Hurricane blows rivals away in St Leger
This year’s Cazoo St Leger saw the right horses come to the fore, and it looks likely to prove a good renewal of the world’s oldest Classic, writes Adam Barnes.
When the best horse on ratings clearly beats the second-best horse on ratings, who himself comes clear of the remainder, it’s fair to say that a handicapper’s task becomes a little clearer. That’s pretty much how things played out in Doncaster’s showpiece event on Saturday, and so overall there wasn’t too much head scratching required when it came to assessing the race.
Charlie Appleby’s Hurricane Lane looked a standout St Leger candidate on account of his victories in the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris, allied to his always seeming likely to stay this longer distance (his dam was a two-mile winner), and so it proved. In a race run at a fair enough pace, Hurricane Lane made ground stylishly from midfield and then readily quickened clear from old rival Mojo Star, with William Buick’s mount ultimately recording a comfortable two-and-three-quarter lengths victory.
Hurricane Lane is now rated 121 (up from 120), a figure largely supported by historical race standards and the time of the race. This makes him the highest-rated St Leger winner in the past decade – achieving the same rating as Masked Marvel in 2011 and Conduit in 2008 – and the feeling is that his current rating needn’t prove his limit. If he can get over Saturday’s exertions quickly enough then, along with stablemate Adayar, he looks a legitimate candidate for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in a few weeks’ time.
Mojo Star was the only one to really push Hurricane Lane, running a fine race in filling the same position as he did at Epsom in June – the result here another boost to the form of the Derby – and his rating rises 2lb to 116. He looks a nice prospect for next season.
There were few excuses for the remainder of the field, though I thought Ralph Beckett’s Scope may well have been a bit closer but for not getting a totally clear run as the race was developing, finishing off well after ending up with a lot to do. He doesn’t do anything too quickly and remains rated 109, but could yet progress further as a stayer.
Park Stakes Glory for Journey
The Group 2 Cazoo Park Stakes was won in nice style by the likeable and reliable Glorious Journey. He’s now a winner of a Group or Listed race in each of the five seasons he has raced, winning seven such races in all on six different racecourses, and in three different counties, writes Ryan Skelton.
Glorious Journey was never far off the pace early on, sitting just a couple of lengths off the leader Danyah (112). Having moved through nicely approaching the two furlong marker, Glorious Journey pretty much had the race sewn up from there, for all he did drift slightly right-handed. That caused a little bit of a mess in behind as Danyah became unbalanced, although the latter had probably run his race by then and was essentially disappointing on the back of his smart effort in winning the International Handicap at Ascot last time out.
Runner-up D’Bai (a stablemate of the winner) also travelled pretty well and put his last disappointing run behind him, coming from the rear of the field to make some good headway late on. D’Bai looks to have run up to his pre-race rating of 109, meaning Glorious Journey is back near his peak of last year on 112.
Both the winner and runner up are likely to go on their travels again soon, with the Dubai Carnival (which starts in a few months’ time) a likely target. I would like to think that they will both be as competitive as ever over there but hopefully we will get to see them again before they jet off.
In third was three-year-old Laneqash (112) who was having only the fifth start of his career, and only his second this season. He could be considered a little unlucky having been tightened up on the rail at a crucial stage approaching the furlong marker, but for which he may have finished a little closer. He had D’Bai well behind him when second in the Hungerford at Newbury on his reappearance and is worth another chance to build on that promise, especially as it’s possible that he’s better suited to a quicker surface than he encountered here (good to soft, soft in places).
Thrilling finish to Flying Childers
The feature 5f race at the St. Leger festival was the Group 2 Wainwright Flying Childers Stakes for juveniles, writes Chris Nash.
The race produced a cracking finish with the winner, Caturra, managing to come from last two furlongs out to collar the favourite, Armor, in the shadows of the post and win by a neck. There was a further neck back to Corazon in third and less than four lengths separated the first nine home.
The last ten winners of the race ran to figures ranging from 106 to 114 but, for all it was a decent finish to watch, the bunched nature of the field at the line generally places question marks over the strength of the form and strongly suggests that this was unlikely to have been a vintage renewal.
Applying historical race standards to the results suggests a figure between 106 and 108 for Caturra and confirms that this winning performance is towards the lower end of the ten-year spectrum. I went with 108, which rates a career best for him. He has a nicely progressive profile having largely stepped forward for each of his seven runs so far, so there are reasons to believe that there may be a bit more to come from him next year – given he has already won over 6f, he could develop into a Commonwealth Cup contender at Royal Ascot.
Armor arrived here rated 109 having won a Group 3 by three lengths at Goodwood in July and he largely backed up that performance when fourth in the Group 1 Prix Morny in France last month. He has only run to 107 at Doncaster but I’m happy to leave him rated 109 at this stage and give him another chance to prove he is worth that figure. Corazon registered a figure of 103 which equates to a career best for her.