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The 2017 Cheltenham Festival is one that will live long in the memories of the Irish contingent who descended upon Prestbury Park last week. Irish dominance was reflected in the 19-9 Betbright Cup victory over their British counterparts, including success for the County Kildare trainer Jessica Harrington with Sizing John in the week’s showpiece on Friday.
On the international scene, there was an equally dominant display at Fairview on Friday in the East Cape Sprint Cup. Trainer Tara Laing sent three runners to her local track in Port Elizabeth for the Listed affair, taking on six further competitors. With none of her three runners occupying favouritism, nor second favouritism in the market, Tara would have been hoping for one of her runners to upset the odds and land the winning prize in the R150,000 valued race. The result however was far better than what Tara may have anticipated. The three stablemates, all running for the same owner, came home first, second and third. It was the least fancied Normanz who seized victory by over a length, leading for most of the race from Tar Heel, who in turn finished two lengths up on the fast finishing Sir Duke.
Mayfair Speculators, the owners of the three aforementioned runners at Fairview, were again in the places the following day at Turffontein for the feature race of the day, the Listed Drum Star Handicap. Their six-year-old gelding, Master Switch, got up on the line to snatch an unlikely looking third. Victory went to the 40/1 outsider, The Elmo Effect, off bottom weight, who found another gear entering the final two furlongs to see off the well fancied Arctica by nearly a length. A drop in trip did the trick for The Elmo Effect, who had previously been contesting races over a few furlongs further.
A few hours earlier, in Australia, the world’s highest rated mare was once again making headlines. Winx brushed aside her opposition in the China Horse Club George Ryder over seven and a half furlongs. The highly impressive five-year-old has now racked up 16 consecutive victories, and 11 Group 1’s. The European options are still very much on the table for the mighty mare.
Although Winx was the day’s star performer, the feature race of the day at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney was the Longines Golden Slipper, a Group 1 event which offers AU$3.5million in prize money. 16 runners went to post in what appeared to be an open contest of two-year-old Australian colts and fillies. Top British jockeys Ryan Moore and William Buick were drafted in for rides in the race, however neither threatened the places. The aptly named filly, She Will Reign, was a very impressive winner in the hands of Ben Melham, victorious by over two lengths. Fillies Frolic and Tulip occupied the places, following a placings reversal between the third and fourth finishers. The Golden Slipper is the world’s most valuable race two-year-olds race and it’s only natural to now expect future successes from the incredibly fast finishing She Will Reign. Highlights of the event will be broadcast in Eurosport’s Horse Excellence show.
Plenty more international action is on offer this week, with HBA delivering racing from South Africa, Japan, Singapore and the USA. This Saturday sees the finale of the Dubai World Cup Carnival. Across the nine races, 13 countries are represented by equine stars, all competing for a share of the US$30million in prize money on offer. The world’s best horse, Arrogate, is a very strong favourite for the day’s showpiece, the US$10million Dubai World Cup. After consecutive successes in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup Invitational, this race may seem like somewhat of a formality to the Juddmonte star without California Chrome in opposition.HBA offers international rights and distribution services to some of the world’s most prestigious races. Contact us for more information by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0) 1666 822769.
The world’s richest ever race was staged at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational. A race over one and one eighth miles on the dirt at Florida’s premier racetrack. An idea thought up by Gulfstream Park owners, The Stronach Group, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational was the first race of its kind, offering 12 owners the chance to buy a place in the starting stalls at US $1million, which they then were able to sell, share or lease a runner for.
The line-up for the $12million contest looked like this:
1) Arrogate (USA)
2) Prayer for Relief (USA)
3) Neolithic (USA)
4) Noble Bird (USA)
5) War Story (USA)
6) War Envoy (USA)
7) Shaman Ghost (CAN)
8) Semper Fortis (USA)
9) Keen Ice (USA)
10) Breaking Lucky (CAN)
11) Eragon (ARG)
12) California Chrome (USA)
In the build-up to the race, the discussion centred on the rematch of Arrogate vs California Chrome, following a gripping finish contested between the two at Santa Anita Park for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, which was won by the Juddmonte Farms owned Arrogate. Chrome held favouritism for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational until the gate draw, when Arrogate’s favourable inside draw pushed him to the top of the market. It appeared, through the odds at least, that the 10 other runners were running for minor honours.
The race started as expected with the front running Noble Bird shooting straight out into a lead, followed in close pursuit by California Chrome on the wide outside, Arrogate on the rail, and Neolithic between horses to hold second on the first turn. Positions were held up the back straight, with a few lengths between this leading pack, plus War Story, and the rest of the field. It wasn’t until the turn for home that the race began to unfold, Arrogate and Neolithic pulling ahead of Noble Bird, however Chrome was unable to follow. The race owners’ entry, Shaman Ghost, was the only horse in the field able to bridge the gap on the turn to the leading quintet. It was evident by the time they had straightened up for home that Chrome was not going to be first past the post, and even getting a place was looking unlikely. Arrogate put in the performance of a true champion to win eventually by nearly five lengths, from the strong finishing Shaman Ghost, who was over three lengths clear of Neolithic, holding on to third from another strong finisher and high class horse, Keen Ice. Chrome was eased down for the final couple of furlongs, finishing ninth.
Dirt horses topped the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings in 2016, with Juddmonte owned Arrogate leading the now six-year-old California Chrome by a rating of 134 to Chrome’s 133. It is only fitting therefore that all eyes are on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational as the first great international contest of 2017, where the two have been confirmed to run in the race at Gulfstream Park, on the dirt over 1 and 1/8 miles.
Twelve runners will line-up for their chance at the world record $12 million USD purse. To date, eight horses have been confirmed for this inaugural event, which offers a brand new format to the sport of kings. Arrogate and California Chrome look set to oppose a number of horses they have previous victories against, however the Argentinian raider Eragon will not be looking to be joining these ranks. A multiple Group 1 winner in his native Argentina, Eragon is for the first time trying his hand beyond the two courses that he’s made a name for himself at back home.
Whilst the confirmed entry list grows for the race on January 28th, it’s the 13th jockey that’s stealing all the headlines for the riders. UFC Champion and global sports star Conor McGregor has launched his campaign to become the “pound for pound number one jockey on the planet” .
With California Chrome expected to retire following the Pegasus World Cup, the door is wide open for Arrogate to take victory in the biggest dirt races of the year, including the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March, before the turf stars of the Northern Hemisphere make their seasonal reappearances, and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic in early November.
After a most impressive 1-2-3 in the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Aidan O’Brien is sure to be firing on all cylinders again through 2017. The retirement of fantastic servant Found will not hinder his quest for success, perhaps spearheaded by his star colt, Churchill. The Guineas in May and the Derby in June could provide a double last won by the magnificent Camelot. Overseas though, O’Brien’s globetrotting star Highland Reel will be looking to secure victory in some of the world’s most prestigious races. Similar performances to the mesmerising display in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf should see him go close across the world, including another potential tilt at the end of season Hong Kong Vase in December, part of the star studded Hong Kong International Races.
A Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory may be a bridge too far for the now five-year-old with the 2016 emergence of two very high quality French horses. Dual Champion Stakes winner Almanzor could be an unstoppable force through 2017, and if a schedule without the Arc is planned, then last year’s Prix De Diane winner, and still unbeaten filly, La Cressonniere will look to oblige for the home support at Chantilly.
Down under it’s one horse capturing all the plaudits, Australian Horse of the Year, Winx. The Chris Waller trained Winx, could well be in line to secure a third consecutive Cox Plate. Plans to bring the mare to Europe have been extinguished in order to allow her to equal the record of Cox Plate victories with the great Australian horse, Kingston Town. She is an ante post 2/1 for the victory, and this market is a stark contrast to the Melbourne Cup market, where the joint favourites are 2016 winner Almandin and third place Hartnell, at 20/1.
It’s sure to be another thrilling year of international action on the turf courses and dirt tracks around the world. We hope all of our clients enjoy the year of racing ahead.
HBA offers international rights and distribution services to some of the world’s most prestigious races, including the upcoming Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Saturday 28th January. Contact us for more information by email at email@example.com or call +44(0) 1666 822769.