TWO YEAR OLDS
Ian Heitman was impressed by Sir Michael Stoute’s juvenile
Ian Heitman picks out some eye-catching juveniles
GLORIOUS GOODWOOD REVIEW
The 2017 Qatar Goodwood Festival run over five days from August 1 to 5 began on good ground with the first two-year-old race of the meeting, the Group 2 Vintage Stakes over 7f.
A field of 10 lined up a first prize in excess of £113,000 with Sir Michael Stoute’s EXPERT EYE the 7/4 favourite in a bid to extend his unbeaten record to two. Also looking to extend his unbeaten record to two was Aidan O’Brien’s challenger, SEAHENGE, however he was relatively weak in the betting at 4/1. MILDENBERGER, who was unbeaten in two starts for Mark Johnston, attracted plenty of support and was sent off the 7/2 second favourite.
Expert Eye, who had impressed in the paddock before his debut at Newbury, again took the eye, a strong scopey colt by Acclamation he stood out along with Seahenge who also has plenty of scope. Mildenberger who was colty before his win at Newbury on his second start, behaved a lot better this time but still got a bit warm.
ZAMAN, who was having his fifth start and the first in blinkers, took the field along with French raider COLD STARE racing up with the pace. Mildenberger raced in touch with the pace while Expert Eye settled in midfield and Seahenge was held up by Ryan Moore.
Expert Eye travelled very strongly and made progress on the outside of the field with three furlongs to go, effortlessly taking the lead from Zaman with less than two furlongs to go. Asked to lengthen by Atzeni over a furlong from the finish, Expert Eye shot clear in a matter of strides to win by four and a half lengths from Zaman with Mildenberger keeping on to take third. Seahenge never managed to get close enough to challenge but is certainly going to progress well from two to three.
This was the most impressive two-yearold win of the season so far and Expert Eye was shortened in the betting for the 2018 2,000 Guineas to a best priced 6/1 favourite immediately after the race but is now as short as 4/1.Whilst Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t had a 2000 Guineas runner since 2009,Expert Eye is by some way the best two-year-old he has trained for a number of years and with the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and the Dewhurst at Newmarket on his agenda before the end of the year,Expert Eye will no doubt head into the winter much shorter than 4/1 and a sixth 2,000 Guineas winner for Sir Michael Stoute looks very likely.
Expert Eye was one of four winners of the opening day for Andrea Atzeni who didn’t have a ride in the second two-yearold race on day one, a maiden for colts and geldings over 6f.Despite there being three other big priced winners on day one, the biggest of them all came in this maiden when Gary Moore’s THECHILDREN’STRUST landed a 100/1 surprise, holding off the long-time leader REBEL STREAK inside the last 100 yards and becoming the longest priced two-yearold winner of 2017 and just the fifth debut winner for the yard since 2012. Thechildren’strust should progress from this debut win, however the runner up Rebel Streak was disappointing on his next start when only third at Newmarket on August 19. The race has however already produced a couple of winners with LAKE VOLTA easily winning at Brighton and Ripon and ALGAM winning at Leicester on August 13.
The second day of the meeting saw persistent and heavy rainfall which changed the ground to soft.The Group 3 Molecomb Stakes over 5f saw three of the 13 declared runners withdrawn due to the change in going. INVINCIBLE ARMY who had run well at Newmarket in Group 2 company on his previous start was the 5/2 favourite but he was no match for the all the way winner HAVANA GOLD who won impressively by a length and three quarters,finding plenty when challenged a furlong from the finish and pulling clear with 100 yards to go. Invincible Army ran well to be second with TO WAFIJ running on nicely to be third.
Mark Johnston always targets the Goodwood meeting and having drawn a blank on the opening day,he had two winners on the second day, Londinium winning a three-year-old handicap and THREADING winning the 6f fillies maiden impressively on her racecourse debut by six lengths from YOUR CHOICE and PULITZER. Despite being by Exceed And Excel (progeny have a better strike rate on faster ground), Threading relished the conditions, always travelling strongly for William Buick on the outside of the field, she took the lead over a furlong from the finish and ran on strongly inside the last 150 yards.Whilst winning margins on soft ground can often be exaggerated, there was no mistake this was a smart perform-
ance from Threading who looks sure to hold her own in better company with the Group 3 Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury looking the ideal race for her on September 7.
Day three’s two-year-old highlight was the Group 2 Richmond Stakes over 6f.Due to the change in the ground conditions (still soft) from when trainers declared 48 hours earlier, the field was reduced from 10 to seven. CARDSHARP, who carried 3lb more than his rivals due to winning the July Stakes on his previous start, was the 2/1 favourite with NEBO, second at Newmarket over 7f, at 3/1. Neither were a match for BARRAQUERO who made the jump from winning a novice at Chepstow to this decent Group 2.Always going well for William Buick, he made progress on the outside with two furlongs to go and picked up well to lead inside the last furlong and saw it out well beating Nebo by a length and a quarter. Barraquero was the third winner in this race for Brian Meehan and will be major factor wherever he runs next, he has entries in all the 6f Group races later in the season.
Both Nebo and Cardsharp ran well to be second and third respectively and will continue to give a good account but will struggle to beat Barraquero if they meet again.
Having finished third and only beaten a neck behind TAJAANUS and CAPOMENTO in the Listed Star Stakes at Sandown, BILLESDON BROOK was running on the same mark, 87, in the 7f nursery later on the day three card. She was due to go up 9lb in the weights for that Sandown run and was the 100/30 favourite to take full advantage of being ahead of the handicapper. She didn’t look like winning with a furlong to go, trapped in midfield and struggling to get a clear run but when the gaps did appear, she finished very strongly and collared the runner-up and stable companion, CHEEKY RASCAL in the final strides to win by a head. It was a remarkable win given how much ground she had to make up and despite her having to race off her new mark of 96 next time, she is a very progressive filly and will be adding to her two wins in the coming weeks.
The third two-year-old race on the day three card was a 7f fillies maiden and it was substandard affair with six runners competing for a first prize in excess of £16,000. ROULETTE put her previous experience to good use, leading all the way she had to work hard inside the last 100 yards to hold off the challenge of newcomer RIPLEY with a neck separating the pair at the line. ZILARA, who finished fourth, has a good pedigree but got very warm beforehand, she stayed on well and should progress next time for Ralph Beckett.
Charlie Hills’ RED ROMAN gave the trainer a double on the fourth day in the 6f nursery following Battaash’s impressive win in the 5f Group 2 King George Stakes. Red Roman was dropping from 7f to 6f and led all the way, drifting inside the last furlong but stayed on well to beat 66/1 outsider NEW EMPIRE by a length and a quarter.This nursery had a very lopsided look to it with four of the nine runners carrying more weight than their official
handicap mark due to RUFUS KING’s mark of 103.He was giving his rivals upwards of 18lb and that proved too much as he could finish only seventh.
The final day of the meeting was the weakest in terms of quality due to the Group 1 Nassau Stakes moving to the fourth day.The only two-year-old race was a 7f maiden and it saw a second impressive debut winner of the week for Mark Johnston when DEE EX BEE led all the way under Silvestre de Sousa beating BATHSHEBA BAY by two and a quarter lengths with CAPITAL FLIGHT (one of the nicer types in the paddock beforehand) doing well to finish third having been in the rear for most of the way. Dee Ex Bee was the second two-year-old winner for first season stallion Farhh (WELLS FARHH GO was impressive on his debut for Tim Easterby atYork on July 28) and this strong colt looks a smart prospect.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Away from Goodwood, there have been plenty of Group and Listed races in recent weeks.
The first Group 1 race for two-year-olds was the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on August 13. Aidan O’Brien was responsible for half of the eight runners with SIOUX NATION the shortest of his quartet at 2/1 for Ryan Moore. BECKFORD, bidding to give Gordon Elliott a first Group 1 flat winner was just preferred in the betting at 15/8. U S NAVY FLAG took the field along at good tempo with the market principles racing in touch in midfield. Sioux Nation made good progress on the outside with two furlongs to go and took the lead from his stable companion with a furlong to go and kept on well under a strong Moore ride, having half a length in hand over Beckford who kept on well inside the last furlong but couldn’t quite get to the winner.
This was the 16th time Aidan O’Brien has won this Group 1 race and his eighth in the last 10 years. Sioux Nation will head for either the National Stakes over 7f or the Middle Park Stakves over 6f, both Group 1 races,for his next start but I think Beckford would beat him in the National Stakes where Sioux Nation’s stamina will be fully tested.
Deauville’s summer programme has been very rewarding for British trained two-year-olds with three Listed winners. IZZY BIZU led all the way in the Prix Six Perfections on July 29,MYTHICAL MAGIC made it two wins from two starts when comfortably winning the Prix Francois Boutin on August 13 and PURSUING THE DREAM got off the mark on her seventh start in the Prix de la Valle D’Auge on August 15. Although not at Deauville, there was more success in France when DE BRUYNE HORSE won his third race from seven starts in a Listed contest at Vichy on August 5, having to work fairly hard to do so.
There were two good two-year-old races on the Deauville card on August 19 with plenty of British interest.Seven of the 11 runners for the Group 3 Prix du Calvados were trained in Britain, however the best they could manage was second,LAURENS trained by Karl Burke. She was no match for impressive winner POLYDREAM trained by Freddie Head who won easily by a length and three quarters and could head to Newmarket for the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes next.
The Listed Criterium du Fonds Europeen de l’Elevage over a mile saw STAGE MAGIC from the Charlie Appleby yard beaten right on the line by FRANCESCO BERE having taken the lead a furlong from the finish.Stage Magic had won impressively at Newbury on his second start and having just lost out here, will no doubt gain compensation before too long.
There was a strong British challenge for
the feature two-year-old race of the meeting, the Group 1 Prix Morny on August 20 with three of the eight runners making the trip across the Channel. NYALETI, impressive winner of the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes for Mark Johnston on her previous start was the shortest in the betting with Karl Burke’s pair, HAVANA GREY and UNFORTUNATELY (winner of the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin on his previous start) relatively unfancied in the local betting. The French public got behind Freddie Head’s TANTHEEM and she was sent off favourite ahead of Royal Ascot winner DIFFERENT LEAGUE. Tantheem helped to force the pace with Havana Grey but faded out of contention a furlong and a half from the finish at which point Unfortunately made progress from midfield and took the lead with a furlong to go. He didn’t hang left as he had done in the Robert Papin and kept on strongly to beat his stable companion by a length and a quarter with Different League keeping on to take third. Nyaleti was under pressure over two furlongs from the finish and was sixth. This was a tremendous training performance by Karl Burke to saddle the first and second and was the first time he had trained a two-year-old to win a Group 1 race. Both horses have proved to be extremely consistent and are sure to go well in the Group races coming up in the autumn.
Aidan O’Brien didn’t have a runner in the Morny, his focus was at the Curragh on August 20 where a couple of Group 2 races for two-year-olds took centre stage, the Futurity Stakes and Debutante Stakes. Three of the five runners in the Futurity were trained by O’Brien and they finished first, second and third with ROSTROPOVICH getting the better of COAT OF ARMS close home with BERKELEY SQUARE running on to be third. This wasn’t the strongest Group 2 to be run this year and Rostropovich made hard work of justifying 11/8 favouritism.
The betting suggested there wasn’t much to choose between the O’Brien pair of HAPPILY and SEPTEMBER in the Debutante Stakes with September going off the 11/10 favourite ahead of Happily at 6/4. September, winner of the Chesham Stakes on fast ground at Royal Ascot, was never travelling well for Seamie Heffernan and she was unable to challenge finishing fourth. Happily had every chance racing close to the pace set by her unfancied stable companion MAGICAL but she was always held in second place as Magical led all the way and stayed on strongly under a fine ride by Donnacha O’Brien. A sister to this year’s 1000 Guineas and Oaks runner-up Rhododendron, Magical was winning her second race from three starts and it certainly wasn’t a fluke. All three fillies will no doubt be considered for the Group 1 Moyglare Stakes and the Fillies Mile in September however I would be surprised if they run September on soft ground again.
The ground for Newbury’s two-day meeting on August 18 and 19 started as
good but after heavy rainfall that was changed to soft after the second of two interesting 7f maidens. PURSER was given a fine ride by Ryan Moore to win the first division, held up off the pace, he made progress with a couple of furlongs to go and kept on strongly under hands heels to collar MERLIN MAGIC in the final strides. A medium sized colt by Mizzen Mast, Purser was the third winning newcomer of 2017 for John Gosden following impressive wins for VERANDAH at Kempton on August 9 and IL PRIMO SOLE at Yarmouth on August 17. The yard had another winning newcomer at Newmarket later on August 19 when HUNTING LION won the race Frankel made his debut in seven years earlier.
After a slow start with his juveniles, John Gosden has started to have plenty of winners and given 72% of the yard’s two-year-old winners have come in the last four months of the year in recent years, they are certainly a yard to follow in the autumn.
Another yard who enjoys the majority of their two-year-old wins in the autumn in Sir Michael Stoute (63% of his juvenile winners come in September and October) and he won the second division of the 7f maiden when QAROUN comfortably beat HE’S AMAZING by a length. There was promise in fifth from ISTANBUL SULTAN and sixth from SOLDIERS BAY who both impressed in the paddock beforehand and stayed on well under hands and heels.The Stoute yard also had the winner of the opening race on Nottingham’s card on August 18 when EQTIDAAR, a halfbrother to 2000 Guineas runner-up Massaat, made an impressive winning debut beating fellow debutante MOUNTAIN GUARD by two and a half lengths.
Both maidens recorded times in keeping with soft ground but despite jockeys saying the ground was soft,the going was only changed to soft after both maidens had been run.Surprisingly there was only one horse withdrawn from the Listed St Hugh’s Stakes which left a field of 15 facing the starter.With the market principles OUT OF THE FLAMES and ONE MINUTE both weak in the market, there was a gamble on EIRENE from the Dean Ivory yard from 33/1 to 10/1. Those who were on at big prices never had too many concerns as she was always travelling well held up in the smaller group that raced in the centre of the track and made progress to take the lead over a furlong from the finish and ran on well inside the last 100 yards despite edging to the stands rail,beating SANKARI ROYALE by a length and three quarters with pace setting MRS GALLAGHER keeping on to be third. Neither Out Of The Flames or One Minute got too involved from midfield and will be seen to better effect on quicker ground.
Eirene was the first two-year-old Listed winner for Dean Ivory who enjoyed Stewards’ Cup success with Lancelot Du Lac at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. She will have to be supplemented for the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes but a race like the Group 3 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger Meeting might be a stepping stone to Newmarket later in September.
The only two-year-old race on Newbury’s card on August 19 was the race formerly known as theWashington Singer Stakes, now called the Denford Stakes. This race was won by future classic winners Rodrigo de Triano and Lammtarra in the 1990s, Haafhd in 2003 and Just The Judge in 2012. RED MIST was the 9/4 favourite to add to his debut win at Sandown at the end of July.A good-looking son of Frankel,he along with HEY GAMAN stood out in the paddock beforehand, whilst the second favourite, LEARN BY HEART,also by Frankel,doesn’t have a lot of scope.
Hey Gaman had led all the way when winning a three-runner race at Newmarket three weeks earlier and Martin Harley adopted similar tactics here.Running into a strong headwind, Hey Gaman set a fair pace and found plenty when challenged by Red Mist inside the last furlong holding on by a short head with a length and three quarters back to ANOTHER BATT in third. This was a good effort from Hey Gaman who has plenty of size and scope and will continue to go well. Red Mist might well prove to be the better of the two as this was only his second race and he will have learnt plenty from this.
A couple of maiden winners who should make their mark in Listed company at least are DUBHE trained by Charlie Appleby,the winner of a Sandown maiden on August 10 and VINTAGER trained by David Menuisier who won impressively on his racecourse debut at Newmarket on August 11.