2018 Secretariat international scouting reports: Platinum Warrior, Bandua, Ming

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

August 11th, 2018

If Hunting Horn heads the Irish contingent in the Secretariat (G1), the others have claims to be better than they’ve shown so far.


Quick thought experiment: what comes to mind when you hear that a Group 3 winner by Galileo seeks redemption after a subpar ninth in the Irish Derby (G1)? Did you reflexively suppose it was another Aidan O’Brien runner? No, it’s a Mick Halford pupil available at 10-1 on the morning line.

Halford may not be a household name on this side of the pond – Platinum Warrior is his first North American starter – but the veteran trainer has had a European Group 1 winner (Casamento) to go along with success stories at the Dubai Carnival (e.g., Certerach). His client roster includes Godolphin, the Aga Khan, and Yuesheng Zhang’s Yulong Investments, an emerging player on the world stage which snapped up Platinum Warrior for €200,000 as a Goffs Orby yearling.

The first foal from French Group 2 winner Laugh Out Loud, Platinum Warrior debuted in a hot Curragh maiden last August. The gray finished a midfield eighth of 16, not far behind fellow firsters Hunting Horn (fourth) and Hazapour (seventh). Platinum Warrior arguably should have won second up at Dundalk, but he idled a bit once striking the front and got mugged on the line. He made no rookie mistake next time over the track, drawing off in a 7 1/2-length rout.

Platinum Warrior made his seasonal reappearance in a premier handicap at Navan April 23, where his sixth isn’t a true bill. Between racing in a pocket, toting 134 pounds, and battling rain-softened ground, he could not do himself justice.

Halford pitched him into the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (G3) next, and the 40-1 shot checked in a decent fourth. If unable to challenge Hazapour or the O’Brien duo of Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon, Platinum Warrior was comfortably best of the rest, including a subpar Nelson.

Platinum Warrior took a leap forward on a good-to-firm surface in the Gallinule (G3), handing Halford a milestone 1,000th win. Traveling well in a stalking spot, he got first run on favored Latrobe and held sway by 2 1/4 lengths. Watch how he still looks green drifting out in the clear:

His Irish Derby bid was virtually over before it began, so his ninth is not a proper read on where he stacks up.

“He got very upset in the stalls and split his gum open,” Halford reported on his website, “and he ran way below his best.

“It was a very muddling race in that they went no gallop, and it was just a day to forget and we know that he is a good bit better than that.”

Indeed, it paid to race handy in the Irish Derby, and if Platinum Warrior had worked out a trip similar to the Gallinule, he might well have made the top four. The what-might-have been is only accentuated by the fact that Gallinule runner-up Latrobe sprang the Irish Derby upset, edging Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior.

Platinum Warrior is eligible to rebound if he handles the occasion at Arlington. He had a reportedly mild case of shipping fever that kept him in the barn Tuesday. But he was back on track Wednesday, Halford’s bulletins have been upbeat, and the incident was apparently no more than a blip on radar. With early entries in both the St Leger (G1) at Doncaster and Irish St Leger (G1), Platinum Warrior has a home reputation that he may fulfill.


Another who had a hopeless task of making up ground in the Irish Derby, Bandua boasts even fancier entries than Platinum Warrior. Master trainer Dermot Weld has nominated him to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1), European classics, even the U.S. Triple Crown. And considering that he was mentioned as a Belmont (G1) candidate, an American foray has been in mind for the Calumet Farm colorbearer.

That makes sense in light of his American pedigree. The $150,000 Keeneland November weanling is by The Factor and out of the Seattle Slew mare If Angels Sang, from the immediate family of Storm Cat. Bandua is a half-brother to Southern California graded winners Tale of a Champion and Mr. Roary. Although his pedigree doesn’t necessarily scream distance, Weld has molded him into a performer who’s unbeaten at 10 furlongs.

As a 17-hand beast, Bandua was not pressed into service at two. He began his career with a pair of wins on atrocious ground at Cork in April. Unveiled in the same maiden that produced Weld’s 2016 Derby (G1) hero Harzand, Bandua was the third choice in a four-horse field. But he was the only one who extended on the heavy going, in a stretch drive reminiscent of steeplechasers slogging to the line after the last fence. O’Brien’s Giuseppe Garibaldi, the even-money favorite, didn’t stride out at all and was virtually eased across the line in a remote third.  

Bandua came right back over the same course and distance in a conditions race. The ground was soft-to-heavy, looking more like a Flat event than his maiden. Under 136 pounds, he was driven out to prevail from Whirling Dervish, who was receiving seven pounds. Whirling Dervish furnishes some neat collateral form. Next time out, he was third to O’Brien’s useful stayer Southern France in the Yeats S. Southern France later placed second to Kew Gardens (the next-out Grand Prix de Paris [G1] conqueror) in the Queen’s Vase (G2) at Royal Ascot.

According to irishracing,com, Weld’s postrace plan was the Gallinule, but he ended up swerving the Curragh prep. The Belmont possibility was also scrapped, so he wasn’t seen again until his audacious tilt at the Irish Derby. In the circumstances his eighth, beaten six lengths, wasn’t too bad. Bandua reported home one spot behind Epsom runner-up Dee Ex Bee, and one spot ahead of the out-of-sorts Platinum Warrior.

Bandua stretched out to 1 3/4 miles in the July 26 Vinnie Roe, named after Weld’s globetrotting stayer, and contended into the stretch as the 9-4 favorite, But he ultimately toiled home fifth, likely just outstayed by the dead-heat fillies Cimeara and Sizzling.

Shortening up is the right policy for Bandua. The ground remains a question since he’s unplaced in both tries on good-to-firm, although it’s not fair to draw too many conclusions from the Irish Derby and a marathon.

Weld has won the Secretariat before, with Winchester (2008), who was also unplaced in the Irish Derby and crying out for a cutback in trip. His profile was otherwise a little different from Bandua’s. Winchester had won a much better maiden at Leopardstown, beating eventual Irish Oaks (G1) heroine and Epsom runner-up Moonstone, and he was tested at Royal Ascot, where he was unplaced in a loaded King Edward VII (G2). Winchester had arguably more form to lean on, while with Bandua, it’s a case of putting faith in Weld’s high opinion.


Jockey-turned-trainer Joseph O’Brien has upstaged proud father Aidan in both the Melbourne Cup (G1) and Irish Derby. Can he do it again at Arlington with a once-beaten class climber?

Ming will be making his first start for new owner Mohammed Hamad Khalifa al-Attiyah. The gelded son of Pour Moi, a half-brother to Italian co-highweight Permesso, was a €50,000 Goffs Orby yearling hitherto campaigned by Demi O’Byrne.

A debut winner at Dundalk in April, Ming opened up versus a modest bunch despite wandering in the stretch.

Ming was thrown straightaway into Group company in the Gallinule. Whether it was a case of second-out nerves or something else, he was lit up early and never switched off as he attended the pacesetter. Ming pounced, but couldn’t go on when accosted by Platinum Warrior. To his credit, he kept trying to hold a placing and was only swamped late in sixth.

Settling for easier spots in his two ensuing starts, Ming has shaped well. In a three-runner race at Gowran, he settled kindly behind the leader and attacked on the far turn. Weld’s odds-on filly, Chiara Luna, took off in pursuit down the lane, but Ming was too good to catch.

His outing at Navan, against three rivals, was even easier. Cruising last to first, still on the bridle as the rest were coming under pressure, Ming handily beat Change of Velocity, Godolphin’s winner of the premier handicap dubbed the “Ulster Derby.”

If the Gallinule was simply too much too soon, it’s anyone’s guess how much he’s learned from his past two, virtually gallops in company. It’s asking a lot to handle a big field, in a Grade 1, on a stage of this magnitude. The Secretariat offers the right trip and the right ground; now we just need to see if Ming has the right stuff.

Platinum Warrior photo courtesy of Coady Photography