Global Weekly Review: Sobetsu on song for the Opera
Breaking news at the weekend: Winx is back, Arrogate is almost back, Almanzor is retired, and Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby left Deauville with realistic hopes of landing major prizes with the outstanding females Sobetsu and Endless Time before the season's end.
Another lively two days on the global scene that has whetted the appetite for the months ahead.
The Chris Waller-trained Winx had arguably the toughest race of her last 18 starts when forced to produce an incredible burst of acceleration to land the G2 Warwick Stakes at Randwick, Sydney.
The daughter of Street Cry, the former Darley stallion, remains on target to snatch a third Cox Plate and within range of Black Caviar's record of 25 consecutive wins. She is truly a great mare and racing would do well to celebrate her for as long as possible.
Interestingly, Winx and Arrogate, the biggest prizemoney earner in history, have more than just a string of wins to their name in common.
On Saturday, Winx, like Arrogate has done, missed the break. She 'blew' the start by four lengths, setting herself the task of having to circle the entire field. It was only in the last few strides that she overtook stablemate Foxplay.
The debate continues about Arrogate's current status, though Saturday's second to stablemate Collected in Del Mar's Pacific Classic was unquestionably a huge improvement on his dismal comeback run four weeks earlier.
'Almost back' is a true reading of where he is at at present.
Almanzor, rated the best horse in Europe last year, has been retired following a lack-lustre comeback effort at Deauville last Tuesday. Clearly, the effects of a devastating virus that struck down the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained colt earlier in the year left their mark.
Godolphin horses continue to make an impact, none more so than the classy filly Sobetsu, who won the G2 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville in quite brilliant style, beating Onthemoonagain and French Oaks winner Senga.
Sobetsu's only poor run came in the G1 Oaks at Epsom, but Appleby said she had put that experience behind her.
"Epsom sort of shook her and it took its toll. But she came back to run a great race in the G1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, and I think her Deauville win showed she has come forward again.
"She has been invited to run in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Keeneland, but after last Saturday, I feel the next logical step is to run her in the G1 Prix de l'Opera at Chantilly on October 1, and I wouldn't mind if she went there without another run," the trainer said.
"Also, we missed the G2 Prix Kergolay on Sunday with Endless Time because of the ground (drying out), but she is on course for another crack at the G1 Prix Vermeille next month (she was 2nd last year). But she's got plenty of options," he added.
"If for any reason she doesn't run in the Vermeille, then there is also the G2 Prix Royallieu, over a mile and a half, at Chantilly on Arc weekend," Appleby said.