Winx makes it 27 not out

Winx’s phenomenal story continued on Saturday when she notched her 20th Group 1 success and 27th win in a row comfortably in the Colgate Optic Stakes at Randwick.

The remarkable mare never looked in trouble and her ability shone through when she glided past Le Romain to record a four-length victory.

On her previous outing, Winx had overtaken Black Caviar’s tally of 25 wins in a row and the crowds were out in force to cheer home the wondermare.

Trainer Chris Waller revealed after the performance that Winx is on course for a record-breaking fourth win in the Cox Plate with the Turnbull Stakes her likely next start.

Grunt too good

Mick Price’s star colt Grunt roared back to his very best on Saturday with an authoritative victory in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes.

The son of O’Reilly was back at Flemington for the first time since winning the Australian Guineas in March and produced another supreme performance in the hands of Damien Oliver.

Grunt (O'Reilly) ridden by Damien Oliver streaks away from the field to win the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes "Craiglee Stakes" (1600m) (G1) at Flemington Racecourse. 15 September 2018. Photo credit Darren Tindale / The Image is Everything.

Grunt and Damien streak away with the Makybe Diva Stakes on Saturday – Photo: Darren Tindale/Bronwen Healy

Settled in fifth and always travelling well behind the leaders, Grunt was unleashed by Oliver after turning for home and quickened up well to come home a decisive two-length winner over Kings Will Dream.

Either the Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup could be next on the agenda.

Right on Kew

Kew Gardens delivered a sixth success for trainer Aidan O’Brien in the final British Classic, the Group 1 St Leger, at Doncaster on Saturday.

The Galileo colt proved too strong for filly Lah Ti Dar, with jockey Ryan Moore taking control of the race two furlongs from home.

Lah Ti Dar, sent of the 7-4 favourite, never looked entirely happy on Town Moor under Frankie Dettori but kept on well enough over the extended 1m6f trip to take the runner-up spot beaten two and a quarter lengths.

Kew Gardens was recording his fifth win from 12 starts and added a second Group 1 to his CV to go alongside his success in the Grand Prix de Paris in July.

Kew Gardens reigns supreme in the St Leger at Doncaster – Photo: George Selwyn

Earlier on the Doncaster card, Lah Ti Dar’s year younger brother, Too Darn Hot, extended his unbeaten run to three with a facile success in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes.

The colt, who is trained like Lah Ti Dar by John Gosden, holds entries in three Group 1s next month and no decision on whether he contests those events will be made before the end of the week.

The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Mustashry ran out a gutsy winner of the Group 2 Park Stakes, showing resilience when headed in the final stages to get the better of D’bai by a head under Jim Crowley.

Lion tames Leopardstown rivals

Brilliant three-year-old Roaring Lion showed his class in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday to capture yet another elite level contest.

The John Gosden-trained colt has gone from strength to strength since landing the Coral-Eclipse, producing a sublime performance to defeat King George hero Poet’s Word in the Juddmonte International last month.

On Saturday he was given a well-judged ride by Oisin Murphy to deny Saxon Warrior, his turn of foot proving decisive as he picked up his old rival near the line to score somewhat snugly by a neck.

Roaring Lion is undoubtedly the best progeny of Kitten’s Joy, a champion turf performer in the States for owner-breeder Ken Ramsey. He was bought by David Redvers for $160,000 at Keeneland.

While the winner could attempt to make it a Champions Stakes double at Ascot on October 20, Saxon Warrior will not be among his rivals, a tendon injury sustained during the race meaning the son of Galileo was subsequently retired.

Laurens and Grey cap stellar weekend for Burke

Tenacity has been the hallmark of Laurens’ victories and she used every ounce of that on Saturday in a thrilling renewal of the Group 1 Matron Stakes, upsetting star miler Alpha Centauri.

Last seen finishing down the field in the Yorkshire Oaks over a mile and a half, Laurens was reverting to a mile for the first time this year since finishing second in the 1,000 Guineas.

The Karl Burke-trained filly made all under Danny Tudhope, who came in for the plum ride on the daughter of Siyouni due to regular jockey PJ McDonald’s injury, and repelled Alpha Centauri when she delivered her challenge in the final furlong.

Sadly, Alpha Centauri sustained a fetlock injury in the race and was retired by her owners the Niarchos family.

Havana Grey is the leading performer for his sire Havana Gold

There was to be more Group 1 success for Burke on the second day of Irish Champions Weekend when his sprinter Havana Grey led from start to finish to take out the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.

The son of Havana Gold was kept up to his work in the final stages by Son Of Rest and Sioux Nation but he found plenty to win by half a length.

The familiar duo of Kevin Prendergast and Chris Hayes struck in the Group 2 Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown with Madhmoon, the son of Dawn Approach recording an easy two and a half length success.

Karl Burke on why 2018 has been an exciting season so far

Aidan O’Brien took two of the other events on the undercard at Leopardstown when Rostropovich held on to land the Group 3 Club Stakes, followed later by I Can Fly’s success in the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes.

On Sunday, O’Brien and Moore combined to great effect again when Flag Of Honour was an impressive two and three quarter winner of the Group 1 Irish St Leger, a success which saw perennial champion sire Galileo equal Sadler’s Well tally of 73 worldwide Group 1 winners.  

There was more reason to lament the loss of Scat Daddy on Sunday when the Paddy Prendergast-trained Skitter Scatter delivered in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Tracking the leaders, Skitter Scatter was asked by Ronan Whelan to mount a challenge and despite edging left in the final stages, asserted close home to win by two lengths.

Quorto the real deal

Quorto emulated his sire Dubawi with victory in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, looking every inch a Guineas candidate in the making.

The market billed the seven-furlong contest as a two-horse race between Quorto and Anthony Van Dyck and so it proved, with Godolphin’s representative, just favoured at 11-8, seeing off his Coolmore-owned rival by a length and a quarter under William Buick.

The Group 2 Blandford Stakes also went to the favourite with the Aga Khan-owned, Dermot Weld-trained four-year-old Eziyra defeating Who’s Steph by three quarters of a length.

A trip to Canada for the EP Taylor Stakes could be next in line for the daughter of Teofilo.

Ortiz’s Oscar Performance

Leading US jockey Jose Ortiz produced a masterful front-running ride aboard Oscar Performance in the Woodbine Mile, one of two Grade 1 events on the Woodbine card on Saturday night.

Ortiz got the fractions right on the Brian Lynch-trained son of Kitten’s Joy, gradually winding up the pace before kicking for home and keeping enough in reserve to repel the challenge of Mr Havercamp, who had sat second in the race and kept on well to go down by a length and a half.

Stormy Antarctic finished a highly credible third for Ed Walker but David O’Meara’s Lord Glitters, settled at the rear by Jamie Spencer, could finish only sixth, unable to land a blow.

Perhaps concerned by the prospect of another slowly run race, Jamie Spencer set out to make every post a winning one on Hawkbill in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes.  

Hawkbill lasted until inside the two-furlong marker before dropping away – as his rivals in the ten-runner field spread across the track in the run for the line, it was outsider Johnny Bear who stayed on best of all up the inside under Luis Contreras to gain the spoils by half a length over Mekhtaal.

Chad Brown ‘shipper’ Fog Of War, a two-year-old son of War Front, took the Group 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday, a ‘win and you’re in’ contest for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.

Appleby’s sensational Sunday

Charlie Appleby is enjoying a brilliant season, capped by Masar’s Derby victory in June, and Sunday saw the Newmarket handler hit another landmark, landing a stunning treble in three countries.

Within ten minutes, Appleby had captured two big races with sons of Dubawi, the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh with Quorto and the Group 2 Prix Niel at Longchamp with Brundtland, who made it three from three with a determined success over Hunting Horn under James Doyle.

Team Godolphin l-r: William Buick, James Doyle, Charlie Appleby and Saeed Bin Suroor

Charlie Appleby (middle) has enjoyed a tremendous season in 2018

Later in the day La Pelosa, a two-year-old daughter of Dandy Man, capped Appleby’s perfect Sunday with victory in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine in Canada under Jamie Spencer, outpointing favourite My Gal Betty to earn a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Churchill Downs on November 2.  

Godolphin and Dubawi’s Group 1-winning weekend continued in France on Sunday when the Andre Fabre-trained Kitesurf edged out Magic Wand in the Prix Vermeille under Mickael Barzalona.

Fabre was also on the mark in the Group 2 Prix Foy with Waldgeist, who stamped himself a serious Arc contender with an impressive two and a half length triumph over Godolphin duo Talismanic and Cloth Of Stars.