April 12, 2021

New Mandate bosses BC WAYI Royal Lodge; High Definition bursts late in Beresford

New Mandate entered the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf picture in the WAYI Royal Lodge (John Hoy/Newmarket Racecourse)

Saturday’s Royal Lodge Stakes (G2) at Newmarket and Beresford Stakes (G2) at the Curragh, the first two races on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, witnessed striking performances from a pair of exciting juveniles. While Royal Lodge hero New Mandate can’t have classic ambitions at home as a gelding, High Definition stamped himself as the early Epsom Derby (G1) favorite when handing Aidan O’Brien his 20th win in the Beresford.

Royal Lodge

While it’s questionable whether New Mandate would ever use the 10 points earned toward the Kentucky Derby, trainer Ralph Beckett was very open to an American objective in the nearer term – taking advantage of the Royal Lodge’s “Win and You’re In” provision for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

The well-bred son of freshman sire New Bay ultimately went off as the 9-4 favorite at Newmarket, the market persuaded by his progressive profile. Third in his first two starts, New Mandate readily carried the top weight of 134 pounds to victory in a Sandown nursery and toppled some promising rivals in the Sept. 11 Flying Scotsman on St Leger Day at Doncaster.

Acquired by Marc Chan in between those wins, New Mandate made it three in a row here. The bay appeared rank early, and jockey Frankie Dettori did well to get him to settle at the back of the compact five-horse field. Up front, the 5-2 Cobh was bowling along well within himself, until he found much less than presumed.

New Mandate angled into the clear and delivered a potent kick, overtaking not only Cobh but also the Ballydoyle stalker Ontario. Although Ontario never gave up trying to win an eighth Royal Lodge for O’Brien, he didn’t have the gears to match New Mandate. Powering up the rising ground, New Mandate had three-quarters of a length to spare at the end of a mile on good going in 1:37.86.

Cobh, whose only prior loss had come at the hands of highly regarded Chindit, checked in third. Gear Up faded to fourth, and Pleasant Man failed to improve his position in last.

New Mandate is out of the Authorized mare Mishhar, from the immediate family of dual French classic star Avenir Certain. This is also the black type-rich female line of multiple Group 2 victor and top freshman sire Mehmas (see more below) as well as multiple Group 1-winning highweights Warrsan and Luso.

Bred by the eponymous Mishhar Syndicate in Ireland, New Mandate RNA’d for €45,000 as a weanling at Arqana December but sold as an August yearling at the same venue for €35,000. He initially raced in the colors of The Lucra Partnership.

Beckett gave a rather colorful explanation of why New Mandate was gelded last winter.

“He was gelded in January as he was like Warren Beatty on steroids. We had to geld him, but he wouldn’t have been the horse he is if we hadn’t.”

If that operation limits his domestic options, it’s no barrier at all in Hong Kong, where Chan is based. As long as he stays sound and healthy, New Mandate would be a major player in Hong Kong’s Four-Year-Old Series. Circle the 2022 Hong Kong Derby as his potential target.

Beresford

The unbeaten colt High Definition faces no such ceiling in Europe, and his stellar turn of foot in the Beresford propelled him to antepost favoritism for Epsom. That’s not even the first classic in his datebook, for O’Brien nominated “a Guineas” as his next likely racecourse appearance.

A full brother to 2019 Beresford winner Innisfree, High Definition has shown more star quality so far. The son of Galileo and Group 3-placed stakes victress Palace was nowhere to be found for the first 7 furlongs or so of his career debut over a mile at the Curragh, but caught fire late to scythe through the field and win going away.

High Definition ran the same kind of race in this second start, also at a mile but around the Curragh’s big turn (the “new” mile course). Backers of the 9-5 favorite had to wonder if he were ever going to make a show as he lagged near the tail of the 13-horse field.

Meanwhile, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Snapraeterea was threatening to lead all the way. Sheikh Hamdan’s Monaasib emerged to run him down in what normally would have been the winning move.

Finally High Definition began to work his way into the frame for Seamie Heffernan. At first appearing to be along belatedly for a placing, he gained momentum the farther they went, and swamped Monaasib in the last strides to prevail by three-quarters of a length. His time of 1:45.28 reflects the good-to-yielding ground.

Monaasib was attempting a mile for the first time, but it’s hard to say he didn’t get home when he pulled three lengths clear of the distance-proven Snapraeterea. O’Brien’s maiden Sir Lucan got up for fourth, followed by Reve de Vol, Southern Cape, Wuqood, O’Brien’s Brazil, Ides of August, Jack Duggan, Ace Aussie, Lifetime Legend, and the outclassed 250-1 longshot Adakaz.

High Definition, bred by the O’Briens’ Whisperview Trading, is campaigned by the Coolmore principals in partnership with Aidan’s wife, Annemarie. His dam, the Fastnet Rock mare Palace, is a half-sister to the classic-placed pair of Furner’s Green and Lady Lupus. Another of her stakes-winning half-siblings, Mystical Lady, is the dam of Kingfisher who was runner-up in the 2014 Irish Derby (G1) and 2015 Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot.

High Definition’s brother Innisfree has missed his classic chance, having not raced since chasing Kameko home in the 2019 Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1). Hopefully, High Definition can pick up right where he’s leaving off.

Stablemate Ontario, the Royal Lodge runner-up, is bred on the same lines being by Galileo out of a Fastnet Rock mare. If not at the same level as High Definition, he’s not quite the type to use the European Road points toward the Derby either.

The same could be said for all those banking European Road points Saturday. For the record, Ontario and Monaasib each received 4 points, third-placers Cobh and Snapraeterea got 2 points, and Gear Up and Sir Lucan have 1 point from their respective fourths.

Middle Park

Newmarket’s headline acts for juveniles were the Middle Park Stakes (G1) and the Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) for fillies, both over 6 furlongs.

Richmond (G2) romper Supremacy again held sway in the Middle Park in the same front-running style for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby, the same jockey/trainer tandem who took Friday’s Rockfel (G2) with Isabella Giles. Somewhat overlooked at 13-2, Supremacy foiled 5-2 favorite Lucky Vega by a half-length with a one-paced Minzaal another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Next came Tactical, The Lir Jet, Lipizzaner, Charterhouse, and hitherto undefeated Method, whose no-show was explained by a saddle slip.

By the aforementioned Mehmas, who also had Minzaal and Method in the line-up, Supremacy is out of the Arcano mare Triggers Broom who is a half-sister to Hong Kong miler Xtension. But this is the family of highweight sprinter Harry Angel, and Supremacy will stick to the sprinting game next season. Cox is already looking ahead to the Commonwealth Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Cheveley Park

Supremacy turned in a slightly faster time (1:09.73) than Alcohol Free did in the preceding Cheveley Park (1:10.00), but the Andrew Balding filly responded well to pressure and revealed why the late money made her the 7-2 second choice. Ridden by Oisin Murphy, who also steered Balding’s Kameko to victory in Friday’s Joel (G2), Alcohol Free matched strides early with 5-2 favorite Miss Amulet before edging clear. Then Miss Amulet, apparently beaten, found extra to reassert along the rail, and Umm Kulthum bore down on the other side. But Alcohol Free knuckled down to score by a half-length.

Miss Amulet headed Umm Kulthum for second. Happy Romance, who had edged the inexperienced Alcohol Free in the Dick Poole Fillies’ S. (G3) last out, could not confirm the form with an improving opponent. Dandalla retreated to fifth, trailed by Illykato, Zoetic, and an uncharacteristic Sacred.

Alcohol Free, a daughter of No Nay Never and the Hard Spun mare Plying, will aim toward next spring’s 1000 Guineas (G1). Her half-brother Alexander James is a stakes winner in France at about 9 furlongs, but he gets more stamina from sire Camelot than Alcohol Free’s likely to inherit.