Following on from an initial look at the two-year-old scene, through the eyes of Peter May's excellent speed ratings, back in late May, it's about time for another update.
Since that first bulletin, we've had Royal Ascot, Newmarket's July meeting, Glorious Goodwood, and some high class Pattern action in Ireland. So, where does that leave us?
At the end of May, the top figure was 90, credited to Richard Hannon's Out Of The Flames. She went on to be third behind Heartache and an unrated US raider in the Group 2 Queen Mary at 14/1. Second best was Santry, who ran a half length second to Sioux Nation in the Group 2 Norfolk at 13/2, form which has been very well advertised by that one following up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at the weekend.
So much for the past, where are we now?
Top 18 Juveniles, 14th August 2017
|HEY GAMAN||98[GS6]||JAMES TATE|
|ACTRESS (IRE)||96[GF6]||AP OBRIEN|
|DARK ACCLAIM (IRE)||95[SF7]||M BOTTI|
|TATHMEEN (IRE)||95[SF6]||R HANNON|
|RAJASINGHE (IRE)||94[GF6]||RICHARD SPENCER|
|THEOBALD (IRE)||94[GF6]||JS BOLGER|
|BROTHER BEAR (IRE)||93[GF6]||MRS JOHN HARRINGTON|
|MURILLO (USA)||93[GF6]||AP OBRIEN|
|THE PENTAGON (IRE)||93[GF7]||AP OBRIEN|
|CLEMMIE (IRE)||92[GF6]||AP OBRIEN|
|HAVANA GREY||92[GS5]||KR BURKE|
|SEPTEMBER (IRE)||92[GF7]||AP OBRIEN|
|SOUND AND SILENCE||92[GF5]||CHARLIE APPLEBY|
|EXPERT EYE||91[GD7]||SIR MICHAEL STOUTE|
|ROUSSEL (IRE)||91[GF5]||CHARLIE APPLEBY|
There are lots of takeaways to note. Firstly, all of those in the table have recorded a figure higher than the top juvenile as at the end of May. Out Of The Flames' 90 is still good enough for a share of 19th place in the pecking order, but she did not improve on that number when running third in the Queen Mary. Indeed, as you can see, Heartache beat her with a 91 figure there.
Top of the pile is a horse called Hey Gaman, who has run very fast in lower class but been well seen off at both Ascot and Newmarket in good races. Both his wins have come by wide margins in small field six furlong races and, while the form stacks up well enough, he's one who looks talented but needs it his own way. Hey Gaman is entered in a Listed race over seven at Newbury on Saturday.
Second in the list is the first of five Aidan O'Brien runners, Actress - and herein lies another takeaway. O'Brien had none of the top ten in that first bulletin, testament to the patient approach he's adopted with his juveniles this term. Actress would not be top of most people's list of Ballydoyle juvies, not even top of the juvie fillies, and probably not second either. But there she is, having recorded a 96 when winning the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes on her penultimate start.
She was a little below that form in the G1 Phoenix Stakes at the weekend, the winner there - Sioux Nation - running to 88. To remind you, these are speed-based performance figures and, therefore, may not match up with other ratings agencies. That is to be celebrated, because in difference lies opportunity (assuming the numbers have any credence, which these most certainly do).
Marco Botti's Dark Acclaim (95) looks like another smart juvenile for Middleham Park Racing. This lad pulled almost four lengths clear of his field, headed by the debutant, Qaroun - more on him shortly. Dark Acclaim, a son of Dark Angel, may well have benefited from the soft ground and it remains to be seen if he can run to the same level of quicker turf.
On the same peg currently is Tathmeen, who bolted up on his first attempt on soft. This was a huge step forward from his first two runs, and unless he faces soft ground again next time I'd personally be wary of his ability to replicate that big number.
A little further down the list is a quartet of Aidan O'Brien-trained juveniles, headed by colts Murillo and The Pentagon (both 93), just ahead of the fillies Clemmie and September (92). It is likely that all of these will be capable of more in due course and APOB's big challenge is to keep them apart through the late season Pattern. The Pentagon is already ante-post favourite for The Derby and, while 12/1 is hardly going make the bed wet through the winter, he looks a perfectly credible protagonist on pedigree (by Galileo out of an Unfuwain mare) and form to date.
Clemmie and September have both achieved less than Actress on this ratings set, yet both have more scope to step forward: Actress has already raced seven times whereas the other pair have four and two runs respectively. Clemmie is second choice for the 1000 Guineas, behind September, and her quote of 8/1 is more appealing than September's 5/1.
September, with just two runs on the board, is the filly with the most obvious progression of those mentioned. The daughter of Deep Impact is unbeaten and has a similar form line to Clemmie in beating Nyaleti a couple of lengths. There just might be a bit more stamina in her pedigree, implied by a debut over seven furlongs, and she might be more of an Oaks filly than the Guineas. She's 10/1 for the latter race and, again, while not a winter warmer she is the most likely winner on what we've seen so far. So far...
Sir Michael Stoute's Expert Eye (91) was a big, well, eye-catcher at Goodwood and doubtless has more to give. But a quote of 4/1 for the 2000 Guineas is just plain horrible. There are a couple of once raced lads below that I'd far rather throw a hopeful quid at.
Top Ten (and equal) Once Raced Juveniles, 14th August 2017
|DEE EX BEE||90[SF7]||M JOHNSTON|
|QAROUN||84[SF7]||SIR MICHAEL STOUTE|
|LANDSHARK||81[GF6]||MRS JOHN HARRINGTON|
|LAST VOYAGE (USA)||78[GD5]||CHARLIE APPLEBY|
|MARY TUDOR (IRE)||75[GS8]||W MCCREERY|
|PEACE TRAIL||74[GS7]||CHARLIE APPLEBY|
|CAPITAL FLIGHT (IRE)||74[SF7]||PFI COLE|
|LAURENS (FR)||73[GD7]||KR BURKE|
|FLYING SPARKLE (IRE)||73[GD5]||MLW BELL|
|VITAMIN (IRE)||73[GS7]||R HANNON|
|ALTYN ORDA (IRE)||73[GS7]||ROGER VARIAN|
|YOUKAN (IRE)||73[GS5]||WS KITTOW|
The above list has been sanitised to remove the overseas runners - Matthieu Palussiere's Different League and the Wes Ward troop - whose single runs in Britain were in addition to form acquired overseas and outside of the remit of this set of numbers.
Sir Michael Stoute has the ante post favourite for the 2000 Guineas in the exciting shape of Expert Eye, and he may have another top class prospect in Qaroun. This son of Dark Angel was no match for Dark Acclaim - by the same sire, as mentioned above - on his debut at Doncaster (7f, soft); but he was given a typically educational introduction and stayed on well under hands and heels. He's entered at Newbury on Friday and should step forward a fair bit. He's not currently quoted for the 2000 Guineas, nor should he be; but this is the time when Sir Michael traditionally stepped up his good ones, including Entrepreneur, Golan and Kings Best, all Guineas winners back in the day.
But top of the once raced shop is a Mark Johnston inmate called Dee Ex Bee. This son of Farrh bolted up on his debut in a maiden on the Saturday of the Glorious Festival and, if the trainer adopts his usual MO, it won't be long before we see his talent on the track again. Any step forward would place him in the top twenty juveniles meaning he'd be an unlucky loser in a race outside of top class.
The Goodwood race was on soft ground but his pedigree (out of a sister to Dubai Millennium) suggests he'd be better on quicker, though his ol' man was fine with cut, and likely over further. He has an entry against Hey Gaman in the Newbury race on Saturday. Dee Ex Bee is a 33/1 shot for the 2000 Guineas and, if you wanted to have a swipe at that, these numbers would do nothing to dissuade you. If you really wanted to tilt at windmills he's the same price for the Derby. Me? I'm Don Quixotic like that and have taken a slither of interest, win only, in both ante post eventualities.
There will be a further update, possibly two, between now and the end of the season.