Video form plus comments on Euros in Canadian International
Protectionist (photo courtesy WEG/Michael Burns via Woodbine Twitter)
The German standout captured the 2014 Prix Kergorlay (G2) en route to Melbourne Cup (G1) glory:
Erasing a forgettable 2015 spent in Australia with Kris Lees, Protectionist is back to his best for Andreas Wohler in Germany. The son of Monsun is three-for-three, featuring wins in the Hansa-Preis (G2) (which he’d first won in 2014) and the Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1).
Watch how he crawls on the lead early and sprints late:
The runner-up in Berlin, Nightflower, came back to score a repeat win in the Preis von Europa (G1).
Protectionist was expected to try the Grosser Preis von Baden (G1), or the Prix Foy (G2), but a muscle pull reportedly kept him under wraps. Wohler had the option of putting him away for the rest of the year, so the very fact that Protectionist is back on his travels must be a positive sign.
The Niarchos Family homebred won his first four starts, including the 2015 Prix du Lys (G3) and culminating in the Grand Prix de Paris (G1):
Erupt lost his perfect mark on unsuitably soft going in the Prix Niel (G2), where he wound up a distant fourth. The Francis-Henri Graffard trainee did much better in defeat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) (fifth) and Japan Cup (G1) (sixth).
Ignore his flop on bottomless ground in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1), for Erupt turned in a much more representative effort in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1). Watch how he passes nearly the entire field when second to Silverwave:
After a fifth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1), Erupt was third in a slowly run Grand Prix de Deauville (G2). The top two both advanced to the Arc, and Deauville runner-up Siljan’s Saja exceeded expectations in fourth.
The Queen’s colorbearer rolled in his seasonal reappearance in the John Porter (G3), which had been transferred to the synthetic at Chelmsford, and followed up with a front-running coup in the Ormonde (G3).
Dartmouth brought the house down at Royal Ascot after prevailing in a pulsating duel with Highland Reel in the Hardwicke (G2). A fitter Highland Reel, on a quicker surface in the King George, was a different proposition, and Dartmouth was along belatedly for third. In the counterfactual department, it’s worth wondering if more use should have been made of his tactical speed:
Sir Michael Stoute then freshened him up for a fall campaign, which Dartmouth kicked off with a solid second in the Legacy Cup (formerly the Arc Trial) (G3) at Newbury. Appearing roundly beaten in midstretch, he kept on grinding late and didn’t miss by much to the useful sophomore Algometer (who was in receipt of 12 pounds). Dartmouth should come on a bundle for that, contested over an 11-furlong trip a bit short for him.
A full brother to world-class stablemate Highland Reel, the Aidan O’Brien pupil opened his three-year-old season by placing in the Ballysax (G3) and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (G3). Neither set up well for him (heavy ground in the Ballysax and given too much to do in the Derrinstown).
Idaho was next a commendable third in the Epsom Derby (G1), where he might have struck the front a little sooner than ideal:
In his rematch with Harzand in the Irish Derby (G1), Idaho played his hand later and served up to a stiff challenge before yielding in second:
Much the best in swashbuckling style in the Great Voltigeur (G2), Idaho was the odds-on favorite in the St Leger (G1), only to lose his footing and dump his rider. I think he would have won readily, but you be the judge:
The one caveat about Idaho is the questionable depth of the 12-furlong three-year-old colts in Europe this year. Harzand’s had excuses, but US Army Ranger has continued to underachieve. On the other hand, Idaho may take after Highland Reel and just keep improving all year. If so, the dual Derby placer is in the right place to strike a blow for his crop.
Postscript on Lasix and ground conditions: Idaho and Dartmouth add Lasix, while Erupt and Protectionist do not. If the forecast rain turns the ground softish, it could advantage Protectionist and Dartmouth, both stamina-laden types proven in these conditions. Idaho should be fine as well, since he handles soft going and it won’t turn heavy. Erupt is the one who really wants the rain to go away.
Continue to Part II on the E.P. Taylor (G1)...