European Race Report: Dream Ride

Published in the July 19 issue of The Blood-Horse
In failing to win his third successive race in Britain, the tank-sized Australian sprinter Choisir still went down fighting. Finishing second to Oasis Dream, last year's champion European 2-year-old male, in the Darley July Cup (Eng-I) at Newmarket on July 10 was anything but a disgrace.

Even while Choisir was rightly claiming all the plaudits following the King's Stand Stakes (Eng-II) last month, the first of his two Royal Ascot wins in the space of five days, the eye had still been drawn to the seasonal debut of Oasis Dream, who finished third that day.

Now significantly fitter, but just as importantly a fresher horse than Choisir, Oasis Dream pegged back the giant that the rest of Europe's top sprinters had so notably failed to do. His winning margin in the end was 1 1/2 lengths, although Choisir, reveling in his rail-side post one draw, pushed him all the way.

Oasis Dream, another success for the Juddmonte juggernaut, had actually missed the break--but that hardly caused his connections hearts' to flutter. "Because he has so much speed, we were able to find ourselves with only two lengths to make up, and I was happy when I saw that for four furlongs of the (six-furlong) race his jockey, Richard Hughes, was allowing his reins to hang loose, with no contact with the horse's mouth," said winning trainer John Gosden. "I knew from that, there was plenty left. When we got to Choisir, he fought on as I knew he would, but in the end we were able to wear him down and we were going away at the end."

Choisir is also going away, back to Australia, where he will take up stud duties, having been purchased by Coolmore, which also owns his sire, Danehill Dancer. With that in mind, a Northern Hemisphere covering spell should not be ruled out.

In the other major race of the week, there was something of a surprise when Vintage Tipple defied her 12-1 odds to win the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I) at the Curragh on July 13, defeating the 33-1 Aidan O'Brien-trained pacemaker L'Ancresse by 1 1/2 lengths.

L'Ancresse had been in the race for Yesterday, regarded as unlucky when second in the Vodafone Oaks (Eng-I) at Epsom last month. But Yesterday once more finished a place behind the Oaks winner Casual Look, who this time managed only third, a head back of L'Ancresse.

Vintage Tipple is trained by 84-year-old Paddy Mullins, a man better known for his brilliance with jump horses. She was effectively ridden by Frankie Dettori, who said afterward to the notoriously tactiturn Mullins: "I liked the instructions you gave me--none!"

Instead, Dettori made sure that L'Ancresse did not escape his grasp, despite the pacesetter running out to a commanding lead until well into the home straight.

Dettori's late run was timed to perfection and it may even have left Casual Look and Yesterday a little flat footed. This appeared a high-class race beforehand, so Vintage Tipple looks to have much ahead of her, especially as it was only her fourth career start.


Attraction, a filly ironically named because she has unimpressive conformation, is nonetheless a juvenile of high-class. Having won at Royal Ascot, she continued her parade through the top group races for her sex with a five-length victory in the Chippenham Stud Cherry Hinton Stakes (Eng-II) at Newmarket July 8.

The filly is now favorite for next year's One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I), but wary that she might not train on, her handler, Mark Johnston, intends to keep Attraction busy this season, taking on older horses in the top sprints.

Sheikh Mohammed had three of the eight runners in the top juvenile colts race of the July meeting, the TNT July Stakes (Eng-II). None of them won, though that hardly mattered.

He was still able to stand beaming in the winner's enclosure after Nevisian Lad had zipped into the lead close to home to win by a length.

The reason for Sheikh Mohammed's pleasure was simple: Nevisian Lad ran in the colors of his son, Sheikh Rashid, for whom the son of Royal Applause had been purchased privately 10 days earlier. His trainer, Michael Bell, has doubts about how effective Nevisian Lad will be over more than six furlongs.

While he doesn't figure that prominently in next year's classic betting, Aidan O'Brien has one that sure does. He's called One Cool Cat, is by Storm Cat as the name suggests, and ran out an assertive 1 1/2-length winner of the Anglesea Stakes (Ire-III) at the Curragh on July 13.