THE week after a major meeting such as Royal Ascot is always a quiet one on the whole, but the racing burst into life at the weekend and there was plenty to write home about.
Take a look at our latest instalment of Hotpots and Howlers, where we pick out the good, the bad and the downright ugly.
The obvious place to start is the Irish Derby at the Curragh, and the shock win of supposed pacemaker and 33-1 shot Sovereign from the Aidan O’Brien team.
The bookies had Epsom champ Anthony Van Dyck as the 5-4 jolly, with Madhmoon and Broome both 5-2 shots. Any other result would have been a big surprise.
Derby dynamo Padraig Beggy cut out the running on Sovereign with Norway in close behind – also for the O’Brien battalion – with the other six runners happy enough to sit ten lengths off the pace.
The first sign of panic in behind was when Norway started to slow up and the likes of Ryan Moore and Chris Hayes quickly got to work as Sovereign began to fly up the home straight.
Broome was beat miles out, and Madhmoon struggled to make up much ground. Only Anthony Van Dyck picked up with much gusto to run into second, but it was all in vain as Sovereign stuck on to win by six lengths.
So was it simply a bunch of bad rides in behind? Or was Sovereign a hugely-improved horse and a deserved winner? Somewhere in between? Well, in the immediate aftermath, we’ll never know.
The Curragh has recently had a £70 million facelift, and introducing sectional times, as promised by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) a number of years back would have been a cheap way of giving Irish racing a huge boost.
Straight away the pundits on TV could have alerted punters to how this shock result came about, and just whether they were right to feel so aggrieved.
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Staying in Ireland, but switching to the ‘Hotpots’, and it was brilliant to see Ger Lyons win the Group 2 Railway Stakes with the mightily impressive Siskin.
Hindsight is brilliant, but skipping Royal Ascot may have done wonders for the long-term career of this horse and Juddmonte may have got themselves another smart one on their books.
Quotes of 12-1 were quickly snapped up for the 2000 Guineas next season, and arguably only Pinatubo has been a more eyecatching juvenile to win a big pot this season so far.
Monarch Of Egypt looked to have needed the outing and was weak in the betting, but there’s no doubt who the horse to get excited about from the Railway Stakes was.
Another man that had a good weekend was Dr Marwan Koukash at his beloved Chester.
As ever he sent out a decent team at his local track, but landed a magnificent three-timer with a certain ‘Gabrial’ name being the common theme.
First the well-backed Gabrial The Saint struck for Richard Fahey in the second, before Gabrial The Wire won the feature of the day with ease for the same connections.
The team wasn’t done yet though, and the Ian Williams-trained Angel Gabrial completed the hat-trick in the penultimate race on the card. Some afternoon for Chester’s favourite doctor.
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One supposed ‘gamble’ went miles wide on Saturday, as the talking horse Gibbs Hill was a pulled-up last in the Northumberland Plate.
Backed all week, supposedly nothing to do with the yard, he went off at 5-1 after being as short as 3-1 on Friday.
In all that drift probably showed the weakness of the alleged gamble in the first place. It takes peanuts to move an antepost market these days.
It was a tough weekend for trainer Roger Varian, especially at Newcastle, where he had several well-fancied horses turned over.
Howman was beat at 6-4, while on Thursday and Friday he had a decent team up north and only 1-3 jolly Turjomaan could find the back of the net.
It’s not been a season to get down in the dumps over at Rogers, but it would have been a weekend to forget in a hurry.
A final Hotpot award goes the way of the Tim Easterby team and the loveable Wells Farhh Go who made an impressive return to the track at Newmarket.
He defied his absence to land the Listed Fred Archer Stakes and swat away the likes of Barsanti and Charlie Appleby’s Walton Street.
He’s had an up and down career, with plenty of niggles keeping him off the track for lengthy periods at times, but there’s monster engine in there on his day and he clearly loves it at Newmarket. He’s now 2-2 on the July course.
Let’s hope the Easterbys can keep him healthy as the sport is always better off for having good horses firing in the North.