Dundalk: The Year So Far
It has been great to see racing return following problems caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and the action continues this weekend with a Listed race at The Curragh (Friday), the Midlands National at Kilbeggan (Friday) and Group 3 races at Leopardstown (Saturday), Cork (Sunday) and Dundalk (Sunday).
Dundalk’s feature is the Group 3 Woodford Reserve Ballysax Stakes, which promises to be a high-class affair. Among the initial entries were the Irish 2,000 Guineas seventh, Monarch Of Egypt, Nobel Prize, who can list among his brothers the multiple Group/Grade 1 winner, Highland Reel, and Dermot Weld’s Roscommon maiden winner, Zenya, who is a half-sister to a Group 3 winner.
During the enforced absence, we took the opportunity to take a look back at what has happened so far this year at Dundalk Stadium, where the track has been relaid since its last fixture in March and is ready for racing on Sunday (July 12th).
At present, meetings in Ireland are being staged behind closed doors – i.e. without paying customers at the turnstiles.
Trainers and Jockeys
Joseph O’Brien, who has been the leading calendar-year trainer at Dundalk in the last two years, has got off to a great start this year in a bid to make it three-in-a-row.
Joseph sent out 36 winners at Dundalk in 2018, which is a record, and 23 winners last year. He has already had 15 winners (from 68 runners) this year, followed by Ado McGuinness (6 from 40), Denis Hogan (6 from 65), John McConnell (5 from 39) and Ger Lyons (4 from 7).
Joseph has had 74 winners at Dundalk since January 2018.
For the jockeys, it is Declan McDonogh (9 winners from 40 rides) who leads the way in 2020, followed by Ronan Whelan (8 from 45), Colin Keane (6 from 33), Gavin Ryan (6 from 41) and Billy Lee (5 from 31).
James McAuley leads the owners’ table (four winners from 40 runners).
Effect of the Draw
At Dundalk, the general rule over the years has been that a high draw in handicaps over distances of 5f to one mile (with a full field of 14) is slightly disadvantageous. The winning stall numbers this year in handicaps at Dundalk are as follows:
5 furlongs – 5 – 2 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 11
6 furlongs – 6 – 15 – 4 – 16 – 3 – 7 – 6
7 furlongs – 14 – 7 – 12 – 11 – 1 – 15 – 9 – 7 – 10 – 13 – 15 – 5
One mile – 7 – 11 – 12 – 12 – 1 – 2 – 4 – 1 – 1 – 11 – 12 – 3 – 11
Star Performers in 2020
Top of the list here have to be Sceptical, Crossfirehurricane, Vatican City, Aerclub and Bowerman.
The Denis Hogan-trained Sceptical returned for the season on February 21st and ran out a comfortable winner of a six-furlong handicap from a rating of 90. He then returned to Dundalk on March 6th and ran out an even-more impressive winner of a five-furlong handicap from a rating of 101.
Those wins earned him a rating of 114, which made him the highest-rated sprinter in Ireland, something made more remarkable by the fact that he cost owner James McAuley just £2,800 at the Goffs Horses In Training & Store Horses Sale last August.
He has since won the Anglesey Lodge Equine Woodlands Stakes at Naas and then lined him up for the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at on June 20th Royal Ascot with Frankie Dettori taking the ride. In a thrilling race, he finished third, beaten around a neck, to confirm himself as one of the top sprinters in Europe. That £2,800 outlay has now turned into over €80,000 in prize-money.
Bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, Sceptical is by Exceed And Excel out of Jealous Again, a very fast filly trained in the USA by Wesley Ward that won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2009.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Crossfirehurricane was unbeaten in four runs before failing to stay the mile-and-a-half trip of the Irish Derby on June 27th, having earlier won at Listed and Group 3 level.
He won his maiden at Limerick in June then reappeared at Dundalk on February 7th and ran out a convincing winner over seven furlongs. He improved markedly on that run when stepping up in trip to a mile, also at Dundalk, on February 28 when landing the €75,000 Woodford Reserve Patton, a Listed Race and a qualifier for the Kentucky Derby.
Further improvement was displayed by the Scott C Heider-owned son of Kitten’s Joy when he stepped to 10 furlongs to win the Group 3 Coolmore Ten Sovereigns Gallinule Stakes at The Curragh on June 12th.
The Ado McGuinness-trained Bowerman won twice at Dundalk before being narrowly beaten in a Listed Race at Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France and then winning the valuable Irish Lincolnshire at The Curragh on June 12th. Henry de Bromhead’s Aerclub is now unbeaten in two runs, both at Dundalk, and will surely next be seen in a stakes race. (Aerclub was subsequently sold by his owners and will continue his racing carerer in Hong Kong.)
Bowerman‘s latest race again saw him finish second at Listed level, in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Celebration Stakes at The Curragh on June 27th.
Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Vatican City won his maiden at Dundalk on October 30th and then finished second to Siskin in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before finishing eighth in the Derby at Epsom. He is beautifully bred – among his siblings are dual-2,000 Guineas winner Gleneagles and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Marvellous – and remains an immensely promising colt.
News/Next Scheduled Fixtures
Dundalk’s next fixture, as mentioned earlier, will take place on Sunday July 12th followed by Saturday August 15th before the Winter Series begins on Friday September 18th.
Work on the installation of a completely new Polytrack surface at Dundalk has been completed.
Below is the list of sires that have had winners this year at Dundalk.
(Stats cover the period from Jan 1st to March 20th, inclusive)
The track’s leading sire in terms of number of individual winners is Dark Angel, with five winners of seven races in total.
Camelot is next in the list with four winners, which have each won one race apiece.
Nine of this year’s 95 races at Dundalk have been won by horses racing in first-time headgear (as indicated within the following list).
The list, which is alphabetical, consists of the sire followed by the name of the winner, its age, the type of race won and, where applicable, the type of headgear worn by that horse.
Acclamation – Abby Hatcher (3yo, 7f fillies’ maiden)
Alhebayeb – Trueba (4yo, 7f h’cap, first-time visor)
Approve – Miracles In May (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Arcano – Arcanears (6f h’cap) – Poet’s Pride (5yo, 7f h’cap)
Australia – Mythologic (3yo, 8f h’cap)
Azamour – Jerandme (6yo, 2m h’cap)
Bahamian Bounty – Lapilli (7yo, 5f h’cap)
Bated Breath – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Major Power (5yo, 7f h’cap)
Cacique – Alhajjaj (7yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Camacho – Pegasus Bridge (4yo, 7f h’cap, first-time cheek-pieces)
Camelot – Guinevere (4yo, 12f h’cap) – Moll (3yo, mile maiden) – Mr Mooj (3yo, 8f maiden) – Juliet Rose (3yo, 10.5f maiden)
Cape Cross – Mulzamm (8yo, 7f h’cap)
Cappella Sansevero – Corvus Glaive (3yo, 7f claimer, first-time blinkers)
Captain Gerrard – Fit For Function (7yo, 6f h’cap)
Captain Marvelous – Tio Esteban (5yo, 12f h’cap, first-time hood)
Casamento – Adnap (5yo, 8f h’cap) – Adnap (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Champs Elysees – Kerandi (3yo, 8f maiden)
Charm Spirit – Will Be King (4yo, 10.5f claimer) – Aerclub (3yo, 8f race)
Dabirsim – Nordic Passage (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Dark Angel – Dark Vader (3yo, 6f race) – Annie B (4yo, 8f f&m maiden) – San Andreas (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Billyfairplay (6yo, 6f claimer) – San Andreas (4yo, 7f h’cap) – Kinch (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Dark Vader (3yo, 6f race)
Dawn Approach – Cautious Approach (5yo, 12f h’cap)
Declaration Of War – War Hero (5yo, 7f h’cap) – Narynkol (5yo, 12f maiden, first-time blinkers)
Dragon Pulse – Jon Ess (6yo, 10.5f h’cap, first-time visor) – Everyhouronthehour (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Jon Ess (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Dutch Art – Bowerman (6yo, 8f) – Bowerman (6yo, 10.5f race)
Epaulette – China’s Storm (3yo, 10.5f maiden)
Exceed And Excel – Sceptical (4yo, 6f h’cap) – Sceptical (4yo, 5f h’cap)
Excelebration – Reverberation (5yo, 8f h’cap) – Getgo (6yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Fastnet Rock – Rock On Aidan (5yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Footstepsinthesand – Flower Garland (3yo, 8f fillies’ maiden) – Bucky Larson (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Fountain Of Youth – Kokura (3yo, 7f maiden)
Frankel – King’s Vow (4yo, 2m h’cap) – King’s Vow (4yo, 2mile race)
Gutaifan – Funny Little Ways (3yo, 7f h’cap)
Haatef – Danz Gift (9yo, 5f h’cap)
Heeraat – Eglish (3yo, 7f h’cap) – Eglish (3yo, 6f h’cap)
Holy Emperor – Outside Inside (5yo, 7f Rated Race)
Hot Streak – Calidus Mirabilis (3yo, 8f h’cap)
Intense Focus – Saga Bolton (8yo, 10.5f claimer)
Invincible Spirit – Mutadaawel (5yo, 8f h’cap)
Kendargent – Ela Katrina (4yo, 10.5f maiden)
Kingman – Golden Valour (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Kitten’s Joy – Crossfirehurricane (3yo, 7f race, first-time tongue-tie) – Crossfirehurricane (3yo, 8f Listed Race)
Kodiac – Beleaguerment (4yo, 7f h’cap) – Tony The Gent (7yo, 7f claimer) – Tony The Gent (7yo, 7f claimer)
Lope De Vega – Muzbid (6yo, 12f Rated Race)
Magician – Magi Gal (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Mayson – May Remain (5yo, 5f h’cap) – Bellick (5yo, 6f h’cap)
Morpheus – Happaugue (4yo, 10.5f h’cap) – Morph Speed (4yo, 12f h’cap) – Happaugue (4yo, 10.5f h’cap)
Myboycharlie – Lightning Charlie (8yo, 6f h’cap, first-time eye-shield) – Lightning Charlie (8yo, 6f h’cap)
No Nay Never – Parkers Hill (4yo, 8f h’cap) – Never Before (3yo, 7f maiden) – No Trouble (4yo, 12f h’cap)
Pivotal – Red Cymbal (5yo, 5f h’cap)
Power – Mecklenburg (3yo, 6f maiden)
Raven’s Pass – Iron Blue (5yo, 10.5f h’cap, first-time cheek-pieces)
Requinto – Lequinto (3yo, 6f h’cap)
Rip Van Winkle – Lady Of Luxury (4yo, 12f h’cap)
Royal Applause – Munfallet (9yo, 8f h’cap)
Sayif – Sayesse (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Scat Daddy – Phoenix Open (4yo, 8f claimer)
Sea The Stars – Sheberghan (5yo, 10.5f h’cap)
So You Think – Wild Shot (6yo, 12f h’cap)
Starspangledbanner – American Lady (3yo, 5f maiden)
Tamayuz – Plum Perfect (4yo, 8f maiden)
Thewayyouare – Beauchamp Bagenal (5yo, 7f maiden)
War Front – United Front (3yo, 6f maiden)
Zebedee – Zippity (4yo, 5f h’cap)