Mishriff sparkles in Juddmonte International romp

24 Aug 21

A scintillating performance from Mishriff in winning the Juddmonte International by six lengths saw him join his King George conqueror Adayar at the head of the BHA flat ratings with a mark of 127, writes Dominic Gardiner-Hill.

With Love (third) running below her best at 111 and the gamble to raise Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free (sixth at 107) up in trip failing to pay off, holes could be picked in the form of those behind the Gosden-trained colt. However, Mohaafeth (fourth) running to his pre-race rating of 112 gives the form solidity, suggesting his stable companion Alenquer has improved to 115 (from 110) in finishing second.

In terms of historical comparisons with other recent winners of the race, Mishriff’s performance reads well – it is considered on a par with Roaring Lion’s success in 2018 and inferior only to the impressive trio of Ghaiyyath (130 in 2020), Frankel (140 in 2012) and Sea The Stars (129 in 2009).

In light of the York result, 12f handicapper Mark Olley and I did discuss the possibility of revisiting the King George form and the mark of Adayar. Given the different trip at York and the fact that whilst Mishriff had given the form a boost, Love hadn’t, we decided we were comfortable with having Mishriff and Adayar on the same rating for the time being and opted not to move the level of the King George.

Oaks hat-trick for dominant Snowfall

Snowfall -Ryan Moore wins The Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) (British Champions Series) York 19.8.21 ©Mark Cranham-focusonracing.com

The Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks looked a match between Snowfall and Wonderful Tonight both on pre-race ratings and in the betting, writes Mark Olley.

Snowfall had run away with both the English and Irish Oaks, winning by a combined margin of 24.5 lengths, and while she is clearly a cut above the three-year-old fillies this promised to be a real test against the high-class four-year-old Wonderful Tonight.

Unfortunately, the expected clash didn’t really materialise as Wonderful Tonight found the ground too quick and didn’t show her true form. David Menuisier’s filly clearly relishes soft ground and I’m sure she will bounce back when encountering her favoured conditions.

Her underperformance left the race at Snowfall’s mercy and she didn’t disappoint, travelling supremely well and coming clear under a hands-and-heels ride, value for at least a six-seven length win. Her official rating, published in Ireland, remains unchanged on 120 and I can’t wait to see her properly tested to see what she is truly capable of.

Albaflora stayed on into a respectful second. This was her best run since landing the Listed Buckhounds Stakes at Ascot back in May and her rating moves back up to 110 (+2).

Winter powers to Nunthorpe success

Winter Power and Silvestre De Sousa winning The Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes York 20.8.2021 Pic Dan Abraham-focusonracing.com

The Group 1 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes saw a dazzling display of speed from Winter Power, writes Chris Nash.

The Tim Easterby-trained filly was able to sit closest to the trailblazing US raider Golden Pal. She went past him around two furlongs out, had a gap on the field at the furlong marker and was able to see it home from there, finishing one-and-a-quarter lengths clear of Emaraaty Ana, with a further half-length back to Dragon Symbol in third. The favourite and highest rated pre-race, Suesa, finished a further three-quarters of a length away in fourth

The last ten winners of the Nunthorpe range from 116 (Ortensia in 2012 and Alpha Delphini in 2018) to 126 (Battaash in 2019) and race standards suggest a figure in the range of 115-118 for Winter Power. I’ve rated her 117 which represents further improvement for a filly who started in nurseries off just 76 last year and has won seven of her eleven races since. Her last three wins have been over this course and distance and she looks like a filly that will be best suited by sharp tests at the minimum trip.

This assessment of the race has Emaraaty Ana running to a figure of 115, which is also a career best for him – he arrived here rated 107 but had been as high as 112 as a two-year-old. Dragon Symbol managed to reverse form with Suesa from Goodwood where they had finished first and second in the Group 2 King George Stakes. Suesa won that race by three lengths and recorded a figure of 119 in that impressive display. She has only run to a figure of 108+ this time but had a fair bit to do at halfway having been dropped out and made good late gains. I’d be inclined to forgive her this lesser effort and give her another chance to confirm the good impression that she made at Goodwood.  

Sonnyboyliston fights his way to Ebor glory

Saturday’s valuable Sky Bet Ebor Handicap attracted its usual high-quality field of stayers, and the form is sure to be informative with regards to other big handicaps and Group races in the months ahead, writes Adam Barnes.

As it turned out it was actually a Group race that proved to be key to this year’s Ebor, with the Group 3 John Smith’s Silver Cup run over the same course and distance last month producing five of the first seven runners home.

Johnny Murtagh’s Irish raider Sonnyboyliston was the one to emerge on top, seemingly better suited to the bigger field and stronger pace than he had encountered here last time. He has been assessed as running to a figure of 113 (+5), and now apparently has targets such as the Irish St Leger and Melbourne Cup on his agenda. Progressive runner-up Quickthorn (up 4 lb to 107) ran a cracker in defeat, and he also looks likely to make his mark in Group contests in the future.

While the Ebor might have been considered the big one at York on Saturday, I have to admit that I’m personally more of a Melrose man. A massive field of unexposed, up-and-coming three-year-olds, many only just now getting the opportunity to express themselves over a longer distance, really gets the juices flowing, and this year’s renewal proved to be a great spectacle.

Despite the busy finish between the first five home, the distances back to sixth and seventh in this deep field suggests those first five are all a good bit ahead of their marks, and as such I’ve taken a positive view of the form. The Andrew Balding-trained winner Valley Forge goes up 7 lb to 90, and the notably smooth way he moved through this contest suggests there could be a good bit more to come. Hopefully we see him back here in the big one next year – this win gains him automatic entry into the 2022 Ebor.

You don’t necessarily need big fields to produce exciting races, as evidenced by Friday’s four-runner Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, which witnessed a sustained, pulsating battle between Stradivarius and Spanish Mission.

After his fourth-placed finish in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot it’s fair to say that Stradivarius arrived at York with a slight point to prove, and in showing a fine attitude to narrowly reverse Ascot form with Spanish Mission he proved that he retains the great majority of his plentiful ability. While it was a fantastic race to watch, it didn’t really tell us anything new in terms of form, and as such the pre-race ratings of both Stradivarius (121) and Spanish Mission (117) remain unchanged.

Lusail takes top juvenile honours on the Knavesmire

A lot can happen in a week. There were four pattern races in Britain alone in the juvenile division and further high-class contests in France and Ireland. Here’s my round-up, writes Graeme Smith.

By my reckoning, the best juvenile performance on the Knavesmire came from Lusail in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes. His July Stakes success had been endorsed by Asymmetic in the Richmond (he also ran third in the Group 1 Prix Morny on Sunday this week) and then Ebro River in the Group 1 Phoenix, and Richard Hannon’s colt defied a 3lb-penalty at York in clear-cut fashion.

The Coventry winner Berkshire Shadow clearly didn’t give his running, with the drop in trip almost certainly against him, while the likes of Gis A Sub and Twilight Jet didn’t quite have the form pre-race to predict their second and third place finishes. It’s still relatively early days in their careers, however, and this is where historical standards come in – a useful tool when proven form is in scarce supply.

Standards suggested a figure of 114/115 for Lusail but given minor doubts about the placed horses and the fact the time only pointed to around 107, I reined back slightly to a figure of 113. Nevertheless, that rating still places Lusail in the upper echelons of the division so far.

Incidentally, I still have Atomic Force ahead of him among the sprinters. The excellent run of Hellomydarlin (up 4 lb to 102) under top weight in the nursery at York – along with Who Knows’ Group 3 success at Deauville – made a strong case for raising my initial view of the Robert Papin from Chantilly last month. Atomic Force now figures on 114.

Sandrine had looked the best of the two-year-old fillies in Britain prior to the Sky Bet Lowther, and she emerged as the equal of Zain Claudette under a 3-lb penalty despite having to give best to that rival. Zain Claudette is on an upward trajectory and undoubtedly stepped forward again from her Princess Margaret success. She’s now rated 108 – just an average winner of the Lowther at this stage – but that’s still higher than the 106 Fairyland was rated after winning this in 2018 before she went on to add the Cheveley Park. Incidentally, the average winning performance in the Cheveley Park in the last 5 years is 114.

Sandrine’s Duchess of Cambridge success has taken a few knocks and I’ve dropped her rating 1 lb to 108. That figure had leaned on historical standards at the time and it’s always important to go back and adjust these races as subsequent evidence emerges.

Royal Patronage put some well-touted rivals in the shade in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes on the first day of the meeting. Mark Johnston’s son of Wootton Bassett had improved significantly under a positive ride at Epsom the time before and – more streetwise than the opposition – he repeated the dose to win by upwards of two and a quarter-lengths in a time that suggests a rating of 108 could prove on the low side in time. He looks just the sort to head for the Champagne or Royal Lodge next.

Saying that, the best 7f juvenile performance in Britain on my figures came away from York and from a horse who could well be headline news in future in the shape of Reach For The Moon. He’ll be bidding to provide classic success for Her Majesty The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year in 2022 and things are going rather well at this stage.

There had been several strong pointers from his four-length success at Newbury last month, not least when Harrow (up 11 lb to 95) won a very competitive nursery at York, and he blew the Betway Solario Stakes field away by upwards of four lengths without Dettori having to get overly serious. Again, it’s hard to be dogmatic about the level given the lightly raced profiles of those involved, while the lack of an end-to-end gallop makes time analysis more difficult, but standards suggest his new figure of 114 is by no means a leap of faith.

There is still the small matter of Point Lonsdale for Reach For The Moon to worry about, however. Point Lonsdale had got the better of Reach For The Moon in the Chesham (pair clear) and took his record to four wins from as many starts when beating Maritime Wings more decisively than in the Tyros when winning the Futurity at the Curragh on Saturday. His rating is a matter for the Irish handicapper, but I still have him half a length ahead of Reach For The Moon around 115.

Incidentally, the Debutante, also run at the Curragh on Saturday, is usually an excellent pointer to the fillies’ Group 1 races and Agartha’s time stands up against what Point Lonsdale achieved. Again, the Irish handicapper will decide on her rating, but my current thinking would have her top of the fillies’ division as things stand.