Weekend Review: Forgive or forget?
Our panel of Will Hayler, Ian Ogg and George Primarolo are joined by Sky Bet's Ian Stables to look back at the weekend's action.
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Q: Let's start with Sunday's action in Paris. Can we just put Treve's defeat in the Prix Ganay down to being beaten by a race-fit Cirrus Des Aigles? Or is there a danger her Arc win flattered her?
Will Hayler:How dare you! Flattered? Flattered! I know what I saw that day last autumn and it was a brilliant filly winning a good Arc from good horses in superstar style. Cirrus Des Aigles is a very, very good horse who had the advantage of race-fitness and the rail to race against - in fact, had Treve been against the rail, I'd fancy we might have got a different result.
George Primarolo: It was great to see Treve back in action at Longchamp on Sunday and, for me, she lost nothing in defeat. Her duel with Cirrus Des Aigles is an early contender for race of the season and she just lost out to a rival who had everything in his favour. Corine Barande-Barbe's gelding was running over his ideal trip, loved the ground and came into the race in peak fitness having been campaigned in Dubai. Conversely, Treve is arguably better over further, prefers better ground and was having her first run of the season. I can't really understand how this massively affects her Arc chances but the layers still pushed her out in the market. Maybe they think she was too short in the first place.
Ian Ogg: She was brilliant in October and there was no suggestion, before or since, that Orfevre ran any less a race than when throwing the Arc away 12 months earlier and he provides a decent guide to her display. Three-year-olds do, of course, have a brilliant recent record in the Arc and she no longer has that weight-for-age allowance in her favour but it's not as if she lost to an average performer with Cirrus Des Aigles, for a time, the highest rated horse in training. It's obviously disappointing that she was beaten as we're always looking for a superstar and defeat does tarnish her aura but by no means detracts from her Arc victory.
Ian Stables: I would not read too much in to this reappearance against a tough, race fit rival who had everything in his favour. She is unproven on ground that deep and Criquette Head will have certainly left plenty to work on. I don't think it will detract from her chances in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, where her turn of foot could be potent on much more suitable ground. My one concern is that her keenness and general high spirits could be a major factor in her fully training on to reach her Arc figure of last year. Her sire, Motivator, was very similar in the fact that he peaked in the Derby then never went on to win another race.
Q: Two out of the last three winners of the Prix Vanteaux have gone on to finish second in a Group One on their next start. Can Vazira produce a similar performance next time out?
GP: Vazira looked like she needed every yard of the one mile, one furlong trip on Sunday but her pedigree suggests that she may not get much further so the Prix de Diane at Chantilly looks the most obvious race for her at this stage. She is from the family of Queen Anne winner Valixir and Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal so 10 furlongs should just be within her range. You did get the distinct impression that there was more to come from the Aga Khan's filly.
WH: It wasn't a great renewal, but the winner did well to turn away a battle-hardened rival, looking better the further she went. I liked her attitude and Sea The Stars looks to have passed on some of his stamina reserves, so I could see her staying a mile and a half in time - and certainly the one mile, two and a half furlongs of the Prix de Diane in the short-term.
"It was great to see Treve back in action at Longchamp on Sunday and, for me, she lost nothing in defeat. Her duel with Cirrus Des Aigles is an early contender for race of the season and she just lost out to a rival who had everything in his favour."
IO: She showed a good attitude to see off a more experienced rival and you'd hope that she'd be able to show the benefit of that run and, as a daughter of Sea The Stars, improve through the season. However, connections were dismissive of suggestions that she could hold a candle to their Shamkala which rather tempers any confidence in her ability to cut the mustard at the top level at this stage of her career.
IS: She certainly looks progressive and improved considerably on her debut run on polytrack at Chantilly last month. She is bred to be smart and, being by Sea The Stars, she could improve further still for better ground with the Prix De Diane looking the logical step.
Q: What did you make of Saturday's card at Sandown, which brought the curtain down on the National Hunt season? Is it better as an all-Jumps card? Or do you miss the novelty of a mixed meeting?
GP: In a commercial sense, Sandown's meeting on Saturday looked very much like a success, with a large crowd packed into the Esher venue. The majority of the crowd looked to be young and also seemed to be spending their disposable income, which will keep the bigwigs at Jockey Club Racecourses happy. The parade of champions and the end-of-season presentations all add to the occasion but probably mask the fact that the action on the course was a little below par. When you compare it to the quality that will be on show at Punchestown this week, it comes off second best - on the track at least.
WH: Attendances were up on both days of the meeting and Sandown's Andrew Cooper said there had been precisely no complaints from professionals over the restructuring of the meeting. Yes, I missed the pick-and-mix nature of Flat and Jumps racing being interwoven - and the Flat jockeys vs Jumps jockeys race at the end of the day, but I can also accept that nothing lasts forever and at least the changes made enabled me to say one of my favourite phrases, 'They've ruined racing', a few times under my breath.
IO: I rather enjoy the variety of a mixed meeting but I can see the sense for trainers and jockeys in separating the codes and the card was, in the main, an interesting and competitive one.
IS: I'm more of a traditionalist and not a huge fan of change but, as George pointed out, the figures certainly look encouraging so it's hard to argue with the decision. It gives punters the option of a decent Flat card on the Friday, Jumps on the Saturday or - as I imagine - the course execs will be hoping that plenty 'double-up'!
Q: Did anything else catch your eye at any of the other Flat meetings this weekend?
GP: Gabrial's Kaka has clearly got the form in the book to be winning at Group level after another fine performance off a mark of 101 at Haydock. Whether he would get the quick pace he needs in those Group races though is another thing so a race like the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot could be just the ticket and he'd have a big chance in that particular contest. Without wanting to turn this into a Koukash love-in, Angel Gabrial ran a very good Chester Cup trial at Ripon and could give the good Doctor another winner at his beloved track.
WH: I'm willing to give Telescope another chance on better ground and we might even get a better price after he finished a distant second to Noble Mission in the Gordon Richards Stakes. Satellite made a big impression in a bad maiden at Ripon on his first start for William Haggas. He can't get much of a handicap mark for winning that race. Cape Caster was done for toe in a Leicester maiden but he'll win handicaps when going up to a mile and a half and further.
IO: Leicester staged a decent card on Saturday and I thought it was a fair performance from Kool Kompany to win his maiden on debut despite looking as though he'd benefit greatly from the experience. Similarly, Arab Spring looks a horse to follow after making it two out of three at Doncaster. At Kempton on Sunday, Miss Moppet made a very encouraging debut in the second division of the fillies' maiden while, in the first division, I also thought that Byrae showed enough to think that she can win races further down the line.
IS: Fairly obvious but Arab Spring was very impressive at Doncaster and looked a potential Group horse in the making. Being by Monsun and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he should certainly continue progressing further as a four-year-old and could be one for something like the Duke Of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot before going on to bigger & better things.