Home » Shocking upset in British 2,000 Guineas marks international weekend horse racing – UPI.com

Shocking upset in British 2,000 Guineas marks international weekend horse racing – UPI.com

1 of 2 | Jantar Mantar romps home first in the Grade 1 NHK Mile at Tokyo Racecourse. Photo by and courtesy of Masakazu Takahashi

May 6 (UPI) — While American interest was focused on the Kentucky Derby, global horse racing action featured upsets in two British Classics and a fascinating showdown between last year’s 2-year-old Japanese champions.

Here’s how it went, there and in Hong Kong:

England

Trainer Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore “lads” were looking for a Frankel-like performance from City of Troy in Saturday’s Group 1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Instead, they got a repeat of the 2016 Guineas, in which O’Brien-trained Air Force Blue struggled home next-last as the odds-on favorite.

This time around, it was Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby taking the bows for Notable Speech, who was unraced at 2 and tried only three times earlier this year, winning all those on the Kempton weather course. And jockey William Buick was singing his praises.

“I’ve never ridden a horse with his acceleration. It was incredible really,” Racing Post quoted Buick as saying. “He’s got such a great mind and you can do what you want on him.”

Notable Speech is not entered for the Derby and looks more likely at middle distances but his comprehensive defeat of 2023 2-year-old champion City of Troy vaulted his Godolphin stablemate Arabian Crown into the favorite’s role for that Classic.

Don’t count City of Troy out too soon. O’Brien is used to seeing inexplicable defeats turned about in one race’s time. Exhibit No. 1: Auguste Rodin, 12th without excuse in the 2023 Guineas, then first in the Derby.

“The run is too bad to be true as he wasn’t blowing afterwards and we’ll take him home now and see,” O’Brien said of City of Troy.

“It was a bit of a shock, I suppose, as we wouldn’t be here if we thought he was going to do that. Obviously it’s not his running and we can see what happened and why it happened.”

Saturday’s Group 1 1,000 Guineas provided another shock as Elmalka charged from the very back of the field and got up in the final strides to win by a neck from Porta Ventuna. Ramatuelle was third, a short head back.

The favorites, Fallen Angel, Dance Sequence and Ylang Ylang, were eighth, ninth and fifth, respectively.

Elmalka, a Kingman filly trained by Roger Varian for Sheik Ahmad Al Maktoum, was making just her third start. She won at 2, defeating Miss Kubelik on the Southwell all-weather, but finished third in her 3-year-old debut in the Group 3 Fred Darling Stakes at Newbury.

Elmalka was booted home by Silvestre de Sousa, recently returned from Hong Kong, who got his first British Classic victory. Varian said he’s eyeing the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot for his sudden star.

Japan

Sunday’s Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup for 3-year-olds was a showdown between the champion colt and champion filly of 2023 and may have been decided by a traffic jam in the stretch.

Jantar Mantar, the colt, got a clean trip while stalking the leaders outside of rivals. Ascoli Piceno, the filly, raced virtually alongside her rival to the top of the straight, but then fell back just a bit as Jantar Mantar kept her behind some of the fading early runners.

Midway down the stretch, desperately looking for a way through the traffic, Ascoli Piceno appeared to clip heels and fell back.

By the time jockey Christophe Lemaire got her back together and clear on the rail, she did well to rally for second, 2 1/2 lengths back of Jantar Mantar.

Winning jockey Kawada said Jantar Mantar was never in peril throughout the race.

“I had every confidence in my colt,” he said. “Once we were off, I knew he was going to win. There were no doubts in my mind. He ran in good rhythm and showed his true strength. Concerns of his tight schedule — his latest Satsuki Sho start was only three weeks before — obviously was nothing to be worried about.

“I hope I can prove he is the best miler in Japan in the future.”

Hong Kong

There’s one Group 1 race left in Hong Kong’s 2023-24 season and it’s the longest of the bunch, the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup May 26 at 2,400 meters or 1 1/2 miles.

Trainer Tony Cruz warmed up for the race by sending out the 1-2 finishers in Sunday’s Group 3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap at the same distance — La City Blanche and Five G Patch.

La City Blanche was a Group 1 winner at the distance in Argentina in 2021 and showed he still loves the distance by edging his stablemate by a neck after both chased a hot early pace.

Cruz said La City Blanche “is nothing but a stayer. He has no early speed and he likes the good ground and today Matthew Chadwick rode a perfect race. I expected Five G Patch to win the race. I said to my owners, ‘I think my two horses will be first and second today.'”

“A mile and a half will be perfect for them [in the Champions & Chater], as long as the ground is going good.”

Six-time Hong Kong jockey champion Zac Purton hit the 100-win mark for the ninth time with four victories on the day. He leads runner-up Karis Tetan by 32 in this year’s standings with 19 meetings to go.