Juvenile expert Ross Millar explains why he will be against Iberian when he runs at Newmarket plus also reveals an exclusive youngster to follow from Charlie Fellowes, as well as a 10-1 fancy for Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes.
The Betfred Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last week lacked strength in depth, although that has been said about races of this grade all season in Britain (undoubtedly, the talent is more plentiful in Ireland).
Rosallion arrived with a perfect record of two wins from two starts, but those wins had both come on a sound surface, and the soft ground was going to provide a different test.
The ground was likely going to be less of an issue for his main market rival, Iberian, a son of soft-ground lover Lope De Vega, and already with proven form on softer ground in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
Sunway enjoyed an uncontested lead in this race and set a steady pace, with Rosallion caught on a wing early, and the lack of cover saw him take a strong hold of the bit.
He travelled well and briefly looked like making a threatening move as the pace lifted, but on this softer ground, and perhaps off a steady pace, he was unable to quicken as impressively as he had done when winning at Ascot on his last start.
Conversely, Iberian was able to show a taking burst of speed for Tom Marquand and quickly took control of the race, scoring by an ultimately comfortable two lengths.
Connections suggested that he would be aimed at the Darley Dewhurst next before being trained towards next year's QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Those are both entirely realistic targets.
However, he wouldn’t be for me. On his last start at Goodwood, he struggled with a right-handed bend due to racing on his left lead. Over the straight course at Doncaster, this wasn’t an issue, but I was interested to note that, having passed the post on his left lead, he changed to his right lead when trying to negotiate the left-hand bend when pulling up.
This suggests to me that he’s maybe not blessed with the greatest balance, and therefore the Newmarket Rowley mile – the course used for both the Dewhurst and the Guineas – with its undulations and dip might not offer him optimum conditions.
Rosallion can yet show himself to be the best British-based contender for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas if getting a stronger pace, and a sounder surface. He looked angular, too, so there is every chance he can furnish into a better horse as a three-year old.
Sunway ran much better than when well-beaten at Ascot and reversed the form with Rosallion. He’ll stay a mile and clearly loved the soft ground. A purchase from the Arqana yearling sales, he holds French owner premiums, and I’m sure connections will take advantage of these next year, especially given he’s likely to encounter softer ground there.
Charlie Fellowes has been good to readers of my Juvenile Watch column in previous seasons, and he nominated Fresh Hope as a late bloomer to follow in 2021, and she duly won three times, while last year he nominated Surrey Noir who won on just his second start this season.
So, with Racing TV trackers at the ready, which unraced youngster is he excited by this season?
Fellowes says: “I’m really excited by Morawig, a son of Make Believe. His dam, Fleur De Cactus, is from a nice Ballymacoll Stud family and has already produced to black-type performers. He’s a good looking colt with plenty of scope, and he’ll hopefully have a couple of runs at the back end of the season, but will improve with age.”
It has been a while since this Group Two Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes has thrown up a real top-class colt, and I suspect the same will be true again this year.
Elite Status started his season in the style of a very smart colt, but has had his limitations exposed since, most recently on soft ground at Deauville.
Lake Forest is a painful horse for me having supported him in the July Stakes before giving up on him, only to watch him fly home in the Gimcrack, the form of which has taken a knock when runner-up, Johannes Brahms, was only third on his next start.
Eben Shaddad is of strong interest given how he was able to overcome noticeable greenness to win on debut although, as a son of Calyx, it’s difficult to see the likely soft ground playing to his strengths. He’s one to revisit nearer the time when a more accurate set of circumstances can be assessed.
One who is of interest at the current prices is the Richard Hannon-trained Haatem. Soft ground would almost certainly see this race cut up but, because his standout piece of from – his win in the Vintage Stakes – came on the softest ground he’s encountered, I think it’s reasonable to class him as a likely runner. The form of that win received a boost with the Champagne Stakes victory from Iberian, and if the ground does ride testing, Haatem's proven stamina over further can serve him well over this six-furlong trip.
An each-way bet now, with three places on offer, at the 10-1 available with William Hill is an appealing angle to me.Watch every race live from 62 British and Irish racecourses on TV, online and mobile, including The Cambridgeshire Meeting and Dubai Future Champions Festival from Newmarket, QIPCO British Champions Day from Ascot and more!
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