Two years ago, I watched and logged my first international race. At the time I knew very little about racing outside the US and figured the best way to learn was to simply start following and studying the sport. What has become a two year project of tracking every stakes race in 13 different countries all started with the Phoenix Sprint Stakes, won by Gustavus Weston. He’s back again and in career best form heading to one of his favorite tracks this sunday. The other race on that day was the GI Phoenix Stakes for two-year-olds. Won in 2019 by Siskin, your eventual Guineas winner, we see the first attempt at Group One company for Go Bears Go, a multiple stakes winner this season including over this course and distance.
Another trip to Deauville this Sunday as well with the GI Prix Maurice De Gheest, headlined by Wesley Ward’s Campanelle, who has made the trip to Deauville once before to capture a Group One, see if she can do it again. And lastly, we will make another trip to Germany for the GI Grosser Preis von Berlin. A contest of Germany’s top stayers taking on two shippers from out of town looking to continue the trend of foreign invaders taking Germany’s biggest prizes.
The Curragh – Sunday
Race 4 – GIII Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes – 6 Furlongs, 3 & Up
4 – A Case Of You – Lately it’s been feast or famine for this runner. Put up a massive effort over this distance at Naas to win the GIII Lacken Stakes and the form around that race has held up well. Has two very disappointing efforts albeit his most recent coming in the GI Commonwealth Cup at Ascot. A group winner over course and distance last season, this should be the right spot for A Case Of You to get back to his best and put together a very strong performance.
3 – Ventura Rebel – Has disappointed in two recent starts, most recently in Group 3 company over the all-weather at Newcastle. Has struggled in the UK but found his best stride on the ship over to Ireland to win last season’s GIII Renaissance Stakes over course and distance. Not saying this horse will miraculously turn around the recent form and put together a career best effort, but at a nice price with a field that’s not as strong as what he has faced, it’s well worth the play to see if he can do just that.
1 – Gustavus Weston – A winner of this race two years ago and has really started to turn around his form as of late. Has always been a very competitive runner at this level but has taken a big step forward at the age of five, taking out the GII Greenlands Stakes over course and distance and running a valiant 2nd in the GII Sapphire Stakes as well. He is the highweight in the field but has the consistent form and faces a less accomplished field than he has seen in recent starts.
Race 6 – GI Keeneland Phoenix Stakes – 6 Furlongs, 2 Year Old Colts and Fillies
9 – Prettiest – Was by no means sold on the form coming out of the GIII Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, needless to say I was wrong. Since that day, Sandrine and Hello You came back to run 1-3 in the GII Duchess of Cambridge and Oscula took out Tuesday’s GIII Prix Six Perfections at Deauville. Prettiest ran a decent race last time out to be 4th behind the runaway winner in Agartha, that came at Leopardstown over good ground. There should be some moisture in the ground this weekend in Ireland which will help this horse. A daughter of three time Group 1 winning mare, Alice Springs, she shortens back up in distance for trainer Aidan O’Brien, a winner of this race an astonishing 16 times.
5 – Go Bears Go – Won in hand over Castle Star last time out in a strong running of the GII Railway Stakes, a race that has been a great form guide in the past including the likes of El Prado, Rock Of Gibraltar, Mastercraftsman and Siskin. Has put together two very impressive performances including at Royal Ascot over firm ground, a surface that neither him or his sire Kodi Bear showed much of a liking for. Won over course and distance last time out and will be the favorite to do it again today.
4 – Ebro River – Although this runner has not performed well enough to win in recent starts, I still think he has a big race in him at two. Was visually impressive at Sandown earlier this season and despite finishing no better than 4th in group company, Ebro River has put together good runs and has shown flashes of that ability we are waiting to see in consistent form. Shane Foley jumps on for the first time and will be interested to see if they change up the tactics a bit.
Deauville – Sunday
Race 5 – GI Prix Maurice De Gheest – 6 1/2 Furlongs, 3 & Up
6 – Starman – Put together another big performance when taking out the GI July Cup at Newmarket. His form is almost flawless, with that only hiccup coming at Ascot on British Champions Day, a day that’s been referenced many times in these write-ups as it was extremely bogged down ground and hindered many horses in the process. Has continued to climb up the grade and now takes that slight bump in distance. His sire, Dutch Art ran 2nd in this race but also ran 2nd in the July Cup. I’m expecting Starman to do one better here as he did at Newmarket.
2 – Kinross – One of the few horses this season that has been able to frank the form coming back from Meydan. Many horses seem to have had trouble when making the trip back to Europe and yet Kinross, who was a bit disappointing in Dubai has seemed to find his form in a big way in the UK. Shot through a narrow gap last time to get up and win the GII Lennox Stakes at Goodwood and now steps up to Group 1 company. This horse has continued to progress and has found an affinity for the distance in the process.
12 – Campanelle – The heavy favorite based on the morning line. Who could forget her dramatic triumph via DQ in the GI Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. Rival Dragon Symbol has continued to boost her form with two exceptional efforts to finish 2nd in the GI July Cup and GII King George Qatar Stakes. Proved too strong last season during her only appearance in France in the GI Prix Morny over 6 furlongs. Has great form but will be way too short against an extremely talented field of sprinters, there is value elsewhere.
Race 7 – GIII Prix De Reux – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 & Up
1 – Star Safari – Raced well in a competitive field at Newmarket last time out over firm ground. Still a bit unsure of what the ground condition will be as rain is forecasted but is due to come during the card. That was his first start of the season since coming back from Meydan and seemed to handle it just fine, which can not be said for most. This will be a slight drop in class based on grade but a more significant drop in class based on opposition. The GII Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes featured several talented runners and he ran great that day. Expect some improvement second up in Europe with that class drop.
7 – The Good Man – Made his first step up into open company back in May and ran valiantly behind the talented In Swoop. Has raced most of his career in handicap company around the mile and a quarter distance. It took until his 13th career start to attempt the mile and a half and it has worked wonders for trainer Stephane Wattel. Despite being the son of a miler in Manduro, the main portion of the sire line loved the mile and a half, on top of this runner being out of a Galileo mare.
9 – Northern Ruler – The Andreas Wohler trainee put together a nice start to his young career before a disappointing 7th in the GI Grand Prix de Paris, although the margin is deceiving as no one was defeating Hurricane Lane on the day. This is a step up into open company for the first time for this 3 year old but taking out that last effort, the form is good enough to compete heading into a Group 3.
Avoid – 5 – Mogul – A horse I personally have never gotten right until his last few starts. Never made much of an effort in the GI Coronation Cup at Epsom and disappointed in the GI Prix Ganay as the favorite. He has burned a lot of money as a short price throughout his career, however he’s a tough one to give up on because once you do, he puts together the efforts he did in Hong Kong and at Longchamp last season. He put together a massive effort when winning the GI Grand Prix de Paris last season over this distance, but you just never know what Mogul will be in the starting gate. I think today is another day to steer clear.
Sunday – Hoppegarten
8:20AM – GI Grosser Preis von Berlin – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 & Up
4 – Walton Street – One of my favorite horses during the Meydan Carnival, Walton Street appears first up in Germany looking for Group 1 glory. A winner of this year’s GII Dubai City of Gold put together what I thought was an extremely strong performance in the Dubai Sheema Classic, finishing behind Mishriff and two very talented japanese runners in Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You. I am a bit concerned about being first up at this level, however Godolphin has been making a living at shipping these type horses over to Germany and not only taking out these big prices, but dominating them in the process.
3 – Torquator Tasso – Despite the talent of the shippers, there are a couple questions that need to be answered before they tower over this field. Walton Street is first up since Meydan and Alpinista is stepping up into open company. With that being said, Torquator Tasso is the horse representing the home team that has the best ability to win this race. Winner of a very competitive Group 2 at Hamburg back in early July, he put together a career best effort last season in this race and ran respectably against some top class runners last season, including a GI Deutsches Derby second to In Swoop, runner-up in the Arc. He may be the only one in my opinion, but he is capable of defeating the out of town invaders.
5 – Alpinista – Continuing with the shippers as Alpinista is coming off a hard fought victory in Group 2 company at Haydock, a race where she really had to find a second gear to put away a valiant Lady Hayes in 2nd. Is coming off back to back stakes wins over this distance but faces open company for the first time. There are some talented german runners in this field, but due to recent form of these major stakes races they will have a lot to prove to turn around that form.