Wednesday, August 19th
Mark Johnston last captured this race in 1995 with Bijou D’Inde andGear Up recorded the trainer’s second victory. This sizeable colt came under pressure from two furlongs out, but to his credit he responded all the way to the line. Even though this was a game effort I think this Group 3 fell apart. Spycatcher who was on the leg looked fine/well and travelled strongly behind the leader. He held off his opponents until he was nailed right on the line.
The outsider Broxi is not the biggest even though he came here on the back of two victories. Leading the field at a decent pace he came under pressure two furlongs from home, but to his credit he kept on all the way to the line.
Royal Scimitar looked to have come on from his victory at Newbury 31 days ago and he was the pick of the field. Travelling strongly in mid division he was pulled out to make his challenge, but he seemed to hang to his left on a number of occasions which I think can be put down to the ground.
Titan Rock who is not the biggest looked fit, Prince Of Shadow was tall and unfurnished and Darvel was on and off the bridle throughout the contest.
The favourite Cloudbridge was the standout paddock side, but this once-raced son of Heart Spun was way too keen from the moment the stalls opened which ruined his chances.
Pyledriver put up an excellent performance giving three pounds to his opponents. I thought before the race he looked in decent shape. He travelled strongly out the back and I like the way he moved with purpose to cut down his rivals to quicken clear with a furlong to go. His trainer has said that he will now be aimed at the St Leger and fourteen horses have completed the double. Given the speed he has shown I just wonder if he will stay the trip.
Looking in tip-top shape the medium-sized Highland Chief ran a creditable race in second. Given how keen he was in the early stages I thought this was another step in the right direction.
Mogul was the pick of the paddock, but he is starting to have an in and out profile and at no stage did I think he was going to win this contest.
The unbeaten Darain could not handle the step up in class on only his third start. I couldn’t fault his appearance prior to the race.
Subjectivist turned up here having had a hard season and I think it is starting to show by the way he performed in the race.
Ghaiyyath completed a Group 1 hat-trick and blew his opponents away with a powerful galloping performance from the front. Condition-wise I thought he looked fantastic and once he was not challenged for the lead he was able to set his own fractions which helped him to hit the line strongly. The Arc has been mentioned as his likely target and I know he didn’t fire last year, but he is the complete athlete this season.
The mare Magical got very warm which is unusual for her, but it didn’t stop her from running with credit in second.
Lord North looked a picture of health and travelled strongly to the two furlong pole. He had no answer to the winner’s turn of foot as he was left in his wake.
The 3yo Kameko turned up here looking in tip-top shape, but as he went in pursuit of the winner you could see his stride begin to shorten once he went past the furlong pole. It is back to a mile for him.
The favourite Pure Dreamer was the pick of the paddock, but the slow start which caused her to be at the back of the field was her downfall. To her credit I thought Richard Hannon’s juvenile did remarkably well to finish in fourth.
Cairn Island, who go off the mark at Ayr last time on soft ground, produced an improved performance to win this Class 2. I thought in the end he won this a touch cozily.
The very small Perotto was on his toes throughout the preliminaries, but he belied his paddock appearance to fill the runner-up spot.
Selected turned up here looking well and he was slightly disadvantaged because he was stuck on the outside from where the main action took place.
Thursday, August 20th
Fourteen runners lined up for this contest, but I thought after paddock inspection it was a below-par renewal. The winner Miss Amulet was having her first start at six furlongs. This stocky grey filly looked very fit and raced prominently towards the centre of the track. When challenged she responded to pressure to take this Group prize back to Ireland.
Sacred turned up here looking bright and well and travelled in to contention, but as hard as she tried she was unable to match the winner near the finishing line.
I was not taken by Umm Kulthum who is quite petite and didn’t look great paddock side, but she belied her looks to run a personal best in third.
A competitive field assembled for this Heritage handicap and I thought the horse to take out of it was the very inexperienced Top Rank. This sizeable colt was only having his fourth start of his life and it was unfortunate that he had to race slightly wide. When he was asked to close down the leaders it took him a stride or two to understand what was required. I like the way he responded.
Montatham has had a very good season so far and this was his third victory in four starts. This grey gelding was a touch keen to start with, but he got in to a lovely rhythm. When he was challenged he stuck his head down to win by a neck. He shouldn’t be hit too hard by the handicapper, but life will be a little bit tougher because he will have to go up in grade.
Sir Busker took the paddock honours and he was stuck away from the action on the inside when he made his challenge. He galloped strongly to the line and on this evidence he should be able to win again.
Love became Aidan O’Brien’s fifth winner of this historical race. This chestnut filly stood out in terms of her wellbeing and duly dispatched her five rivals with the minimum of fuss. Even though the ground was not ideal for her she still created a great impression. Given her action I think the ground will not be fast enough come Arc day so it wouldn’t surprise me if she ends up going to the Breeders' Cup.
Alpinista recorded the best run of her life by taking the runner up position and considering she only ran seven days ago her owner was rewarded by earning some black type.
The lightly-madeOne Voice ran a courageous race in third.
Manuela De Vega looked smashing beforehand and ran a decent race.
For the second year in a row Vivionn filled the runner up spot. This daughter of Dubawi did not look great in her coat paddock side, but it didn’t stop her from running well. Hopefully she can win at this level.
The 3yo Gold Wand looked tremendous and even though she was a touch keen she produced a good performance.
Award Scheme has improved every time I have seen her and she looked great this afternoon, but I felt she was set too much to do coming from last place to finish in third. I still think there is a decent race to put on her CV this season.
Friday, August 21st
The runners had to contend with a very strong headwind throughout the day.
Enbihaar, this good-looking 5yo took the step up to 2 miles in her stride to run out a convincing winner of this Cup race. This long-striding mare travelled comfortably, but once her jockey asked her to take closer order she quickened to the front to hold her rivals at bay.
I suspect her next assignment will be in France for the Prix De Royallieu on Arc weekend.
Stratum ran a respectable race in second. He was closing down on the winner, but was never going to come out on top.
Nayef Road ran his best race for some time around this track and hopefully the Stayers' race on Champions Day see him secure a Group 1 success.
Owen Burrow’s Minzaal made mincemeat of his rivals by winning this Group 2 race. Having seen him at Ascot on debut he has made tremendous improvement and even though he missed the start he travelled up strongly on the bridle to the two furlong marker and then showed a blistering turn of foot to win impressively. The Middle Park looks an ideal fit for his next start.
The sizeable Devilwala lost nothing in defeat on his second start and this was a big step up from his debut win.
Yazaman looked fine here, but I think he is going to find life a lot tougher taking on these bigger juveniles who have more scope than he has.
Battaash recorded back-to back victories and joins Right Boy, Borderlescott and Mecca’s Angel to take this prestigious prize twice. This chilled out character took everything in his stride, but for the first time he really had to dig deep to come out on top and to his credit he just did enough. The ground was not in his favour, but he showed his versatility and his will to win.
Michael Dods’s Que Amoro made the favourite pull out all the stops to come out on top. Racing down the nearside she was away from the main action, but the way she performed suggests this was the best run of her career.
Mossgill produced a lifetime best in third.
A’Ali looked in great order, but the ground was never going to play to his strengths.
Art Power, who was meant to be the main danger, failed to turn up and was beaten at halfway.
This is the richest race of its kind, but I thought this year’s running lacked strength in depth, but take nothing away from the impressive winner Naval Crown. This good bodied colt stood out pre-race and made all to show his rivals a clean pair of heels to win going away. It looks as if he appreciated the slightly slower ground so it bodes well for his autumn targets.
Tawleed has taken a significant step forward from his debut effort and when he was building up to make his challenge the winner had gone in a couple of strides. This was still a step in the right direction. The tall Dingle has improved a lot from his first run and looked well before finishing in bronze position. I think you will see the best of him next year when he fully develops.
Rich Dream is an unfurnished type who didn’t look too bad and Rushmore who looked the part let his supporters down for the second time in a row.
Saturday, August 22nd
After overnight rain the ground was riding soft.
Lord Glitters, this looked a good opportunity for this 7yo to enter the winner’s enclosure, but the way he performed I just wonder if the trip on this ground just stretched his stamina to the limit.
The medium-sized Certain Lad took this Group 3 in decent style. He had to be tough in the closing stages, but he kept on all the way to the line.
The good-looking Epic Hero produced a sound effort in the runner up spot.
Having fancied Zabeel Prince I thought he looked full of himself, but this two-time Group winner was unable to produce his very best form. Maybe age is catching up with him.
Dark Vision looked well, but the ground was against him.
A bunch of unexposed 3yos assembled for this race which saw the Andrew Balding-trained Coltrane outstay his rivals to win this by four lengths. Depending on what the handicapper does his long range target is the Cessarewitch.
The consistent Arthurian Fable ran a tremendous race in second. Given that he was drawn in stall 15 I thought he was given a great ride to finish where he did.
Kipps always looks the part and he finds it hard to win, but he always ends up being in the money.
A Star Above was one of the picks of the paddock and he ran well to a point, but didn’t have the pace to challenge when it mattered.
Mambo Nightslooked great and did well to come off the pace to finish where he did.
Safe Voyage put up a commanding performance on his beloved soft ground. Making his own pace he quickened up entering the straight and he never saw another rival to win going away. He surely must go to the Prix De La Foret, where he was fourth last year.
One Master looked well, but was no match for the winner on this occasion. She had everything in her favour and even though she was a little short of room she had enough time to respond when the gap appeared.
Threat was the paddock pick, but the ground had gone against him and I thought he ran a sound race in fourth.
His stable companion Beat Le Bon also looked well.
Fujaira Prince, considering he is a 6yo Roger Varian’s representative has very few miles on the clock and this big, imposing grey stepped forward to take this historical handicap. He moved powerfully through the contest and even though he had to be asked some serious questions he responded to take one of the biggest handicaps home.
Glencadam Glory belied his odds to run a solid race in second. He got warm beforehand and led the field at a solid pace. Even when passed he responded to his jockeys urges only to go down by the minimum of margins. Hopefully he can build on this going forward.
Verdana Blue looked grand and could have done with a stronger run contest because she did all her best work towards the line.
Monica Sheriff got very hot and sweaty and was a touch keen out the back. Even though this was her first defeat in four starts I thought she came out with plenty of credit.
Ranch Hand was the pick of the field and didn’t disgrace himself in sixth.
Scarlet Dragon looked to be running away with Holly Doyle approaching the two-furlong marker, but he eventually run out of puff.
His stable companion Trueshan was in the perfect positon tracking the favourite, but when he was asked to go there was very little response.
Star performance of the meeting:
MINZAAL looks one of the best 2yos around and put in a commanding performance when winning the Gimcrack Stakes. Next stop will hopefully see him lift a Group 1 and with luck he can be one of the top sprinters next year.
Horses to Track:
TOP RANK, considering how immature he looked against small seasonal handicappers I thought he ran an excellent race. He came to challenge, but you could see his inexperience coming through. I see no reason why he cannot progress and develop in to a pretty decent performer in time.