Group Two Sapphire Stakes Guide 2022

Andy Smith | @AndySmithRacing

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Frankie Dettori


J: Frankie Dettori
T: Charles Hills
Age: 7
Weight: 9-9
OR: 108
Days: 14

Charles Hill's 7 year old has been blowing hot and cold recently. An established sprinter, the son of Equiano was knocking on the door of group level in 2019.

Managing to win a listed race towards the end of the year, he was then gelded before the 2020 season.

The procedure unlocked some improvement with him winning a listed handicap in Meydan easily before going close in a group 2 while over in Dubai.

His career best run coming off the back of that to be 2nd to Battaash in the 2020 King’s Stand.

His form did dip off thereafter but he looked better than ever back in Dubai last spring. Winning a handicap off a rating of 110 before scoring his first group success.

This season however he’s not looked the same horse. Running a decent enough 5th in the Kings Stand at Ascot this year, he was then soundly beaten in a group 3 at Sandown only two weeks ago.

He’s got to recapture old form to have a say here.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Colin Keane


J: Colin Keane
T: Jack W Davison
Age: 4
Weight: 9-6
OR: 112
Days: 32

A frustrating 2 year old campaign saw wins hard to come by for this filly. Going close in listed company, she then dropped back to maiden level but took another three attempts to get off the mark.

Having finally scored her win at the seventh attempt, she looked to kick on as a 3 year old. She did just that when capturing a listed race smartly and going close in a group 3 at Naas behind A Case Of You.

Rounding out last season with a gutsy group 2 win she looked to continue her progression as a 3 year old but again has found wins hard to come by.

She’s run creditably in defeat in all her outings this season, being beaten a neck in a listed race on return and going close behind Brad The Brief in a group 2 at the Curragh.

She was last seen putting in a stellar performance to be 4th home in the King’s Stand at Ascot. This drop in grade should help but she’s struggling to get her head in front this year.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Wayne Lordan

New York City

J: Wayne Lordan
T: A P O'Brien
Age: 3
Weight: 9-5
OR: 106
Days: 62

Seemingly the second string for Aidan O’Brien, New York City failed to notch a win as a juvenile despite having five runs.

Beaten in a brace of maidens, he was then pitched into the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket where he only managed to come 9th.

Again sent back into maiden company he failed on two more occasions to score a victory.

He put that right on his first outing of this season however and smartly won a maidan at Navan on comeback by 7 lengths impressively. He then backed that up in style to take a listed race in similar impression fashion.

Last seen upped to group company, he failed to justify favouritism and couldn’t get near Twilight Jet at Naas in a group 3. That rival not doing much for the form being last home on his subsequent two runs.

He looks mighty talented but might just find this a step too far for now.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Ryan Moore


J: Ryan Moore
T: A P O'Brien
Age: 3
Weight: 9-5
OR: 110
Days: 7

This 3 year old made a startling impression on debut last year when bolting up over 5 furlongs in a maiden with bundles in hand.

Sent straight for group races off the back of that he just failed to make his presence felt but ran well in group 2 events to be 4th and 7th.

Looking to build upon that blistering debut as a 3 year old he’s really failed to fire on all cylinders this year. Being beaten twice at listed level, he then showed some more of his promise when being a very impressive 4th in the Commonwealth Cup despite a mammoth price tag.

Connections keeping the faith with him at group 1 level, he was last seen in the July Cup at Newmarket but struggled against older horses and only managed to beat one rival home.

Pitched against older horses here and only a week after his Newmarket run, he looks to have a lot to find.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
W J Lee

Castle Star

J: W J Lee
T: J A Stack
Age: 3
Weight: 9-5
OR: 112
Days: 294

Yet to be seen as a 3 year old, Castle Star earmarked himself as one to follow last season with blistering displays in sprints as a juvenile.

Despite failing to win in two runs in maiden company, he easily gained listed success at the Curragh and backed that up with a devastating display to gain a group 3 on deep ground over 6 furlongs without any hassle.

That was his final win of the season but he was in no means disgraced in higher grades on his last three outings of the campaign. Coming 2nd in the Railway Stakes behind Go Bears Go, 4th in the Railway Stakes and then a career best to be 2nd to Perfect Power in the Middle Park Stakes.

We haven’t seen him since his run at the end of September last year but he showed plenty as a juvenile to suggest that he can play a part at this sort of level.

A drop back to 5 furlongs might not be ideal however.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Daniel Tudhope

Last Crusader

J: Daniel Tudhope
T: K R Burke
Age: 3
Weight: 9-5
OR: 108
Days: 56

Karl Burke sends his 3 year old Last Crusader here off the back of a poor showing at Haydock behind King’s Lynn in the Temple Stakes.

After looking relatively outclassed in deeper races as a 2 year old, Last Crusader has again looked at sea when pitched into group level as a 3 year old. Last year saw him scrape home in a novice before having his sights aimed higher but group level saw him well beaten.

This season returning in a group 3 at Newmarket he only managed to beat one rival home before a drop to listed level saw him win with plenty in hand.

Looking like he could make the transition up to group 3 level last time out he failed to have any kind of say in the Temple Stakes and again only had one horse behind him. Group level looks out of his reach currently.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Ben Coen

Ladies Church

J: Ben Coen
T: J P Murtagh
Age: 3
Weight: 9-2
OR: 97
Days: 29

Only rated 97, Ladies Church looks to have a mountain to climb here to get competitive.
Despite looking a talented 2 year old after winning a listed race in fine fashion, Ladies Church struggled to move up in grade off the back of that and finished the season being well outclassed by Geocentric.

A return in listed company to kick off this campaign nearly saw her get off to the perfect start but she just failed to get past Sacred Bridge, going down in 2nd by only a neck.

Last seen pitched into handicap company, she was sent off a warm favourite for the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Stakes at Royal Ascot but struggled to get competitive, finishing in 10th.

She didn’t look straight forward at Ascot, ducking right out of the stalls and wandering around late on. She’ll need to be much more professional here to get involved at a deeper level.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Gary Carroll


J: Gary Carroll
T: G M Lyons
Age: 3
Weight: 9-2
OR: 103
Days: 38

Ger Lyons looked to have a real rocket in his juvenile ranks last year with Geocentric. Breaking her maiden at the second time of asking in fine fashion at prohibitive odds, Geocentric was quickly moved onto bigger and better things.

Going close behind Sacred Bridge in a group 3 over 6 furlongs, she then made the trip over to Ayr for a listed race but failed to fire over 5 furlongs. Having to settle for 3rd.

Scoring a listed race at the end of the season, easily dispatching Ladies Church, suggested she could have a strong future as a sprinter this year. However she’s struggled to really make her mark. Being seen off by Romantic Proposal on comeback, she was then handily brushed aside by Brostaigh at Naas back in May.

She finally looked to have put it all together last time out and just got the better of Pirate Jenny to score a listed race at Cork by a short head. This requires more however and so far this term she hasn’t hinted that she is ready for group level action.

Curragh - July 15 2022
Curragh 14:10
Dylan Browne McMonagle


J: Dylan Browne McMonagle
T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Age: 3
Weight: 9-2
OR: 105
Days: 41

Joseph O’Brien’s 3 year old filly had a torrid time trying to shed her maiden tag last year. Narrowly being denied on her first two runs, a move to listed company left her heavily exposed and she ran poorly.

It took her another three tries in maiden ranks to score her first win and she did so by a very narrow margin despite a 1/3 starting price.

She’s been aimed higher this campaign and made her return at listed level at Cork. Sent off a huge 80/1 she outran her odds to only be beaten a length into 4th by Sacred Bridge.

She’s since taken a major step forward. Winning a listed race at Naas where she got the better of the battle hardened Logo Hunter before a brilliant group 2 win at Chantilly.

She looks to be rapidly improving and has shown some nice versatility this season. Not one to be discounted lightly if continuing her progression.