Bobby Zen

The curtain came up at Longchamp on Sunday, with the ‘réouverture’ being conducted in extremely testing conditions but nevertheless providing a welcome return to action at France’s premier racecourse.

The most important thing on arrival in the Bois de Boulogne is to make it into the track without being mown down by one or more of the cyclists within the relentless peloton that streams past the gates of Longchamp of a weekend. Everything after that feels like a blessing. 

And indeed we were blessed with an almost dry and definitely warm day. Every trainer, breeder, farmer and clerk of the course has been preoccupied with the exceptionally wet spring that has seen race meetings abandoned and paddocks poached. In assessing the results from Leopardstown to Longchamp on Sunday it will be hard to gauge how well these three-year-olds will fare on faster underfoot conditions but Christophe Ferland believes that his G3 Prix La Force winner Atlast (Fr) (Farhh {GB}) is simply a good horse who, as the old adage goes, will go on any ground. 

A solid and flashy chestnut, the Wertheimers’ homebred is certainly an imposing specimen and won decisively despite his slightly awkward head carriage. His Sangster-bred granddam Pitamakan (Danzig) had been bought as a Keeneland yearling for $400,000 and is herself a third-generation descendant of the influential matriarch Courtly Dee (Never Bend). 

It remains regrettable that Atlast’s sire Farhh is only able to cover small books of mares owing to his poor fertility, but perhaps that is key to his success, and this looks another really interesting prospect for the son of Pivotal (GB), who on Monday was represented by the G3 Prix Edmond Blanc winner Tribalist (GB). Atlast will surely now be aimed with the intention that he joins Fonteyn (GB) and King Of Change (GB) on the list of Group 1 winners by Farhh. The latter of that pair has his first two-year-old runners this season, as does Farhh’s unusually fast son Far Above (Ire).

Hernon Dreams On

Gavin Hernon, who eschewed his native Ireland to start training in Chantilly six years ago, was the toast of the winner’s enclosure at Longchamp on Sunday. His fellow Chantilly trainer Tim Donworth shouted “The Irish are taking over” as Hernon collected his trophy from sponsor Kieran Lalor after Dare To Dream (Fr) (Camelot {GB}) opened her season in portentous fashion with victory in the G3 Al Shira’aa Racing Prix Vanteaux.

Bred by Ecurie des Monceaux, Meridian International and Scuderia Waldeck, Dare To Dream was well bought by her trainer at €67,000 from Arqana’s October Yearling Sale, especially when one considers that the mission Hernon was given by owner Dun Shing Lee was to buy a filly good enough to run in the Oaks. And that’s not just any Oaks, either. Lee meant the original Oaks, at Epsom, where he was born and raised. 

So far, so good, as Dare To Dream is the only French-trained filly among the 58 entries for the Betfred Oaks on May 31. With a Classic trial under her belt, a Derby winner as a sire and Arc winner Danedream (Ger) as her aunt, she will have every right to be there. 

Another Ballysax Star?

I’ve always loved the Ballysax Stakes. For a particularly heady period at the turn of this century its roll of honour featured Galileo (Ire), High Chaparral (Ire) and Yeats (Ire) in just four years. It ebbs and flows, of course, but since then there have been some proper names added, such as Fame And Glory (GB), Banimpire (Ire), Fascinating Rock (Ire) and Rekindling (GB). The most recent Derby winner to emanate from the Ballysax was Harzand (Ire) in 2016. 

Dallas Star (Fr) took the 2024 Ballysax on Sunday and could be the horse to elevate the profile of his sire Cloth Of Stars (Ire), who was eighth behind Harzand at Epsom and went on to win the G1 Prix Ganay as well as finishing second and third in consecutive Arcs won by Enable (GB).

Dallas Star is another to have been sold by Monceaux, this time as a foal for breeders Eliane Dieuaide and Domaine Billard et Fils, for €30,000. He was picked up by Robson Aguiar for 50,000gns as a yearling at Tattersalls and, when he failed to sell, was retained at the Craven Breeze-up Sale for 180,000gns and now runs in the Amo Racing colours, which were so narrowly vanquished in last year’s Derby aboard King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}).

Sent off at 50/1, Dallas Star’s victory was clearly not expected, and he had two better fancied rivals from Ballydoyle behind him. The third home, Illinois (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), had been sent off favourite and he is a half-brother to Debutante (Fr) (Gold Away {Fr}), dam of the above-mentioned Dare To Dream, and to Danedream.

Cloth Of Stars was also responsible for the third-placed Birr Castle (Fr) in the G2 Prix d’Harcourt. The race provided yet another triumph for Jerome Reynier, and was won by Zarakem (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}) on his second start for Ecurie Benaroussi Sofiane after being bought for €500,000 at Arqana’s Arc Sale.

The previous weekend, Reynier, who is currently top of the French trainers’ table, had enjoyed his first winner on Dubai World Cup night when Facteur Cheval (Ire) won the G1 Dubai Turf. 

Third Classic Contender for Wellenspiel

If you saddle a horse with the name Weltbeste (Ger) you’d better hope that she can live up to it, but Gestut Rottgen had something of a clue in the fact that the daughter of Soldier Hollow (GB) is a full-sister to a Deutsches Derby winner, Weltstar (Ger), and a half-sister to another, Windstoss (Ger) (Shirocco Ger}). 

Now two from two in her races to date following victory at Mulheim on Sunday for Rottgen’s new trainer Maxim Pecheur, Weltbeste heads the market for the G1 Preis der Diana on August 4. That’s a long way off, of course, but if it seems too fantastical to imagine that their dam Wellenspiel (Ger) (Sternkoenig {Ire}) could produce three German Classic winners, it is worth remembering that that feat was achieved not too long ago by Sacarina (GB) (Old Vic {GB}), the dam of Samum (Ger), Schiaparelli (Ger) and Salve Regina (Ger), all sired by Monsun (Ger),

Ward Starts Ascot Hype Rolling

These days, nothing quite says spring is here like a Wesley Ward speedball rocketing from the gates to tear up the early Keeneland juvenile races and book a place on the plane for Royal Ascot.

Step forward Shoot It True, a daughter of Munnings, who claimed a TDN Rising Star with her victory in the first two-year-old race of the season after scoring in emphatic fashion by an eased-down seven and a half lengths. 

Queen Mary ahoy? It would be no surprise.

Stefano Cherchi Remembered at Santa Anita and Beyond

At Santa Anita on Saturday, Frankie Dettori stole the show as only he can do, winning six races in a row, including the GII Santa Anita Oaks aboard Nothing Like You (Malibu Moon) for his main ally Bob Baffert.

Dettori wasn’t the only Italian to triumph at the ‘Great Race Place’, however, with Umberto Rispoli winning the GIII Monrovia S., before Antonio Fresu claimed the major race of the day, the GI Santa Anita Derby, on the Phil d’Amato-trained Stronghold (Ghostzapper). 

Of course, the Italian jockey who has been in the thoughts of racing folk the world over this week is Stefano Cherchi, who died last Wednesday, a fortnight after sustaining devastating head injuries in a race fall at Canberra, Australia. 

Fresu paid an emotional tribute to his compatriot after his first Grade I win on American soil. He said, “I want to dedicate this to my friend who passed away the other day. I felt like he was there with me today. Stefano Cherchi was an amazing guy.”

The death of Cherchi at the age of just 23 has rocked so many of his friends and colleagues in the business. In Newmarket, where the Sardinian had been based since the age of 16 with Marco Botti, the trainer said simply, “I feel like I’ve lost a son.”

Cherchi’s former weighing-room colleague in Britain, Callum Shepherd, perhaps summed up his loss most eloquently. 

“He was not defined by his abilities in the saddle, or by the races he has won,” Shepherd said. “What defined him to us, those lucky enough to have known him, and I really do mean lucky, was the human being he was.

“He was a great friend, he was incredibly kind, and I think he thrived off making those around him happy. Certainly he was far more bothered about others than he was about himself.”

There can really be no finer tribute than that. It has been a terribly sad week, and we offer sincere condolences to Stefano Cherchi’s family and friends. His life was celebrated at a remembrance mass in Sydney on Monday and another service will take place on Sunday, April 28, at Our Lady Immaculate and Saint Etheldreda Church in Newmarket. He will not be forgotten. 

The post Seven Days: Reawakening  appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Got questions? Please complete the form below and we’ll get back to you asap.

Join Bobby's Newsletter

Enter your email to sign up for Bobby’s newsletter get new racing tips right in your inbox.