Brendan Duke: Ten out of ten for Sovereigns and a St Leger winner in waiting

After duking it out at York our intrepid racing writer takes a punt on where some of the winners will be heading next and has one to follow from the Curragh ..

Horse Racing


A fairly low key week in the calendar is upon us. Sandown and the Curragh stage decent looking cards. In the Solario Stakes last year, future Derby winner Masar strutted his stuff while subsequent Royal Ascot winner Aljazzi was an impressive winner of the Atalanta Stakes. Hopefully this year will throw up some similarly exciting types.

Last week at York was far from low key, with a host of high-class races and plenty of clues for the future. Personally, it wasn’t a particularly productive punting week but being on the right side of Fairyland’s fag paper win was pleasing. She wasn’t impressive and it’s quite possible that she’s relatively limited. Her professionalism ultimately won the day.

She broke smartly and was able to bag the rail. That coupled with her tenacity won the day. There is a possibility that she wasn’t 100 per cent. The yard have been under a cloud and she’d had a break since Royal Ascot. I thought she would win comfortably two furlongs down and there’s a possibility that she blew up. The Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket next month will give us a clearer indication as to how high she can climb.

Wednesday saw Roaring Lion (below) really come of age in the International. He quickened up smartly to win by over three lengths, skewering the notions of those of us who thought there weren’t any really exceptional three-year-old colts. He’s a credit to connections. They’ve ironed out his wayward tendencies without ducking any major engagements.

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The troubled passage of Poet’s Word was a shame. It would be fanciful to say that it cost him the ground he was beaten by but a horse with his remorseless, grinding run style will always be particularly compromised when that gradual wind up is interrupted. The steady early pace wasn’t ideal either. He’s such an uncomplicated horse that making the running on him would seem an obvious anti variance tactic. His trainer generally isn’t a fan of front-running though so that’s unlikely to happen going forward. Both horses could head for the Irish Champion Stakes. A rematch would be something to savour but the yard have hinted that they may run Crystal Ocean instead.

Thursday saw huge efforts from two uber-talented fillies. I thought the bookies had a real chance on the day, being unconvinced about the temperament of Sea Of Class and harbouring huge ground concerns for Lah Ti Dah.

Jesus, this piece reads like a recipe for humble pie. As it turned out Sea Of Class improved again, travelling like a monster and dispatching Coronet with the minimum of fuss. She needs to be supplemented for the Arc but it will surprising if that doesn’t happen.

Three-year-old fillies have a fine record in the Arc and given we’re yet to see Enable this term, the Haggas filly currently looks a worthy fav.

John Gosden

Whether she’s the best middle distance three-year-old filly in training is another matter. John Gosden’s Lah Ti Dah simply oozed class in the Galtres Stakes. If she were mine I’d be aiming at the Arc but the owners have endured some torment on the other side of the channel. The St Leger looks the likely option and while Kew Gardens ran a perfectly good trial in the Voltigeur, he won’t see which way the Gosden filly goes if they meet at Doncaster.

She’s a huge filly who hits the ground hard. I’m convinced she’ll be even more effective with an ease and the step up in trip will arguably help too. She’s the St Leger winner in waiting.

The Curragh was a little underwhelming. I was so excited about the Debutante Stakes, being particularly keen on Iridessa and Hermosa beforehand.

Both underperformed along with a number of others. Skitter Scatter is a highly progessive sort. She started of getting beaten in an early season Dundalk maiden after all. Another credit to connections but with a twice raced maiden in second the form doesn’t look that hot. The ground had eased, though was by no means desperate, so I suppose we can find some sort of excuse for the beaten horses.

They will obviously need to show a lot more next time though. Anthony Van Dyck just about got the job done in the Futurity. He tends to hit flat spots in his races, though Sunday’s one seemed more prolonged, so may well be a horse who just does enough. It’s also possible his wheels spun a little in the softer ground.

We will know more after he steps up to Group 1 company but I’d be surprised if he proved a top notcher. One horse from the Curragh weekend who could be is Aidan O’Brien’s Ten Sovereigns. A son of No Nay Never, he looked well beforehand. Not over big, but strong behind and still a touch leggy. He put in a devastating display, travelling comfortably through the race before ultimately surging clear to win by seven lengths at the line.


Any Aidan O’Brien debut winner is notable. A good percentage of them go on to be Stakes performers. With the placed horses all bringing reasonable form to the party, Ten Sovereigns must have run to a high figure. That was the most impressive maiden winning performance I’ve witnessed in some time.

It would be no surprise were the horse pitched directly into Group 1 company. Possibly in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in October. He certainly won’t look out of place.

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What do you think?