August 04 2018
Hitting the 60-winner mark, success at Royal Ascot and finishing a close second in the All-Weather Trainers’ Championship are the highlights of what has been a highly rewarding first half of the year for Archie and his dedicated team at Saxon Gate.
Only his former boss William Haggas and international super powers John Gosden and Charlie Appleby can boast a higher strike rate among the country’s top 20 trainers. Archie entered August with an impressive 21% return, amassing more than £670,000 in prize money gained from as far afield as Hamilton and Musselburgh in Scotland, Ffos Las in Wales and Great Yarmouth on the East Coast.
But his success with two-year-olds has been even more remarkable. No fewer than 22 juvenile winners have been sent out from Saxon Gate at a strike rate of 30%, taking the team into August in seventh place in the trainers’ earnings table. Indeed, only Gosden had a marginally higher yield.
Archie’s star two-year-old Soldier’s Call, owned by Clipper Logistics, established himself as one of the leading colts of his generation when landing the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes in June, becoming his young trainer’s first Royal Ascot winner. The son of Showcasing ran another big race to be third in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, despite being bumped at the start, and will now be aimed at the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint over five and a half furlongs at Churchill Downs as his end of season target.
Nate The Great came within a neck of adding a second Royal Ascot success when only just failing to get his head in front in the Listed Chesham Stakes at the Royal Meeting. The Nathaniel colt remains an exciting prospect after finishing in the frame in another Listed race at Ascot in July and will be stepped up in trip as he has hinted in both of those starts that he is now ready for a mile.
Meanwhile, Qatar Racing’s Federal Law earned a crack at the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, offering enough promise to suggest he can build upon his mid-division finish on a track that probably didn’t play to his strengths, while Shumookhi earned valuable Black Type in a Group 3 in Deauville in July before finishing second in a Listed race in France – impressive for a filly who cost just £11,000.
Archie’s most prolific two-year-old in the first part of the season, however, was Rockin Roy, who took his tally to three from six when scoring at Wolverhampton at the end of July. A debut winner on turf at Beverley, the son of Fast Company was selected for a value £36,000 at Goffs Breeze-ups in April.
The leading money-spinner among the older horses at Saxon Gate is the ultra-tough Corinthia Knight, who has been skillfully handled to win seven of his nine starts on the All-Weather, including the £150,000 3YO Final at Lingfield Park on Good Friday. Ontoawinner’s star sprinter didn’t come home from Canada with any prize money in June after being coltish in the preliminaries but still gave his syndicate owners a huge thrill by contesting the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine, and will continue to compete at Pattern level. Archie is confident that he is back to his old self following a timely gelding operation.
The first big winner of the Turf season was the prolific Brandon Castle, who returned from a short break to win the £62,000 first prize in the totepool Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh at the end of March. Remarkably, that was the rejuvenated gelding’s sixth win for Archie since arriving at Saxon Gate off a 36lb lower rating last summer.
As they say in racing, every winner counts, and at a lower level one of the yard’s favourites Captain Lars continues to run with great enthusiasm, earning his sixth success of the year at Lingfield Park in May. The Surrey track also brings the best out of the nine-year-old Attain, whose win there in an amateur riders’ handicap under the excellent Simon Walker in June was his fourth of the year – all achieved at Lingfield.
Sometimes defeat can reap its own rewards and owners Boadicea Bloodstock were delighted to achieve more valuable Black Type with their Elusive Quality filly Snowy Winter when she finished second in a Listed race over the extended mile and a quarter at York at the end of July. It was her fourth placing at Listed/Group level following other big runs in the Magnolia, the Rothesay and the Hoppings and she deserves to win one soon. For a filly who cost only 7,500 euros as an unraced three-year-old she is certainly gaining considerable paddock value.
A return to a mile and a quarter at Sandown Park in July saw De Medici maintain the yard’s good form with a handicap win in the first time blinkers. Racing in the colours of Al Asayl Bloodstock, the three-year-old really dug deep under Oisin Murphy to supplement his debut success on the All-Weather at Lingfield Park in the winter and was subsequently sold for 95,000 gns at the July Horses in Training Sale at Tattersalls. Dual winner Luchador, in the same ownership, was also sold at the same sale for 55,000 gns.
Oisin, who achieved his second Group One success for Qatar Racing on Lightning Spear in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, continues to be an important member of Archie’s team, as his record this year illustrates. His 13 winners for the yard entering August were achieved at a strike rate of 25%.
The more recent link-up with Hollie Doyle has also proven productive. She has been operating with a one in four statistic, while top northern jockey Danny Tudhope’s first seven wins from just 20 rides for the stable – including the Windsor Castle on Soldier’s Call – gave him a strike rate of 35%.
Young Eddy Greatrex, of course, remains our winning-most rider. Such an integral part of the team, he entered August with 21 winners from just over 100 rides, enjoying a particularly fruitful partnership with Corinthia Knight and dual All-Weather winners Quiet Endeavour and Casima.
In our next round-up we’ll be reflecting on a busy August and looking ahead to some of the bigger Autumn targets for our stable stars.
By Simon Mapletoft