Just as a Guineas winner is often dismissed as having too much speed to last the Derby, there is a school of belief that Flemenstar’s spectacular return to action over two miles at Navan indicates he can’t possibly possess the stamina required to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup: to which one can only reply that if his stamina was already proven, he’d be too slow for steeplechasing’s blue-riband!
Flemenstar might have been ‘only’ up against a veteran in Big Zeb but it was impossible to be unimpressed with the way he travelled through the Fortria while his jumping yet again was a joy to behold.
It’s that cruising ability that encourages scepticism about his stamina, a purely theoretical argument since the most he has ever gone on a racecourse to date is two and a half miles. Just as a real Derby prospect rarely runs a mile and a half before Epsom anymore, many Gold Cup contenders work their way up progressively distance-wise.
Ireland’s last two Gold Cup heroes were prime examples. Like Flemenstar, Kicking King won an Irish Arkle as a novice, and unlike Flemenstar got beaten in a Powers Gold Cup. War Of Attrition also won a Grade 1 at two miles as a novice. Before their Gold Cup victories, there were stamina doubts expressed about both. And both scotched those concerns in style.
The old orthodoxy that the Gold Cup is a stayers race mightn’t be obsolete but it can’t be regarded as an article of faith anymore either.
Denman was an archetypal staying chaser from the Irish point to point fields. Best Mate wasn’t. Long Run came from France as a stayer. Kauto Star didn’t. Kauto and Best Mate were truly exceptional Gold Cup winners. With the best will in the world, War Of Attrition’s reputation hardly compares, but he too combined speed and stamina in a cocktail of pure class.
Such talk sets Flemenstar up in a big way and the real hope is that Peter Casey & Co get a clear run with their pride and joy.
But those already dismissing his Gold Cup claims in stamina terms are barking up the wrong tree. He may get three and a quarter miles, or he may not. It’s encouraging that his full brother, Barafundle, won twice at three miles plus in 2010. But what’s important to remember is that these days stamina alone is often not enough.
Results from the Weatherbys Return of Mares list for 2012 indicate enough is rarely enough when it comes to the breeding industry.
Scorpion was apparently the busiest stallion last year with a mammoth 339 mares sent to the Coolmore stallion. Getaway had 321 while Stowaway was sent 297. Oscar and Milan both had 262. Arakan (239) was the busiest flat stallion. Galileo is listed with 196.
It certainly makes the old syndicate tot of dealing with forty mares to determine the value of a stallion seem twee.
Since bloodstock is as pure an example of the power of the market as you’ll find, there is clearly a demand to be filled by these huge books. But those calling for a reduction in stock numbers look to be shouting into a vacuum. And in terms of the strength of the overall breed, can these numbers be good?
There are few things more annoying than an ‘after-the-event’ merchant, especially one pointing out what was supposedly bleedin’ obvious beforehand. But even allowing for all that, just who was backing Voler La Vedette at 1-7 in the Lismullen?
Such odds are strictly for a select few anyway, or those trading in the sort of combination bets that keep the bookmaking industry in Mercs. But 1-7 about an eight year old mare? In a hurdle race? An SP of 1-4 was the shortest Sea The Stars ever was.
Congrats to Richard Hughes on a first jockeys championship in Britain, well clear of his opposition in terms of winners ridden.
It’s interesting to note though that the newly crowned Irish champion Joseph O’Brien who also be the top jock in the UK for 2012 if the American system of judging these things in prizemoney was used.
O’Brien’s fourteen winners contributed to a total of almost E3.7 million in Britain, a couple of hundred grand more than Frankel’s jockey Tom Queally.
And it does seem odd that Camelot’s Derby equates to a Windsor handicap when it comes to judging the jockeys title.