Kazeem Al class at Ascot

Al Kazeem has the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as his end-of-term objective after kick-starting a remarkable treble for jockey James Doyle in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) on day two of Royal Ascot.

Moonee Valley Racing Club have extended an invite to Roger Charlton’s vastly improving five-year-old for the Sportingbet Cox Plate but the trainer is favouring a crack at Europe’s premier middle-distance (2400 metres) championship on the first Sunday of October.

Having been sidelined with injury following his impressive successful comeback last season, Al Kazeem has now won all three of his starts this campaign.

After a pipe-opener in a Group 3 event at Sandown, he lowered the colours of last year’s two-time Derby winner Camelot for a maiden Group 1 success in Ireland’s Tattersalls Gold Cup and again had that rival behind when winning the 2000-metre feature.

This Group 1 win was a first visit to the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure for Doyle and he wasted no time adding to it by capturing the next two races aboard Belgian Bill and Rizeena.

Charlton said: “I thought for a minute we weren’t going to get there, but James seemed confident.

“We had to be patient with him last season and he has progressed further than I ever thought he would.

“There are a lot of lovely races and without discussing with the owners I don’t know where next.

“Like most people I’d love to have a runner in the Arc and if we go there maybe the King George would be next.

“I do think the Arc is the best race and would love to win it.

“I am very privileged to be invited to the Cox Plate. It is a great invite but it is a big ask for the horse and I am not Luca Cumani with his record at travelling horses. As I say, it is an honour to be asked, but I don’t think we will be going.”

Al Kazeem just reeled in the front-running Mukhadram to post victory by a neck, with the pair pulling over three lengths clear of the third-placed The Fugue.

John Gosden’s filly was making her seasonal debut in the colours of owner and musical impresario Andrew Lloyd-Webber and was one of five runners in the field extended an invite to the Cox Plate on October 26.

Gosden said: “I have not discussed with her owners where she will run for the rest of the season – we wanted to get today out of the way first and take it from there.”

Camelot, another Cox Plate invitee, took fourth place with 2011 Emirates Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux failing to display the requisite dash over a trip short of his best and finishing a well-beaten ninth of the 11 runners.

His trainer Ed Dunlop commented: “It was perhaps one run too many after his world tour. He’ll have a break now but we don’t have any further plans at this stage.”

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au

No joy for Shamexpress

It was not to be for Australian hopes of another victory in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes as Danny O’Brien’s Shamexpress could only finish ninth in the 1000-metre Royal Ascot dash overnight.

With the field spread all over the track, Craig Newitt’s mount made good headway from the rear but was four and a quarter lengths behind the Irish-trained winner Sole Power.

Last seen landing the Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March, O’Brien is keen to return the four-year-old to 1200 metres for a rematch with Sole Power in next month’s Darley July Cup – the seventh leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.

“He was only average today,” said the Flemington trainer.

“He has not been beaten out of sight – three or four lengths. He was probably a bit soft in the last 100 (metres).

“He chased Shea Shea, but was just average in the last furlong. We will probably stay – we are here now and the horse is in good order – and try him over six furlongs in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.”

South African ace Shea Shea went off favourite and put in a bold show on the far side of the Royal Ascot straight, but he was cut down late on the stands rail and defeated a neck by Sole Power, who has travelled the world with trainer Eddie Lynam.

A 100-1 winner of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 2010, Sole Power had finished behind Shea Shea twice at the Dubai Carnival, including in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.

It was the third straight King’s Stand appearance for 32-start veteran Sole Power who improved off eighth (2011) and third (2012) placings to claim a thrilling win.

Lynam said: “I’m very proud of him. I thought if we could beat Shea Shea, he was going to win, but I didn’t think he could beat Shea Shea.

“He’ll go on now for the July Cup. He’s a year older so I think he’d have a better chance of staying the extra distance.

“Then he’ll go for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, then the Prix de l’Abbaye and on to the Hong Kong Sprint. He might have a couple of weeks off after that!”

Lynam was asked if he could possibly even run Sole Power in the $1 million Patinack Farm Classic at the Spring Racing Carnival, but he smiled, “We know what we can do, and we know what we can’t. I know how good those Australian sprinters are, so we won’t go there.”

With his victory last night, Sole Power became eligible for a $600,000 bonus if successful in the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington this November.

Shea Shea’s jockey Christophe Soumillon felt his mount could have done with more company, but trainer Mike De Kock did not rule out a possible return on Saturday for another cosmopolitan sprint, the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes (1200m).

“We’ll see how he pulls out in the morning and may take our place on Saturday, but the door’s open,” he said.

Courtesy www.racingvictoria.net.au

WAR WINS THE BATTLE FOR QUEEN ANNE STAKES

Declaration Of War gained his first Group One win when landing today’s Queen Anne Stakes for trainer Aidan O’Brien and his jockey son Joseph.

The victory was also a stunning triumph for part-owner Joseph Allen, who bred Declaration Of War and now owns 40% of him in a Coolmore partnership involving Messrs Magnier, Tabor and Smith.

Allen said: “I’m in bliss! It’s my first win at Ascot, it’s a wonderful day, my wife’s here and I could not be happier. And I have great partners.

“I bred the sire of this horse, War Front, and I still have this colt’s dam, Tempo West, who has a filly foal full-sister to this horse at foot. She is now back in front to War Front.

“This is a very difficult game to really sustain yourself. As I was once told, to stay ahead you need great partners, and these guys [Magnier, Tabor and Smith] have been in the game a long time and add so much to it. I think this horse now has a great future at stud, but where he stands I will leave to John Magnier, who knows so much more than I do.”

Declaration Of War was only fifth on his most recent outing in the Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, but Aidan O’Brien said: “We always thought the world of this horse. He had a very easy run the first time [this season] at Leopardstown and we thought he was ready for a Group One, but obviously he wasn’t. I hadn’t trained him hard enough for it. He is a big powerhouse capable of taking training and I didn’t get that right.

“Joseph found out in the Lockinge he had a lot of speed, and we rode him that way today.”

Asked if the winner might take in the Coral -Eclipse Stakes next over ten furlongs, O’Brien said: “No, I would rather see him go back in trip, rather than up in trip. He travelled very strongly today.”

Joseph O’Brien added: “I was going very well and I went into the gap – it got a little bit tight but I was going exceptionally well. He quickened up and idled when he got there.

“We thought that he was a very good horse going into Newbury, when we were a little bit disappointed, but we had a few things and Dean, who rides him out, and all of the lads in the yard have done a great job.

“I have a few nice rides for the week and it’s nice to start off on a good foot.”

Graham Motion, trainer of the 5/4 favourite Animal Kingdom who finished 11th of the 13 runners, said: “I am disappointed obviously.

“Johnny (Velazquez) had to fight him a little bit early, which made me worry, and said at the half-mile pole he started to ask him to run and there wasn’t much there. He said it rode a bit softer than it walked but I cannot really use that as an excuse.

“I would say that is probably it for the horse (last run). I think the experience has been tremendous and if I ever had the opportunity to do it again then I would absolutely.

“Animal Kingdom trained great – I was really happy with him. This is what I always cautioned. It is so different – the fact that he was keen early and he did not really have any cover. He is used to being tucked in and when you are out in the open like that, it is a different ball-game.

“I think the draw (13) made it very awkward for him to be honest. I didn’t anticipate it would be but I think in hindsight it was.

“I am sorry it did not work out – it is disappointing for everyone. There was such a good reception for him. It would have been great to see him do his stuff but he clearly didn’t today.

“I always had reservations about what we were dealing with – it became a very awkward post (draw) and Johnny had difficulty getting him to settle early. I think that it is probably what hurt Animal Kingdom the most. If he had been drawn in the middle it would have been easier.

“I don’t want to offer too many excuses. I am sorry it has ended this way – we are deflated. A lot of effort has gone into this – David Lanigan and his crew and our crew – it has been a lot of work – that’s racing.

Military Attack & Dunaden Head The List Of Cox Plate Invites

The Moonee Valley Racing Club has this week issued invitations to 20 of the leading Weight-For-Age middle distance thoroughbreds from all areas of the globe to contest the Group 1 $3M 2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040 metres) on Saturday 26th October.

Headlining an impressive list of well credentialed international contenders are the John Moore trained pair, Military Attack (owned by Mr. Steven Lo Kit Sing) and Dan Excel (owned by Mr. David Boehm). Military Attack recently stormed home to win the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji Racecourse. With Australian jockey Zac Purton in the saddle, the five-year-old gelding finished ahead of stable-mate Dan Excel.

The Hong Kong champion, Military Attack, has been dominant winning his last four races, including the Group 1 Hong Kong Gold Cup, the Group 3 Premier Plate and the Group 1 HK QEII Cup at Sha Tin before winning the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup.

Moonee Valley Racing Club Chairman Bob Scarborough is excited by the possibility of enticing the world’s best weight-for-age thoroughbreds to Melbourne to contest the Sportingbet Cox Plate. “With the retirement of Frankel, there is now a new crop of Group 1 weight-for-age champions attempting to assert their authority on the racing world. The international racing landscape is forever changing and we are now seeing a large contingent of horses not only travelling overseas, but winning international group races. I am hopeful that the connections of the best weight-for-age horses in the world will accept our invitation to travel to Melbourne to contest the Weight-For-Age Championship in the southern hemisphere – the Sportingbet Cox Plate and attempt to become the first international horse to claim the crown”.

Akeed Mofeed (Richard Gibson) and California Memory (Tony Cruz) are the other Hong Kong stars to be invited to contest the 2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate. Akeed Mofeed was very impressive winning the Group 1 Hong Kong Derby over 2000m in March while California Memory ran second to Military Attack in Group 1 HK QEII Cup.

2011 Melbourne Cup and 2012 Caulfield Cup winner, Dunaden, also sits atop the list of international invitations for trainer Mikel Delzangles and owner Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni. If successful in winning the 2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate, Dunaden would be only the third horse to win a Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate, joining Australian thoroughbred champions Rising Fast and Might and Power.

The French galloper was beaten two lengths into third by Pastorius in the Group 1 Prix Ganay in April, before finishing second to St. Nicholas Abbey in the recent Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom. Dunaden is one of four French horses to be invited this year. Giofra and Mandour, trained by Melbourne Cup winning trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, joins Maxios trained by Jonathan Pease. Alain de Royer-Dupre trained Americain to win the 2010 Melbourne Cup before returning to Australia where Americain won the 2011 Moonee Valley Cup on Cox Plate Day.

High on the Moonee Valley wish list, having proven himself to be one of the truly international weight-for-age gallopers over the past 12 months is Camelot. Coolmore trainer Aidan O’Brien with owners Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor have been issued invitations for both Camelot and Magician. The 2012 Group 1 Irish Derby and Epsom Derby winner, Camelot, finished second in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup in May. The winner of that race, the talented Al Kazeem has also been invited for trainer Roger Charlton, impressively winning his past three starts, all at group level.

Moonee Valley Racing Club also hopes to have Godolphin represented in the Weight-For-Age Championship having issued invitations to Saeed Bin Suroor and owner His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the devastating Group 1 Lockinge Stakes winner Farhh and Group 1 Dubai Duty Free and Jebel Hatta winner Sajjhaa. While Farhh will miss the Royal Ascot Carnival through injury, the five year old seems an ideal type for the race. The Fugue, owned by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and trained by John Gosden has been invited to race in the Sportingbet Cox Plate as well as Planteur for Marco Botti, Trade Storm for David Simcock and Side Glance for Andrew Balding.

Japan’s Eishin Flash has been selected to represent the land of the rising sun. Eishin Flash stamped his credentials with an impressive victory in last year’s Group 1 Tenno Sho (2000m) in Tokyo. Trained by Hideaki Fujiwara, Eishin Flash finished third in the Group 1 HK QEII Cup in the six-year-olds most recent outing.

Renowned Trainer Ed Dunlop has signaled his intentions to race Group 1 Hollywood Derby winner Unbridled Command in the $3M Sportingbet Cox Plate in 2013, while South African trainer Mike De Kock has been sent an invitation for his six-year-old, The Apache who finished second in the Dubai Duty Free behind Sajjhaa.

Moonee Valley Racing Club Chief Executive, Michael Browell, believes that the Club has identified the leading horses from each of the major racing jurisdictions that are worthy of taking their place in the 2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate. “The Moonee Valley team has evaluated the international form over the past 12 months and we have agreed on the 20 leading contenders that we believe could win the 2013 Cox Plate. The invitation to compete in the Cox Plate is highly sought after, with the MVRC fully subsidizing all expenses incurred in travelling to Melbourne to contest the Weight-For-Age Championship of the southern hemisphere. The Club will continue to monitor the major international Group 1 races over the coming months for other potential invitees.”

This may be the year that we see an international win the Sportingbet Cox Plate according to International Recruitment Consultant for Racing Victoria, Leigh Jordon. “Whilst we have seen international winners of both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the Cox Plate has remained an elusive prize for international competitors. Each of these 20 horses are highly credentialed, and they have proven themselves at the highest level over 1600m – 2000m in some of the world’s toughest races. International representation will add an exciting element to this great race”.

Entries for the $3M Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate close on August 6, 2013.

2013 Sportingbet Cox Plate Invitees

Horse Trainer Owner/s
1 AKEED MOFEED HK Richard Gibson Pan Sutong
2 AL KAZEEM GB Roger Charlton Mr D.J. Deer
3 CALIFORNIA MEMORY HK Tony Cruz Howard Liang Yum Shing
4 CAMELOT IRE Aidan O’Brien Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier and Mr M. Tabor
5 DAN EXCEL HK John Moore Mr David Boehm
6 DUNADEN FR Mikel Delzangles Pearl Bloodstock – Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni
7 EISHIN FLASH JPN Hideaki Fujiwara Katsuhiko Hirai and Teruya Yoshida
8 FARHH GB Saeed Bin Suroor Godolphin – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
9 GIOFRA FR Alain de Royer-Dupre Mr Juergen Winter
10 MAGICIAN IRE Aidan O’Brien Mr M. Tabor, D.Smith and Mrs John Magnier
11 MANDOUR FR Alain de Royer-Dupre Princess Zahra Aga Khan
12 MAXIOS FR Jonathon Pease Niarchos Family
13 MILITARY ATTACK HK John Moore Steven Lo Kit Sing
14 PLANTEUR GB Marco Botti HE Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani
15 SAJJHAA GB Saeed Bin Suroor Godolphin – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
16 SIDE GLANCE GB Andrew Balding Pearl Bloodstock – Sheikh Fahad Al Tahni
17 THE APACHE SAF Mike De Kock Sheikh Mohd Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum & Mr Winston Chow
18 THE FUGUE GB John Gosden Lord Lloyd Webber
19 TRADE STORM GB David Simcock Qatar Racing Limited – Sheikh Fahad Al Thani
20 UNBRIDLED COMMAND USA Ed Dunlop Mr and Mrs Kevin Bamford, Mr Lakin and Mr Bernson

Legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil dies aged 70

SIR HENRY CECIL, one of the most influential and successful racehorse trainers of all time, has died. He was 70.

The trainer prepared 25 British Classic winners and reached arguably the pinnacle of his career with his flawless handling of Frankel, who he guided to a perfect record of 14 wins from 14 races.

A hugely popular figure with racegoers, thousands of whom had their own story of meeting the self-effacing master-trainer, Cecil was at the top of his sport for more than half of his four decades in racing.

His long list of champions includes titans of the sport such as Slip Anchor, Old Vic, Royal Anthem, Indian Skimmer, Oh So Sharp, Kris and Reference Point.

Cecil was four times a winner of the Derby and won the Oaks eight times.

In 2011, his remarkable life and sporting achievements were recognised by the Queen when he was knighted for services to racing.

Born Henry Richard Amherst Cecil in Aberdeen on January 11, 1943, Cecil’s father, an officer in the Parachute Regiment, had been killed six weeks before his birth and he grew up in Newmarket at Freemason Lodge, the home of his stepfather, trainer Cecil Boyd-Rochfort.

He followed his five-time champion trainer stepfather into the sport in 1964, becoming assistant trainer at Freemason Lodge until Boyd-Rochfort’s retirement in 1968 aged 81. Cecil, then only 25, struck out on his own, finishing eighth in the trainers’ table in his first season, 1969.

Cecil’s talent as a trainer quickly revealed itself and he won his first Classic in 1973 as Cloonagh, bred by Cecil’s half-brother Arthur Boyd-Rochfort, won the Irish 1,000 Guineas. Two years later he won his first domestic Classic when Bolkonski defied odds of 33-1 to win the 2,000 Guineas.

In 1976 Cecil became champion trainer for the first of ten times. In the same year he purchased Warren Place, where he would train until his death, from his retiring father-in-law Noel Murless.

In the following years Cecil turned Warren Place into the pre-eminent training establishment in Britain, attracting many of the world’s richest and most glamorous owners. Slip Anchor provided Cecil with his first Derby in 1985 and he dominated the trainers’ championship for many years.

Cecil’s time at the pinnacle of British racing came to an abrupt halt in 1995 when several of his most prominent owners, including the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed, left the yard.

Cecil then went through a long spell in the wilderness, losing the majority of his horses and relying extensively on the patronage of Khalid Abdullah, who would later breed and own Frankel. In 2006, Cecil publicly revealed that he was suffering from stomach cancer.

However, as Cecil’s health declined so his form improved. He won the Oaks with Light Shift in 2007, the start of his career’s extraordinary Indian summer. Three years later Frankel’s unbeaten juvenile season heralded the beginning of what would prove the defining act of Cecil’s career.

Frankel’s three-year-old season began with an explosive eight-length victory in the 2,000 Guineas, Cecil’s 25th and final British Classic. The colt, considered by many to be the greatest racehorse of all time, proceeded to win the St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Although many expected Frankel to be retired to stud at the end of his three-year-old season, he returned the following year in 2012 to win a further five races. After his final victory, in the Champion Stakes at Ascot, Cecil said: “He’s the best I’ve ever had and the best I’ve ever seen. I’d be very surprised if there’s ever been better.”

Cecil’s meticulous handling of Frankel’s career was hailed by many as his magnum opus, and introduced both racing and Cecil to a far wider public audience than either had enjoyed for many years.

Cecil once said of Frankel that “greatness is important for English racing too, for the public who love their racing to have a champion”. Famously modest, Cecil was unlikely to have ever considered that comment applied to himself as much as to Frankel.

Courtesy www.racingpost.com