A Busy Weekend

September 12th, 2023 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

With Arc trials at Longchamp on Sunday and Group 1 action in Ireland you could be forgiven for overlooking the victory of Bay Bridge in the September Stakes at Kempton on Saturday.

With a BHA rating of 121 he was entitled to win this race, and duly started at odds of 8/11 to do so, but this was his first attempt at a mile and a half and he clearly relished it, pulling away to beat the useful Candleford by three and three-quarter lengths.

Sir Michael Stoute was present to see the race and, significantly, said afterwards that he ‘liked the way he did it’ and that both the Arc and Champion Stakes are now options.

Bay Bridge has long been a favourite of mine. He comes to himself at this time of year, as he showed last autumn when beating Adayar in the Champion Stakes and in 2021, when he won twice in October.

Ease in the ground is important for him and I would be interested at 8/1 to repeat his Champion Stakes success or 25/1 for the Arc provided he had his conditions.

His trainer Sir Michael Stoute has had a quiet season and he will be keen to remind people that he is still a player at the top table.

I was surprised to read this morning that Kevin Stott has lost his job as retained jockey for Amo Racing’s Kia Joorabchian.

This was probably a reaction to the ride he gave King Of Steel in the Irish Champion Stakes, after which the owner said the jockey “made a couple of mistakes” and hadn’t given the three-year-old “the best chance to win.”

I had said when previewing the race that I didn’t think King Of Steel would have the pace to beat a field of this quality over a mile and a quarter, especially on quick ground around Leopardstown, and I expect the intention had been to have the horse closer to the leaders.

In the event he was well enough away but then quickly settled back in sixth, travelling well about eight lengths off the pace. Turning for home he made progress but without having the speed to mount a challenge. He was never nearer than at the line, beaten a length but appearing to have running left in him.

I can understand the owner’s frustration, especially given how self-critical the jockey had been at Epsom where he felt that he had gone for home too soon, but we need to bear in mind that King Of Steel is a massive unit with an imposing physique and is probably still learning about the game. Furthermore, he is a lengthener rather than a horse with gears, which means he is not easy to manoeuvre in a few strides during a race.

Sunday’s National Stakes probably didn’t help either, when the same owner’s Bucanero Fuerte was a well-beaten third of four after tracking a strong pace set by his stable companion which appeared to play into the hands of his main rival Henry Longfellow.

I don’t know Kevin Stott but he has always come across as someone who sets a high standard and is keen to learn. There may be other issues regarding the relationship to which I am not privy, but if the owner’s decision is based chiefly on the jockey’s riding of King Of Steel then, in my view, he has been hard done by.

In the race before the Irish Champion Stakes Tahiyra showed she had the tenacity to accompany her talent when digging deep to win the Group 1 Matron Stakes. This was her third successive Group 1 and the Breeders’ Cup looks a likely target. If she is kept in training she should stay a mile and a quarter next year.

The most eye-catching performance at Leopardstown on Saturday came in the closing handicap, which was won in remarkable style by Broadhurst, who was last of the 17 runners approaching the final furlong before producing a power-packed surge to pass all his rivals and win going away by one and a quarter lengths.

Aidan O’Brien had said beforehand that the son of No Nay Never was nicely treated on 93 and he has been raised 9lbs to 102. Handicaps may now be a thing of the past.

On Sunday my sole selection on the Daily Bulletin was Get Ahead, who was caught a few strides from the post at 22/1 in the Group 1 Flying Five.

Fallen Angel, who is bred to stay beyond a mile, won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes with something in hand from a rival rated 4lbs superior to her. She is out of a Lawman mare and will relish the Guineas trip next spring.

Henry Longfellow, by Dubawi and the second foal of 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner Minding, is probably one of the best-bred horses at Ballydoyle. He showed a good attitude in winning the National Stakes by five lengths and at this stage I prefer him to stable-companion City Of Troy.

Of course we all want to know the name of the colt that Seamie Heffernan claimed in an interview last week is better than the lot of them! Gallantly, Military and Psalm are three unraced names to keep an eye on.

At Longchamp on Sunday I did not see anything that set my pulse racing with regard to the Arc.

It was, though, an absorbing weekend of top-class action. We have the St Leger this weekend, and I will be writing Daily Bulletins for each of the four days of the meeting.

I will be back next week with more thoughts and observations as we enter my favourite time of year.


Bye for now