Bracken’s Laugh taking Group One challenge for Hughes at Saint-Cloud

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Bracken’s Laugh could give Richard Hughes plenty to dream about over the winter when he runs in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud on Sunday.

The Zoffany colt made an immediate impression when debuting at Newbury in the Haynes, Hanson & Clark Novice Stakes, moving through the race stylishly before keeping on past some experienced rivals.

He is now both upped in trip and class as he heads to France for a Group One contest his trainer knows plenty about, having won the race as a jockey aboard Sir Henry Cecil’s Passage Of Time.

“He’s a lovely horse and we think a lot of him,” said Hughes.

“It’s a big ask going into such a race on just your second start, but that’s why I ran him in a winner’s race at Newbury.

“He needed to run in a proper race to prove himself and I feel he did that on the day, he made up a two or three lengths on a couple of winners and won well at the line and he proved he goes on the heavy ground.”

Owned by Bernardine and Sean Mulryan, Bracken’s Laugh cost connections 200,000 guineas earlier in the year and Hughes feels he has a horse of huge potential under his care as he prepares to ask a stern question of his exciting young prospect.

He added: “When you spend 200,000 on a horse you hope you are buying a superstar and I stuck my neck on the line for this fella. He’s a huge horse and he did a very good breeze back in May when he shouldn’t have been able.

“He’s got an abundance of pace and he’s bred to stay a minimum of a mile and a half – he’s a three-parts brother to Getaway.

“I feel I have ticked all the boxes other than having only run once, but then Aidan O’Brien’s horses have only run once as well. There’s only seven runners so it’s not a big field and we have a lovely draw and I’m really looking forward to watching this horse run.”

Joseph O’Brien’s Islandsinthestream finished second to Henry Longfellow in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes before scoring at Longchamp last time, while there is an American feel to Aidan O’Brien’s two runners as he saddles both Illinois and Los Angeles.

The former will be ridden for the first time by Ryan Moore, with Seamie Heffernan doing the steering when making a taking debut at the Curragh earlier this month.

Moore told Betfair: “I wasn’t on Illinois when he won at the Curragh on his debut, but everyone seemed very impressed by him. And understandably so. That came over nine furlongs in soft ground, so you’d have to think this test will suit him.

“He is another exciting middle-distance prospect for next season and let’s hope he keeps his unbeaten tag in place, going in over the winter.”

Meanwhile Los Angeles was equally impressive, earning himself quotes for next year’s Classics when a convincing winner at Tipperary first time out.

“He was also dominant when winning over nine furlongs on his debut at Tipperary,” continued Moore.

“This Camelot colt obviously has great potential, and a win for either of ours would not surprise me, for all Islandsinthestream and Shiffrin probably set the standard.”

Nicolas Le Roch’s Shiffrin heads the French assault having won Chantilly’s Prix de Conde last month, while the unbeaten Casapueblo and Christopher Head’s Ramadan will also head to post for a competitive affair.

The Champagne Stakes form will be put to the test once again in the other Group One on the card, the Criterium International, where David Menuisier’s Sunway attempts to go one better than his Doncaster second.

Richard Hannon’s Rosallion has already boosted that race when claiming the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc weekend and now Sunway gets his shot at a top-level prize.

“I think he earned his berth in the race when he ran so well in the Champagne Stakes,” said Menuisier.

“He beat the winner of the Lagardere that day, albeit on different ground conditions obviously.”

Chief among the opposition is Andre Fabre’s Alcantor who has won three of his four starts and is a horse Menuisier already knows plenty about.

As well as accounting for French-based rivals Saganti (Mikel Delzangles) and Havana Cigar (Jean-Claude Rouget) when impressing at Saint-Cloud last time, he also had Menuisier’s Devil’s Point held back in fourth and the British-based Frenchman is respectful of the opposition lying in wait for Sunway.

He added: “It’s the form line of the Prix Thomas Bryon at Saint-Cloud when we finished fourth with Devil’s Point and Andre Fabre’s horse looks really good.

“We respect the opposition but the horse is really well and I’m counting on him for a big run.”

Navy Seal and Portland will represent Ballydoyle, with Patrice Cottier’s Grey Man completing the line-up.

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