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Did Glorious Goodwood trump Royal Ascot?

By: Rolf Johnson   July 31 , 2022

There`s only one Yeats: well actually two colts born respectively, in 1976 and 2001 were named, the first for the Irish painter J B Yeats and the second for his brother, the writer W B Yeats. Clever, what? The former had limitations but the latter was winner of a record four Royal Ascot Gold Cups.

There was talk that we were witnessing, at last week`s Glorious Goodwood meeting, the ‘next Yeats` in the shape of Kyprios, Aidan O`Brien`s first Goodwood Cup winner since 2008 - Yeats. He beat off four-time Goodwood Cup hero Stradivarius and last year`s winner Trueshan to take this year`s edition.

Kyprios, only a four-year-old, has some way to go before he emulates the great (er) Yeats; or replace eight-year-old Stradivarius, three Gold Cups and four Cups at Goodwood, ‘embedded` in the racing public`s affections and the one for whom the crowd were rooting for a record fifth. They were thwarted by the length of Kyprios`s neck.

Kyprios`s early career was chequered but, furloughed at three, he launched his comeback season with victory at Navan in April beating his elder brother Search For A Song. Kyprios is unbeaten in four races this year. This son of Galileo has seven black-type siblings and the debate now centres on whether he can be made into a flat stallion, or follow Yeats, and it has to be said a number of Coolmore classic winners to the Irish firm`s jumping outlier at Castle Hyde Stud.

Winners of Cup staying races, even Group One, are damned as future flat sires. And the fees for jump stallions are miniscule compared with what a Coolmore flat stallion, say Wootton Bassett, can command - twenty times that of the five thousand euros for a covering by Yeats.

He at least has proved himself with a succession of top-class jumpers.

Which way will Kyprios jump? There are so many sons of Galileo trying to recreate their sire`s worth, Kyprios will one day enter a crowded field.

In 2003 Timeform wrote the first of seven successive essays on Yeats in their acclaimed (sadly defunct) ‘Racehorses Annual` concluding that the two-year-old was “going to improve” – the understatement of any racing year. The same can still be said of Kyprios who has raced just eight times.

The first Glorious Goodwood open to the public since the onset of the covid epidemic attracted healthy crowds – an oxymoron surely, otherwise what did we have lockdown and racing behind closed doors for if crowds are allowed to mass again before the numbers affected by the virus come down?

We are enduring the hottest driest summer since 1976 – the middle year of Timeform`s highest-ever rated stayer Sagaro`s Ascot Gold Cup treble. Lester Piggott called Sagaro “The best stayer I rode”. But Sagaro`s record at stud, a St Leger winner apart, was unremarkable.

Watering wasn`t allowed that summer; we have ‘climate change` but droughts aren`t new. Goodwood`s Clerk of the Course turned on the taps to ensure he got last year`s Cup winner Trueshan, formerly the highest-rated stayer in training, to participate. Trueshan`s connections didn`t blame the ground for defeat - it was heavy last year and now, on fast going, he had to give way to Kyprios and Stradivarius.

Kyprios and Trueshan may well meet again and if on the latter`s terms the outcome is by no means cut and dried. Plans for Stradivarius are that “there are no plans” - the same tantalizing valediction given post Royal Ascot defeat. Maybe he should have been named Frank Sinatra given the number of times the great crooner ‘retired` too.

And Stradivarius may or may not be reunited with Frankie Dettori, discarded after Ascot Gold Cup humbling in favour of Andrea Atzeni. Rather than sporting the yellow and black colours of owner Bjorn Nielsen, Frankie donned a well-cut grey jacket over silks to support the Stradivarius team in the Goodwood parade ring: “no hard feelings” was the message.

Press questionings of Aidan O`Brien`s intentions for Kyprios were drowned out by sustained applause for Stradivarius – sympathy trumping adulation. Boxes of Stradivarius bunting stayed in their boxes – at least until York`s Festival in just over a fortnight - perhaps.

Did Goodwood trump Royal Ascot? Five days of sustained competition in strong sunshine drew the crowds to the Sussex Downs - the Downs themselves a parched backdrop of khaki and fawn contrasting with the green sward of the heavily watered Goodwood track. Ability to act on fast ground was paramount.

All ground comes alike to the greats. Frankel was immune to changes of going as is Baaeed. When Baaeed won the Queen Anne there was talk aplenty of a ‘second Frankel` – a ‘second coming` of Biblical proportions.

But Baaeed is following the same road – Queen Anne at Royal Ascot; the Sussex at Goodwood; next stop the Juddmonte at York in mid-August and then perhaps the Champion Stakes before returning to his birthplace, Shadwell, for the brother of Group One winner Hukum to take up stud duties.

Trainer William Haggas told me in typically measured terms: “We thought he was quite nice on the gallops; nice enough when he won on his debut; nicer still when he won second time out: and when he beat a good horse on the third outing we knew we had something out of the ordinary.”

Baaeed`s task in the Group One Sussex Stakes was eased by the absence of Godolphin`s Two Thousand Guineas winner Coroebus – absence felt especially since Godolphin were otherwise unstoppable through the five-day Goodwood meeting.

There was credible opposition from Alcohol Free who had won the season`s top Group One sprint, the July Cup, a career-best surpassing even her Sussex Stakes success of 2021,

But Baaeed can engage similar gears to those of Frankel, the difference being that Baaeed`s jockey Jim Crowley chooses to engage them later in the day than Tom Queally was wont to do on Frankel. Consequently the margins and manner of Baaeed`s victories aren`t quite as slashing as those of Frankel. But they share one characteristic – invincibility – and along with Group One Nassau Stakes winning filly Nashwa they are homebred.

They`ll be calling Hollie Doyle ‘the next Gordon Richards` before long – and for once `they` wouldn`t be far wrong. Her balance and lower body strength, plus tactical nous, are characteristics that made Gordon the jockey to beat in the post-war years. Those virtues, and a squeaky-clean public image, led to his knighthood – Sir Gordon: ‘Dame Hollie Doyle` for a future Honours List accolade?

Doyle, the first female jockey to ride a classic winner, Nashwa for her Middle Eastern retainer Imad Alsagar in the Prix de Diane, the same combination followed up in the Group One Nassau Stakes. They were hardly less impressive than Baaeed, racing in a similar fashion, settling their races in strides.

“You either have it or you don`t – gender has nothing to do with it,” said Imad Alsagar bold enough to retain Doyle two years ago.

Julie Krone in America, the most successful woman jockey of all-time, retired nearly twenty years ago. But in the UK despite the heroics of Rachel Blackmore winning the Grand National and the Gold Cup and Hayley Turner`s stellar career, the number of rides women have been given in the last decade – five per cent - is completely out of proportion to their numbers in the industry.

It took an embarrassing amount of time for female and ethnic staff to be recognised in the prestigious annual Godolphin Stud & Stable Awards.

Recognition for female jockeys is on a steep upward curve and Hollie Doyle has planted her flag on the highest peaks. She is 25, married to Tom Marquand, first jockey to William Haggas (owners Shadwell Stud retain Baaeed`s rider Jim Crowley). Tom is a future champion too.

Racing`s promoters can only fantasize about a Marquand v Doyle battle for the jockey`s title one day. Pity Hollie didn`t take her husband`s name at marriage. What a stir (and confusion) Marquand v Marquand might have caused.

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