European Race Report: Rabbit Punch

Published in the July 14 Blood-Horse
Cheveley Park Stud's homebred 4-year-old Medicean put the younger generation in their place with a battling victory in Sandown Park's Coral Eurobet Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I, July 7). The Eclipse, run at 10 furlongs, is the first top-class meeting between the generations and featured Aidan O'Brien-trained Black Minnaloushe, winner of the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) and Royal Ascot's St. James's Palace Stakes (Eng-I), as well as the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Tobougg, third to Galileo in last month's Epsom Derby (Eng-I).

The youngsters each had a pacemaker, Darwin for the Michael Tabor/Susan Magnier team of Black Minnaloushe and Broche for Godolphin's Tobougg, but they may have done too good a job. Darwin led for a furlong before Broche took over and cut out a fast pace on the "good to firm" ground. This left 5-2 Black Minnaloushe fully 20 lengths last in the field of eight with 9-4 favorite Tobougg only slightly in front of him. Turning in, Broche was five lengths clear with another sophomore, Grandera, part-owned by Lael Stable and an unlucky third in the Prix du Jockey-Club (Fr-I, French Derby), best placed to challenge.

Grandera hit the front a furlong from home and looked the winner, but Kieren Fallon persevered with Medicean, who appeared to be making no impression at the eighth pole, and got up in the final 50 yards to win by a half-length over Grandera. Bach, jointly owned by Satish Sanan and Susan Magnier, was another neck back in third. In a blanket finish, two heads separated Bach, Tobougg (fourth), and Black Minnaloushe at the line.

Trainer Michael Stoute enhanced the Cheveley Park coffers by £200,100 ($282,465) with his fourth Eclipse win and Medicean's third win from three starts this year. Previously, the son of Machiavellian had collected Newbury's Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I) and Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-II). Fallon's first win in the race from four rides erased his bungling performance with 4-7 favorite Bosra Sham four years ago that nearly cost him his job with his then retaining stable, Henry Cecil.

"When they go quick like that, it makes it easier to ride because they get strung out and you don't end up in a pocket," said Fallon, who won three races on the day. "Medicean is improving and has a fantastic temperament. The only worry we had was the ground. The rain came, but it came too late to soften it."

Traditionally Cheveley Park has sold its colts at the sales, but Medicean is from the first crop the breeder decided to race. A top miler, he could go next for the Champagne Lanson Sussex Stakes at Goodwood (Eng-I, Aug. 1) or be given a rest. It would come as no surprise if he ended up in the Mile (gr. IT) on Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Day. Stoute's Breeders' Cup successes came from another Eclipse winner, Pilsudski, who bagged the Turf (gr. IT) in 1996, and from Kalanisi, who won the 2000 edition.

Grandera, trained by James Fanshawe, could go next in Ascot's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I, July 28) at 12 furlongs, where he could encounter Epsom and Irish Derby (Ire-I) winner Galileo, who has suddenly come into the reckoning for the race.

Royal Dragon confirmed the form of his German Two Thousand Guineas (Ger-II) win by taking Hoppegarten's Berlin-Brandenburg Trophy (Ger-II) over eight furlongs. Godolphin's Mahfooth started as the 17-10 favorite in the field of nine, but gave way quickly in the straight to finish second-last.

Royal Dragon was ridden out by jockey Andrasch Starke to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths with British raider Golden Silca second and Up and Away third. Trainer Andreas Schutz, who won the race for the same owner, Helmut von Finck, with Waky Nao three years ago, told the Racing Post: "This proves that a mile is Royal Dragon's best trip and we will stick to that in the future. There are no suitable races for him in Germany so he will go for the Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-I, Aug. 19) at Deauville."