October 2009: The countdown to Champions’ Day is now almost complete, with less than 24 hours to go before the highest-class raceday of the year is held on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
A press conference was today held in the Sponsors’ Lounge at the racecourse in which Newmarket-based trainers John Gosden, John Ryan and David Simcock spelled out their hopes for Champions’ Day along with the reigning champion jockey Ryan Moore. Marcus Tregoning also spoke to the conference via telephone link.
In the feature £376,500 Emirates Airline Champion Stakes (3.00pm), John Gosden saddles both Pipedreamer and Virtual.
The master of Clarehaven stables said: “Pipedreamer was beaten a nose by Tartan Bearer at Sandown early in the season and didn’t come out of the race very well.
“He didn’t run from May until the Prix Dollar at Longchamp (on 3 October) but that wasn’t by choice – these things happen to horses as they do to athletes but he has come back in great form now.
“Some riders going along the canters in Newmarket have a Kleenex tissue in their pocket and pieces fly out. When he sees something like that he likes to jump after it which isn’t a good idea so he will be wearing a sheepskin noseband again tomorrow.
“We got him handicapped to win the Cambridgeshire over a mile and one, and probably that is his perfect trip. Aidan has got a pacemaker in and they will probably go a good pace, but they don’t always pay attention to pacemakers. They are only pacemakers and it is not always wise to chase them! We will see what happens.
“I asked Jimmy Fortune to ride Virtual as I specifically trained him for this race (Seb Sanders partners Pipedreamer) and he also won the Lockinge on him. He knows him well. Seb Sanders has won on Pipedreamer and it’s very important to know a horse.
“Personally, I wouldn’t say there isn’t anything between them. Virtual has been trained for this race while it is something of an afterthought for Pipedreamer.”
High Twelve is Gosden’s representative in the £317,350 Darley Dewhurst Stakes (2.25pm), with Kieren Fallon taking the ride.
Gosden continued: “Kieren has never seen the horse but the owner specifically wanted him to ride the horse. The owners pay the training fees and I don’t have a retained jockey so we do what the owners want.
“We had a problem at Ascot. He behaved beautifully but then got it into his head that he wanted to run on the straight mile rather than the round mile! By the time he got there, he had run out of puff and run his race already. I think he ran exceptionally well, coming from last to finish fourth because it was his second race of the afternoon by then.
“We brought him down here to school him. You can’t rehearse a race but I think we’ve rehearsed just about everything else.”
John Ryan has enjoyed his best-ever season with his stable star being Silver Grecian, winner of the Group Two Meydan Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s Champagne Lanson July Festival and a fast-finishing third on his latest start in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on September 12.
Ryan said: “Silver Grecian has been a flag-bearer for us this season. He came back from a long break – we went against the grain and put him out in a field with a gelding and gave him a chance to grow.
“He has done nothing but improve. The run at Doncaster was always going to be a stepping stone – he was not trained all-out to win that day. We will find out how good he is tomorrow but I can honestly say he has never been better and has had the perfect preparation. I couldn’t be happier.
“Newmarket will definitely suit him better than Doncaster. This is where we have always planned to run him as it suits him so well – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Marcus Tregoning endured a torrid time in the first half of this season but has enjoyed a wonderful autumn and took the decision to supplement the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Mawatheeq for the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at a cost of £30,000. The same combination of owner, trainer and jockey Richard Hills landed this race eight years ago with Nayef.
said he looked great. He worked over five furlongs on grass this morning on ground which I hope will be similar to Newmarket.
“He looks a picture and is ready to run his best. I think it gives you an advantage having a fresh horse – you can often find a few pounds with a horse who has had a light campaign like he has had.
“I am not worried about his lack of experience. He showed plenty of courage when he won the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot and I know Richard Hills is very keen on him.
“He is a Danzig half-brother to Ghanaati and 10 furlongs should be fine for him. He has got to be in there with a chance. I don’t know how he would handle the ground if it came up soft but I think he would be OK. I remember when we had Dayjur, who was also by Danzig, we were worried about soft ground but he was fine on it. In any case, it is hardly ever proper soft ground at Newmarket.
“We also run Arwaah in the Pride Stakes (4.50pm). She won her maiden easily last time and is a nice filly. She has taken a long time to come to herself. We don’t have much time left this season so thought it was worth a crack at this race.
“Kieren Fallon rides Oasis Knight for us in the Jockey Club Cup (5.25pm). Kieren thought he would have won on him at Ascot if he had ridden him differently. Now he has ridden him, we are hopefully in with a chance.”
David Simcock could have the most lucrative victory of his career if Darley Sun were to triumph in the £160,000 totesport.com Cesarewitch (3.40pm), the historic two and a quarter mile handicap on Champions’ Day.
The three-year-old is set to carry 8st 9lb, with apprentice Andrea Atzeni set to take 3lb off. He looks to be the proverbial ‘good thing’ having finished second in the Group Two Doncaster Cup last month on his latest outing.
Simcock said: “Darley Sun is in good order. We have had this race in mind for him since he won at Salisbury in June.
“I couldn’t be happier with him although the fact that he is a relatively inexperienced three-year-old is a massive concern. He has probably not raced in a field of more than 12 runners and is now set to run over two and a quarter miles in a 34-runner race. He is not a particularly robust horse and is a boy among men.
“He is probably the classiest horse in the race. He is well in, improving and stays well.
“We could get hustled during the race and I will tell Andrea to ride him with a lot of confidence.
“I wouldn’t say he has a favourite’s chance, but he has a very good chance.
“We booked Andrea Atzeni as we thought Blue Bajan (the original top-weight) was going to run and I didn’t want to be left without a jockey who couldn’t do 7st 11lb easily. Chris Catlin put up 1lb overweight at Doncaster which annoyed me, although it probably didn’t make any difference.
“When the weights went up, most of the other jockeys already had mounts and Andrea had been in to ride him, so we stuck by him.”
The champion jockey ran through each of mounts on Champions’ Day.
Main Aim (who runs in the opening £107,150 Group Two Victor Chandler Challenge Stakes): “He got a bad bump when he ran in the July Cup which maybe dented his confidence and he has also had a couple of little issues. He may have just twisted something. I don’t think it’s the strongest Challenge Stakes ever and he should take all the beating. I’ve not sat on him since Goodwood but I understand his work has been good.”
Doctor Fremantle (runs in the £376,500 Emirates Airline Champion Stakes): “He has won three Group races this year and his only bad run was on fast ground at Ascot. He gave 8lb to an Oaks winner (Look Here) when he won last time and I think he can run a big race. He is a horse that only ever does enough and has probably been underestimated. I think he’ll definitely be involved.”
Woolfall Treasure (run in the £160,000 totesport.com Cesarewitch): “He can hit a flat spot in a race when he runs at tracks like Goodwood and Ascot, so Newmarket may suit him better. Apart from David’s horse (Darley Sun), I don’t think there are many unexposed horses in the race.”
Crystal Capella (attempting to win the £100,000 Group Two Pride Stakes for the second year in succession): “She jumped nicely but was a bit keen when she ran at Longchamp last time. I couldn’t get her balanced and we had no luck. This race probably comes a bit quick after Longchamp and we are on something of a recovery mission. On form though, she is the best horse in the race.
“Ave (trainer Sir Michael Stoute’s other runner, who Richard Mullen rides) is improving but may want a bit more juice in the ground.
“Doctor Fremantle is the horse I am most looking forward to riding tomorrow.”