommy Smith (originally it was Paul Sutherland), he won the Guineas, Victoria Derby and the Cox Plate all in 1984. In 85’ he was awarded the Australian Horse of the Year award.

Heroic – Another Hall of Famer who was dominant in the 1924 version of the Guineas winning by three lengths after taking out the AJC Derby in a tough fight-out to the line. Heroic would go on to produce Ajax.

Storm Queen – After a first race start defeat, this Bart Cumming’s champion won eight straight including the Golden Slipper. In addition to the Slipper, Storm Queen won the 66’ Guineas, the VCR Lightning Stks, and Sires’ Produce Stks.

Encounter – A champion two-year old and outstanding three-year old who raced against many tier one gallopers. Just before the barriers opened in his successful Guineas win, the line-up included General Nediym, Schubert, Umrum, and Gold Guru. Encounter will most likely be remembered for his close and unlucky loss in the Slipper.

Our Maizcay – in 1995 there were queries over whether such a brilliant horse could handle the 1600m but Our Maizcay was never in trouble putting a three length gap on the field on straightening to win effortlessly from Ravarda with a black colt running on late for third called Octagonal.

Dual Choice – the Showdown filly Dual Choice won the Caulfield in outstanding fashion winning by three lengths.  She went on to prove herself one of the best sprinter-milers of the modern era winning the Craven A Stakes, Lightning Stakes and Oakleigh Plate as a 3yo.  She repeated her Oakleigh Plate victory at 4 followed by a second in the Newmarket before retiring to stud.

Weekend Hussler – The Hussonet gelding prepared by Ross McDonald at Caulfield, was named as Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 2008 and Champion Three Year Old in the same year. In his three-year-old season, Weekend Hussler won 9 from 11 start comprising the Guineas and Randwick Guineas, Newmarket Hcp, Oakleigh Plate, Ascot Vale Stks, and George Ryder Stks.

Freedman focus on big spring as Lee legs Up Anthony

Super Impose, Schillaci, Naturalism, Alinghi, Paris Lane, Poetic King, and the more recent Makybe Diva – all champion racehorse prepared to group 1 glory by master trainer and hall of famer Lee Freedman.

There will be no more.

Freedman, who headed up the Markdel, has legged up brother Anthony into the saddle after more than two decades.

The third oldest of the brothers Anthony will take over at the helm with the focus being the upcoming spring carnival. Anthony has been at St Ives where he was charged with the preparation and development of the stables two-year olds. Anthony has previously had success when he opened a stable in Sydney at Randwick Racecourse and prepared 1993 Golden Slipper winner, Bint Marscay.

Freedman hasn’t had the success he has become accustomed to with a stable of well bred thoroughbreds mostly contributed by Darley; Peter Snowden however in Sydney, who also trains for the powerful stud, has continued to flourish.