ANNIKE BYE HANSEN
Stabell talk 2023
Half a head from being a winner
Yukochan - ready to step up at three
Given how her famous half-sister Takeko improved from two to three, it's fair to assume that Yukochan can improve in 2023 - though will she be as good as Takeko? That, as they say, remains to be seen - but the way she shaped as a juvenile suggests that she is one to look forward to seeing race on. She is a maiden, but that's down to bad luck, not for want of trying. In fact, this filly has yet to finish worse than second. She was beaten half a head coming up against Stripeof Stars when making her second start last November, tackling 1600 metres on the dirt track. The two had the race between them through the final furlong and, as Yukochan ran a bit greenly, her rival's experience probably became the telling factor. That said, the photo could have gone either way and who wouldn't fancy Yukochan in a rematch? Stripesof Stars was the odds-on favourite, having run second, beaten just two lengths behind Ami de Vega, in the Norsk Kriterium on his previous outing. Flower Power, who checked in a length and a half behind Yukochan in third place, had also won previously, and the form looked good.
Yukochan turned out once more before the season came to a close, taking part in a similar contest eleven days later. She was sent off as a narrow favourite and ran another fine race, though her market rival, Chadwick, proved too good, denying her by open lengths. It's hard to know which of these two performances was the better. It may have been the run against Stripesof Stars but note that Chadwick was coming off a fifth place finish in Vinterfavoriternas Pris at Bro Park, a race won by the smart Got A Lot from Cotton Eye Joe, another high class youngster based in Sweden. Either way, Yukochan ought to be strongly fancied were she to stick to maiden company early in the 2023-season. After that, we shall she how she can progress. All of her runs in 2022 came on dirt (she was runner-up to Soulofchess over 1100 metres on her debut) and it will be interesting to see her on turf. GS 230111
Learning all the time
17 Nov 22: Yukochan continued her education in a juvenile maiden run over 1600 metres, finishing second, beaten only by the race favourite, Chadwick, who had previously run fourth in Norsk Kriterium and fifth in Vinterfavoriternas Pris at Bro Park. Yukochan fluffed the start was bounced around a little early doors. She was again running a bit erratically, though perhaps not through any fault of her own this time, and she was a well deserved, clear runner-up. This was another positive performance by the daughter of top class sprinter Acclamation. She will have learnt a lot from the outing. Reine des Mers, who had finished five lengths behind Yukochan over the same trip two weeks ago, snatched third place on the line. This looked a nice maiden heat likely to produce future winners. GS
Still a maiden - but only just!
Yukochan runs big in defeat
6 Nov 22: Does Yukochan know that she didn't win today? Probably not. Making only her second start, she improved nicely on her runner-up effort first time out to lose by just half a head to the more experienced favourite Stripesof Stars, who was coming off a win over the turf course in September. Yukochan, ridden by Jacob Johansen, actually headed him marginally inside the final furlong, but he fought back and 'won the bob'. The photo could have gone either way. Yukochan raced a bit too freely early on in the 1600-metres dirt race, and she ran green also coming down the home straight. There was nothing wrong with her attitude though, she clearly wanted to be first past the post. Judged on this performance her day will come, no doubt about that. Takeko's half-sister may run once more this autumn - and she seems to be a runner to look forward in next season.
Yukochan – you'll recognise her pedigree
Takeko will get a sibling amongst her training partners this year. A two-year-old filly named Yukochan, closely related to last year's runner-up in the Norwegian 1,000 Guineas, has been purchased in Ireland and is set to join Annike's team. Yukochan is out of Ahd, the dam of Takeko, and her sire is Acclamation, who is also the sire of Takeko's father, Mehmas. Mehmas has been dealt with under Takeko, but what was his father all about? Firstly, he was a really good, much better known, and above all immensely popular racehorse. He has been just as successful as stallion. Actually, that's not quite right, as it is safe to say that – good as it was – Acclamation's racing career can now be seen as notch below what he has achieved at stud.
Acclamation, who stands for €27,500 at Rathbarry Stud in Ireland, was a high class sprinter trained by small time handler Gerald Cottrell in England. He ran 16 times, won 6 races and amassed total earnings of £361,753 in a career spanning three seasons. He was bought for just £33,000 at the Doncaster Bloodstock Yearling Sales – an investment that proved to be very shrewd. The son of Royal Applause – another excellent speed merchant – made five starts as a juvenile, when he won a Sandown maiden on his second outing, then added to that success with a Novice Stakes win at Newbury and a far more valuable result when landing the £200,000 St Leger Yearling Stakes at Doncaster in the autumn. Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Acclamation took the race by 2 ½ lengths from Old Blue Yes, as he race favourite Captain Rio had to settle for third place. £151,800 of the big pot was thus credited his owners, Dulford Cavaliers. It was mission accomplished, no doubt, but there was more to come from this energetic runner – a lot more, though it would take some time before we saw what he was really capable of.
He had some issues at three, when he ran just twice in the latter stages of the season, finishing third on both occasions; in the Diadem Stakes (G3) at Ascot and in Bentninck Stakes (LR) at Newmarket. Looking at the betting for these races, it is interesting to note how quickly punters wanted him back on their side. He went off at 25-1 at Ascot, where he was beaten 2 ½ lengths behind Crystal Castle, but was 7-2 joint favourite when third to Needwood Blade at Newmarket.
The following year was going to significantly more productive. Acclamation faced the starter eight times as a four-year-old, and at the end of the year he was well established in the elite. He opened the campaign by running third behind the classy filly Airwave in the Temple Stakes (G2) at Sandown Park, a traditional stepping stone to Royal Ascot, where Acclamation turned up for the King's Stand Stakes (G2) – one of Europe's most prestigious 5-furlong events. He performed to a high level on the prime time stage, but Australian raider Choisir ran even better, beating Acclamation by a length. The improving three-year-old Oasis Dream finished third and it was he who would be the hero when these three met again in the 6-furlong July Cup (G1) at Newmarket just over three weeks later. He powered home for a popular home win over Chosir, who just managed to beat Airwave for second place. Acclamation failed to fire, finishing 11th in the 16-runner field. A near two-month break followed and when we saw him at the races again, it was at one of his favourite haunts, Doncaster. A drop in class it was, though it was still nice to see him back to winning form, albeit in a dead-heat with Chookie Heiton. Acclamation used the race as a prep for a crack at the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) over 5 furlongs at York. Once more he proved that he belonged in the top divisions, taking third behind Oasis Dream and The Tatling. Next up was a Listed contest at the tricky Goodwood deep in Sussex, and Acclamation handled it just fine, winning the Starlit Stakes by a head from Torosay Spring. Not many horses manage to shine over courses as different as the flat Doncaster, the steadily climbing Ascot and the undulating, 'off balance' course at Goodwood. Acclamation had become the complete racehorse. He was sent back to Ascot for a second attempt at taking the Diadem Stakes (G2) and this time it all clicked. He won the race by three parts of a length from Polar Way.
His first start outside of England came just eight days later, and it was not a relaxing holiday trip. Acclamation went for the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (G1) on 'Arc' day. Frankie Dettori, who had partnered him at Ascot, stayed loyal to Cottrell's stable star and together they managed fourth place, just 1 ½ lengths behind the winner, Patavellian. An invitation to the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) at Sha Tin two months later was an extra reward. A trip like that would have been a far cry from what his connections were hoping for when paying 33 grand for him as a yearling. The turning Sha Tin course did get the better of Acclamation, who once more had Frankie on his back, but finishing fifth to the local champion Silent Witness was no mean feat. Silent Witness was unbeatable at Sha Tin, where he won 18 races all told, and he went in as the odds-on favourite. Acclamation was unusually far back in the early stages but he picked up a bit in the straight and stayed on to be beaten 4 lengths. As Dettori dismounted, that was it, it was the end of Acclamation's career. A career that proved how success at the top level could still be achieved with cheaply bought horses.
Acclamations career as a stallion has been even better. Whereas he failed to find Group 1 success as a runner that has not been a problem as stallion. He has sired a number of top class performers, most notably Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) winner Expert Eye and the two sprinters Equiano and Marsha. Equiano avenged his father defeat in the Royal Ascot event when capturing the King's Stand Stakes (G1), while Marsha's finest hour came when she denied North American wonder girl Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) at York. Acclamation is also the sire of Dark Angel, a fast juvenile who has become a very popular stallion, and My Sister Nat sticks out among his best fillies with mote stamina. She ran second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) last year, having won the Waya Stakes (G3) on her preceding start. Both these races were contested over 11 furlongs. GS 220321