European Race Report: Numbers Game
Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2002 3:31 PM
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2002 11:24 AM
Published in the July 6 issue of The Blood-HorseBy Richard Griffiths
Photo: Trevor Jones
High Chaparral, with Michael Kinane aboard, adding the Irish Derby to his resume.
It is always soothing when an Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner goes on to prove his victory was deserved and he is a colt to be taken seriously. For the time being, we can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief about High Chaparral after he became the 15th horse to complete the Epsom/Irish Derby double.
His victory in the Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) at The Curragh on June 30 almost certainly saw High Chaparral run below what was required of him at Epsom, and at first glance a 3 1/2-length defeat of the 200-1 pacemaker Sholokhov does not set the form books on fire. Yet both Sholokhov and third-place finisher, Ballingarry, were group 1 winners as juveniles and once High Chaparral hit the front, the result was never in doubt.
Those who feel High Chaparral still has something to prove--not least against older horses--now face a bit of a wait. It is unlikely he will follow the route of his former stablemate, Galileo, who, after winning the Epsom and Irish Derbys just a year ago, went on to collect the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot a month later. Instead, High Chaparral will almost certainly be rested until the autumn for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I, Oct. 6) at Longchamp. That route was successfully taken two years ago by Sinndar after he had also achieved the Derby double. "Galileo had a hard race to win the King George and it probably left its mark," said winning trainer Aidan O'Brien.
O'Brien, saddling the first three home in the Irish Derby for the third time, is involved in a high profile attempt to stop an incinerator plant being built near his Irish stables. He has even talked about setting up in America if the development does go ahead, although such talk is fanciful at this stage.
The race also provided another memorable landmark for Sadler's Wells, so soon after his 200th stakes winner. He sired the first four home, prompting the memorable remark from Coolmore boss John Magnier: "It's great to have the trainer and the stallion at the one time. It would be no good having them at different times."
Things did not prove so straight forward in the weekend's other group 1 race, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud at Saint-Cloud in France on June 30.
The race was meant to go to the odds-on shot Aquarelliste, but the talented Wildenstein-bred, Elie Lellouche-trained filly could only come in third, two lengths and a head behind the upset winner Ange Gabriel. It was the first time that the daughter of Danehill had finished out of the top two in her career.
Aquarelliste could yet go for the King George next month but a more likely option is that, like High Chaparral she will be rested for the Arc‚ in which she was second to Sakhee last year.
It will worry Aquarelliste's connections that she was reluctant to go to post in this race. "Even before the race you could see it was not her day; she could have been in season," owner Alec Wildenstein said. Ange Gabriel is also due to be trained for the Arc now, according to his provincial trainer Eric Libaud. Euro Notes
O'Brien, who had such a stranglehold on last season's top European races for juveniles, sent out Hold That Tiger to win the Railway Stakes at the Curragh (Ire-III) on Irish Derby day and earn an early 14-1 favorite quote for next year's Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I). Hold That Tiger, a $1.1 million son of Storm Cat, was all out to beat the Dermot Weld-trained Pakhoes by a neck. Last time out Pakhoes had been beaten the same distance by another O'Brien colt, Statue of Liberty, in the Coventry Stakes (Eng-III) at Royal Ascot on June 18...American sprinter Caller One, a last-minute absentee from Royal Ascot's Golden Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I, June 22) due to an infection, may yet make his debut in Britain, this time in the July Cup (Eng-I, July 11) at Newmarket. Trainer Jim Chapman Sr. has been pleased by the gelding's recent work.
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