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Bedtime Reading

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1Bedtime Reading Empty Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:22 am


Fair play to One For Arthur. It's not always easy to make up ground in the Grand National, but he did so, and made the whole thing look ridiculously easy.

Yes, the ones at the front may have gone off too quickly – Rogue Angel didn't even finish the course – but One For Arthur looked a class apart, and there are two things his win has made me think about for the future.

Firstly, with the health and safety element of the race paramount, the going will never be too quick at Aintree, meaning supposed soft-ground-only stayers like One For Arthur aren't inconvenienced even on a hot, drying day.

Secondly, the way he won at Aintree, and before that at Warwick, means connections should be treating him as a Gold Cup horse next season.

The Gold Cup is a staying race often run at a good tempo, there is a hill at the end of it, and all elements of the race would appear to suit him.

A few bookies have dipped their toes in the water, with Coral best at 33-1, and this is definitely a case to revisit in the autumn when we know more about what Lucinda Russell is thinking in terms of next season.

Another eyecatcher from Aintree to have on your radar for next season is the Tim Vaughan-trained Debece.

Vaughan had a quiet few years after reshaping his training policy, recruiting more longer term and better quality horses.

It's taken a while to pay off but he's definitely getting there now, and this half-brother to Don Poli is a good example of that.

Vaughan has very much trained him with the future in mind this season, starting him off over two miles, racing him sparingly, and only putting him up in trip for his last three starts all of which has reaped a rich dividend.

He hosed up at Newbury two outings ago, and then last week, thrown in at the deep end in a three-mile Grade 1, he responded with an outstanding effort to be beaten only half a length into third by a horse, The Worlds End, who may well have had a say in the Albert Bartlett but for coming down two out.

Vaughan has repeatedly said that fences and three miles are what this horse wants, and it's pretty much certain that is what he will be doing next season.

He is 33-1 with bet365 for the RSA Chase next season, and while all talk of Cheltenham 2018 should now cease for the summer, I'm willing to make an exception for this horse as he could be genuinely exciting.

Last edited by XxicequeenxX on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:31 am; edited 1 time in total

2Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:23 am


John Gosden has any number of top-class fillies this year, but Coronet could be the one he directs towards the St Leger and it is easy to argue she is more value than her price of 14-1 suggests.

Winner of the Zetland Stakes on her last start at two, Coronet beat Wings Of Eagles and Permian that day, form that now reads extremely well. Third in the Prix Saint-Alary on her first start at three, she stayed on eyecatchingly over the inadequate trip to the delight of Frankie Dettori, who suggested the race was merely a trial for Epsom.

After having previously handled the undulations at Newmarket, it was then a surprise to see her struggle at Epsom, but she still ran a perfectly respectable race in fifth, and she has since proved she is far superior to Alluringly, who finished third.

Winner and stablemate Enable – who is bound for the Irish Oaks, possibly to be joined by Coronet, before she tackles Yorkshire’s equivalent, looks exceptional and Rhododendron may well have won the Prix de Diane if she hadn’t broken a blood vessel. This year’s fillies look just as good if not better than the colts, making Enable potentially the best three-year-old in Europe.

Were Coronet to run on Sunday she could well advance her claims for the Leger with a positive showing, highlighting the need to take the 14-1 now.

The strong pace set by The Sky Is Blazing suited Coronet down to the ground in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, and she would have won by much further than the official margin of a neck had she not had to switch around horses a furlong from home, causing her to lose valuable momentum. The market confidence behind second-placed Mori spoke volumes beforehand and she too looks a Group 1 filly in the making.

Coronet has a potent change of gear, but her pedigree is laden with stamina – she is a half-sister to Midas Touch, who finished second in the Leger – and her 3lb fillies’ allowance will only serve to benefit her further at Doncaster, where the galloping track promises to marry perfectly to her talents.

Her current rating of 108 puts her on exactly the same footing as Simple Verse in 2015 – I would argue she is better than that – and the form of market leaders Capri, Rekindling and Stradivarius is worth questioning.

3Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:25 am


What a thrilling race the Irish Derby was and it was one that would have pleased followers of this column after Capri was put up for the St Leger at 16-1 following the Derby last month.

Capri is now as short as 3-1 for the world's oldest Classic and given the way he won at the weekend, he will take all the beating at Doncaster. The grey son of Galileo has stamina in abundance and will be even better on softer ground.

Aidan O'Brien confirmed he would have a break before an autumn campaign and I will be praying for rain in the days leading up to the St Leger as cut in the ground is key to his chances.

Another Ballydoyle star who is blessed with bags of stamina is Highland Reel, whose victory in the Prince of Wales's Stakes was my performance of the week at Royal Ascot. He has the heart of a lion but constantly goes off at far too big a price and he looks superb value for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

A six-time Group 1 winner who is unbeaten in his two starts in Europe this season should not be 14-1 to win the Arc, which he was second in last year, and it is worth taking advantage of William Hill's generosity.
Time and time again this son of Galileo is allowed to go off at a price much bigger than he should be and it is difficult to fathom why. Maybe it is because he is cut from a different cloth to most Arc contenders. He is not as flashy as the likes of Almanzor or Minding but he has an effective way of getting from start to finish and, as he showed at Ascot, he has the ability to keep digging deep, which makes him so difficult to pass.

Highland Reel ran a superb race to finish second behind Found in the Arc last season but you could argue he is even better this year and looks to be improving with every run.

The horses ahead of him in the market, Almanzor and Minding, have had their problems this campaign and are not certain to run, while the three-year-olds Enable and Brametot would surely have to improve.

Given how Highland Reel has improved over time, it would be foolish to dismiss his brother Idaho's chances in the Arc following his victory in the Hardwicke Stakes.

He wouldn't have a chance on his three-year-old form and, while he impressed last week, he would have to improve plenty to be in contention.

However, a mile and a half looks his optimum trip, he is versatile with regards to conditions and has had excuses for some of his most recent defeats. Given O'Brien saddled the first three home in the race last year and with doubts over the leaders in the market, 25-1 probably underestimates his chances.

4Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:26 am


Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
3.05 Chantilly

Enable should win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe if she runs to her best. After weight allowances are factored in she has 4lb in hand on RPRs, which equates to more than two lengths at this trip.

There's a question over whether she will run right up to her peak RPR of 128, achieved in the King George at Ascot, on her seventh start of the campaign but given the dominance she has shown in recent starts there's still a chance we haven't seen the best of her.

She has won her last four starts at Group 1 level by four and a half lengths or more and even if she runs slightly below her peak she should have enough in hand to fend off her potential rivals judged on everything we've seen this season.

Ulysses is next best on RPRs. He finished second to Enable at Ascot but improved his RPR to 127 when winning the International Stakes last time and looks capable of improving again.

The ten-year average RPR for an Arc winner stands at 128, which is well within his compass and he would look a worthy and respectable winner if the real Enable fails to show up.

His main target is the Breeders' Cup Turf in November and he's not certain to turn up in France as things stand, but if he does he deserves respect.

Cracksman's impressive win in the Great Voltigeur Stakes ranks him as the leading three-year-old colt in Europe over 1m4f with an RPR of 123. That would be good enough to finish in the top three in a typical Arc and he's entitled to be thereabouts. Again, though, at this stage he's not certain to run.

Japan hasn't had a horse placed in the Arc since Orfevre was second to Treve in 2013, but Satono Diamond (124) is a more solid prospect than their recent raiders.

He was the leading three-year-old in Japan last year and is a solid championship-level performer over 1m4f. He's already acclimatising in France and at 12-1 he looks a good each-way play. Japanese raiders tend to be well supported, so he could be closer to 5-1 on the day.

5Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:27 am


John Gosden, trainer of Cracksman, Enable and Jack Hobbs
Enable came out of the Yorkshire Oaks in good shape and the plan is to take her straight to the Arc. The Prix Niel at Chantilly is a possibility for Cracksman after which nothing is being ruled in or out. He is in good form after York and he looks fresh and well. Jack Hobbs came out of the King George with an issue but is now back trotting. He won't make the Arc but the plan is the Champion Stakes at Ascot in which he finished third last year.

Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Capri, Churchill, Cliffs Of Moher, Highland Reel, Idaho, Order Of St George, Rhododendron, Seventh Heaven and Winter
They all have engagements to get over before Chantilly and are certainly all possibles for the race. We wouldn't really be ruling them in or out at this early stage.

Jean-Claude Rouget, trainer of Brametot
Brametot is well and I am preparing him to go straight to the Arc. He won’t go to the Niel or to Ireland.

Martyn Meade, trainer of Eminent
The Arc is certainly on the cards at the moment. We were always minded to go for it but we wanted to see how he came out of Deauville – and he's come out of it firing on all cylinders. We're watching the Arc picture all the time and the race is very high on the list of probabilities. It's a worry when you see Enable win as well as she did, but you can't be put off by one horse.

Alain de Royer-Dupre, trainer of Shakeel and Zarak
Shakeel is on course for the Prix Niel whereas at the moment the thinking is that Zarak might go straight to the Arc.

Andre Fabre, trainer of Akihiro, Cloth Of Stars and Waldgeist
Finche and Avilius will run in the Prix Niel – I am waiting for softer ground for Waldgeist. Cloth Of Stars runs in the Prix Foy. 

Richard Hannon, trainer of Barney Roy
I'd say it's unlikely he'll go for the Arc. He'll go for one of the races on Champions Day either over a mile [Queen Elizabeth II] or a mile and a quarter [Champion Stakes].

Freddy Head, trainer of Terrakova
Terrakova has picked up a slight injury so she won’t run in the Vermeille. It is not serious but nothing has been decided about the rest of the autumn with her.

Charlie Appleby, trainer of Frontiersman
He'll go for the Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September. Since the Coronation Cup he's been a bit frustrating and I just want to get his head in front and build from there. The Arc is very unlikely.

6Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:29 am


Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, 3.05 Chantilly, October 1
1pt win at 9-1 with Hills and Ladbrokes

3:05 Chantilly
Enable is one of the best mile-and-a-half fillies of my lifetime and she has every right to be a short-priced favourite for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly in October.

No horse has got near her over the trip, and the form of her King George win could hardly be any stronger, with Ulysses hacking up in the Juddmonte International at York last week.

If she brings her A-game it will take a special performance to get near her, let alone beat her, but it's a long time until October 1 and there is no point backing her at around the even-money mark just yet.

Furthermore, while French fillies have a great record in the race, British fillies who have bounced from one Group 1 to the next tend to not be at their very best come the autumn.  

That might not be the case with Enable, but she had an overly hard race in the Yorkshire Oaks and finished the race off pretty slowly.

That might be a red herring as regards her chance in the Arc, but her stablemate Cracksman put in an arguably better performance on the Knavesmire and seems to be peaking for an autumn campaign.

John Gosden has yet to commit Cracksman to the Arc, but if he runs in the Prix Niel next month and wins, it would take a perverse piece of logic not to run him at Chantilly.

Before York I wouldn't have entertained Cracksman as a potential Arc winner but he looked a different horse last week, travelling smoothly and quickening up to go clear of some good horses in a matter of strides.

His overall time was a good bit better than Enable's and he appeared to finish full of running, in contrast to Enable. Cracksman wouldn't mind if the ground was soft at Chantilly and, at the prices, he certainly makes the most appeal at this stage.

The French Classic generation has looked well below par this season and the best of them, Brametot, has loads of ability but he has taken to starting slowly. Unless he sorts out that quirk, he has no chance of beating horses of the calibre of Gosden's pair.

Last time out Brametot was beaten a long way by another son of Frankel, Eminent, who was much improved for forcing tactics when winning a Group 2 at Deauville this month.

A bit like Cracksman, he is a strong stayer who is improving, but I very much doubt he has the same amount of brilliance, and he's not a much bigger price.

Having run so well on ground too soft in the King George and then thrashing Churchill and Barney Roy at York, Ulysses has to be strongly considered too.

However, Sir Michael Stoute has made it clear that the Breeders' Cup Turf is Ulysses' number-one end-of-season target. I would think it is much more likely that we will see him in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, rather than the Arc.  

It can only be a matter of time before a Japanese horse wins the Arc and Satono Diamond has a chance this year. However his credentials are not as compelling as some of his compatriots in the past few years, and if there is to be a turn-up this year I would look no further than Andre Fabre.

He trains plenty of three-year-olds who could improve massively in the coming weeks. The colts Finche and Avilius are two likely types, while the Godolphin owned filly Strathspey is a lot better than she has been able to show too.

7Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 3:32 am


Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Run at Chantilly last year and Longchamp previously)
3.05 Chantilly, October 1

Key trends

  • Distance winner, ten winners in ten runnings

  • Group 1 winner, 9/10

  • Adjusted RPR of at least 134, 8/10

  • Drawn in single figures, 7/10

  • Won at least half their starts that season, 6/10

  • Aged three, 6/10

  • Won Group race in September last time, 6/10

Other factors
Solemia (2012) and Treve (2014) scored as four-year-olds, but before that the last French-trained horse to win aged older than three was Urban Sea in 1993.
Solemia was the only one of the last ten winners not to have previously landed a Group 1, but she had won a Group 2 and had been placed at Group 1 level on her latest start.
In the last 40 years there have been just two winners aged older than four (Tony Bin in 1988 and Marienbard in 2002 were both five-year-olds).
Andre Fabre has landed the Arc on seven occasions, six times with three-year-olds.
In the past ten years winners of the Arc trials have fared as follows: Niel 5534004030; Foy 0072290; Vermeille 1799140.
Winners of the Derby finished 0117719; Irish Derby 560079; Irish Champion 9311041.

8Bedtime Reading Empty Re: Bedtime Reading on Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:15 pm


There are no borders when it comes to our enjoyment of racing, nor to our appreciation of a superb thoroughbred, as the wonderful Winx showed on Saturday. This, of course, was not always the case.
These days almost every major French Flat race is shown on At The Races, Racing UK or both. Back in the 1980s and 1990s that was certainly not the case.
Special were those editions of Sunday Grandstand when a Longchamp, Chantilly or Deauville Group 1 was shown. The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was always granted a decent slot before and after its Channel 4 transfer, while a window was also invariably found for the Prix du Jockey Club. To see other races was not so easy.
Although the Radio Times might have promised coverage of, say, the Ganay or Moulin, the racing section would often be squeezed into the programme as a recording with no fixed transmission time. This sometimes meant waiting for the Sunday League cricket match to reach the tea interval, or perhaps even finish, before Julian Wilson was seen in London linking to the race, for which he would voice the commentary himself if Peter O'Sullevan had not popped over to France
For most viewers, watching a race from France now seems perfectly normal. The same applies to American fare, pumped out every night by At The Races. Come the Breeders' Cup or a Triple Crown race, we even get to savour the same top-notch NBC coverage as viewers in San Francisco, Seattle or St Louis.
Yet plenty of us remember when the first time you got a glimpse of that year's Kentucky Derby was when Channel 4 Racing aired a recording during its bank holiday Monday output from Kempton. US commentator Dave Johnson would always shout, "And down the stretch they come!", as they came down the stretch. You sometimes had to wait until quite late in the stretch but it would always come.
Listening to a different style of commentary was, in itself, entertaining. However, in terms of making an impact on what we hear at home, the greatest influence came from Australia, or more precisely an Australian, Jim McGrath.
Long before he took over from O'Sullevan at the BBC, McGrath, with a new sense of rhythm, pace and quality, had raised the bar through his racecourse work. Commentators in Britain are now, as a group, superb, as they continue to be in Australia, where the new voice of metropolitan racing in Melbourne, Matt Hill (used by BBC Radio 5 live for this year's Grand National), has quickly shown himself to be a special talent.

On October 28 it will be Hill's voice that describes what is set to be a momentous Ladbrokes Cox Plate, given Winx, the world's highest-rated turf horse, is seeking to become only the second ever triple winner, having demolished the opposition in 2015 and 2016 when Hill's predecessor Greg Miles memorably said: "It's a blitz. It's a Winx blitz."

As testament to how much international racing now floods into our homes, those up at 6.50am on Saturday were able to see Winx post her 19th straight success in the Chelmsford Stakes. Thereafter you only had to access Twitter to enjoy it as often as you wished. It had all the theatre, drama and doubt we associate with a mare whose presence at Royal Ascot next year would make the meeting.

This column has regularly lauded Winx and her exceptional trainer Chris Waller, as have others.

The excellent racing writer Jamie Lynch noted on Saturday morning: "What's amazing about Winx, and it's totally organic, is there's still an element of jeopardy in each race."

He is absolutely right. In so many of her starts Winx has seemed to find herself in an impossible position with acres of ground to make up. That was how it was at Randwick on Saturday, when she ultimately coasted past the winning post under Hugh Bowman having tested her supporters' nerves to the hilt.

There are still some who question Winx's claim to greatness. They may also have struggled to acknowledge the majesty of Black Caviar. Someone even responded to a gushing tweet (I cannot help myself) by stating Winx would not even win a British Listed race.

That, plainly, is too ridiculous to merit debate, but it underlines the extent to which some find it impossible to comprehend quality outside their own borders.

They are missing out, for what was a quiet domestic Saturday was at the same time a stellar Saturday for the sport. First we were treated to the second best horse in the world (Winx, 132), then a Saratoga tour de force from the third best horse in the world, the 127-rated Gun Runner, now a massive Breeders' Cup Classic danger to the no longer invincible Arrogate.

The Hartnell who Winx has repeatedly thrashed is an enormously superior Hartnell to the one who won the Queen's Vase for Mark Johnston.

In the 2015 Cox Plate Winx annihilated Highland Reel, while in the same Moonee Valley showpiece a year later she annihilated Vadamos, who just a month earlier had bagged the Prix du Moulin. Moving back and forth over distances from seven furlongs to a mile and two furlongs she has crushed top opposition, to the approval not merely of domestic admirers but also international handicappers.

On October's final Saturday she will attempt to emulate Australian sporting icon Kingston Town by capturing her third Cox Plate. It will be a momentous occasion, one well worth an early alarm call.

To make the most of this international era, racing fans sometimes have to get up very early or go to bed very late. The likes of Winx, Arrogate and Gun Runner make that oh so worth it.

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