Saturday, 29 September 2018

5 Irish Bred Horses to Follow at the Spring Racing Carnival

Horse Racing At Moonee Valley
Irish-bred racehorses are renowned the world over. Even if they've never raced in the Emerald Isle itself, bloodstock operations there command the utmost respect. 

The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the Southern Hemisphere's premier flat horse racing event across several weeks and racecourses. All this thoroughbred action down under reaches its zenith with the Melbourne Cup - the race that stops a nation - on Tuesday, November 6.

In celebration of their exploits, either previous or since being shipped to the other side of the world, and in anticipation of this year's Spring Racing Carnival, we take a detailed look at five Irish-bred horses to follow (and maybe bet on) during the event.

Kings Will Dream 

Casamento gelding Kings Will Dream is by a mare out of dual 2000 Guineas hero Rodrigo De Triano. His grandsire's British and Irish Classic glory may have come way back in 1991, but this Irish-bred ex-English trained four-year-old was bought by new owners and sent down under. Now in Australia, he is with Darren Weir - having previously been in the care of Micky Hammond.

Before moving hemispheres, Kings Will Dream won one of his three starts - a mile maiden at Pontefract where he stayed on strongly to touch off odds-on favourite Sharja Bridge by a head. The runner-up is trained by Roger Varian and has since gone on to run well in a series of handicaps over a mile (and slightly further) to be rated 106 by the British assessor. 

Kings Will Dream has clearly improved with every outing since joining Weir. Although winless in those three runs, he has gone down by narrow margins in two of those at Caulfield. They came when a close-up fourth to Showtime in a Group 2, before reversing that form when a fast-finishing third and denied just a head by Humidor in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes.

This is one horse that continues to get better with the main events of the Spring Racing Carnival clearly his targets. Although beaten two lengths when tipped up by Oddschecker for the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington, Kings Will Dream was best of the rest in-behind shock winner Grunt. 

He seems to be producing more but has only won on soft ground. Humidor and Kementari had Caulfield form turned over off similar race terms and it may just be that the sharp left-handed track that's always on the turn suits him better. For that reason, a host of British bookmakers have Kings Will Dream as the clear best-price 4/1 ante-post betting favourite for the Caulfield Cup over roughly a mile and a half.

While there's no real evidence on breeding he'll get that trip, it's less of a stretch than going all the way up to two miles for the Melbourne Cup. He is 20/1 for that stamina test but, despite missing out on victory in the Makybe Diva, Kings Will Dream is exempt from the Caulfield Cup ballot and guaranteed a run in that. 


Torcedor




Until being purchased by the Australian Bloodstock Stable, Torcedor was one of Irish horse racing's leading flat stayers. His pedigree is pretty impeccable being by top Australian sprinter Fastnet Rock and out of a Sadler's Wells mare. 

Torcedor clearly takes more after his damsire than his father with stamina and staying virtually guaranteed based on performances for former trainer Jessica Harrington. He twice places behind British champion stayer Stradivarius when a narrow third in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and then half-a-length runner-up in the Goodwood Cup. 

Those are two of Europe's premier stayers' events on the flat and, prior to that, Torcedor won over two miles on soft ground at Ascot in the Sagaro Stakes. The new owners have quickly targeted the Melbourne Cup since sending the six-year-old gelding to new handler Andres Wohler. 

While Torcedor perhaps found his debut in the trainer's native Germany a little on the short side over a mile and a half, he was sent off odds-on and tailed off in last. That's resulted in his Melbourne Cup price being eased by bookies around the world to 25/1, which, provided he makes it through the ballot, is underestimating his ability over his optimum trip. 

Emotionless

Godolphin are sending their lightly-raced five-year-old gelding Emotionless down under after the son of Shamardal and 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff heroine Unbridled Elaine shaped well in the Middle East. He's had just two races this season, finishing second to Saeed bin Suroor's Benbatl over 1m 1f in the first. Emotionless then won a Listed race over 10 furlongs at Newbury when making all and landing the spoils comfortably. 

He looks a very unexposed type for the Caulfield Cup, which explains why British sportsbooks make him a best-price 16/1 shot for that big race on Monday, 22 October. Emotionless was beaten just a length on his only start over the approximate mile-and-a-half trip at Meydan. 

Trainer Charlie Appleby and connections have also entered Emotionless in the Cox Plate - the race at Moonee Valley dominated in recent years by Australian wonder mare Winx. However, the boys in blue may have a better chance with another runner as this one is rated a rank 100/1 outsider.


Cliffs Of Moher





Galileo colt Cliffs Of Moher represents crack Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore partner Susan Magnier. The four-year-old has only won three of his 15 starts, but that does not tell the full story as the Ballydoyle maestro prepares to send him to Australia. Cliffs Of Moher could run in either the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate after accepting early closing entries for both races. 

A gallant runner-up to stablemate Wings Of Eagles in the 2017 Epsom Derby, Cliffs Of Moher had just the previous starts before the premier British Classic. Although unable to better that for the rest of last season, he has won at Group 2 level at home in Ireland this year. Cliffs Of Moher has also shaped well when a two-length second in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh and later third to Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. 

As his powerful connections have since given him a break to freshen him up for a tilt down under, Cliffs Of Moher cannot be discounted at 25/1 for the Caulfield Cup. He's also 33/1 in the Cox Plate betting if O'Brien and Coolmore plump for the daunting task of denying Winx in her bid to win that race for a fourth consecutive year.

Muntahaa 


Newmarket trainer John Gosden has had another fine season and one of the highlights was having a one-two in the valuable Ebor Handicap at York led by Muntahaa. This five-year-old grey gelding could head to Australia following that career-best success. 

It took three tries over the trip, including when fourth behind Harbour Law in the 2017 St Leger at Doncaster, but Muntahaa finally got the one-and-three-quarter-mile trip. As he's run really well in handicaps, it wouldn't be a stretch to see Gosden and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum send him to the Melbourne Cup. 

Jockey Jim Crowley took the unusual step of racing Muntahaa wide in the early stages of the Ebor, so taking that into account, he actually ran further than the trip because he did that. It is evidence he may well stay the two-mile distance of the Melbourne Cup as a result. 

Having carried the highest weight in the Ebor to victory since the mighty Sea Pigeon landed the spoils off the top weight of 10 stone, Muntahaa's claims of doing well are obvious. The Australian handicapper has taken a chance allotting him significantly less than he carried at York.

Punters must regard Muntahaa as a serious prospect if turning up down under. His Melbourne Cup odds of 33/1 look very generous in light of all he has going for him and he's only had four runs this season, so connections may go to the well again.