Stoute feels Expert Eye can end drought
Trainer rates two-yearold colt his best for years Cooper named as Potts’ No1 jockey in Britain
For a man who has been at the top of his profession for most of his 45 years as a trainer it may come as a surprise to know that Sir Michael Stoute’s last Group One two-yearold winner was Red Bloom in the 2003 Fillies Mile, long before it was moved from Ascot to Newmarket.
Since then Stoute has not exactly been quiet; he has won two Derbys, a St Leger, a Prix de L’arc de Triomphe, a Gold Cup, two King Georges, two Eclipses, two Internationals, two Canadian Internationals and a hatful of Breeders’ Cups races, making him, by some margin, the most successful British trainer at America’s end-of-season finale.
“A typical Stoute improver” is modern racing parlance for a certain type of horse, such as Harbinger, Ulysses and Champion Stakes hopeful Poet’s Word, with which he excels.
But the man whose trademark virtue is patience saddles Expert Eye, the 4/6 favourite, in Saturday’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes, the piece de resistance of Newmarket’s Dubai Future Champions Festival. The only time he won the race was with brilliant sprinter Adjal 31 years ago.
Expert Eye, a Khalid Abdullah homebred, looked the best juvenile colt seen this season by some margin when he won Goodwood’s Vin- tage Stakes by 4½ lengths. That impression has been borne out by the fourth, James Garfield, winning the Mill Reef and the fifth, Seahenge, landing the Champagne Stakes.
“I’ve been training a long time,” said Stoute, having watched Expert Eye breeze up Newmarket’s Al Bahathri gallop. “We had precocious two-year-olds but we don’t seem to get so many now. It’s an imbalance I don’t desire, but it’s a fact.”
Stoute had a good idea that Expert Eye was pretty smart before his Newbury debut. “He was showing plenty of speed at home,” he explained. “He’s very athletic and good looking. And he’s even better looking now he’s won a Group race!
“He’s well balanced, a well-developed mature horse. The best twoyear-old I’ve had for a while. It was a very good performance at Goodwood. We knew he’d win at Goodwood, we just didn’t think he’d win quite like he did. He’s entitled to run in the Dewhurst and he’s been trained for it. ”
Although Expert Eye is already favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas, the trainer refused to look beyond Saturday other than point out that he would be surprised if the colt got much further than a mile. “That [not wanting to look beyond the next race] is just me – plus a great deal of experience,” he said.
With seven Breeders’ Cups, he is hoping Ulysses will add to the collection next month in Del Mar, where the quick ground will suit his action better than the soft he encountered in his last two attempts at a mile and a half. A decision has yet to be made on Queen’s Trust defending her Fillies’ and Mares’ Turf title with the race shortened to nine furlongs this year.
In jumping news Bryan Cooper, recently sacked as first jockey to Gigginstown Stud, has been retained to ride the British runners of Gold Cup winning owner Alan Potts, the majority of which are trained by Colin Tizzard. Robbie Power will continue to ride his Irish horses.
Star quality: Expert Eye is odds-on to become trainer Sir Michael’s Stoute’s first Group One two-year-old winner since 2003