SEVEN was the unlucky number for Paddington as his winning run came to an end at York on Wednesday.

Even if we place him as a good horse, not a great one, it should be noted to his credit for lining up in his fifth Group 1 of the season. Remember, we’ve only seen Constitution Hill seven times over his two-year track career.

The downfall of the Ballydoyle star was orchestrated by Frankie Dettori. In his final season in the saddle this ride on Mostahdaf was a throw back to when he was in his pomp, in the blue, if not Godolphin blue, reminiscent of some of the finely judged fearless rides of the last few decades. It should not be an issue for a top jockey but Dettori had never ridden the horse before. Still, the belief is never be afraid to strike first.

Coincidentally, the York meeting had begun with Paul Hanagan announcing his retirement, never one from the ‘look at me’ league as Dettori, but ever the professional with a career to be proud of and many big successes in the Shadwell colours. The 2014 Eclipse on Mukhadram brought another example to mind of taking the bull by the horns and committing first. If your horse stays well, if you pinch a two-length lead, the rest are just going to have to run that much faster than though the final furlongs.


Sectional times show the effort and the merit of Mostahdaf’s performance. The five-year-old ran six of the last eight furlongs in sub 12 second splits.

Baaeed won on good going last year but he was slower through the first two furlongs and benefitted from a dip in pace from the seven furlong to the four furlong out mark. He was under 11secs for the four out furlong.

From six out to the furlong pole, Mostahdaf went 11.97, 11.50, 11.35. 11.19, 11.55. That was some sustained running and judgement, and he was still faster than the other three through the final furlong.

Paddington had shown a willingness to battle in his races but you can’t battle if you can’t get upsides. He had been the one to get first run on Emily Upjohn in the Eclipse.

It’s a pity that wisdom surely suggests that the Irish Champions Stakes may come too soon off a performance like this and with the ground changing, we may not see Mostahdaf at his peak under his ideal conditions again.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic and Turf have been mentioned, one on the wrong surface, one over the wrong distance. But the sharp Santa Anita track could allow Mostahdaf conserve energy. He is much better than any American middle distance turf horse. Another canny ride from the front could see him have too much class. Would Mr Dettori be called for the final farewell fanfare again?

Jockey Club still a stand out

EVENTS over the last few weeks have continued to make a case for the strength of this year’s Prix du Jockey Club and York added another with eighth-placed Continuous’ Group 2 win.

So far the first and fourth have won Group 2 and a Group 1 on their reappearance and, back at shorter distances, Big Rock performed well in the Jacques le Marois and Epictetus won a decent Group 3 at Goodwood. It’s whacking the other two Derbys on quality once again.

Be on guard with Arrest

ONCE the Geoffrey Freer Stakes appears on the race cards, it feels like the turn of the year is around the corner. Autumn and Ardross are the words that come initially to mind connected with the Newbury race. Another A word made the headlines this week when Arrest ran out a good winner last Saturday. Propelled into favourite for the Derby by Dettori on board, he found conditions too much there. But the softer ground aided the son of Frankel last weekend and he saw out the trip well, looking a gallop to the end type of colt.

Both the Gordon Stakes (bunch finish) and the Voltigeur (too fast early pace) were messy events to take the results at face value. John Gosden thought the York third Gregory ran a fine Leger trial. Savethelastdance, once favourite, does look a little one-paced on her last two runs against fillies and on breeding, (Scat Daddy grandsire) her stamina would have to be taken on trust. Aidan O’Brien also mentioned the Arc for her on Thursday.

Heart’s Cry, sire of York winner Continuous, had a victory over Deep Impact over 12 and a half furlongs to his name and his son should not lack for stamina. But the underfoot conditions, unpredictable at best this year, could play a big part but at best price 10/1, Arrest has a lot going for him.

Festival overdose

WHAT am I missing on the allure of adding the word Festival to every racing event?

Are you going to the Galway Races? No, but I’m going to the Galway Festival.

Irish Champions Weekend had become a well recognised title, ICW easily coming off the tongue but now we have a change to Irish Champions Festival. Sure, we have many different elements to the two days but it was about top quality racing – the ICW was fine.

It took a while for the Dublin Racing Festival – DRF to sink in as we were familiar with the DRC – Dubai Racing Carnival.

Maybe I’m ‘going away for the weekend’ doesn’t have the attraction of saying I’m ‘going away for the Festival’ but the word ‘festival’ is becoming so much used now that it is beginning to lose its appeal as indicating a big attractive event. You can have a Festival in your own home village!