KYPRIOS (128) confirmed his standing as the top stayer in Europe with his best performance on the clock to date, with the fragile but extremely talented Hamish (127) playing his part in an epic duel for the final classic of the season in Ireland, the Comer Group International Irish St Leger.
Ryan Moore was more animated at the start of the race than at the finish as he drove his mount into his now customary prominent position. However, any doubts he was about to run below par were quashed as the now three-time Group 1 winner assumed control of the race on the home turn.
A closing sectional of 37.55secs from the three-furlong marker sealed victory in hard-fought fashion from Hamish who proved as tough an opponent as Stradivarius and Mojo Star previously. The pair pulled an impressive seven lengths clear of previous dual winner Search For A Song (119).
The comparable races on the round course were both run over a mile and a quarter with Kerkiyra (105) winning the final race of the day in a faster time than Above The Curve (106+) ran in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes. Although neither race matched the time figure achieved by Kyprios when adjusted for distance. Joseph O’Brien’s filly was the quickest through the final three furlongs, stopping the clock at 37.17secs for her closing three furlongs. Johnny Murtagh’s filly covered the same ground in 38.36secs adding further evidence to Kyprios being a strong stayer with a turn of foot.
Aidan O’Brien mentioned the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a possible target for the son of Galileo although with stablemate Luxembourg heading to the Paris centrepiece it would be a surprise to see him take his chance.
The more likely destination would appear to be the Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
ParisLongchamp is firmly on the agenda for Above The Curve with the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera for fillies and mares the target.
The daughter of American Pharoah was tenacious at the finish on Sunday, despite being expected to need the run, and was always holding the late effort of Insinuendo (106+) despite Willie McCreery’s mare posting a faster closing sectional of 36.87secs.
The pair may clash again in Paris where I would expect the outcome to be the same and even the presence of Nashwa may not prevent Joseph O’Brien’s filly from adding another Group 1 victory to her profile.
SWITCHING focus to the straight track, the undoubted star of the show was the ever more impressive Highfield Princess (110+) who is improving rapidly over the minimum trip.
John Quinn’s mare always looked to have the race under control without having to run to the same level as when winning at York. However, she still managed to record a wide-margin victory courtesy of a dazzling final furlong when Jason Hart eventually asked her to seal the race.
In covering the ground from the course intersection in 37.78secs, the five-year-old posted the fastest closing sectional of the day on the straight course. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is next on the agenda where Golden Pal will have to be at his best to prevent her winning a fourth consecutive race.
Erosandpsyche (101) and Flotus (101) made best use of their stands’-side draw to fill the places, although I doubt either are Group 1 quality sprinters.
Paddy Twomey may decide to allow his four-year-old gelding to take his chance in the Ayr Gold Cup at the weekend even though the six furlongs may not play ideally to his strengths.
The Group 1 contests for two-year-olds make for fascinating analysis with the style and swagger displayed by Tahiyra (115+) impressing visually in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, while the clock hints at there being more substance to the victory of the sizeable Al Riffa (118+) in the National Stakes.
The overall race times shows there to be just 0.15secs between the two juveniles with the Aga Khan-owned filly marginally the quicker. However, the closing sectionals from the intersection favour Al Riffa as the fastest finisher with Dylan Browne McMonagle guiding Joseph O’Brien’s colt to a closing sectional of 38.16secs. Tahiyra covered the same ground in 38.58secs.
In comparison the pair were 0.38secs and 0.80secs respectively, slower than Highfield Princess.
As we are unlikely to see Dermot Weld’s filly again this season, Meditate (112) will fly the flag for the form in the Group 1 contests for juvenile fillies between now and the end of the turf season.
The Ballydoyle filly holds entries in the Cheveley Park Stakes over six furlongs and the Fillies’ Mile at the same venue. On this showing the daughter of No Nay Never looks sure to stay the extra furlong of the last named.
I would not be so keen to follow any of the fillies who finished further back as third-placed Eternal Silence (103) could only muster enough speed to finish off her race in 39.51secs, which was only 0.14secs faster than Streets Of Gold clocked in the auction sales contest later on the card.
The feature of Al Riffa’s races to date have been how strongly he has finished, so the son of Wootton Bassett looks sure to improve further for stepping up in trip. The Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster looks an ideal route to winter quarters before a Derby campaign next season.
Proud And Regal (115) stayed on late to deny Shartash (114) second, posting 38.73secs for his closing sectional suggesting there will be more depth to the form of the National Stakes.
To complete the data from the Curragh on Sunday, Dexter Belle (99) was a shock 50/1 winner of the opening sprint handicap, stopping the clock for her sectional at 38.94secs.