Eight things we learnt on Saturday - from Alpha Centauri injury to Kew Gardens being in bloom

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Sun 16 Sep 2018

Andy Stephens kept an eye on all the big races on Saturday and rounds up all the news threads and ante-post reaction.

Alpha Centauri hurt at Leopardstown:

The Matron Stakes was expected to represent easy pickings for Alpha Centauri but Jessica Harrington’s brilliant filly suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the warrior-like Laurens.

Alpha Centauri suffered a fetlock injury when suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Laurens in the Matron Stakes.

Jessica Harrington's star filly, 2-7 to record a fifth successive Group One triumph, was already struggling to get to grips with Laurens her when taking a false step and faltering in the closing stages

She was found to be "clinically abnormal" and late on Saturday night it was revealed that she had suffered an injury.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for her owners, the Niarchos family, tweeted: "Unfortunately Alpha Centauri sustained an injury to her right front fetlock and has been sent to the Fethard Equine Clinic for further evaluation."

It means her season has been brought to a premature end and no doubt the full extent of her setback will determine whether she returns or not next year.

By contrast, expect Laurens to be in action sooner rather than later. Karl Burke, the trainer, and John Dance, her jubilant owner, indicated the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket early next month would be her next target.

JP McDonald, her regular jockey, who broke both his legs in a fall last month, will not be ready to resume riding her but is likely to be at Newmarket. He was at Leopardstown, cheering from his wheelchair.

Lion roars louder than ever:

Movie sequels usually get worse and worse but part six of the Roaring Lion versus Saxon Warrior series in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes was an epic.

Ryan Moore got first run on Saxon Warrior and the 2,000 Guineas winner quickened perhaps three lengths ahead of his old rival but Roaring Lion showed a stunning turn of foot under Oisin Murphy to claw him back in the final strides.

It was a fabulous finish with Roaring Lion prevailing by a neck - the same distance that separated the pair in the Coral-Eclipse (when Roaring Lion won) and the Racing Post Trophy (when Saxon Warrior won).

Sheikh Fahad, the owner of Roaring Lion, was winning his own money and indicated the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20, which he and his brothers also sponsor, and the Breeders’ Cup would be considered.

Saxon Warrior is likely to head for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, so episode seven may have to wait.

Gardens in full bloom:

 Kew Gardens lands the St Leger. (FocusOnRacing)
Kew Gardens lands the St Leger. (FocusOnRacing)

The cream rose to the top in the William Hill St Leger with Kew Gardens staying on stoutly to keep Lah Ti Dar at bay.

Everything went to plan for Ryan Moore aboard Aidan O’Brien’s sixth winner of the world’s oldest Classic and, having his 12th run, he was simply too streetwise for Lah Ti Dar, who lined up on the back of three easy wins and seemed betrayed by her lack of experience.

Kew Gardens looks all stamina and seems certain to be a force in the Cup races next year, although he will have his work cut out reaching the same level as Stradivarius.

That is reflected by Betfair quoting him at a best price of 8-1 for the Gold Cup in a market which Stradivarius heads at 7-2.

It seems Lah Ti Dar will head for the Fillies & Mares race at Ascot on Champions Day. She is a best-priced 7-2 and, while she will have to show a hard race at Town Moor has not left a mark, will have strong form claims.

Moore makes amends in Classic style:

Jockeys, like centre forwards, need to forget about missed chances and make sure they put the next one away.

That was the case for Ryan Moore at Doncaster on Saturday as he gave Kew Gardens a textbook ride in the St Leger little more than an hour after getting his sums wrong aboard Oh This Is Us in the Group Two Alan Wood Plumbing And Heating Park Stakes.

Moore looked to have all the bases covered over a furlong out on the strong travelling Oh This Us but instead of challenging between horses, in a gap that looked there for the taking, he switched right and forfeited ground and momentum.

He ended up getting beat a neck and a short head but backers of Mustashry, the favourite, were not complaining - or those who backed him at 599-1 in-running.

Guineas the best fit for Too Darn Hot:

 The Lloyd-Webbers look on admiringly at Too Darn Hot. (FocusOnRacing)
The Lloyd-Webbers look on admiringly at Too Darn Hot. (FocusOnRacing)

“It’s all going swimmingly well” said owner Madeleine Lloyd-Webber, with great understatement, after Too Darn Hot had enhanced his reputation with a fluent success in the Champagne Stakes.

The most striking part of his performance, in a race run at end-to-end gallop, was the acceleration he showed when Frankie Dettori invited him to lengthen three out. It proved decisive in him mastering Phoenix Of Spain, who had been a taking winner of the Acomb on his previous start.

Bookmakers took evasive action, cutting Too Darn Hot for the 2,000 Guineas and Derby.

He looks a leading candidate for the former race - BetVictor and Coral offer a standout 5-1 - but has so much speed that backing him to win at Epsom, at similar odds, comes with a wealth warning.

Madhmoon makes own statement:

Too Darn Hot was not the only unbeaten two-year-old colt to impress as Madhmoon also set the pulse racing with an emphatic victory in the Group Two KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

The son of Dawn Approach, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, had looked a good prospect when winning on his debut at Leopardstown the previous month and more than confirmed it - travelling sweetly for Chris Hayes and bounding clear.

He would not have been out of place in the National Stakes on Sunday but Kevin Prendergast, his trainer, said: “Sheikh Hamdan does the calling and I do the answering”.

Prendergast is from the old school and suggested that if Mahmoon runs again this season “it will be in the Futurity”. That is the Racing Post Trophy, to me and you, and has been called that since 1989.

Madhmoon is a general 20-1 for the 2,000 Guineas, which looks generous.

Dark Vision disappoints:

Racing is about risk on many levels, not least when it comes to buying and selling racehorses.

Sheikh Mohammed got out his chequebook and paid an undisclosed sum for Dark Vision after the imposing colt came from last to first in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood in July.

It is early days to be saying it was a dud purchase but he was the first in trouble in the Champagne Stakes and trailed home a distant last.

He will have something to prove the next time he carries the blue silks.

Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci in full flow:

2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival - Day One - Goodwood Racecourse

Willie Mullins has long been a force with his runners in Britain’s long-distance races and the cash injections for the Ebor and Cesarewitch means he is likely to be even more focused on those big handicaps.

Twenty-four hours after he had provided owner Rich Ricci with a one-two in the Doncaster Cup, he pulled off the same trick in the valuable 1m5f handicap at Leopardstown with Limini, partnered by Oisin Murphy, holding off Law Girl. Murphy was enjoying his first success in his native Ireland after 564 wins in Britain.

Limini and Law Girl are now likely to form part of Mullins’ Cesarewitch squad and punters will have a tough task choosing between them and the other ten he has engaged.

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