Watching Aidan O’Brien’s Hermosa land last Sunday’s 1000 Guineas at Newmarket was a bitter pill to swallow.
At Newmarket last October, I was pretty confident the daughter of Galileo would provide the answer to an eight-runner Group 1 over a mile.
She carried strong form into the contest, arriving on the back of an easy success at Naas 18 days earlier.
Hermosa went off the 5-2 favourite at Newmarket and they seemed good odds.
I duly shovelled the few quid in her direction and then watched in horror as Joseph O’Brien’s 14-1 shot Iridessa coasted home a length and a half clear of Hermosa in second. Iridessa had previously been beaten into third at Leopardstown and it was difficult enough to make a solid case for her.
O’Brien Jnr’s filly then reappeared at Leopardstown on April 6, the only penalised runner in the 14-strong field, and ran a cracker to take third behind Lady Kaya and Happen and subsequent events have revealed that to be an excellent effort.
In the meantime, Hermosa was making her seasonal debut in the 1000 Guineas and it was hard to argue she could beat Iridessa, whatever about the rest of the field.
Iridessa went off at 6-1 and Hermosa at 14-1 and that seemed about right. But, of course, the imposing Hermosa made nearly all of the running to score snugly, with Iridessa back in eighth.
I suppose these things are sent to try us!
Whether this Classic was any good or not only time will tell, but the fact just three lengths covered the first eight home perhaps tells its own story.
Mind you, I’d say O’Brien Snr was more than pleased with the manner in which three of his four charges performed, his Fleeting was 15th of 15.
Fairyland, a rare Ballydoyle ride for Frankie Dettori, was a creditable fifth and sprinting will surely be her game, while Just Wonderful (Ryan Moore) wasn’t knocked about in the closing stages and ran with a lot of promise in sixth.
We will await developments before getting too carried away with the 1000 Guineas, but will be very surprised should Aidan O’Brien’s 2000 Guineas winner on Saturday, Magna Grecia, not prove to be top class.
He was a good two-year-old, but had questions to answer, following his final outing as a juvenile in the Group 1 Futurity at Doncaster at the end of last October.
Magna Grecia won that race alright, but only scrambled home a head in front of Phoenix Of Spain and about a length and a half covered the first five.
Phoenix Of Spain hasn’t been seen since, but the third, Western Australia, also a Ballydoyle inmate, has.
He finished a bad fifth in a Listed event at Newmarket last month and was beaten into second on the all-weather at Dundalk in March.
But Magna Grecia left his Doncaster performance way behind in the 2000 Guineas and, at least to my eyes, was a quite brilliant winner.
Kevin Prendergast’s Madhmoon also ran a stormer to claim fourth place. There was a lot to like about the way he was going on at the finish and, stepping up in trip, he should enjoy a decent campaign.
Magical didn’t exactly set the world on fire when taking the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh on Monday.
She was always going to win up the straight and at the end had a comfortable length and a half to spare over Flag Of Honour, with The King and Latrobe a neck and a neck further behind in third and fourth respectively.
But, on her seasonal debut at Naas last month, on the exact same terms, Magical beat Flag Of Honour four and a half lengths into second, with Latrobe another four and a half lengths away in third.
In the wake of Monday’s win, Aidan O’Brien indicated he hadn’t done a whole lot with Magical between her first and second runs and seemed more than satisfied with her latest display.
The gut feeling is we’d be fools not to take him at his word!
The end-of-season National Hunt statistics confirmed what a fantastic time Willie Mullins had with 207 winners and prizemoney in excess of €6.2m.
He trained 30 more winners in Ireland than nearest rival Gordon Elliott and was more than €2m clear of him at the line.
Mullins only trained eight winners in Britain, but that reaped £1.4m (€1.6m) and left him fifth in that championship behind Paul Nicholls.
Mind you all Nicholls won, compared to Ireland, was a paltry £3.3m (€3.8m)!
In Ireland, besides Mullins and Elliott, four other trainers won prizemoney far in excess of €1m, Henry de Bromhead, Joseph O’Brien, Noel Meade, and Jessica Harrington.
In De Bromhead and O’Brien’s case it was almost €2m. Don’t we just live in a great little country?
Ican’t claim to be in any way familiar with Cashel, Co Tipperary trainer Paddy Twomey, but I know enough about him to give his runners the utmost respect.
He certainly seems to have his finger on the pulse and the success of his two-year-old, Sunday Sovereign, at the Curragh on Monday, was more evidence that is very much the case.
The son of Equiano ran with some promise on his debut at Naas, fourth behind Aidan O’Brien’s Monarch Of Egypt, but not enough to send you scurrying to a bookmaker’s office.
At the Curragh, however, he went off a well-backed favourite to beat 16 rivals, in a contest that shaped as being full of dangers.
Sunday Sovereign, though, hardly broke sweat to beat Aidan O’Brien’s first-timer, No Nay Never colt Arizona.
The fact it was another six lengths to the third was encouraging.
It was gas the way people were raving about the ride Ryan Moore gave Happen, to get her up on the line to land a Group 3 at the Curragh on Monday by a short head.
On such narrow margins are opinions formed and many of the same ravers would have been leading the criticism had Happen failed by a short head.
It was actually a terrible drive by Moore. He was locked away and too far back for much of the seven-furlong journey and had to switch wide of the entire field to finally launch a challenge.
That Happen put her head in front for the first time right on the line was more by accident than design!