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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Weighed in: the best and worst of the weekend

Monarchs Glen: could be a four-year old to follow
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We take a sideways look at the best and worst moments from the weekend's racing

Performance of the weekend

It would be easy to give out the gong to Aidan O'Brien for another Group 1, but, given how Newmarket's Rowley Mile was riding, Monarchs Glen's Group 3 victory to round out the meeting was particularly impressive.

It paid to be handy and on the stands' rail, but Monarchs Glen came from off the pace and down the centre of the track to back up his Listed win last time out.

The son of Frankel has started to calm down when racing this autumn, and if he continues to channel his undoubted talent in a positive direction, then he could be a four-year-old to follow next year.

Disappointment of the weekend

It's not like Khalid Abdullah has been starved of big-race success of late, but his famous colours were barely sighted in the Dewhurst as Expert Eye blew his first Group 1 audition.

The colt lost his race before the stalls opened, having become restless and he then refused to settle in the early stages. Last of the nine runners, it's too early to write off Expert Eye, but he does need to rebuild his reputation to be considered a live 2,000 Guineas contender again. 

Picture of the weekend

Jockeys walk out of the weighing room for the Autumn Stakes

Jockeys make their way out to the parade ring for the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket.

The Game of Thrones winter is coming award

It was good to see Finian's Oscar make a successful debut over fences at Chepstow, and but for an unfortunate stumble there could have been an interesting match between Colin Tizzard's star and Alcala.

There will be plenty more big guns emerging in the coming weeks to go novice hurdling and chasing, and hopefully Saturday's four-runner field will not be the norm, as a long odds-on shot taking on a handful of rivals rarely makes for captivating sport.

The Steve Palmer this will not be beaten award

Anyone who listened to Friday's Racing Post podcast would have heard Frank Hickey telling everbody that Withhold would win the Cesarewitch.

Hickey's unshakeable faith in the favourite was shared by punters as he was heavily backed to oblige, and Roger Charlton's four-year-old made the 34-runner handicap puzzle look like child's play to the delight of all, except bookmakers.

Magnanimous quote of the weekend

"It would be a massive achievement for everyone. We don't think about it as a long term thing. We take each race and each day as it comes. It's a big team effort."

Aidan O'Brien's superb 1-2-3-4 in the Dewhurst took him to within of one victory of equalling Bobby Frankel's record of 25 Group/Grade 1s in a calendar year . Yet it is a mark of the man that he was quick to praise the whole Ballydoyle team rather than bask in the success alone.

It would be a massive achievement for everyone. We don't think about it as a long term thing
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