During this rather quiet period, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the juvenile division, especially after witnessing several promising performances at Newmarket’s July Festival.
I’m starting with the female of the species, and arguably the most impressive two-year-old display of the weekend. The rapidly improving Clemmie, trained by Aidan O’Brien, powered clear in the latter stages to win the Group Two Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes. Still looking a little green at times, it took her a while to get into top gear. She looks a relentless galloper, rather than a filly with gears, and the stiff final furlong at Newmarket certainly suited. She’s currently second favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas despite being beaten by more than four lengths at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back. She’s clearly a classy sort, and looks the type to continue improving with racing. Though I fancy she’ll become next season’s Roly Poly, rather than a Ballydoyle Winter or Rhododendron.
Her stoutly bred stable companion September, heads the Guineas market after her romp in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot. By Japan’s outstanding stallion Deep Impact, out of Irish Oaks winner Peeping Fawn, her pedigree is exceptional, though points to stamina rather than speed. It’s no surprise to also see her heading the market for next year’s Epsom Oaks, and that sort of trip looks likely to prove her optimum. Unbeaten in just two career starts, her next outing is eagerly anticipated.
Another exciting Irish filly is the Jess Harrington trained Alpha Centauri. She was runner-up to the French filly Different League in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Clemmie further back in seventh. The front pair were some way clear that day, and possibly had something of an edge on the maturity front. Both are physically imposing, and that advantage in stature is sure to change as the season unfolds. A clash in Ireland with Clemmie or September is highly likely for Harrington’s filly, and would further help assess the progression of these two-year-olds. I fancy that Alpha Centauri’s early season advantage may well evaporate.
Different League is trained in France by Matthieu Palussiere, who was formerly an assistant in Ireland to Mick Halford. The filly is by French stallion Dabirsim, himself an exceptional juvenile who captured the Prix Morny and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. It’s impossible to say whether we’ll see her back on our shores, though she is priced up for next season’s 1000 Guineas. The Prix Morny was touted as a possible short-term target.
Clive Cox is having another season to remember, and has an exciting filly, in Royal Ascot winner Heartache. She’s a sprinter, and looked exceptional when thrashing 22 others in the Group Two Queen Mary. Likely to head for the Lowther at York, Cox will be hoping she can progress in a similar fashion to his outstanding sprinter Harry Angel. She’s a way to go to become that good, though the initial signs are promising.
Other classy fillies are sure to be unearthed during the summer, with Ballydoyle more than likely to add to their classy pair of Clemmie and September. It would also come as a surprise should Godolphin not have several potential stars in their midst. Charlie Appleby has plenty of juveniles set to make their debuts in the coming weeks, including smartly bred fillies Piccola Collina, Lunar Maria and Dubhe.