Mike Cattermole reflects on the recent big stories in the world of racing while looking ahead to the Arc and this weekend's Sprint Cup at Haydock.
Don't underestimate Ghaiyyath
What do Carroll House, Marienbard and Danedream have in common?
They all went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after winning the Grosser Preis Von Baden.
So can we get excited about the Arc prospects for Ghaiyyath, who absolutely romped home in Sunday’s renewal over in Germany?
The Godolphin colt was in a class of his own and it looked, on first impressions, a world-beating performance. But those who I have spoken to about it since remain sceptical. I say, though, that ordinary horses do not win Group One races by 14 lengths.
True, you do sometimes get hugely flattering winning margins, but they tend to occur when the ground is especially testing. The 15-length rout in the 1994 Irish 2,000 Guineas on heavy ground by Turtle Island springs to mind.
(The newly-recruited news editor at The Sporting Life at the time was trying to get a grasp of handicapping and ratings when this happened. After the race, he said, without a hint of irony, that “it would ruin his handicap mark”. At least he was trying.)
However, the ground in Germany last Sunday was good and the clockers were excited, too. Throw in the glowing report from William Buick, who guided him home, and surely you cannot just dismiss this as a fluke or a one-off from Charlie Appleby’s colt.
Buick didn’t mince his words in the euphoria of the moment, saying: “He is a monster, an absolute monster. Let’s hope he will be around for a while. He is an amazing horse.”
It was the first time that the son of Dubawi had tackled a mile and a half and he proved thoroughly well suited by it.
What did he beat? The runner-up Donjah had been only sixth in the German Oaks on her previous start and the third Laccario actually went off favourite on his first start since winning the German Derby.
Ghaiyyath is well worth his place in the Arc line-up, no question. But the likes of Enable, Crystal Ocean, Japan et al, is a different test altogether. And so it should be.
Pinatubo is looking outstanding
Positive’s win in the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown last Saturday was another advertisement for the brilliance of Pinatubo who absolutely destroyed him by five lengths in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
A further five lengths behind in third on the Downs was Lope Y Fernandez and he won the Group Three Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh last Friday.
The Vintage form is really living up to its name as even the fifth, Platinum Star (beaten 14 lengths), won the Listed Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy at Ripon at the start of last week.
Visually, Pinatubo was stunning at Goodwood and the formbook is telling us that he is an outstanding two-year-old of the very highest class.
I am surprised there is not more hype about him already. I wonder if he will finally start to get the recognition he more than deserves when he lines up for the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday week?
Ferdy Murphy passes away
A fine trainer left us this week.
I didn’t know Ferdy Murphy very well but always enjoyed chatting to him. He had an aura and I was a fan from my very first telephone conversation with him, which would have been enquiring after some running plans on behalf of The Sporting Life. He always had time to talk to the press.
And he always seemed to talk such common sense and with so much gravitas.
Ferdy, who was usually referred to only by his first name in The Life offices, trained many a good horse, the best of them probably being French Holly who was immensely talented and won the Sun Alliance Hurdle in 1998.
Surprisingly, it was another eight years before he enjoyed further success at the Cheltenham Festival but then there was a period when he rarely missed out on a winner there, laying them out so meticulously for the handicaps in particular.
For nearly 20 years, Ferdy was a real force in the National Hunt world, winning top races all over the land and you could not help but feel pleased for him when he was doing it.
Quite simply, he was a class act in so many ways.
New jumps season promises so much
It is the season of the stable open days. Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O’Neill had theirs last Sunday and Nicky Henderson will host his on September 22.
Reading about Paul’s plans, and in particular his talk about Cyrname, especially whetted the appetite with Ascot’s Christy 1965 Chase firmly on the agenda. If Altior does show up in opposition, Ascot could see its biggest jumping crowd for years on November 23.
I think most of us agree that Altior is ready for a step up in trip. But will a hard race at Ascot against a horse who will have everything in his favour be the right prep for him with the King George VI Chase in mind just over a month later?
I wonder if Team Altior are having second thoughts? We may know more after September 22!
Betfair Sprint Cup
Advertise deserves to be favourite for Haydock’s showpiece this Saturday but I wonder how he will handle the soft ground?
The ground was officially described as good to soft when he won the Commonwealth Cup but that made no sense when the times were so quick. In short, he has it to prove on an easy surface.
I will be rooting for The Tin Man who is almost the forgotten sprinter. Remember, he is the defending champion, having beaten Brando in this 12 months ago to add to a third and a second in previous runnings.
He has not been at his best on his last two appearances but there was nothing wrong with his reappearance third at Windsor in May when he failed by two lengths to give 7lb to Dream Of Dreams.
James Fanshawe has made no secret of how tricky The Tin Man is to train but there are some good vibes coming out of Pegasus Stables and if he is near his best, then the 14-1 on offer is too big. Trust in Oisin!