Coolmore aiming for lucrative pay-off with Caravaggio
Friday’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot will commercially be number one priority
James Doyle on Toscanini wins the Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh last year. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Much of Royal Ascot revolves around historic resonance but it’s hard commercial reality which will make Group One success for Caravaggio perhaps Aidan O’Brien’s No. 1 priority of the week.
The dual-Guineas heroine Winter might line up in the Coronation Stakes on the same Friday card but she’s a filly and the real pay-off for the Coolmore empire is in the colt maintaining his unbeaten record in the Commonwealth Cup.
The death of Caravaggio’s hugely successful US sire Scat Daddy in late 2015 leaves a gap in Coolmore’s stalion roster for a colt O’Brien has already described as the fastest he’s had through his hands.
Already a Group One winning juvenile, should Caravaggio strike at the top level at three his breeding appeal will be lucratively cemented. And the good news for Coolmore is that the Commonwealth Cup might have been designed for him.
First run in 2015, and the only race in the European pattern’s 44 year history immediately made Group One, it is the only top-flight sprint confined to three year olds.
Prior to its introduction the temptation to try and stretch Caravaggio’s stamina out to a mile would have been all but irresistible. But with Churchill for the classics, O’Brien has bided his time.
Similar considerations appear to have prompted Godolphin’s thinking too. They run Harry Angel and Blue Point and the latter especially could previously have been expected to go down the Guineas route based on his Dewhurst form as a juvenile.
Blue Point beat Harry Angel here a month ago, prompting Sheikh Mohammed to buy the runner up. It’s a formidable team to go to war with but Caravaggio looked to have trained on well when winning on his reappearance at Naas and can justify his huge reputation.
Churchill fluffed his lines on Tuesday and Ballydoyle’s other dual-classic winner Winter has a potent adversary to deal with in the French Guineas heroine Precieuse.
The French have won the Coronation Stakes for the last two years and even Winter’s presence didn’t dissuade the Precieuse team from supplementing their star into the race. Nevertheless Winter has looked exceptional in her last two starts.
Half a dozen Irish trained hopefuls are set to line up in the opening Albany Stakes including the giant Alpha Centauri who has exhibited brilliance in her two starts to date.
Jessica Harrington is fearful of very fast ground however and a stall one draw is no help either. Aidan O’Brien has left in three hopes but the trainer’s son Donnacha could ultimately hold the answer in the American hope Fairyland. The Keeneland winner is one of two Wes Ward hopes sired by Scat Daddy.
Just one Irish trained winner in 40 years of the King Edward VII Stakes is a stat which indicates the Ballydoyle hope Sir John Lavery has a major task on his plate.
Even more of an problem though is likely to be Crystal Ocean, a half brother to the 2013 winner, Hillstar, who skipped the Derby for this despite an eye-catching Dante effort.