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Three On The Trot

Posted 4/5/2021

            During the first 4 months of this year not one James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd bred horse had won but that scenario has changed radically in the last four days with three winners from the last three to run! It all started at Churchill Downs, New York on the evening of the last day of April when Gift List (Bated Breath x Birthstone 2018 filly) stormed home by over 4 lengths in the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes over 8.5 furlongs. The filly, who now races for Brian Lynch in the USA, has won three of her seven races and been second in the other four and is rated 106. It turned out later that the long odds on favourite Aunt Pearl had bled during the race explaining her under performance. However, the manner of Gift List's disposal of the rest of the field convinces me that she would have given the favourite a tough race anyway. Hope that Aunt Pearl recovers well and one day reopposes in good health.

Gift List winning the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill DownsGift List winning the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs

              I was especially pleased for the 19 year old mare Birthstone who, after winning two races as a two year old including the Group 3 Prix D'Aumale, was retired due to injury to become a broodmare. She belongs to a famous line going back through her dam Baya, who was 2nd in the Prix Diane,   to her grandam Barger who was full sister to the legendary Triptych. Whilst Birthstone has had 4 other winners, none have reached black type level, although a couple did make ratings in the 90s so Gift List's win is the best to date for her offspring. She is currently visiting Bated Breath again, so we may see a full brother or sister to Gift List in a year's time.

              The next day Twilight Calls (Twilight Son x Zawiyah 2018 colt) finally got off the mark over 6f at Doncaster after three good runs as a 2yo. The field was only four in total and it is difficult to judge what he beat, but he could hardly have done it any easier and strolled home by almost three lengths. The second had run a promising debut third with a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 76 and so with Twilight Calls having a handicap mark of 85 and off level weights he would be expected to win. Nevertheless the manner of the victory was impressive and he has gone up to 87. If he runs off that mark in a handicap next time out, I will think about putting the house on it!

            Henry Candy is the trainer of Twilight Calls and he also trained the colt's Group 1 winning sire Twilight Son as well as the Group 1 winning grandsire Kyllachy, so I took an in depth look at their racetrack progression. There are already similarities with Twilight Son's career although he did win twice as a 2yo to start his 3yo career off a mark of 83 whereas Twilight Calls managed two seconds and a rating of 85. They both made their 3yo debuts at the beginning of May and both won. Twilight Son ran all his ten races over 6f and so far Twilight Calls has run all his career races over the same distance. Next up for Twilight Son was a Class 2 handicap at York in June of his 3yo career which he won after which he was given a rating of 104. He wasn't seen on the track again until September of that year when he won the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock. I am convinced that Henry Candy is planning a similar campaign for Twilight Calls, giving him time to strengthen up and progress to possibly match his sire's achievements. Apparently Twilight Son grew and strengthened up a lot from 2yo to 3yo enabling him to improve his rating by 34lbs to 117 and I understand that Twilight Calls is developing likewise from a physical perspective. Kyllachy started out in a similar fashion winning one and being second twice from three runs at 2yo ending up with a rating of 90. His first 3yo race was at the end of April, which he duly won, before progressing during the year to end it on a rating of 103. The main difference between Kyllachy and Twilight Son is that Kyllachy's best form was as a 4yo when he won the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes in August of that year reaching a rating of 120 and he ran all his races over 5f. Twilight Calls also won a Group 1 (Diamond Jubilee) at 4yo but he was 14lbs better than Kyllachy at 3yo. Henry Candy is a patient man and clearly has done it before with this line of colts not once but on two occasions, and who is to say he won't do it again? I hope so!!Zephron ridden by Annalise Cullen to be her first ever win as a jockeyZephron ridden by Annalise Cullen to be her first ever win as a jockey

            Sunday May 2 was a boring day with no runners or winners but Monday at The Curragh brought win number three albeit in a low level 6f handicap with no less than 27 starters. Low level handicap it may have been but it was a special day for trainer Dennis Cullen and his family when Zephron (Ivawood x Amarylis 2017 gelding) scooted home by almost three lengths under an excellent ride from his 19 year old daughter Annalise who was gaining her first ever victory as a jockey to make it a memorable day for all concerned! That was Zephron's second victory and will see him move back up from his current mark of 73 closer to his best to date of 82 with the promise of more to come.

            So here I am on Tuesday 4th May writing up what has been the best ever run for our horses on the track. So what's next? Well Maysonlight (Mayson x Highland Starlight 2016 gelding) is out in the 4.20 at Gowran Park but, whilst he has shown a glimmer of ability in his runs to date, his best is a 4th place and a rating high of 71 and his price this afternoon is 28/1! Whatever, he couldn't make it four on the trot could he????? .................No he couldn't..........

Zephron storming home under Annalise Cullen at The Curragh (picture courtesy of The Curragh Racecourse)Zephron storming home under Annalise Cullen at The Curragh (picture courtesy of The Curragh Racecourse)