HORSES TO FOLLOW: potential stars of the future worth keeping an eye on
A plethora of meetings means the racing comes thick and fast through the summer, so it's often difficult for punters and racegoers to keep track.
Particularly hard to get a handle on are the two-year-olds that emerge from week to week and will continue to do so through the autumn.
Exciting offspring of the mighty Frankel have made all the headlines so far, spearheaded by the flying fillies, QUEEN KINDLY and FAIR EVA. But what of other well-bred, potentially high-class juveniles waiting to make their mark in Pattern company? Here is a small but select collection of colts and fillies to have caught my eye in recent weeks. They might have slipped under many radars, but they are well worth monitoring for the rest of the Flat season, and checking out again at the start of the next.
First-time out 2yo winners from the Luca Cumani yard are always to be respected -- and this daughter of Frankel did not let the theory down with an impressive success over 1m at Doncaster last month. Owned by Al Shaqab Racing, she cost 450,000 guineas as a yearling and is described by the trainer’s wife, Sara, as “a big and beautiful filly, very exciting and with a great temperament”. She’s entered in the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarlet next month, but the handler, renowned for his shrewd patience, stresses that the best of her won’t be seen until next season.
The 6f maiden in which William Haggas’s daughter of Power made her debut last week was far from the strongest Ascot will ever stage. But she won it despite missing the break, losing three or four lengths, and despite finding herself trapped for room at the business end, Pat Cosgrave had to gradually switch her round rivals and not until deep inside the final furlong did she finally find clear daylight. But she unleashed a terrific turn of foot to swoop over the top of the leaders. The dam is related to good sprinters, but is by Galileo.
It’s impossible to keep Aidan O’Brien-trained juveniles under wraps, but this son of Galileo and full brother to their 2012 Oaks winner, Was, has escaped the usual hype. Maybe it’s because he was a 2/5 flop on his Leopardstown debut. He’d clearly learned plenty from the experience because when he returned to the same track six weeks later, he made all with a powerpacked performance that went some way towards justifying both his whopping 1.25 million guineas yearling price and O’Brien’s effusive praise of his homework. Given the link to Was and the fact that the dam is a full sister to the 2008 Derby winner New Approach, don’t be surprised if Epsom is on the agenda next year.
Hugo Palmer’s strapping colt defied thorough greenness and looked far removed from a fully wound-up racehorse when somehow winning on debut at Newbury in mid-July. The Classic-winning trainer promised huge improvement and while he definitely unveiled as much in Listed company at the same track a month later, the son of Famous Name still gave the impression that there was so much more left in the locker. In fact the manner in which he demolished a fair field marked him down as Group One potential for next spring and very possibly a 2,000 Guineas candidate. The word is that, at home, he works better than the yard’s talented, improving 3yo handicapper Baydar. Take note.
Recent seasons are littered with disappointing examples of Godolphin-owned juveniles who, for various reasons, have failed to build on initial promise. Emotionless, who looked a world-beater this time last year, springs to mind as the latest. So it is with trepidation that I note this Charlie Appleby-trained daughter of Dubawi, who left a deep impression when landing a 7f maiden at Ascot’s King George meeting in midsummer to give us an idea why she was so heavily backed and why she holds so many big-race entries. Presumably, she will dip her toe next in Group company, which should tell us more.
Showcasing, brilliant winner of the 2009 Gimcrack Stakes at York, is making his mark as a sire this term, most notably via the sprinter-of-the-moment Quiet Reflection. He seems to have transferred his talent also to one of his nieces, Sir Michael Stoute’s Khalid Abdullah-owned filly who has improved with each of her three runs so far and is heading for Group races. Tough, honest and straightforward, she has a pedigree loaded with speed, as the daughter of one crack sprinter, Bated Breath, and a dam who’s the daughter of another, Oasis Dream, but given her attitude, she might well stretch to 1m next season. She is said to prefer quick ground.
PROMISE TO BE TRUE
Plagued by a worrying injury, Ryan Moore has had more reason than usual to be grumpy. But his emotions hit the other end of the scale six weeks ago when he couldn’t disguise his enthusiasm for this filly’s performance in a Group Three 7f contest at Leopardstown. She took time to find full stride, but mowed them down with a striking turn of foot and given that the dam is closely related to Oaks winner Dancing Rain, out of a half-sister to Derby winner Dr Devious, she’s entitled to improve again as she keeps stepping up in trip and might well end up as the Ballydoyle representative in the Epsom fillies’ Classic of 2017. Trainer Aidan O’Brien has also spoken of the daughter of Galileo in glowing terms.
OTHER NAMES TO NOTE -- Argenterie, Dabyah, Exmouth, Hydroxide, Khafoo Shememi, Poet’s Vanity, Promising, Rivet, Sea Of Grace, Seven Heavens, Via Serendipity, Voice Of Truth, Zefferino.
Outstanding horses that have defied the cynics and lit up the 2016 Flat season
It’s at this time of year that certain members of the racing media, whose agendas are driven by a bias towards the Jumps code, try to convince us that the Flat season has been dull and dreary. The flawed basis for their risible argument is that the season has failed to produce any outstanding horses, as if the phenomenons of Frankel and Golden Horn should be annual occurrences. Before the argument takes root, let’s consider this roll of honour, exclusive to 2016: Postponed, Minding, Limato, Mecca’s Angel, Quiet Reflection, Lady Aurelia, Order Of St George, Harzand, La Cressonniere, The Gurkha, Big Orange, Ribchester, Qemah, Galileo Gold, Caravaggio, Mehmas, Almanzor, Seventh Heaven, Blue Point. More than enough names to be going on with, don’t you think?