Friday 28 October 2016

Golden Horn days are numbered

Arc could be end for unbeaten Derby colt

Frankie Dettori and Golden Horn lead the field home to win The Coral-Eclipse Race. Julian Herbert/PA Wire
Frankie Dettori and Golden Horn lead the field home to win The Coral-Eclipse Race. Julian Herbert/PA Wire
Jack Hobbs, with William Buick up, on their way to winning the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

It wasn’t public knowledge at the time but last year’s gallop with Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs is quite the yarn now.

This year’s English and Irish Derby winners were asked to work together by trainer John Gosden last year and after almost burning up the gallop they were both given time by their trainer who, before the work was even finished, was regretting pitching them together.

Golden Horn didn’t make his racecourse debut until October in Nottingham, and for what it’s worth, we didn’t see Jack Hobbs until three days after Christmas, but both have gone on to much bigger and better things and Golden Horn proved that over the weekend again by becoming the first British-trained three-year-old to win the Eclipse since 1999.

Not since 2009 has a colt from the Classic generation managed to beat his older rivals in the Sandown feature and while this year’s Derby winner didn’t have a whole heap of them to take on, he had a very high-class rival in The Grey Gatsby, who he managed to swat away with ease.

For a colt who connections thought might struggle to get the Derby trip of a mile and a half, we now can’t tell if he is better over that trip or a mile and a quarter, and as is so often the case with high-class three-year-old entires, we won’t have much longer to debate it.

His next target is the 1m4f King George at Ascot, his main end-of-season target is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe over the same trip. Unbeaten horses are rare and are nice to savour while they are around.

If lining up in the King George on all known form, he’d be a favourite to maintain that unbeaten record but the Arc would be a tough test to finish it off with an unblemished record.

The weather gods might determine if Irish racegoers get to see Golden Horn up close and personal. While his owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer earmarked the King George and the Arc, the Irish Champion Stakes over 1m2f wasn’t ruled out if the ground was worse than good to soft at either of his intended targets.

Oppenheimer hailed Golden Horn as the best they’ve had but also admitted he is “not enthusiastic” about racing the valuable colt beyond this season so enjoy him while he lasts.

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