Most, if not all, racehorses, whether flat or jumps, are born with one hope- to win at the top level. The majority have to have their sights lowered but a small percentage can figure at that level and even less win at it. If connected to a good two year old, the thought is always- could we go for the Derby or the 2000 Guineas? This time of the year is about the two year olds establishing their credentials for the classics next term in the hope they’ll train on and be even better then.
A top notch lot of two year olds looks set to fight out next year’s classics and we’re lucky to have nine of the best taking each other on in the Group One Juddmonte Middle Park. Before I get into the details of that, let’s take a look at the top ten two year olds according to Timeform-
124 Mums Tipple
114 Pierre Lapin
113 Monarch Of Egypt
113 Royal Lytham
114 Raffle Prize (F)
Let me put a 134 rating for Pinatubo in perspective. Frankel was rated 128. The horse hailed the greatest of this century, a superstar, fourteen times unbeaten. All true. But have we seen the horse to knock him off that top spot?
The Godolphin owned Shamardal colt won on debut, then the Woodcote at the Derby meeting, the Chesham at Royal Ascot, the Vintage Stakes, beating subsequent Solario Stakes winner Positive and finally the Group One National Stakes by nine lengths. This is an already incredible CV for a horse who only stepped out onto the racetrack about five months ago. Shamardal is a good sire of sprinters like Blue Point but won the French Guineas and Derby and his dam Lava Flow won over one mile three. In my opinion, and lots of people will and do disagree, but, on paper, it isn’t out of the relms of possibility that he could do the Triple Crown. Even the St Leger. Two of his dam’s brothers got two miles but it isn’t that likely.
Seven of the top ten run on the final day of the Cambridgeshire Meeting- five in the Middle Park, one in the first race of the day Kameko and Raffle Prize, a filly in the Cheveley Park. Also on that list is Pierre Lapin. His debut worked out well and then he won very smartly in the Mill Reef on just his second outing last week. He’s a half brother to Harry Angel so looks to be a horse for the future. Number 8 is Royal Lytham, who won the group two July Stakes by a short head in July but was subsequently behind two of the Middle Park runners, Siskin and Monarch Of Egypt. The ground didn’t help that day. Number ten Kameko did enough on debut at Sandown then came second over that course and distance in the Solario Stakes, coming second. Timeform must’ve been impressed as he’s higher than the winner.
Now it’s down to the small matter of discussing the MIDDLE PARK and the nine horses who take their chances here……
J- Mickael Barzolona
T- Andre Fabre
The chestnut son of Shamardal has done all of his racing in France so is a horse that the British public probably don’t know much about. He’s out of a fillies mile third so he’s bred to handle the undulations even though his trainer isn’t very confident about that. On the track, he won on debut and again next time out at Deauville. He blasted onto the scene in a group three, once again at the latter track, and won by four lengths, despite keenness. Last time out, he continued his unbeaten record with a victory in a vintage Prix Morny, by a neck to Raffle Prize, who was getting weight, and Golden Horde further back. That was on heavy and it is going to be good ground at Newmarket but I don’t consider it much of a problem as his second start was in these conditions. The trip should be fine and is only one of two proven at this level.
No2- GOLDEN HORDE
J- Adam Kirby
Golden Horde has raced five times and won two of them but has always ran creditably in defeat. He made all to win his second outing readily at Windsor and connections then thought him good enough to run at Royal Ascot. He finished sixth of seventeen in the Coventry, when Threat was second, and then reversed the running with that rival in the Richmond at Glorious Goodwood, over six furlongs. I consider that to be his best trip at this point as he doesn’t seem to have the required speediness for five, however, he did beat subsequent Flying Childers winner A’Ali that day.
No3- King Neptune
J- Wayne Lordan
T- Aidan O’Brien
King Neptune won at 11/10 by three and a quarter lengths in April at Dundalk but hasn’t won since. He’s been running in top company since then and came fifth in a sales race last time at Doncaster. He will need to step up dramatically to get anywhere near.
No4- LOPE Y FERNANDEZ
J- Donnacha O’Brien
T- Aidan O’Brien
This horse appears to be the second string Aidan O’Brien and there was a fair bit of hype about him at Royal Ascot after a comfortable maiden victory. At Royal Ascot, he was second to Pinatubo in the Chesham so brings in that exciting form. He followed in the latter once again at Glorious Goodwood and got beaten by ten lengths. He got back to winning ways in a group three at the Curragh just over a month ago and is a smart horse. It wouldn’t be too surprising if he ran incredibly well. He stays this trip and further so is probably a Guineas horse in the long run, however his older brother Dark Vision was a smart two year old but has been pitiful at three.
No5- MONARCH OF EGYPT
J- Ryan Moore
J- Aidan O’Brien
To me, this guy jumps out of the page completely because of his breeding. He is by legendary Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh and out of a dual group winning Galileo mare, who’s colt yearling just sold for $1Million in the US. Monarch Of Egypt’s win at Naas on debut was really smart but he’s followed Siskin in on the last two occasions at the Curragh over six furlongs. He got very close to Siskin on the last day but will need to step up a lot. There’s a lot more to come from him and has a top man on board.
No6- MUMS TIPPLE
J- Oisin Murphy
T- Richard Hannon
O- Marian Lyons and Patricia Zanelli
Now, this is the interesting horse in the line-up- the intriguing, sexy profile; the talking horse. He kicked his career off with a game win at Ascot, that couldn’t have worked out much better. The second has won a maiden and a listed; fourth has won; fifth has won twice; the sixth has been second and the other two are yet to run. Next up for the Footstepsinthesand colt was the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Stakes at York. It was a romp. Nothing else to say, really. He completely demolished them by eleven lengths and Ryan Moore must’ve been impressed as his bosses Coolmore are reported to have put in a £3 million offer for him. Surprisingly, it was denied. I hope connections will have some really good days with him in the future and I’m absolutely fascinated to see how he runs in this. Today may not be his time though.
J- Colin Keane
T- Ger Lyons
O- Mr K Abdullah
Yet another really smart horse. He won his maiden well and then took a listed race assertively, beating King Neptune. Then he ran once again at the Curragh in the Railway Stakes, beating Monarch Of Egypt easily. Last time, he got an illusive group one victory in the Phoenix Stakes when battling on to beat Monarch Of Egypt once again. He’s definitely a bit above the O’Brien trio and has a really good cruising speed which will play to his strengths in this field.
No8- SUMMER SANDS
J- Barry McHugh
T- Richard Fahey
O- Cool Silk Partnership
It’s good to see the Cool Silk Partnership represented in this with £85,000 (originally £2000 as a yearling) purchase, Summer Sands. He won his second outing, beating subsequent winners but came sixth in the Windsor Castle and fifth to Threat in the Gimcrack. He has lots to find. 100/1 shot.
J- Pat Dobbs
T- Richard Hannon
O- Cheveley Park
It took Threat a while to get his class one victory after a smart maiden win and seconds in the Coventry and the Richmond. He won the Gimcrack at York really well on his penultimate start and then the Champagne Stakes two weeks ago. He doesn’t appear to be the easiest horse and Pat Dobbs rode him last time and gets the leg up again. That’s already a pretty good CV and he’s stablemate to Mums Tipple. They are by the same sire but Threat may not have enough star quality to feature with the top three.
This is an incredible race that I’m so excited about! It’s even probably distracted me from the upcoming jumps season to look forward to. The star-quality in this race is just shown by the fact that Threat, the Gimcrack and Champagne Stakes winner, is a double figure price. We’ve got more established two year olds- Earthlight and Siskin– but also the exciting Mums Tipple and who knows how good he’ll be? However, my selection is EARTHLIGHT. I think he’ll like Newmarket and the Morny was a proper good race. By tomorrow, Godolphin are likely to have the monopoly on the two year old division as let’s not forget they own Pinatubo too.
Lois- Threat EW
Rest Of The Card
Juddmonte Royal Lodge
I’m quite keen on KAMENKO in this because he was a short head second to Positive in the Solario and that will be pretty good form. He’s nicely bred and jockey Oisin Murphy can do no wrong of late. Year Of The Tiger is better than he’s shown.
Cheveley Park Stakes
Looks like a really nice renewal to this and there is one filly that stands out. Mark Johnston Slade Power filly RAFFLE PRIZE is the only filly to be featured in the Timeform top ten. She won the Queen Mary and the Dutchess Of Cambridge really well and dropped to five furlongs for the Darley Prix Morny., when she finished second, sandwiched between Earthlight and Golden Horde. I think she’ll win this race but Tropbleau is a group winner in France already and there seems to be a lot of confidence behind her. Dark Lady won smartly last time and is a big price but could go well. Living In The Past should run well as she won the Lowther.
The good races keep on coming and this holds the feature spot. I have compiled a top five from the 31 declared runners. The two favourites are LE DON DE VIE and Good Birthday. The former is three from four after two victories at Epsom, a defeat to subsequent St Leger third Sir Ron Priestley at Goodwood and then a good win at that course last time. Good Birthday has been a bit hit-and- miss, I think it’s fair to say, this season and last time out was definitely a hit when he scored at Beverley. Lord North won his first two and then was behind King Of Comedy and Bless Him on the past two occasions. The yard won this last year and he’s progressing well. It would be great if Dark Vision could recapture his two year old form but that looks unlikely. They are trying him out in a visor though. LITTLE JO (EW) is a gigantic price and hasn’t been seen for 330 days. He has barely any weight and, when last seen, he was running so consistently. The break is a worry but he should have each way claims.