Warning flare lights up Empress auction


No one in our community is more eligible than Ted Bassett to say he’s seen it all before, but something will be attempted on Saturday that goes beyond even the long experience encompassed by his 100th birthday in just a few days. For a Keeneland centerpiece that Mr. Bassett helped inaugurate in 1984, as host to the lady whose name he is named, may well present one of his subjects with the opportunity to make a unique double.

First, in the backyard of Windsor Castle, William Haggas saddles the undefeated star of his Newmarket stable, Baaeed (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. at Ascot. Then, a few hours later, he will see if Cloudy Dawn (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) can export the GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.

Have no doubt, an elite prize on either side of the ocean – both honoring one of the bosses of his own yard – is a day’s work well within the grasp of one of England’s top coaches in the world. his generation. Two weeks ago, Haggas sent eight winners across five different tracks in one afternoon. This may seem like a relatively achievable endeavor in the American system, with Jeff Runco saddling seven state winners on a single card in Charles Town just last week, but it is believed to be unprecedented in Britain. Either way, you can judge how accurately Haggas has placed his horses since the last time he sent Cloudy Dawn into action, in Deauville in August. She was the first of four winners on either side of the Channel in 40 minutes, three at the group level, with a cumulative odds of 4,252 to 1.

This upgrade for Cloudy Dawn duly implies that its progress must be continuous. But a breed so hospitable to the forces of European raiders, faithful to the diplomatic spirit of its creation, also includes one whose campaign invites riders on both sides of the water to question their collective management of the breed.

Because it was only last Saturday that the Empress Joséphine (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) finished in force for the third place of the GI First Lady S. This same formula worked for Ballydoyle 10 years ago with a Galileo’s other daughter, Together (Ire), who similarly finished strong for a podium against her seniors before returning to beat her sophomores the following weekend. (And Together, moreover, had run in Group 1 in Newmarket just two weeks before the First Lady.)

Empress Josephine (left), third last week in the First Lady | Coady

Now, that sort of thing has long been a familiar mark of their record trainer, Aidan O’Brien. In part, without a doubt, it has been a luxury of his status as a primarily private trainer. Federico Tesio, who was similarly engaged in proving cattle for breeding, ruthlessly hijacked even elite animals in the service of their colleagues as soon as he felt he had set their cap. And O’Brien has always said that his employers, forgoing the nervous protection of reputations that once prevented so many business operations, urged him to use Ballydoyle’s talent pool as a means of extracting his deepest genetic resources. John Magnier had clearly decided that the cyclical and dynastic nature of breeding made it a better game, in the long run, to be sure what you got.

As a result, O’Brien has been able to produce breeders that repeat his shine because he is locked into the corresponding hardiness. The most famous example among the stallions he created is Giant’s Causeway, whose iron qualities were such as the total winning distance over his last eight starts – five as a winner, three times as runner-up, on different distances and surfaces, but all in Group 1 / Level Grade I – was barely a few lengths. But O’Brien has often hammered marvelous careers to fillies, plunging them unceremoniously into the forge.

That of Peeping Fawn (Danehill), for example, was compressed between April and August of his second campaign, and included four starts in the young girls. Eleven days after the last of them, she ran third in the G1 Irish 1000 Guineas, then second in another classic, more than half a mile further in Epsom, just five days after that. Time for a break? Forget. Later that month she was launched on a streak of four Group 1 wins, each more impressive than the next, in 54 days.

All horses are different, of course, and a genius like O’Brien will clearly tailor his methods to their individual needs. And being totally unaware of what thrills Malathaat (Curlin), for example, it would be obnoxious to berate his schedule for Halley’s Comet. More generally, however, I think we all have a right to regret those changes in breed or training methods, or both, which are hampering the way racehorses are promoted today.

Creepy brings three-game winning streak to first GI test | Coady

We owe nearly all of the copper-based influences in postwar American pedigrees to an old-fashioned test of their genetic selection for the kind of robust constitution needed to carry speed. Hail to Reason’s career notoriously derailed on its first September, but he had already made 18 starts. Nashua won a maiden for his debut in May and was playing his second appearance 14 days later.

John Williams, such a precious and enlightening lead of the best old tradition, has always said that this horse is his physical model. John will tell you that just looking at Nashua’s shoe, even as an aging stallion, would explain how he won a juvenile championship, 2-1-1 finishes in the Triple Crown and a Jockey Club Gold Cup plus four seconds faster than his. first. Eddie Arcaro once told John he was wondering what to say as Nashua returned from one of his occasional dud jobs, but before he could say a word, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons sent him straight for the remake. This time, Nashua shot a bullet and he won the Wood Memorial three days later.

Now you can tell it would be unwise to train horses like this today. But I’m not sure O’Brien agrees with you and, if the Thoroughbred is really less resilient today, it may well reflect a much more culpable recklessness among breeders.

Earlier this week, her colleague Emma Berry revealed the story in TDN Europe that the winner of the G1 2000 Guineas and the G1 St James’s Palace S. Poetic Flare (Ire) (Dawn Approach {Ire}) – who competed in three classics in 22 days this spring – has been acquired to compete in Japan. Poetic Flare, remember, was raised and trained by Jim Bolger, once a mentor to young O’Brien. And you can be sure Bolger is endorsing what his former protégé is doing with Empress Josephine, as another 2021 Classic winner from the same Irish Riding School.

As a potential stud, Poetic Flare offered precisely what we need to stem the genetic losses the breed is experiencing today. Sadly, however, European commercial breeders have unanimously written off his sire and none of them, despite the evidence before their eyes, seems to accept that valid strains in a pedigree can filter out anyway. (Ironic, really, when Poetic Flare satisfies the Galileo-Danehill mix they hold so sacred.)

Maybe an imaginative Kentucky farm could have tried their luck with Poetic Flare, but the environment wouldn’t have been less healthy. Despite the vogue for importing yearlings from Tattersalls, anyone can see how difficult it is, even for proven turf stallions, let alone extremely credible new ones, to gain commercial traction in the national yearling market. .

Bassett and the Queen ahead of the 1984 inaugural race on his behalf | Keeneland photo

Once again, the Japanese have therefore been able to consolidate a program that will eventually leave the transatlantic gene pools to repent, too late, of their recent disastrous schism. Surely a keen observer of the breed will not need to remember what has been lost as a result. During the war, her father raised a filly named Knight’s Daughter, which was exported to Claiborne and a few years later she delivered a Princequillo foal. His name was Round Table, and he won only 43 of 66 starts.

Likewise, then, maybe the Queen will also be happy to see a daughter of Tapit in the Keeneland Race run on her behalf. The Gainesway phenomenon has mysteriously had few opportunities in Europe, despite a runaway winner of historic Cambridgeshire H. among a very small sample of runners. Tapit’s stock actually has a pretty respectable record on turf in the United States, keeping in mind that this is a generally even tried option for horses seemingly strapped for capacity on the main track. Creepy has certainly thrived on the grass, and we wish his connections the best of luck in a race they would dearly enjoy.

We cannot all enjoy the long perspective shared by Mr Bassett and the Queen of England, who are now approaching their combined 195 years. But maybe Empress Josephine or Flippant, between them, can at least get a few people to see a slightly larger picture.

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