Cross Counter and Pinatubo eye G1 glory at the Curragh - GulfToday

Cross Counter and Pinatubo eye G1 glory at the Curragh


Cross Counter finishing first at the G2 Dubai Gold Cup in Meydan earlier this year.

Top stayer Cross Counter and unbeaten two-year-old Pinatubo bid for G1 honours on day two of Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh, Ireland, on Sunday.

Both horses of the Godolphin stable are trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, with last season’s G1 Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter dropping down to a mile and three-quarters for the Irish St Leger following three excellent efforts over further this year.

The four-year-old son of Teofilo was third to Stradivarius in the two-mile G1 Goodwood Cup at Glorious Goodwood at the end of July and came home a close fourth behind the same horse in the G1 Gold Cup over two and a half miles at Royal Ascot in June.

Cross Counter, a G3 winner over 12 furlongs last year, started his season with a comfortable victory over Ispolini in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup over two miles at Meydan, UAE, on Dubai World Cup Night in March.

He faces nine rivals headed by the last two winners of the English St Leger – Kew Gardens and Capri – plus Southern France, who was successful in a G3 over the course and distance on his latest outing.

Appleby said: “Cross Counter has been ultra-consistent this season and we are not concerned with the drop back in trip. He is not short of pace and broke the track record over a mile and a half around Goodwood last year.

“If he can reproduce the level of form he has shown so far this season, he will be a major player.”

Pinatubo, Europe’s top-rated juvenile following four superb victories, steps up to G1 level following a comprehensive five-length win in the G2 Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood on July 30.

The Shamardal colt also showed an impressive turn of foot to readily take the seven-furlong Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and started out with two successes over six furlongs at Epsom Downs and Wolverhampton in May.

Pinatubo lines up against seven others including Armory, Geometrical and Roman Turbo, who were first, third and fourth in the G2 Futurity Stakes, plus G2 Coventry Stakes winner Arizona.

Appleby said: “Pinatubo’s form is faultless and we have been aiming him at this race since he won impressively at Goodwood on his latest start. He has been very straightforward at home and we have been pleased with his preparation.

“He is an exciting colt and we are looking forward to seeing him step up to G1 company.”

Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Musis Amica looks to put a rare below-par effort behind her as she steps up to a mile and a half for the first time in the G1 Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, France, on Sunday.

The four-year-old filly came home seventh in the 10-furlong G1 Darley Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville on Aug.18, having filled the runner-up spot in Listed races over the same trip on her first two appearances of 2019.

Musis Amica, trained by Andre Fabre and ridden by Mickael Barzalona, showed a high level of form last season, winning the mile G3 Prix de la Grotte at Longchamp and finishing a neck second in the G1 Prix de Diane over an extended 10 furlongs at Chantilly.

The daughter of Dawn Approach features among a field of nine that is headed by Classic-winning three-year-olds Anapurna, Star Catcher and Channel.

Elsewhere in Canada, Dubai Sheema Classic hero Old Persian and in-form five-year-old Lucullan look to capture two of Canada’s leading turf G1 races at Woodbine on Saturday.

Old Persian (Charlie Appleby/James Doyle) goes for a second major international success over a mile and a half in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes following a superb victory in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan, UAE, in March.

The four-year-old Dubawi colt’s five rivals include the first two home in the G2 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine in July – Tiz A Slam and Sir Sahib – plus last season’s G1 Canadian International third Focus Group.

Lightly raced Hard Spun horse Lucullan (Kiaran McLaughlin/Luis Saez) makes his G1 debut in the Woodbine Mile following two victories over an extended mile in New York, USA, most recently when scoring by a nose in the Lure Stakes at Saratoga at the start of August.

A field of 11 for the Woodbine Mile is headed by Got Stormy and Raging Bull, who were first and second in the G1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga in August, and Woodbine G2 winner Synchrony.

Related articles