O’Brien At The Double At Doncaster And Legend Departs The Scene
Capri Glee For O’Brien In Leger
Saturday saw the final Classic of the British flat racing season take place at Doncaster. A contest which had all the makings of a vintage renewal certainly lived up to its billing. Of the main protagonists only the Roger Varian-trained Defoe failed to give his running as Capri, Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius fought out a thrilling finish.
In the end the prize fell to what has so often proved to be the irresistible combination of trainer Aidan O’Brien and sire Galileo. Capri showed a tenacious attitude to fend them all off in the final furlong. Having previously finished sixth at Epsom before winning the Irish Derby, this admirable grey once again showed the strength of the Derby form, which year on year proves to be the most accurate pointer towards future Group race glory.
For O’Brien this was a phenomenal 29th Classic success. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe now looks to be firmly on the agenda for Capri, with Bet365 making him a 14/1 shot for the Chantilly showpiece. There was no shortage of talent in behind though, with Stradivarius and fourth placed Rekindling looking potential Cup horses for next season, and Crystal Ocean looking all set for a productive four year old campaign for the astute Sir Michael Stoute.
Seahenge Shocker In Champagne Stakes
The day’s other major Group contest also went the way of team Ballydoyle, but whereas Capri was justifying favouritism in the oldest Classic contest in the world, the success of Seahenge in the Champagne Stakes came as something of a surprise.
The trio of Dream Today, Mythical Magic and Red Mist all appeared to boast better form in the book than this son of Scat Daddy. With Ryan Moore deserting him in favour of stablemate Mendelssohn, he appeared to have it all to do. Given a perfectly judged ride by Donnacha O’Brien though, he stepped up markedly on his effort in the Qatar Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and simply had too much toe for his rivals in the closing stages.
The Dewhurst Stakes looks to be next on the agenda, and a potential rematch with the most impressive juvenile of the season to date, Sir Michael Stoute’s Expert Eye, who thrashed him by eight lengths in the aforementioned Vintage Stakes. That Vintage Stakes form looks stronger by the day, and even at this early stage, the 4/1 about Expert Eye with BetVictor for the 2018 2000 Guineas looks to represent solid value.
And Farewell To Geoff
The weekend also brought the sad news of the passing of one of the true legends of the Newmarket training scene, as Geoff Wragg sadly passed away at the age of 87. Counting wins in the Epsom Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Irish 1000 Guineas on an impressive resumé, Wragg was universally liked amongst fellow trainers, jockeys and punters alike and will be greatly missed.
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