Mishriff was impressive when following up his French Derby victory at Deauville on Saturday, after which his connections suggested a “serious conversation” would be needed as to whether to run him in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or QIPCO Champion Stakes.
But why choose one over the other and instead consider running him in both? Trainers rarely think twice about turning a horse out quickly below the top level and on Monday, for example, there will 25 horses in action at Catterick who have run sometime since August 4.
There seems to be a perception that the top races take more out of a horse but this most unusual year, when connections have had to think a little out of the box, have offered several examples of such cautious approaches being misfounded.
Lord North bolted up in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes just ten days after edging home in pattern company at Haydock, while Stradivarius strolled to a ten-length success in the Gold Cup only 13 days after giving vain pursuit to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup.
Serpentine won the Irish Derby a week after his success in the Queen’s Vase and might have also run in the Derby at Epsom, too, the following weekend had his trainer not had other multiple options.
Aidan O’Brien, the trainer of Serpentine, seems one of the few in the sport prepared to run his leading lights in quick succession.
He and Coolmore have so many top performers that it is easier for them to be a little more cavalier, but he has also shown what can be achieved – dating back to 2000 when Giant’s Causeway won or ran with distinction in nine Group One races and became dubbed “The Iron Horse”.
More recently, Magical won the Champion Stakes last year 13 days after finishing fifth in the Arc, where she appeared to have a hard race, and she also won on Champions Day a year earlier, too, after again running in the Arc.
Another of his star fillies, Found, beat all bar Almanzor in the 2016 Champion Stakes, having won the Arc less than a fortnight earlier. The last of her ten races that campaign was when placed in the Breeders’ Cup Turf soon after.
Don’t forget, too, that Ballydoyle’s Saxon Warrior was beaten a neck by Roaring Lion in the Coral-Eclipse a week after being beaten less than a length in the Irish Derby.
So let’s hope that discussion revolving around future targets for Mishriff at least leaves the door open for him to run at Longchamp and Ascot.
I have four tips for today, including one who ran last week.
2.30 Tipperary: Summer Hill at 10-1 with bet365
This 2m4f handicap hurdle features two horses enjoying a purple patch in The Trigger, who is seeking a sixth successive win, and Bread And Butter, who arrives chasing a hat-trick.
The handicapper has been able to take a swipe at both, though, and Summer Hill may be able to take advantage.
His third at Galway last time has a rock-solid look with the winner making his debut for Willie Mullins and the runner-up arriving bang in form after successive wins. The unexposed fourth, trained by Henry De Bromhead, had also won a novice event in taking style on his previous start.
This is a weaker race, albeit with some in-form horses in the mix, and a 2lb rise looks fair. He’s mostly been ridden by amateurs or claimers but Danny Mullins, aboard last time, retains the partnership.
3.20 Catterick: Lady Nectar at 13-8 with William Hill
I’m surprised Lady Nectar is not odds-on because she stands out under her 6lb penalty after thumping 18 rivals at Thirsk last week.
The three-year-old daughter of Zebedee had previously won in tidy style over course and distance, having been an unlucky loser at Beverley before that, plus is favourably drawn in stall 4.
She’s clearly getting the hang of things and, having had only nine starts, is unexposed in the sprint handicap sphere. She will be forced up in grade after Monday but is very much one to follow.
I’ll probably back the reliable Pearl Of Qatar to chase her home and, going forwards, suggest you also monitor Calin’s Lad, who caught the eye of the stewards on his penultimate start and last time ran over an inadequate trip. This will be his first run in 72 days and likely to help get his wheels back in motion.
6.00 Windsor: Son And Sannie at 15-8 with bet365
Paul Midgley has his horses in fine fettle – Ballintoy Harbour, Mr Orange and Militia all won sprints for him on Friday – and Son And Sannie is an intriguing new recruit for him.
Formerly trained by Richard Brabazon, he arrives on these shores as an unexposed sprinter proven on softish ground.
Despite being four, he made his debut less than a year ago and the switch to handicaps this summer has shown him in a different light. Runner-up on his return at The Curragh, he trounced his rivals at Naas last time (watch above) despite being drawn on the flank and fly-jumping something about a furlong and a half out.
An opening British mark of 79 means he can start off in this 0-80, plus the going is in his favour and Oisin Murphy booked. The opposition have few secrets, with the consistent Second Collection perhaps the one for the forecast.
6.30 Windsor: Guroor at 14-1 with William Hill
Newmarket winner Ice Sprite is the right favourite for this 11-furlong handicap but Guroor has to be the bet at the 14-1 on offer.
The only reason she’s that price, I presume, is because she ran badly the only previous time that she encountered soft ground in the spring of 2019.
However, her next few runs on quicker surfaces were also nothing to shout about and it seems to me that that the daughter of Lope De Vega, whose stock usually love the mud, is simply a different animal these days.
She enjoyed a fruitful time on the all-weather during the winter and she ran as well as she has ever done at Doncaster last time when beaten a neck by the odds-on Almareekh with the in-form Colony Queen a couple of lengths away in third.
Guroor is 3lb higher but that looks fair enough and Stefano Cherchi, on board for each of her three career wins, is reunited with her for the first time this summer.
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