It comes as no surprise to see Ballydoyle fillies at the head of the juvenile division, and Ireland’s leading thoroughbred outfit also have a few colts making the right kind of noises with 2018 Classics in mind.
There’s little doubt that the picture is less clear with the juvenile boys, with outstanding performances few and far between. Gustav Klimt won the Group Two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket for Aidan O’Brien, though the performance could hardly be described as impressive. Yet another from the Galileo conveyor belt, he was inconvenienced in running and had to be switched before staying on well to win. He nabbed Nebo on the line, and that fella had previously finished down the field in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. The form looks ordinary, and that Gustav is now clear favourite for next year’s 2000 Guineas says plenty of the dearth of talent seen on the racetrack thus far.
Royal Ascot form is also taking some reading after Rajasinghe’s defeat to Cardsharp at Newmarket. The former had won the Coventry Stakes, but was unable to land a blow on Cardsharp, who clearly appreciated a step-up in trip, having finished third at the royal meeting in the Norfolk. He in-turn had finished behind De Bruyne Horse in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom, but that colt could only finish eighth in the Coventry behind Rajasinghe. Confused? You should be.
Hannon’s De Bruyne Horse then went to Ireland, and was beaten by Beckford at the Curragh. Gordon Elliott is better known for training three-mile chasers, but his talented juvenile is causing something of a sensation. He’s arguably the best of the youngsters to date, though how he performs in the Phoenix Stakes will tell us more. He’s by Bated Breath out of a Danehill Dancer mare, which suggests he’ll probably become a sprinter, though he just about has enough stamina on the dam side to make a miler. He defeated Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity last time, though his colt’s pedigree is somewhat underwhelming.
I’m not convinced that we’ve yet seen a future star, though Royal Ascot’s Norfolk Stakes may prove the strongest form to date. The aforementioned Cardsharp, was third to Sioux Nation and Santry that day, and the latter pair both look decent prospects.
Aidan O’Brien’s Sioux Nation was desperate for the quicker ground at Ascot, and improved a ton accordingly. The son of Scat Daddy, out of an Oasis Dream mare, has entries in all the leading events during the remainder of the season. And I fancy that there’s plenty more to come from him.
Santry was fancied to go close in the Norfolk, and did not disappoint. Declan Carroll’s youngster could well come over for the Gimcrack at York, though his targets are not so dependent on ground conditions.
Two races in Ireland over the coming months that look sure to bring some clarity to the Colt juvenile picture, are the Phoenix Stakes and the National Stakes. It’s no surprise that Ballydoyle dominate both, with Caravaggio taking the former in 2016 and Churchill winning the latter.
Another juvenile event that continues to produce thoroughbreds of the highest calibre, is the Dewhurst Stakes from Newmarket, which takes place towards the end of the season. Frankel, Dawn Approach and Churchill are three recent winners.
It’s quite clear to me, that though the juvenile fillies picture is starting to take shape, the colts equivalent has some way to go. Those that enjoy an antepost flutter on the following year’s Classics should probably hold-fire.