Declan Rix

John Gosden has history in progressing the careers of top-class horses at Newcastle. We may have seen another last week in Cape Palace, who Declan Rix analyses in more detail here.

  • Sunday 01 September
  • Blog
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HAS GOSDEN UNLEASHED ANOTHER STAR AT NEWCASTLE?

With last week’s fantastic York Ebor Festival being run, the following seven days of action was always going to pale into insignificance. It was a quieter week on all fronts, but it gave potential stars of the future a stage.

A stage, now even a breeding ground for young Group horses is Newcastle, especially where Newmarket-based John Gosden is concerned. On Friday August 30th, the Gosden-trained Cape Palace may be yet another star to break his maiden on Gosforth Park’s all-weather surface.

Now, at this moment in time, Cape Palace is all potential and not for a moment am I suggesting the son of Golden Horn will follow the path of recent Gosden Newcastle all-weather maiden winners.

On the November 28th, 2016, the darling of world racing, Enable made a winning debut at Newcastle. Just 21 days earlier, Gosden’s classy and tough stayer Stradivarius broke his duck there at the third attempt. The following year, St James's Palace Stakes (2018) hero Without Parole headed north and won first-time out at 8/13, by an impressive six lengths.

Given it’s just over three years since Newcastle changed their racing surface from turf to Tapeta, that is an impressive roll call for one trainer, especially when the trainer in question was so strongly against Newcastle’s planned surface change five or so years ago.

Past, nor contemporary, politics rarely interest me – it’s clear from the support Gosden has given Newcastle, he is a fan of the current track and surface – but what does, is one of his most recent winners, Cape Palace, in the greater context of the above.

Sent off a well-backed 4/11 favourite against a couple of nicely bred horses trained by Charlie Fellowes and Richard Fahey, despite sacrificing racecourse experience to the second and third home, Cape Palace would go on to record a dominant eight lengths victory, with the runner-up coming nearly four lengths clear of the third.

Having been every so slightly green away under Robert Havlin, Cape Palace got into stride nicely thereafter, tracking the leaders taking a nice grip off the early even pace. The pair travelled with ease to two out before Havlin asked his mount to pick up. The son of Golden Horn did so in a fine and straight-forward style to put huge winning margins back the second and third. To pull so far clear off an even gallop, it was an exciting and impressive debut.

Thanks to TPD data on attheraces.com, we now have a wealth of information available on the winner, and the race, after just one run; from sectional times, sectionals tools and stride data. From the data, we can see Cape Palace had peak average length of 24.41 feet and a peak average cadence of 2.40.

To quote Simon Rowlands in helping absorb the above; “In the most basic terms, the speed at which a horse gets from A to B is determined by how long its stride is and how frequently it turns that stride over: it is that simple.”

The first figure, having read Rowlands’s past work on this site, would see Cape Palace with an average stride length, on this data, but remember we are still dealing with a young horse that is growing, getting stronger and changing. Changes in the surfaces and gradients will also alter stride length so on a flatter, quicker surface, Cape Palace may well stride longer than average. 

The latter figure tells us Cape Palace has a decent stride turnover, and he actually shapes like an 8f/9f horse, in this regard, according to Rowlands's latest research in the area. 

By Golden Horn, a late developing relentless galloping machine that stayed 12f extremely well, it would come as a small surprise if Cape Palace couldn’t stay 10f at three. While the case, if memory serves, Golden Horn’s owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer had sizable reservations about the 2015 Derby winner staying 12f.

In the end, the son of Cape Cross excelled over that trip, but while he stayed strongly, his pedigree may well inject a bit more pace than one might expect into his progeny The dams in this case will obviously play a crucial role, and as a sire, it’s far too early to judge Golden Horn accurately.

Cape Palace’s dam, Mia Diletta, by Selkirk, was a seven-furlong/miler in Italy who made the racetrack in July as a juvenile, and early signs are that John Gosden’s most recent Newcastle juvenile winner may be taking after mother. Of course, it’s still extremely early to be concrete on this, but on last week’s evidence you’d couldn’t be confident Cape Palace will stay as well as an Enable or a Stradivarius.

The next run of Gosden’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes-entered colt will tell us a lot more. I’m always weary of exciting first-time out juvenile winners, you always need to see them do it again, but his Dewhurst entry is a positive sign and he is housed at one of the best stables in the world.

I have a (potentially tin hat) theory that horses can overperform first-time out, due to a result of excess adrenaline and other hormones being produced, in what can be a stressful environment for a young horse; essentially a first day at school type scenario. Of course, this can also work the other way, in making horses underperform, but like I’ve said, we will all learn more the next time Cape Palace runs.

Finally, one couldn’t be struck by the silver colours Cape Palace won in, those of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. This son of Golden Horn, a 300,000gns foal purchase from the 2017 Tattersalls December sale by Godolphin, looks to be the second horse of the owner to run for Gosden.

The first to do so, Palace Pier, won his maiden at Sandown in impressive fashion four-and-a-half hours earlier. He, a son of Kingman, looks another potentially exciting prospect for the owner/trainer combination, and is also entered in the Dewhurst.

Declan Rix
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