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International scouting report for Highlander contender Corinthia Knight

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

June 30th, 2018

Up-and-coming young trainer Archie Watson celebrated his first Royal Ascot winner with Soldier’s Call in last Saturday’s Windsor Castle S. and immediately named the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint as an objective. Now he seeks another breakthrough as sophomore Corinthia Knight takes on older horses in the Highlander (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), on the Queen’s Plate undercard.

Corinthia Knight, best known for his prowess on the all-weather, has yet to score a victory on turf. Although this isn’t an easy spot to update the resume, he’s performed capably on quick ground, including at Del Mar on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard, and will get his optimal conditions here. He’s also a credit to Watson’s horsemanship, maintaining his form through a busy schedule to compile a record of 14-7-2-1.

A €15,000 bargain yearling at Tattersalls Ireland’s September Sale, Corinthia Knight is by top-class sprinter Society Rock. The son of Rock of Gibraltar captured the 2011 Golden (now Diamond) Jubilee (G1) and placed in two other runnings of that Royal Ascot feature. Likewise victorious in the 2012 Sprint Cup (G1) at Haydock, Society Rock twice placed in the July Cup (G1) at Newmarket’s midsummer festival.

The ill-fated stallion sadly died before his first crop reached the racetrack. His headliner was Unfortunately, who topped the French juvenile rankings by taking the 2017 Prix Morny (G1) and Prix Robert Papin (G2). Most recently, his Society Power just finished second in the Jersey (G3) at Royal Ascot.

Bred by his sire’s home, Tally-Ho Stud in Ireland, Corinthia Knight is out of the unraced Victoria Lodge, a Grand Lodge mare responsible for a handful of additional winners notably Italian stakes-placed North Ireland. Interestingly, there is precedent for Woodbine tilts further back in his family. Third dam Amazer won the 1978 Yellow Ribbon and finished third in the Canadian International (G1), and daughter Delighter accomplished the same finish in both races 10 years later.

The precocious Corinthia Knight opened his career as an early spring two-year-old with two straight scores on all-weather at Lingfield and Kempton. He stalked the pace on debut and inhaled even-money favorite Black Orange to win convincingly by 3 1/2 lengths. Next at Kempton, he justified odds-on favoritism, despite shouldering the top weight of 130 pounds, to stretch seven lengths clear.

Switched to turf without success, Corinthia Knight ran respectably when placing second at Ascot to Frozen Angel (a future Group 2-placed performer). He was a better-than-appears ninth of 22 in the Windsor Castle, where his draw didn’t help, and fourth in the Weatherbys Super Sprint (best on his side of the course) on unsuitably soft going at Newbury.

Corinthia Knight regained the winning thread back on the all-weather at Wolverhampton. Forcing the pace under 136 pounds, he outclassed his foes to draw off by six.

The best indicator of his class came in the Sirenia (G3) over Kempton’s Polytrack, his first attempt at six furlongs. Corinthia Knight set pace and got way from all except smart sprinter Invincible Army, who posted a new juvenile course record of 1:11.02 to beat him. Behind them in fourth was Eqtidaar, the future Commonwealth Cup (G1) hero.

Corinthia Knight was not seen again until shipping for last November’s Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar. in position to challenge in the stretch, he was outkicked in fourth, beaten only two lengths by Declarationofpeace and Sound and Silence.

Corinthia Knight and Sound and Silence were back in action a month later at wintry Wolverhampton, but both were upstaged in third and fourth, respectively. The victorious Never Back Down, who swooped fast and late on the far outside, has since gone on to land the Carnarvon at Newbury. That was the last time Corinthia Knight lost on the synthetic.

Reeling off a four-race winning spree at four different tracks, Corinthia Knight followed up a pair of conditions wins at Kempton (quickening smartly between foes) and Newcastle (front-running) with a listed stakes victory in Chantilly’s Prix Montenica (watch how he angles around a wall of horses) and the lucrative All-Weather Championships (forcing the pace) at Lingfield.

 

Corinthia Knight’s skein was snapped last out when he reverted to turf for the May 9 Prix Texanita (G3) at Maisons-Laffitte, but his ninth-of-11 effort is no reflection of his ability on the surface. On the contrary, it’s explicable by overzealous watering of the course. Corinthia Knight lacked his usual zip, came under a ride early, and was not persevered with once he was obviously floundering well out of contention.

“France was a bit of a disaster,” Watson told Racing Post. “We took him over and the ground was slated to be good to firm but they watered and it was quite sticky ground really. He obviously has very good form on the all-weather but on the turf he wants it firm.”

“He has won on a straight track and won over a straight five at Newcastle, but he does really love running off a bend, so these North American races suit him very well.”

Corinthia Knight will have to love Woodbine to put up a bold show against a deep field including a few with international form – Long on Value, Holding Gold, Belvoir Bay (in her old days as a British juvenile) – as well as unbeaten class climber Imprimis. But his consistency, plus blinkers and Lasix, could see him in the mix.

Jockey Luke Morris, writing on his Unibet blog, sums it up:

“I went through the field with a friend in the States and the horse has a bit to find on the figures, but I gather he is 10/1 over there and I definitely give him an each-way shot.”

Corinthia Knight photo courtesy of Racenews

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