Weekend review: Marvellous win
Our racing team look back upon the weekend action and weigh up the Group One successes of Marvellous and Noble Mission.
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Q: What did you make of Hot Streak's victory in the Betfred Temple Stakes? Does he deserve his place at the head of the betting for the King's Stand Stakes? Is Pearl Secret worth one more chance to beat his rival despite having to settle for a rear-end view again here?
Dave Ord: What wasn't to like about the winner's performance? It takes a very smart three-year-old to be able trade blows with the older sprinters before Royal Ascot but he's done it twice now. He has pace to burn and with the overseas sprinters thin on the ground last year he should be a clear favourite for the King's Stand. Pearl Secret knuckled down to his task well but I was at Newmarket Guineas day when he got very stirred up and I'd be concerned about how he'd handle the preliminaries at Royal Ascot.
Will Hayler: Like David Barron, I'm not quite convinced we've seen the very best of Pearl Secret yet. I know the excuses are starting to wear a bit thin, but I sensed the trainer still thinks he might yet have his day - even in the best company - and so do I. Maybe the Abbaye will be his race.
Ben Linfoot: Hot Streak looks a sprinter with raw power and it's probably going to take something from overseas to beat him in our top five-furlong contests. He was really impressive and I absolutely believe he is the rightful favourite for the King's Stand, though the Nunthorpe looks a more suitable Group One target for him. I'm not sure about Pearl Secret. What are his optimum conditions? Like Will, though, I don't believe we have seen the best of him yet, I'm just not sure when we will.
Q: Marvellous swept past Lightning Thunder to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas and could now line up at Epsom a week on Friday in the Investec Oaks? Will you be adding her to your ante-post portfolios on the strength of that performance?
WH: Yes, I backed her straight after the race and I wouldn't put anyone else off getting involved now even if the juiciest of the prices have long gone. There's no form like Classic form, as Dermot Weld said only a couple of weeks ago when asked if he feared Australia in the Derby. Her pedigree isn't copper-bottomed for a mile and a half, with her dam a full-sister to Giants Causeway, but she only had a couple of spins as a three-year-old and those two runs were far from enough to draw and hard-and-fast conclusions.
DO: No - although that's not to say she won't be a leading player at Epsom. She'll clearly stay beyond a mile judged by Sunday's performance - although there has to be a question mark over her ability to get a mile-and-a-half on pedigree. Ryan Moore liked her - which is a big plus - but like the ante-post market I prefer Taghrooda for the Oaks.
BL: No. She was impressive and the form has substance with Lightning Thunder running another good race, but the Oaks could come soon enough and I have major doubts that she'll stay a mile-and-a-half.
Q: The Cecil coat of arms will be flying above Warren Place this week after the victory of Noble Mission in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. What did you make of the performance and the suggestion after the race from Aidan O'Brien that he had felt under pressure to run Magician in order to help the race maintain its Group One standard?
DO: It was interesting to hear Aidan stress the importance of the race preserving it's Group One status and too often in recent seasons it's been a penalty kick for the Ballydoyle batallion. Not this time - Magician seemingly ill-at-ease on the heavy ground - but what a revelation Noble Mission has been of late. Seemingly more straightforward as he gets older, he goes from the front and so far they haven't been able to catch him. It won't be as easy to dominate the field in a Prince Of Wales's Stakes but what a huge day for Lady Cecil and the Warren Place team. Down on numbers, key staff leaving, yet still a Group One in the bag before the end of May.
WH: Is it possible that Noble Mission might suddenly now be improving at this stage of his career? Yes, of course it is. A change of tactics seems to have dramatically ironed out some of the kinks that he showed in his younger days and I was really impressed with the way he put distance between himself and his rivals suddenly off the turn at the Curragh. Of course it's easy to argue that he might simply have been better suited to the ground than Magician and the rest - but I liked this performance.
BL: Magician must be the unluckiest horse in training. First a wayward sparrow flies into his stable, causing him to bruise his front legs and now he's running on ground he hates just for the sake of the Irish pattern. Poor Magician. Or, perhaps Noble Mission is just in the form of his life? Small field, soft ground and ten furlongs are perfect for him and if he gets those conditions he's going to be tough to pass. If we have a dry summer connections should put him away for an autumn campaign which, who knows, could end up with him emulating his big brother in the Champion Stakes.
Q: Cirrus Des Aigles saw off Olympic Glory in the Prix d'Ispahan. Could he really be as good as ever this season? Where would you go next with this sensational eight-year-old?
DO: A truly remarkable racehorse, who given give underfoot is a threat to anything on the planet over ten furlongs despite his advancing years. Where do you go? As a gelding you go pot-hunting - the bigger the prize the better. What about a Breeders' Cup Classic tilt on the dirt this fall? He's handled just about everything they've thrown at him so far.
WH: The Breeders' Cup is certainly a interesting idea with the Arc out of bounds due to his lack of cojones, although I'd probably stay on the turf. He is happiest with some cut in the ground, but he also handles quicker conditions and he seemed happy enough being ridden fairly aggressively on Sunday, having usually been held up in his younger days. An ambitious ride from the front in the Breeders' Cup, kicking off the home turn, could just see him land another enormous pot after the £1.9million he took home from the 2013 Sheema Classic.
BL: This time last year he looked like a regressive racehorse but his form has taken a huge upward curve since and he now looks at his brilliant best again. I'd love to see him in the Prince Of Wales's at Royal Ascot for another race with that other French superstar Treve.
Q: What about Kingman? Did we learn anything new about him after Saturday's clear-cut Irish 2,000 Guineas victory and are we any nearer to establishing exactly how and why he was beaten at Newmarket?
DO: I'm not sure what we learned. He looked a potential top notcher in the Greenham - and again with cut in the ground on Saturday. I suppose he confirmed once and for all he definitely gets a mile and those who backed him at fancy prices for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas will still be scratching their heads. The St James's Palace is the next potential port of call and that should be very informative. Night Of Thunder v Kingman round three...
WH: It's funny how quickly the hype has damped down since that Newmarket defeat, but I was really impressed with this return to winning form. He didn't have any cover on the outside of the pack and I'm certainly not convinced that he wants the ground anywhere near as testing as it was there, but he still did everything like the ultimate professional, travelling powerfully, quickening when asked and scoring with authority. Fingers crossed we'll be able to get some odds-against at Royal Ascot which is, after all, a bit of a playground for bookmakers trying to get some trade in the book and special offers tend to fly about like confetti.
BL: We learnt that the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket was a very good race and any horse that wins a Group One over a mile by five lengths, whatever the conditions, should be regarded as top class. It could be that he ran right up to form at Newmarket which makes Night Of Thunder a big price at 3/1 for the St James's Palace Stakes and that potential contest already has the mouth watering with Royal Ascot just three weeks away.