Connections are relishing the prospect of the “brilliantly talented” Iberian lining up in the Dewhurst Stakes following his scintillating victory in the Champagne Stakes last month.
A winner in taking fashion at Newbury on debut, the Charlie Hills-trained youngster lost little in defeat at Goodwood on his second outing before getting back on the winning trail in supreme fashion at Doncaster, showcasing a blistering turn of foot to register a commanding two-length success.
With Group Two honours secured in South Yorkshire, the son of Lope De Vega will now attempt to keep his upwards curve moving skywards when heading to Newmarket on October 14.
Iberian will get his first taste of action at the highest level there and could face off against the best of the Ballydoyle juveniles and impressive Middle Park winner Vandeek.
“That will be his next start and it has been the plan all along to go Champagne then Dewhurst,” explained Richard Ryan, racing manager for Teme Valley who own the horse in partnership with Ballylinch Stud.
“There’s a nice gap between both races leading into the Dewhurst and that’s the hope, we’ve just got to see what Aidan O’Brien may bring to the table and that is a very tough act to beat.
“He’s got a stallion’s page and is a prodigious talent, but you have to show it at the top table and the Dewhurst seems the perfect place to do just that.”
Inexperience counted against Iberian on his second start in the Vintage Stakes, but he justified connections’ belief with a statement victory on Town Moor, bursting the bubble of the previously unbeaten Rosallion.
That form was given a timely boost when Richard Hannon’s highly-regarded colt bounced back to claim the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and adds extra substance to Iberian’s growing profile.
“It was good to see that endorsement of the form (in France) and let’s hope it’s a literal interpretation,” continued Ryan.
“He’s always been impressive at home, stunningly so, and our opinion of him couldn’t be higher.
“We were slightly dumbfounded by his defeat at Goodwood. He was drawn wide in one and William (Buick) hadn’t sat on him and rode him like the most inexperienced horse in the race, which was the right thing to do in the circumstances, but invariably we found ourself 10 lengths off the pace with only a few furlongs left to go, which is incredibly hard to make up on soft ground at Goodwood.
“Doncaster is a very different track and very flat and very fair in comparison and the horse was able to show what we’ve seen on a constant basis at home.”
In winning the Champagne Stakes, Iberian was following in the footsteps of another Teme Valley and Ballylinch Stud alumni, Bayside Boy, who would win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at three, but ran in both the Dewhurst and the Futurity Trophy following victory at Doncaster in his juvenile season.
However, Ryan explained that is not the plan this time and after Iberian has challenged for supremacy in the Dewhurst, thoughts will turn to next year’s 2000 Guineas, for which he is currently a best price of 25-1 but as short as 14s in places.
“This is a very different type of animal,” he said.
“The Dewhurst for Bayside Boy went slightly frustratingly in he got trapped in a pocket and got out late against Native Trail. Because he was a locally trained horse within Newmarket where the race is run, we found he was fresh as paint within 48 hours.
“Ordinarily it would never have been a consideration, but in those circumstances it was a different decision.
“This horse is brilliantly talented at home and has sheer brilliance as you saw at Doncaster with his turn of foot, so that would never be on the table.
“Come what may, he will be put away for the Guineas. We’ve just got one big hoop to jump through first.”