The juvenile scene is set for a shake-up over the next few days, with numerous classy colts and fillies in action.
Many are set to ‘strut their stuff’ at Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire Meeting over the next three days, with a number of valuable prizes and prestigious events tempting the powerful yards to send their most talented assets.
The Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes looks a tasty renewal, with Hugo Palmer’s Escobar an eye-catching entrant. By the classy Irish Colt Famous Name, he is two from two and was impressive last time when winning a listed event at Newbury. A strong galloping sort, he looks straight forward enough and will be ridden again by Frankie Dettori. This event will be tougher to win, though seven-furlongs at Newmarket should prove ideal, and he ought to run a huge race.
Nothing should be taken for granted in these juvenile events, and Ballydoyle send over another War Front two-year-old in Whitecliffsofdover. He looked a lot straighter when winning well at Naas last time, and Ryan Moore takes the ride.
On Friday it’s hoped that Fair Eva will be back to winning ways in the Group 2 Rockfell Stakes. The filly by Frankel could only finish third last time at York in the Lowther, but this step-up in trip looks sure to suit. She looked a little ‘tapped for toe’ last time, though battled on well behind Queen Kindly and Roly Poly. That looked a high class renewal with the front three pulling well clear of the rest.
The Cambridgeshire takes place on Saturday, but there’s a stunning supporting card, made up for the most part, of outstanding juvenile events for both colts and fillies.
The Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes was won by Frankel back in 2010, and has also gone to Shirley Heights, Mister Baileys and Benny the Dip over the years. This is a prestigious event that attracts classy beasts, and Saturday will prove no exception.
Ballydoyle have won three of the last 10 renewals and are likely to be ‘mob-handed’. Indeed, as of this morning Aidan has nine entered, with Exemplar and Capri the tastier looking pair. Hugo Palmer looks set to run Best Of Days, and this Godolphin owned Colt ought to be competitive having just been touched off at York last time in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes. Expect the Epsom Derby market to come under scrutiny after the race.
Arguably the most eagerly anticipated event of the weekend is the Cheveley Park Stakes, which sees the return to action of the Royal Ascot heroine Lady Aurelia. Wes Ward’s juvenile sensation, stormed to a stunning success back in June, recording an eye-popping time in the process. Slightly less impressive in the Prix Morny next time, though admittedly against the boys, when stepped up to six furlongs, she will nevertheless be the filly to beat on Saturday.
That said, she faces her stiffest test, with the Lowther first and second likely to be in opposition. The York race has proved a trusty pointer to this event in recent times, with three of the last five completing the Lowther-Cheveley double. Queen Kindly was impressive at York, and this six-furlong trip looks tailor-made. Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly is battle-hardened, and looks sure to go close again. Lady Aurelia is something of a ‘pocket rocket’, and the other pair are likely to be charging at her late-on. It’s an intriguing encounter, with the outcome tough to call.
The Group 1 Middle Park Stakes looks just as difficult to predict. Blue Point is fancied to run a huge race for Godolphin, following his thrilling performance in the Gimcrack at York. He was beaten by Mehmas at Goodwood prior to that, and is set to face Hannon’s gritty Colt once again. Six-furlongs at Newmarket could well favour the Godolphin Colt with Mehmas, as tough as he is, now looking somewhat exposed after seven outings in five months.
Aidan O’Brien looks set to send Intelligence Cross into battle, having won well at the Curragh last time. Twice beaten by Mehmas this summer, he got closest to that rival here at Newmarket in July, when finishing strongly. There’s every chance that he has improved past Hannon’s runner, though he may find Blue Point a tough nut to crack.
Always tricky from a punting prospective, these juvenile events are nevertheless a terrific spectacle, as we witness the progression of potential stars of the sport.