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Monday, March 12, 2007

Holy Roman Emperor!

- George Washington, last year's 2000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II winner has proven thus far to be infertile at stud. Coolmore has announced that it is replacing him with Holy Roman Emperor, their top three-year old prospect for this year's Classics; this despite the fact that the colt is perfectly sound and was ready to go for this year's 2000 Guineas! Like George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor is a son of Danehill. Coolmore boss John Magnier apparently feels that he needs to accommodate all of the mare owners who were counting on breeding to George Washington, and that Holy Roman Emperor will be a suitable replacement.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien was said to be "shell-shocked" at the decision.

"He was the horse we were looking forward to for the Guineas and the St James's Palace. Paul Shanahan was here at 11.30am and the box came and picked him up at 11.50am. I spoke to the boss in between and the more I tried to persuade him not to retire him, the more he was convinced he had to retire him.

"It's a bit like having a team getting ready for the Premiership and your striker's soul being taken away. He was by far our best horse, the others have to make the jump still.[RTE Sport]
Greg Wood, reporting in the Guardian UK, notes:
In the 1980s, the Coolmore mafia was often criticised for retiring a horse as soon as it had won a Classic. Now, it seems even that is an optional extra, and it is not just Holy Roman Emperor's ante-post backers who are - quite rightly - angry and baffled at the sudden exit of a sound, talented and Classically bred colt just weeks before the Guineas meeting.
Ah, those "ante-post backers," or futures bettors in plain American English; they had made Holy Roman Emperor their second choice in the futures betting for the 2000 Guineas. Have you Derby futures bettors ever considered the possibility that a sound Circular Quay could be retired to stud before May? I didn't think so.
Before we descend knee-deep into cynicism, though, it is only fair to point out that Coolmore has taken a much bigger hit from George Washington's problems below stairs than any ante-post punter, even if we allow for the fact that John Magnier is in a much better position to swallow the loss than the average punter too. George Washington had proven Group One class at both two and three years of age. Holy Roman Emperor is also a son of Danehill, but without a Classic season in the form book, hardly the equivalent of subbing Rooney for Ronaldo. [British soccer reference here]

Whatever gloss they try to put on it - and Coolmore does gloss like no one else - this can be no more than a damage-limitation exercise. And if it makes business sense to retire a fit three-year-old with a good chance in the Guineas on last year's form, then there must also be a strong suspicion that Magnier and his associates felt that Holy Roman Emperor's best days might already be behind him. [Guardian UK]


Superfecta said...

Glad we're on the same page with this one...I still don't see how this is going to fly with the various mare owners in question.

Anonymous said...

I dont think Holy Roman Emperor's best days where behind him at all, in fact in his lace race he got beat a scant nose by the undefeated telfillio i know that spelling is probably wrong and holy roman emperor was bottled up for much of the race. I do agree that he cant be considered a suitable replacement for old george since he has not accomplished anything at 3. Do u thing there is any chance old george would be brought out of retirement to race since he is shooting blanks

Alan Mann said...

>>Do u thing there is any chance old george would be brought out of retirement to race since he is shooting blanks

This is from the article in The Guardian:

--As for George Washington, there must now be a fair chance that he will return to the track, although the memory of his half-brother Grandera and the sour truculence of his later racing years, is not a promising omen. In the meantime, Gorgeous George's plumbing will now receive the finest veterinary attention that money can buy.

Anonymous said...

I agree there was probably something wrong with HRE.

While its connections are certainly breeders, they are first and foremost sportsmen that are in this to win the BIG races. There must be something wrong with him and they were probably on the fence regarding retirement, Georges problem bushed them off the fence and HRE into the breeding shed.