Henrythenavigator is Sheer Class
1st (4) Henrythenavigator 4-7 Fav
Henrythenavigator proved a different class to his rivals in completing an elusive treble in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt became the first horse since the same trainer’s record-breaking Rock Of Gibraltar in 2002 to add the mile contest to victories in both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas.
O’Brien enthused: “I find it hard to think that I’ve had a better miler than him. He’s a great horse - exceptional.”
Henrythenavigator was held up at the rear under Johnny Murtagh before weaving through beaten rivals in the straight and quickening to lead above the furlong pole. The Kingmambo colt kept on strongly to repel the challenge of Raven’s Pass by three quarters of a length.
The winning rider said: “He showed a great turn of foot. I dropped my reins and when I got a hold of them again he picked up and went away.
“It opened up nicely for him. The lesser horses weakened and he had the class to take the gaps He knows he’s the best horse now and he trains like he’s the best. He’s an exceptionally good horse.
“He’s a very professional, class horse. Aidan always said he was the best two-year-old last year.”
O’Brien is happy to keep Henrytrhenavigator at a mile after the colt set a new track record of 1m 38.70s on his favoured fast surface, but has not ruled out a step up in trip.
He said “I’m delighted. He’s a really special horse, this fellow. He has speed, stamina, class, pick up and a great attitude. He’s a very unique horse.
“Johnny was telling us all of the time after the English Guineas what would happen in the Irish Guineas. He’s been riding him in all of his work and he was saying what was going to happen today. Obviously, Johnny rode him with that confidence and it’s unbelievable.
“All things are open to him. After every race, when we go home and see how the horse is, everyone sits down and talks about the route he can go. I think he can go a lot of different routes this horse. They’re all open to him.
“You could drop him back, you could step him up in trip, you could leave him at a mile. It’s a great decision to have to make. He’s a very neat horse and we know he loves it at a mile. Every horse isn’t the same every day but in the vein of form that he’s in at present, he’s an unbelievable racehorse.
“We always take it one race at a time. We all know how hard it is to get to a race so we will sit down and talk about the options. His full-sister was placed in an Oaks so he has a lot of options.
“We’ll be keeping him to good ground. We know he’s so good on it - he’s special.
“The ground in Ireland last year was winter National Hunt ground. We hadn’t seen anything like it. We knew he wanted it fast and so although he was beaten twice he wasn’t beaten far in those races and that was down to his class.”
RAVEN’S HAS BREEDERS’ AIM
Trainer John Gosden was delighted with the effort of Raven’s Pass to finish within three-quarters of a length of Henrythenavigator in a brilliant renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes.
“That was a proper run and we nearly frightened the winner,” said Gosden. “The Guineas was a mess for him but he was back to his best here and ran a blinder.
“We know now he stays a mile and this was definitely the race to go for, not the Jersey. The owners (Robert and Janice Macnair’s Stonerside Stables and Sheikh Mohammed) both want to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile so we will have that at the end of our programme.”
Twice Over was a further two and a half lengths back in third and his trainer Henry Cecil said: “They broke the track record and you would have to be pleased, he ran a great race. It was a bit too fast for him, he would prefer some give and I think he’s more a mile and a quarter horse than a miler. He went on the ground today but it is not his going.
“We run Phoenix Tower tomorrow (in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes) and he will like the faster ground. I think he has a good chance so we will see what happens with him before deciding what to do with this fellow. In races like the Eclipse I do think four-year-olds have an advantage at that time of year.”
Twice Over’s jockey Ted Durcan said: “He ran an excellent race and there are no excuses. It was a properly-run mile race and everything worked out okay - he had a split. He has run very well.”
Cat Junior defied his 66/1 starting price to finish a good fourth and his trainer Brian Meehan said: “We’ve always thought the world of him and I’m very pleased with that. I don’t know what happened last time when he ran at Newmarket but we were vindicated in running here.
“There are no initial plans for him, we took a view with all the (David) Sullivan-owned horses this year that we would supplement them for big races if they needed an entry, otherwise it gets out of hand. There are plenty of options.”
Olivier Peslier, rider of French 2,000 Guineas hero Falco, who was fifth today, said: “He ran okay. He travelled easily on the bridle, was coming well but only continued on the same pace.”
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