By Kieran McHugh
One of my favourite pastimes is to go through and pick out any horses at the beginning of their careers or even whilst they are still effectively “babies” and track their progress and see whether any of them make it to the very top, sometimes some reach the heights that I hoped they would while others, may be retired before they even make it to the racetrack! I do this in numerous ways, from researching any yearlings that have interested me from the sales or going through race entries and looking at the breeding. As the season goes on, the now two-year olds are given names and go into training. The more precocious of these will make their debuts at courses like Doncaster, Newmarket and The Curragh, in time for Royal Ascot. Those that are considered more slow burning, may make their debuts around August/September, to challenge for the major honours. This, of course, depends on which stable they are from. For example, the Ballydoyle stables will run middle distance bred horses over inadequate trips in order to give them the education of a couple of days at school, before entering them in more suited races. Below I have listed some 2-year olds that have caught my eye and may well be worth following.
Mastercraftsman x Alexandrova
This unnamed colt is a Coolmore homebred whose parents are responsible for 7 Group 1s and 3 Classics. He is a half-brother to multiple Group 1 placed and Group winner Somehow and recent Group race scorer Happen. Both of which raced around 1 mile and 1 furlong. It is believed that the colt is in training with the French virtuoso Andre Fabre. The majority of Mastercraftsman’s progeny range from 1 mile to 1m 6f, with Technician being the exception. Alexandrova’s dam, Shouk, also bore a half-brother to Alexandrova called Masterofthehorse, who was third to Sea the Stars in the Derby. Going off this, I would expect the colt to range from 1m to 1m 4f. If he stays in France, then I would expect him to contend for the major 3 year old races as both parents excelled at the age of 3.
Van Gogh has had two runs, the first being a quite solid fourth over 7 furlongs behind a few nice types who were better suited to the trip and then in his latest run, he was second beaten a neck in a 7f Group 3, which I was highly impressed by. In the Group 3, he switched the places with the aforementioned “nice types”. I still maintain that he would benefit from racing over longer distances. The time was quite slow, which could be why he ran well over 7f. The race has produced many nice horses, many of which have struck at the highest level over longer distances. Cape Blanco, New Approach and Anthony Van Dyck are amongst these. He is by the highly regarded American Pharaoh and his Dam is Irish 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks winner Imagine. He is a half-brother to some very nice horses and I would expect him to step up in distance next time and is definitely one to watch!
New Kingdom is out of Dubawi by Nightime, thus making him a full brother to the fascinating Ghaiyyath (!) and a half-brother to 2017 Man O’ War winner Zhukova. He was sold for 1.2 million guineas at Goffs November Foal Sales to Anthony Stroud on behalf of Godolphin. The colt is in training with Charlie Appleby. There has been no word on when his debut may be but if you were to go off what route Ghaiyyath took, then you would expect his debut to be around September. I would consider him to be a bit of a slow burner, like Ghaiyyath and may take a season or two to really come to his best form. The colt looks impeccable as well and I, for one, cannot wait to see him on a racetrack!
Out of the incomparable Frankel by dual Group one winner Izzi Top, Zagato is bred in the purple! He is with the master trainer John Gosden and in the same ownership of last year’s Derby hope Telecaster. He was sold at Tattersalls October sales last year for a mighty 725,000 guineas. It would not be hard to imagine that Zagato would follow suit with some of Izzi Top’s other progeny and race around 1m 2f, being out of Frankel, I would not be very surprised if he even goes further than that. He is also a half-brother to impressive dual 1-mile winner Bizzi Lizzi, who is out of the crack sprinter Muhaarar. This only reinforces my belief that Zagato will stay 1m 2f and possibly further. I think that Zagato may be one that makes his debut later in the season or possibly next year, like Telecaster. As connections have already targeted the Derby, I wouldn’t be to surprised if they do so again with Zagato. However, if they play the waiting game with him then I would expect him to target races such as the Great Voltigeur at York or the Gordon at Goodwood, en route to the St Leger, if he stays, or the Champion Stakes. He may not run for a while yet, but he is certainly intriguing!
Eternal Flame is a horse that I was incredibly excited to see! He is out of Coolmore stalwart Galileo and by Ladies Poker Two, this makes him a full brother to 4 times Group one winner Winter. If he turns out to be anything like his sister, then he is a corker! He has already had a run over 7 and half furlongs, where he finished fourth but still made a very good impression and will definitely come on for the run, as he seemed very green on his first day at school. With him staying on in the final 100 meters, I am left in no doubt that he will benefit from a step up in distance and could very well be one to look out for in the near future. If he reaches the heights of his sister, then he could be in with a shout for numerous Group 1’s. As a two-year-old, I would not be overly surprised if he went for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère or depending on how well he turns out to stay, possibly a tilt at the Critérium de Saint-Cloud over 1m 2f.
Frankel x Attraction
As noticed above, going to press, this colt has not been named yet but it does not make him any less exciting! He is by Frankel out of star mare Attraction, making him a full brother to multiple Group scorer Elarqam and a half-brother to many nice horses! He was bought for 525,000 guineas which, considering Elarqam went for 1.6 million, seems a steal! Phoenix Thoroughbred has confirmed that he will go into training with the legendary Peter Chapple-Hyam. Elarqam seems to excel over 1m 2f, so it would be expected that this colt may follow suit. It seems that the distance of Attraction’s progeny, when the sire was a 9 to 10 furlong, is around 1m 2f. However, Elarqam did win over 7f, so the colt may have plenty of scope.
The colt is a Juddmonte Farms homebred, by Galileo and Juddmonte’s incredible Mare Banks Hill, thus making the colt a full brother to Group one scorer Romantica and a half-brother to Ideal World. Banks Hill’s progeny range from 1 mile to 1m 4f, but it would be expected that Caprioli would follow Romantica over 1m 2f. There is currently no word on who he is in training with, apart from that he is based in Ireland, so it could be expected that he may be with Classic winning trainer Ger Lyons. His second Dam, the great broodmare Hasili, foaled Dansili and many other top-class sires. This would mean that Caprioli is related to many Group 1 winners, on his Dam side. If you go further down the Dam side, then you would find that he also has the legendary Ribot in his pedigree, as well as multiple American Grade 1 scorer Buckpasser and the only horse to defeat the legendary Brigadier Gerard, Roberto. Judging from the lack of entries and radio silence, it seems that it would be more likely that Caprioli will make his debut as a 3-year-old, much like Romantica. If he specialises at 1m 2f, then I would suspect the likes of the Irish Champion Stakes would be the target for him.
By far one of the most exciting colts on this list, Derab is out of the great Sea the Stars by the dam of Enable, Concentric. This, of course, makes him a half-brother to Enable and also a half-brother to the exciting Portrush! The most compelling feature that I would expect him to have is the devastating turn of foot that Sea the Stars progeny seem to have: Sea of Class, Crystal Ocean and Harzand, to name a few. This combined with the class and grit from Concentric, makes a potentially very high-class horse. He is currently in training with John Gosden, as would be expected! It would not be so hard to imagine that he has a lot of upside and could very well be a major player in the coming seasons. As with many on this list, I presume that his debut will come later this year or next year, as Enable’s first run was in November and Portrush did not run until he was 3 years old. I would imagine that Mr Gosden would not rush him through and would more than likely wait for the later contests or even plan his assault on the Group 1’s for when he is 4.
Owned by Qatar Racing and again out of the Godolphin supremo Dubawi by one of my favourite Mares to grace the track, The Fugue. Mahomes was bought for 1 million guineas in the same Tattersalls sales as Zagato and is also currently in training with John Gosden, it is expected that he will make his long-awaited debut in the Autumn. The Fugue excelled mainly over 1m 2f and Dubawi progeny from a mile up to 1m 4f. With also having Dansili as the dam’s sire, there is the possibility that Mahomes could stay 1m 4f. The grapevine suggests that Mahomes has been very pleasing and would be one for the future! I would expect him to be a major player in next season and could possibly be a contender to give Qatar Racing their first Derby. There are a range of races that they could go for with him and is certainly one for the tracker.
Sea the Stars x Zarkava
When you have got a pedigree of this calibre, you do not need a name! This colt is the 5th progeny of the fantastic Zarkava and her second with Sea the Stars, sadly her first colt with Sea the Stars passed away as a 3-year-old in 2014. The colt is a homebred and is currently in training with French maestro Alain De Royer Dupre. He is a half-brother to Group one winner and multiple Group 1 runner up Zarak (who’s first foals are expected to make their debut next year) and a half-brother to Prix Vermeille third Zarkamiya, who was regally bred but sustained an injury in the Vermeille and was retired and is now in foal to Medaglia d’Oro! I would expect the colt’s distance to range from 1m to 1m4f, in line with his parents. I think that he would make his debut as 3-year-old and could very possibly be a leading contender for the French classics next year.