European Season review – Part Two -Three-year-olds
O’Brien Guineas dominance continues
Aidan O’Brien’s recent stranglehold on the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1m) at Newmarket, the first two Classics of the European season, continued in May as Churchill (Galileo) and surprise package Winter (Galileo) gave their record-breaking trainer the perfect start to 2017.
Churchill, always held in the highest esteem by O’Brien and regular jockey Ryan Moore, showed all the tenacity and grit that saw him crowned the leading juvenile in Europe in 2016 when battling to a length success over the Godolphin-raced Barney Roy (Excelebration) on 6 May.
He went on to secure the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1, 1m) in more clear cut fashion at the Curragh later that month, comfortably accounting for the subsequent Prix Jean Prat (Gr 1, 1600m) winner Thunder Snow (Helmet) for back-to-back Classics.
“He’s a great horse and we’re delighted with him,” O’Brien said after the colt landed his fourth career Group One in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
“He’s brave and so versatile. Ground and trip all come alike to him and he has a lovely demeanour.”
His stablemate Winter also completed the English / Irish 1,000 Guineas double, showing a sparkling turn of foot to win from off the pace at Newmarket before she scored emphatically by four and three quarter lengths at the Curragh on 28 May.
At Deauville in France, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) (Gr 1, 1600m) went the way of the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained and Al Shaqab-raced Brametot (Rajsaman), while the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) (Gr 1, 1600m) went the way of the less-vaunted stable of Fabrice Chappet, courtesy of Precieuse (Tamayuz).
Enable dominates in Oaks
The brilliant Enable (Nathaniel), the John Gosden-trained filly who swept all before her in 2017, kicked off a stunning run of form with a dominant victory in the Oaks (Gr 1, 1m4f) at Epsom.
The Juddmonte Farms-bred and raced three-year-old stormed clear of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Rhododendron (Galileo) amidst a torrential thunderstorm to score emphatically in the fillies Classic in early June.
The following day at Epsom, O’Brien gained ample compensation when saddling outsider Wings Of Eagles (Pour Moi) to score a sensational victory in the Derby (Gr 1, 1m4f), the world’s most prestigious three-year-old race.
The colt swooped from well off the pace to run down his stablemate Cliffs Of Moher (Galileo) at odds of 50/1 under jockey Padraig Beggy to emulate his father and former Windsor Park shuttler Pour Moi (Montjeu), who won the Derby in 2011.
While Enable would go on to complete the Oaks / Irish Oaks (Gr 1, 1m4f) double with a facile success under Frankie Dettori at the Curragh, Wings Of Eagles was forced to settle for third place behind stable companion Capri (Galileo) in the Irish Derby (Gr 1, 1m4f).
The colt was found to have suffered an injury in that race and was retired shortly afterwards by connections.
Brametot completed his own Classic double when running out an impressive winner of the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (Gr 1, 2100m) at Chantilly in June.
He quickened up in taking style to win going away from an unpromising position under Cristian Demuro, giving his trainer Rouget back-to-back Jockey Club victories, following the success of the brilliant Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) in 2016.
“He is a very hard horse, very strong – a true Group One horse,” Demuro said after the colt’s taking performance.
Meanwhile, the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (Gr 1, 2100m) went the way of the Niarchos Family-bred and race Senga (Blame), who was delivered with a beautifully-timed run by Stephane Pasquier to win the €1,000,000 race.
Trainer Markus Klug enjoyed a fine season in Germany in 2017, and he saddled the high-class Windstoss (Shirocco) to win the Deutsches Derby (Gr 1, 2400m), while the Preis der Diana (Gr 1, 2200m) went to the Peter Schiergen-trained Lacazar (Adlerflug).
Barney Roy gains revenge at Ascot
Having played second fiddle to Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, when arguable an unlucky loser, the Richard Hannon-trained and Godolphin-raced Barney Roy (Excelebration) turned the tables on his rival when landing the St James’s Palace Stakes (Gr 1, 1m) at Royal Ascot.
The strapping colt showed a stunning change of gear under James Doyle to land the historic Group One, won by the likes of Frankel (Galileo), Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo) and Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) since 2000, in a track record time of 1:37.22.
Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien-bounced back later in the week, saddling Caravaggio (Scat Daddy) to win the third running of the Commonwealth Cup (Gr 1, 6f).
The top-class colt scythed through the field under a confident Ryan Moore to run down the Godolphin-raced pair Harry Angel (Dark Angel) and Blue Point (Shamardal) in the closing stages for a thrilling victory.
“He’s obviously a brilliant horse. Ryan gave him a brilliant ride and his change of pace is unbelievable. I don’t think we’ve ever had a quicker horse,” O’Brien said of the colt following the Commonwealth Cup.
The excellent Winter, who is out of the Royal Ascot-winning Choisir (Danehill Dancer) mare Laddies Poker Two, added a third Group One to her tally at the Royal meeting, when landing the Coronation Stakes (Gr 1, 1m) with complete authority.
She went on to win the Nassau Stakes (Gr 1, 1m2f) at Goodwood in August before being retired earlier this week with prize money earnings of £1,098,164.
Though defeated in the Commonwealth Cup during Royal Ascot, the Clive Cox-trained and Godolphin-raced Harry Angel established himself as the leading three-year-old sprinter of 2017 during a stunning campaign.
The colt led from gate to wire in both the July Cup (Gr 1, 6f) at Newmarket and the Sprint Cup (Gr 1, 6f) at Haydock, with jockey Adam Kirby full of praise following his victory in the latter Group One.
“He’s a machine. He’s got speed to burn and that’s not how good he is, he’s there now mentally and he’ll keep on getting better,” he said.
O’Brien and Gosden share autumn spoils
Aidan O’Brien and Newmarket-based John Gosden dominated the autumn feature races in Europe in 2017.
The final Classic of the British season, the St Leger Stakes (Gr 1, 1m6.5f) at Doncaster, went the way of O’Brien for a fifth time when the Irish Derby winner Capri outstayed his rivals to score under Ryan Moore.
The three-year-old colt was no match for champion filly Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr 1, 2400m), however, as the daughter of dual Group One winner Nathaniel (Galileo) stormed to an emphatic success in Europe’s richest race at Chantilly in October.
Enable added the lucrative Group One race to her impressive CV following runaway victories in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Gr 1, 1m4f) and Yorkshire Oaks (Gr 1, 1m4f).
“She’s very special and she was well positioned by Frankie in order to show her sheer class and brilliance,” Gosden said following her breathtaking Arc success.
“It’s all about the filly and the owner-breeder Prince Khalid (Abdullah). He bred the mother and for his farm to produce something like this is exciting for us all.”
Gosden has another exciting performer to look forward to next season in Cracksman, the son of Frankel (Galileo) who progressed steadily throughout last season.
He ended his campaign with a brilliant success in the Champion Stakes (Gr 1, 1m2f) at Ascot in October, thrashing his rivals by seven lengths and setting up the prospect of a mouth-watering clash with Enable next season.
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