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12 Dec 2017
Issue Number: Issue 627
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Capri motors to Leger victory

25/09/2017
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Class prevailed in last weekend’s 241st St Leger when Capri and Ryan Moore combined to win the 1m6½f Classic and provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with yet another high point in what has been a memorable 2017 for Ballydoyle. Winner of the 1m4f Irish Derby, Capri missed his intended prep race for Doncaster when absent from the Great Voltigeur and his stamina had yet to be tested. But none of this ultimately mattered: what propelled Capri to a second Classic was his own inherent talent and that of the man in the saddle, who was winning the St Leger for the first time and completing a full house of British Classics in the process.

Moore hardly revelled in wearing the oversized winning rider’s cap, but the performance of Capri did impress him. “He’s a very good horse, he’s an Irish Derby winner and a Group Two winner as a 2yo as well,” Moore said. “He’s run in a lot of good races this year, he’s a very good horse and very honest. “It was a good Leger and the first three home are horses who are very good. I think it was a very classy performance and the form will stand up well from this.” Capri followed Milan, Brian Boru, Scorpion and Leading Light in becoming a St Leger winner for O’Brien and the Coolmore partners. The trainer was struck by how deep the grey dug.

“He’s a horse who has a lot of class,” O’Brien said. “He’s won an Irish Derby and it’s his class that’s won that today. He’s a 1m4f horse but he has the pace for 1m2f. “A mile and a half is where he’ll really show his ability. He also has courage and stamina. It was a great performance.” While O’Brien celebrated his 18th Group or Grade One of the year, he was quick to praise the performances of his riders after The Anvil had set a searing gallop. He said: “If anybody wanted to go faster than The Anvil, they could but everyone was happy where they were. Ryan hadn’t ridden Capri since the Beresford, so that was a worry, but he gave him a class ride.

“Seamus Heffernan has always believed in the horse. He rides him at home, in a lot of his work and his races and he’s always believed in how much class he has. Everyone’s delighted. “We thought Capri would actually improve for this race as he had a hiccup before York. The Arc is something we’ll think about for him, but the lads will make that decision.” While Capri may turn out again before the end of the season, Crystal Ocean ended his with a fine second for Sir Michael Stoute and Champion Jockey Jim Crowley. Stoute said: “He ran a great race and we’re thrilled with him. I thought he was going to win but we won’t run him beyond a mile and a half again; it was always a danger.

“Jim gave him a lovely ride and I thought he might win; he was pretty confident but he was outstayed. He won’t run again this year.” In contrast to Stoute and Crystal Ocean, John Gosden is looking to go back up in trip with his Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius, who ran on to be third, with stablemate Coronet fifth after looking a serious danger 2f from home. “There was a relentless pace and there were no hiding places. Capri stuck his neck out and won Ryan Moore it well,” Gosden said. “We tracked him with Coronet, she moved within half a length but the colts were a bit too strong for her. She ran a lovely race and she will go for the Fillies & Mares race on Champions Day.

“Stradivarius was rather isolated, he didn’t really have anyone to race with in the last part. In the last 50 yards he came back at them. He has run a super race and if the ground isn’t too soft you might see him on Champions Day in the two mile race.” O’Brien was recording a big race double having already landed the preceding 7f juvenile feature, the Group 2 Champagne Stakes, with Seahenge, partnered by his son Donnacha. A 2yo son of Scat Daddy, he prevailed by a neck from Hey Gaman with the same distance back to the third, Godolphin’s Mythical Magic. Seahenge had failed to match expectations when only fifth in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood previously.

However, given a confident ride and benefitting from the experience, he came through to claim this gamely. “Donnacha was on him when he won his maiden and gave him the same sort of ride that day,” O’Brien said. “He said he was going to go out there today and teach him and give him an education, which is what you want any young horse to have. He did well to win and he’s a fine horse to be able to do that.” Ballydoyle number one Moore finished unplaced on stablemate Mendelssohn, and O’Brien added: “Ryan loved Seahenge at Goodwood but said he was very green and babyish; he’s improved a lot for that. “We came here today with the view that if he was going to be a Dewhurst horse he’d have to come and run well here. So that’s a possible target for him now.”

Martyn Meade has shelved further big race plans this year with Eminent, who is already ‘on holiday’ in a field, but his Aclaim is set for Chantilly after winning the 7f Group 2 Park Stakes under Oisin Murphy. When last seen in France, Aclaim was beaten less than a length in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and will return to the top table for his next outing. “It was a shame he didn’t win in France but it was still a hell of a good run; the winning post came a bit too soon,” said Meade. “He was pretty impressive there and this 7f is his distance.

We’re really looking for a Group One for him. That’s the main ambition as he has already won a couple of Group Twos, so we’ll hopefully step him back up and go to France again for the Foret.” And many congratulations to seasonal Al Adiyat contributor John Berry who saddled the highly progressive Kryptos to victory in a mile handicap under Nicola Currie. The apprentice has now won on the 3yo on each occasion they have been partnered and said: “He’s so straightforward. He enjoyed a bit of cover, sat in behind and then carried me all the way there. It worked out lovely.” The St Leger was not the only Classic on the card; it was also the 1m2f UK Arabian Derby, or the Group 1 President of the UAE Cup depending on your inclination.

Eight went to post but Nafees, homebred by the Royal Cavalry of Oman, justified favouritism in style under Tadhg O’Shea for trainer Charles Gourdain. Gourdain, who is based in Pau in France, was delighted with his colt’s win and said: “It is the last Group One race for 4yos this season and he has shown today that he is the best of his generation. I would like him to have a break now and we will look forward to next year.” O’Shea added: “He’s a really nice horse. Charles told me to drop him in and ride him with loads of confidence. He settled well, maybe I had him too switched off, so I had to give him a shake of the reins, but to be fair, he really picked up the bridle. He’s a very good 4yo with a potent turn of foot.”

Representing the Royal Cavalry, Jean-Pierre Deroubaix, added: “We had to run against older horses in the summer, but this race was perfect for him. The trainer gave good orders and the jockey followed them. Some days it doesn’t work, but today it was perfect.” Faisal Al Rahmani, general secretary for the President of the UAE Cup series, was happy to be back for a second year saying: “It’s been a beautiful day, it’s wonderful to run the President of the UAE Cup on such a prestigious race day in the UK. We want to progress this series across the world.”

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