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Regal Parade
Regal Parade
17th August 2010- REGAL MAKES IT A PARADE
This week we both preview and review, writes blog editor Martin Greenwood.
First of all we list the top rated entries for this week’s Ebor Festival, before reviewing all the top action at home and abroad.


Those top rated horses competing at York this week are as follows:

125 Rip Van Winkle (International)
124 Byword (Intl)
Dick Turpin (Intl)
123 Twice Over (Intl)
121 Ask (Lonsdale)
Starspangledbanner (Nunthorpe)
120 Equiano (Nunt)
Jakkalberry (Intl)
Midday (Yorkshire Oaks)
119 Cutlass Bay (Intl)
Snow Fairy (Oaks)
118 Cavalryman (Intl)
Midas Touch (Great Voltigeur)
Sariska (Oaks)
Tactic (Lons)

Stewart Copeland proves he hasn’t lost it….

The Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest, one of France’s premier sprint races – run over the unusual distance of six and a half furlongs – took place at Deauville last Sunday, and for the second year running it fell to a British raider, namely the David Nicholls-trained Regal Parade.

For regular readers of the blog his chances were highlighted for this race, by yours truly if I may say so, a few weeks back after he ran out an impressive winner of the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.

He showed that day he was back in the sort of form that saw him successful in last year’s Betfred Sprint Cup, and he confirmed that view by coming right back to his best in the Maurice de Gheest.

In a ding-dong finish he dug deep to get the better of the French-trained filly, Joanna, placed in their Guineas, by a neck, with another British-trained runner, High Standing, grabbing third a further four lengths back.

Traditionally the race isn’t quite as strong on the ratings-front as the July Cup/Golden Jubilee but it still normally requires a performance in the mid to high teens to be successful.

In Regal Parade’s case, after consulting the Senior French Handicapper’s views on the race, we’ve both taken the view he’s run to 118, the same figure he was awarded in last year’s World Rankings.

With the ground riding good to soft at Deauville it further confirmed how important some give in the ground is to Regal Parade at this level, and no doubt connections will be praying for rain at Haydock in a few weeks time when he attempts to repeat his success of last year.

Back on the home front, the Nunthorpe at York beckons this week and no doubt my fellow sprint colleague, Stephen Hindle, will be waxing lyrical about it in next week’s blog.

With Starspangledbanner and Equiano going head to head again, and Borderlescott possibly going for a hat-trick of Nunthorpe triumphs, it promises to be a race to savour.

Blog regular Neil Young brings us the latest….

Sans Frontieres maintained his steady progress towards the top flight with an impressive success in Saturday's CGA Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.

He went into the Group 3 race with an official BHA rating of 117, the highest of the eight runners, though the Jeremy Noseda-trained colt carried a 4lb penalty for his Group 2 Princess of Wales's Stakes success last month.

On the figures his main rivals appeared to be Godolphin's Gold Cup disappointment Kite Wood (116, also carried 4lb penalty), then Laaheb (111) and Pompeyano (110).

But with 6/4 favourite Kite Wood - so impressive when winning the race 12 months ago - losing his action and eventually trailing in a distant sixth, it was Laaheb who chased home Sans Frontieres at a respectful distance of two and a half lengths.

My A4 result-sheet for the race is, I'm afraid, a bit of a revision-strewn mess, as I came up with four possible interpretations of the result based on different "starting-point" horses. Did Laaheb run to his 111? Or perhaps he reproduced the 110 he ran to in defeat last time. Or is it plausible that the fifth, Pompeyano, has run to his 110?

That scenario would put Sans Frontieres on 122+, Laaheb on 115, lightly-raced Saptapadi (3rd) on 113 and Golden Sword (4th) on 110. And while such an interpretation would involve all four horses increasing their BHA ratings, that isn't so implausible given the front trio's generally progressive profiles plus Golden Sword's lofty end-of-2009 official rating of 119.

In the end I leaned towards a more "conservative" view, putting Sans Frontieres on 118+ (which I'm happy to call 119 given the style of his success), Laaheb on 111, Saptapadi improving three pounds to 109 and Golden Sword (who went into the race on 105) up a smidgen to 106.

As with every race at all levels, of course, I'll be keeping an eye on how the form works out - and, given how tricky it was to get a solid handle on the form of this particular contest, I could well make an adjustment or two once the principals reappear.

As it stands, that 118+ is the best Geoffrey Freer effort since Mubtaker dominated the contest (named after a former Jockey Club Senior Handicapper, as it happens) between 2002 and 2004, the second best being 2008 hero Sixties Icon - like Sans Frontieres, trained by Noseda and ridden by Johnny Murtagh - who ran to 117+ in 2008.

Sans Frontieres, who closed 2009 on an official BHA rating of 110 following a three-race, injury-curtailed campaign, has made stealthy improvement this season, recording performance-figures of 92, 100, 108 and 117 before Saturday's triumph. It would therefore be surprising should he fail to crack the 120 "barrier" sooner rather than later, with the Irish Field St Leger in mid-September nominated as the next target for Sir Robert Ogden's colt.

Nearer to hand, there's a strong entry for the Group 2 Weatherby's Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York on Wednesday. Top rated on current BHA figures are Ask (121) and Tactic (118) - both of whom posted significantly below-par efforts on their most recent outings.

No such problems for the next best: Illustrious Blue (116) and Electrolyser (114) dominated the finish of the Goodwood Cup a couple of weeks ago, and connections will undoubtedly be eager to cement their status among the country's leading stayers.

Mark Olley on the star 7f performers….

The Group 2 Hungerford Stakes at Newbury on Saturday was the second of the four Group 2 7f races to be run each season in this country. The sole Group 1 7f race in Europe is the Prix Forret run at Longchamp on Arc weekend in October.

Lord Shanakill (114) won the first of the Group 2 7f races – the Betfair Lennox Stakes – beating Cat Junior (113) by a head. The third is the Park Stakes run at Doncaster in September, while the fourth is the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket on Champions Day.

Overnight rain deprived the race of several intended runners, notably 2009 winner Balthazaar’s Gift. The smaller than expected field and lack of front runners allowed Shakespearean to dictate the pace he wanted and run out a ready winner.

He had disappointed in France and in the Jersey at Royal Ascot, both races in which he was unable to lead, but bounced back to the sort of form that won him a Listed race at Epsom in June.

Godolphin’s colt clearly relishes setting the pace and his 1.5L beating of Cat Junior means I have him on a figure of 116, a pound higher than the 115 Balthazaar’s Gift produced when winning in 2009.

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