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Lighting Up The Season

Posted 4/5/2022


            A decent start to the 2022 flat season for James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd bred horses. In North America, Gift List kicked things off with a very good 4th in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream Park beaten 3 lengths by subsequent Grade 1 winner Regal Glory. Gift List had been off the track for 8 months so connections must have been pleased with that effort. She subsequently came 8th in another G3 which was slightly disappointing although only 4.5 lengths behind the winner. Nevertheless she is showing up well in stakes races in the USA and adding to the popularity of Bated Breath progeny in that country.

            Talking of Bated Breath, Ekhtiyaar ran four times in the UAE during January and February. Three of the races were Listed and he did not run badly, but he is 8 years old now and his performances perhaps indicated that his best days, including a rating of 112, are behind him. Twilight Son winning at Newmarket 5f 14 April 2022Twilight Son winning at Newmarket 5f 14 April 2022

            Over to Europe, and our first winner in 2022 came with Twilight Calls winning a class 3 over 5f at Newmarket in April in very comfortable fashion. He has always been a strong travelling horse but sometimes hasn't finished off his races as well as he promised and connections decided to geld him after the 2021 season. Whilst I am sure that trainer Henry Candy would have been dreaming of TC following in the steps of his sire Twilight Son and grand sire Kyllachy as the next sire in line, he looked convinced in a post race interview that the horse has improved since that operation and they subsequently entered him for his first black type race in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on 2000 Guineas day. He ran very well and seemed a little unfortunate to be drawn on the wing and then get carried a bit wider by Whenthedealisdone to be beaten only 1.25 lengths by Khaadem. Subsequently it turned out that over the three day meeting nearly 50% of winners on the straight course in 19 races came from stall 1 or 2 and none were drawn higher than 7 which indicates a draw bias which Twilight Calls (drawn 12) could not overcome. He has been uprated from 100 to 104 and I personally think he is a couple of lengths better than that at 110. Connections seem to share this thought process as he has now been entered for the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock and then the Group 1 King Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. Clearly both races are a stretch but it would not surprise me to see him go close in at least the former race if he gets good or firmer ground.

Moonlight Frolic back home after her win at Thirsk over 1 mile on 25th April 2022Moonlight Frolic back home after her win at Thirsk over 1 mile on 25th April 2022

            Moving on from the twilight to the moonlight and we did not have to wait long for winner number two when at the end of April Moonlight Frolic caught War of Words on the line over a mile at Thirsk. This was the filly's second outing after a good introduction at Kempton in December where she came 6th in a maiden. As at Kempton, she managed to find a bit of trouble in running but this time had enough to overcome that and win on the line. The time was not fast and hard to know what she beat although War Of Words on debut had beaten subsequent Listed Pretty Polly 3rd Crenelle in her previous run. The RPR was only 69 which I think is a bit low. We'll see but no doubt that trainer Amy Murphy think that the filly will rate a lot higher as she has entered Moonlight Frolic for the Group 2 Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. Whilst MF looked to need every yard of the mile at Thirsk, twelve furlongs may be a bit far at this stage for a filly by Bated Breath (yes another one!) out of a Danehill Dancer mare that won over 5f. However, stranger things have happened! By the way, MF became our 5th runner by Bated Breath and 5th winner and hopefully will become our third black type performer. We have two 2yos by BB who may add to that tally. Mellow Mood is with Sylvester Kirk and First Page with Jean-Claude Rouget. We also have a colt yearling out of Redskin Dancer who we plan to sell later this year. 

Chirimiri in his box in La Teste de Buch after his run at Paris Longchamp on 1st May 2022Chirimiri in his box in La Teste de Buch after his run at Paris Longchamp on 1st May 2022

           After these two wins I was getting excited about our colt Chirimiri winning a 1400m €70k race at Paris Longchamp on May 1st. He had made his first run of the season at the backend of March at Fontainebleau and was only beaten a couple of lengths in a competitive 1200m race despite finishing 7th. He did not particularly appreciate the initial downhill section of the track and was stopped in his tracks when trying to get a run as well. Whilst the Paris race was 200m more than his ideal distance, Chirimiri has won over 1400m but on softer ground. The ground description was good to soft but I certainly did not see much soft around and no divots flying! Additionally he lost a shoe after 300m which unbalanced him a shade although I think the ground was the main reason he only finished 9th beaten 5 lengths. Whatever, we are still learning with him and trainer Christophe Ferland is now likely to race him at local track La Teste De Buch next up. We also entered him for the valuable Gran Premio Urquijo over 1100m in Madrid in June but we fear that the ground will be too firm for him. However, Madrid is on an elevated plain and as they sang in the musical My Fair Lady........"the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain".............Having lived there for 9 years I am not sure that is true!

            Chirimiri's name describes a light rain that is seen in the northern parts of Spain so he has something in common with Twilight Calls and Moonlight Frolic. In terms of the European 2022 flat season things have started well and this trio certainly do not look light on ability to me. Fingers crossed I'm right!