Ian Heitman reports on the busiest time of the year for two-year-old races
Ian Heitman on the busiest time of year for two-year-olds
The last issue covered the first four two-year-old races at Royal Ascot and whilst the meeting was a few weeks ago, there were two further races which weren’t covered.
The Group Two Albany Stakes over 6f was for fillies only and a decent looking field of 20 assembled. ALPHA CENTAURI went into the race having won her first two starts impressively and she was the 2/1 favourite for Jessica Harrington. A filly with plenty of size and scope,she took the eye in the paddock beforehand. Aidan O’Brien had three runners in the race,with CLEMMIE, a full sister to 2017 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill, the shortest priced at 7/1 and second favourite. Ger Lyons’ BLACK SAILS and Wesley Ward’s imposing FAIRYLAND were both at 8/1.
The field split into two groups with Fairyland leading the stands side group and French raider DIFFERENT LEAGUE leading the larger far side group closely followed by Alpha Centauri who travelled strongly for Colm O’Donoghue.That pair were always in control of the race and they went clear of their rivals with a furlong and a half to go.Different League,who had travelled strongly to win both her races in France,kept on strongly inside the last furlong and held off the challenge of Alpha Centauri to win by a neck with TAKE ME WITH YOU faring best of the stands side group to be third. Clemmie who finished seventh was the third horse home in the far side group, beaten five lengths by the winner.
Different League was the first Royal Ascot winner for her trainer Matthieu Palussiere and jockey Antoine Hamelin and this good-looking daughter of first season stallion Dabirsim should be a match for the colts in the Prix Morny at Deauville on August 20. Alpha Centauri will have no trouble in picking up a Group race or two over the coming months with the Group Two Debutante Stakes at the Curragh also on August 20 over 7f the ideal race for her. Take Me With You is a weak looking filly but a good mover and she ran an excellent race to lead home the stands side group. She will have no trouble getting off the mark in maiden or novice company on her next start.
The Chesham Stakes is the only two-yearold race at Royal Ascot to be run over 7f and is restricted to horses whose sires won over a mile and a quarter or further. SEPTEMBER was the very strong 11/8 favourite for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore having won a maiden at Leopardstown impressively 16 days earlier.
A medium-sized filly by leading Japanese stallion, Deep Impact out of multiple Group One winner Peeping Fawn, September is bred to top class and she retained her unbeaten record in good style. Settled in the rear of midfield behind the strong pace set by NYALETI (winner of a novice on her debut at Salisbury only six days earlier), September made progress with two furlongs to go but still had a few lengths to find with Nyaleti over a furlong from the finish.
She stayed on strongly inside the last furlong and grabbed the lead from a tiring Nyaleti with 100 yards to go and stayed on well to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths from Nyaleti who ran really well in second with MASAR running well for Charlie Appleby in third.
September was the third winner in the Chesham for Aidan O’Brien following Maybe in 2011 and Churchill in 2016 and it is likely September will try and emulate Maybe by winning the Debutante Stakes and Moyglare Stud Stakes where there will be intriguing clash with Albany second Alpha Centauri.
Sandwiched between Royal Ascot and
the July Festival at Newmarket were the Irish Derby meeting at the Curragh from June 30 to July 2 and the two-day Eclipse meeting at Sandown on July 8 and 9.
Aidan O’Brien had a very successful Irish Derby meeting,winning seven of the 23 races including the Irish Derby with Capri. Four of the seven winners came in two-year-old races,the first of which was in the first race of the meeting when HAPPILY easily won the 7f fillies maiden by a length and three quarters from SHALAILAH. The first race on the second day also saw an O’Brien winner when U S NAVY FLAG (14th in the Coventry at Royal Ascot) led all the way and easily accounted for his 12 rivals.
The feature two-year-old race of the meeting, the Group Two Railway Stakes over 6f did have an O’Brien favourite in MURILLO but he could finish only third behind BECKFORD who maintained his unbeaten record in good style and provided Gordon Elliott with a first Group winner.The next race for Beckford should be the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on August 13 where he should take plenty of beating.
For the third day running,Aidan O’Brien trained the winner of the opening race on the card when GUSTAV KLIMT looked a very smart prospect winning the 7f maiden under Ryan Moore beating his main market rival WOULD BE KING by a length and three quarters. The last of the O’Brien two-year-old winners came in the Group Three Grangecon Stud Stakes when CLEMMIE got off the mark at the third attempt beating her stable-mate BUTTERSCOTCH very easily by two and three quarter lengths.
The feature race of the Eclipse meeting at Sandown, saw a record equalling sixth win in the Eclipse for Sir Michael Stoute when Ulysses just managed to hold off
the next race for beckford should be the group one phoenix stakes at the curragh on august 13 where he should take plenty of beating
Barney Roy in a fantastic finish with a nose separating the pair at the line.
The Listed Dragon Stakes over 5f was one of two two-year-old races on the first day of the meeting with six of the eight runners having had their previous starts at Royal Ascot. ROUSSEL, who had finished second in theWindsor Castle Stakes,was the 5/4 favourite ahead of the only previous Listed winner in the race, HAVANA GREY (National Stakes over course and distance in May and carrying a 3lb penalty for that win) at 3/1. Other Royal Ascot also rans to make the line-up were Windsor Castle fifth LAST PAGE and Queen Mary 16th Formidable Kitt. Havana Grey who was a little disappointing when only 10th in the Norfolk Stakes repeated his performance from the National Stakes by breaking well from the stalls and getting the lead against the rail. Always going strongly for PJ McDonald he kept on well to record a length and a quarter win from Roussel who never managed to challenge the winner with TO WAFIJ in third.
Havana Grey is much better going from the front and with Glorious Goodwood looming,he should run well in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes.
The 7f novice race went to PETRUS for Brian Meehan and James Doyle.He stayed on strongly to beat Pam Sly’s BARFORD with BROGAN running a promising debut for Mick Channon especially as he looked to need the run in the paddock beforehand.
NEWMARKET JULY FESTIVAL
The July Festival was three weeks after Royal Ascot and got under way on July 13. The first two-year-old race the Group 2 July Stakes over 6f saw a field of 12 line-up with Coventry Stakes winner, RAJASINGHE bidding to maintain his unbeaten record but having to carry 3lb more than his rivals because of his Royal Ascot success. There were eight last time out winners in the race, seven of which had come in maiden or novice company with only Rajasinghe’s Coventry win the only last time out win in Group company.
INVINCIBLE ARMY, one of two in the race for James Tate,proved to be the main market opposition to Rajasinghe following an impressive win on the July course on his previous start and he was eventually sent off the 3/1 favourite. Rajasinghe wasn’t the only Royal Ascot winner in the race,Windsor Castle winner,SOUND AND SILENCE was having his first start over six furlongs and he was the third choice in the betting. CARDSHARP finished a very good third in the 5f Norfolk Stakes and he was stepping back up to 6f having finished off well at Royal Ascot.
Having been last into the paddock at Royal Ascot, Rajasinghe was first into Newmarket’s paddock and he quickly made his presence felt by making plenty of noise. He looked in good shape as too did Invincible Army and ENJAZAAT.
There was plenty of pace in the race with US Navy Flag and Invincible Army going off in front together with Cardsharp who led a group of three in the centre of the track.Not too many of the 12 runners managed to get too involved with the pace setters dominating throughout with Cardsharp keeping on best of all and leading with 100 yards to go and beating US Navy Flag by a length and three quarters with Rajasinghe keeping on inside the last furlong to be third but never able to challenge.
This was Cardsharp’s third win from six races and it was the first win in the July Stakes for Mark Johnston who had had a couple of second and third places in the race in previous years.He will no doubt be aimed at a Group One contest later in the year and whilst he probably would need a further step up to win one of those, Johnston managed to get Group One win for The Last Lion in 2016 who like Cardsharp was kept very busy throughout his twoyear-old campaign.
US Navy Flag ran a great race given he lost a shoe during the race and he will no doubt get his head in front in a Group race
before too long. The way Rajasinghe finished in the last furlong suggested he would be better over seven furlongs with races like the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster looking ideal for him.
The maidens at the July Festival are always paying close attention to and the 6f fillies maiden on the opening day should through up a few winners over the coming weeks.MAYBRIDE was dropped in grade by Richard Fahey having finished 10th in the Queen Mary on her previous start and with Ryan Moore aboard for the first time, she was the 2/1 favourite. SPRING COSMOS a strong daughter by Acclamation representing Charlie Appleby and William Buick was second favourite at 9/2 with Hugo Palmer’s PULITZER at 6/1.
The field split into two groups, Spring Cosmos led a group of five in the centre of the track whilst Richard Hannon’s LAMYA (very fit for her racecourse debut) raced prominently towards the far side with outsider SHADOW SEEKER. The group led by Spring Cosmos were always in control and she stayed on very strongly inside the last furlong to win by a length and a quarter from INDICIA, a newcomer from Charlie Hills’ yard with ANNA NERIUM doing best of those from the far side group in third.Maybride was well placed but failed to quicken and finished fifth.
Spring Cosmos looks capable of making the step up into Listed company with the Star Stakes at Sandown looking the ideal race for her.
The feature two-year-old race on day two was the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes for fillies. CLEMMIE was the 11/8 favourite to add to her recent Group 3 win in Ireland with NYALETI, dropping to 6f after her excellent second in the Chesham,at 7/4.There was plenty of pace early on with MISTRESS OFVENICE (fourth in the Albany) and Nyaleti disputing the lead with Clemmie settled in midfield. Ryan Moore made his move on Clemmie with two furlongs to go and she took the lead over a furlong from the finish and stayed on well inside the last 100 to win by a length and three quarters from Nyaleti with MAMBA NOIRE keeping on taking third ahead of Mistress Of Venice.
This was a very smart performance from Clemmie with Ryan Moore stating after the race she was the best two-yearold filly seen out so far this year which given the way September won with Moore aboard at Ascot is high praise. Clemmie will be aimed at the Group One Moyglare Stakes in September over 7f and will no doubt take plenty of beating.
Nyaleti ran another good race bumping into another well-bred and very smart filly from Aidan O’Brien’s yard. It’s unlikely O’Brien will have a runner in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood at the end of August and given the way Nyaleti races prominently,she would be hard to beat in a race the yard won in 2016.
TANGLED got off the mark on his hand- icap debut in the 7f nursery for Richard Hannon when he beat UTHER PENDRAGON easily by three and a half lengths.
The first division of the 7f maiden was slowly run and it a developed into a sprint with two furlongs to go.BEING THERE who had the benefit of a previous run just managed to beat newcomer DOSWELL by a head with pace setter YAAFOUR in third. DUKHAN didn’t get the best of runs through and kept on well to be fourth ahead of DEJA who finished well on his racecourse debut. A length and three quarters covered the first five with five lengths to next placed horse GLOBAL CONQUEROR.
The second division was run at a much better pace and it produced a good finish with GLOBAL GIANT getting the better of TRIBAL QUEST by a short head, the pair drawing three lengths clear of BUSTAM in third.Global Giant should be able to defy a penalty in novice company next time whilst Tribal Quest should have little trouble in taking a maiden on his next start.
The third day’s two-year-old highlight was the Group 2 Superlative Stakes over 7f with 10 runners facing the starter. GUSTAV KLIMT was the well supported 5/6 favourite to add to his recent maiden win. AQABAH was next in the market at 5/1 having finished fifth in the Coventry Stakes on his previous start. ZAMAN set a good pace under Adam Kirby with FINNISTON FARM and NEBO also racing prominently.Gustav Klimt was close to the pace and travelled well for Ryan Moore but had looked to have plenty to do when a gap he thought was there between Nebo and Finniston Farm over two furlongs from the finish closed on him and he had to switch left to the far side of the track and had a bit of ground to make up a furlong from the finish.Nebo had taken the lead by this point and he looked like winning but Moore managed to get Gustav Klimt up close to the finish for what looked with two furlongs to go an unlikely win, a head the winning margin with half a length to GREAT PROSPECTOR in third.
It is hard to say how far Gustav Klimt would have won had he managed to get the clear run but he was by some way the best horse in the race and he looks sure to go well in Group One races like the
National Stakes and Dewhurst later in the season. Bookmakers shortened Gustav Klimt to 6/1 for the 2018 2,000 Guineas and given the yard’s recent record in that race, won three of the last seven, that is probably the race they will look to win with him.
The O’Brien team would have gone to Newmarket expecting three winners on day three and whilst Gustav Klimt delivered, Caravaggio could finish only fourth in the July Cup behind impressive winner Harry Angel and SIZZLING ran well to be second behind POETIC CHARM from the Charlie Appleby yard (11th debut winner of the year).
A half-sister to Teofilo,Poetic Charm has the pedigree to be a Group performer and given the way she stayed on inside the last furlong under hands and heels underWilliam Buick beating Sizzling by a length, there is every chance she will be figuring in Group races before too long.
PROMISE AT ASCOT
Ascot staged a two-day meeting on July 14 and 15 and whilst the quality of the twoyear-old races wasn’t as strong as at Newmarket, there were a few promising performances.
REBEL STREAK finished a length and three quarters behind LETHAL LUNCH in the opening 6f novice race. He couldn’t a clear run a furlong and a half from the finish but stayed on well inside the last 100 yards but couldn’t get to the winner. Rebel Streak’s trainer Andrew Balding has only had one two-year-old winner so far in 2017 (newcomer Fortune’s Pearl at Chepstow) but Rebel Streak should be adding to his total before too long.
MANKIND kept on well inside the last furlong to be fourth and this strong colt by Dabirsim will have no trouble winning races for George Scott (six winners so far in 2017).
RUFUS KING defied a handicap mark of 94 to win the 6f nursery comfortably from DRAGONS TAIL and continued Mark Johnston’s excellent run of form with his juveniles.Rufus King was the 30th winner of the year and he went on to add two more later in the day whenVentura Knight won at Carlisle and Cape Bunting made it two win from two starts at Musselburgh.
The second day of the two-day meeting saw a novice auction divided into two races. CURIOSITY defied a penalty for a win at Newcastle when he beat PREACHER MAN by half a length with JAZEEL running well on his debut for Mick Channon. SOTOMAYOR, a strong colt by Havana Gold, looked well in the paddock beforehand but never managed to land a blow finishing eighth. He should do better next time for Richard Hannon.
Whereas Curiosity was able to defy a penalty,CHRISTOPHERWOOD (winner at Salisbury on debut) couldn’t.He had every chance from the front but weakened out of contention over a furlong from the finish with victory going to Richard Hannon’s TIGRE DU TERRE who travelled strongly for Martin Harley and made progress against the stands side rail to lead with a furlong to go and he ran on well to win by four and a half lengths from CUBAN HEEL who improved on his debut run to be second with LAUGH A MINUTE (edgy in the paddock and very keen to post), running well to be third.
Tigre Du Terre looked in good shape in the paddock and moved well to the start but was unfancied in the betting at 14/1 with Laugh A Minute the well supported 15/8 favourite. Martin Harley had only ridden for Richard Hannon five times (one winner) before getting the leg up on Tigre Du Terre and given the number of runners Hannon has, there will no doubt be more coming Harley’s way in the future.
Sound and Silence