Autumn is here and the clocks go back at the weekend. It’s time for the curtain to fall on the Juvenile Watch columns for this year.
But here’s a final offering. A look back at the season and a few to keep onside next year.
Plenty has been rightly written about the potential heights that Native Trail, Luxembourg and Coroebus might be capable of.
Of that trio, it’s Native Trail that has captured my imagination the most.
I have three others, from within the relative shadows, who I think can achieve big things next year, starting with:.
Berkshire Shadow (Andrew Balding)
He made a big impression on his debut at Newbury, where he was slowly away and then raced very immaturely, before he then powered home in taking fashion.
He followed that up with a superb performance when stepping up in trip to 6f in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
At Goodwood, he was beaten on what connections considered unsuitably soft ground. However, given what the victor that day, Angel Bleu, has gone on to achieve, it was in hindsight a good performance.
He was then reported to have run flat when well beaten at York, before returning to somewhere near his best in the Dewhurst at Newmarket, where a slow start and racing wide on the track wouldn’t have helped his cause.
It should also be noted that the Andrew Balding yard had a relative dip in form at the end of the season, having been in excellent form up until then. Balding has also said Berkshire Shadow “wasn’t a typical two-year old” and so I’m optimistic that plenty more can be expected from this son of Dark Angel.
Sandrine (Andrew Balding)
After her win in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot I suggested that given that the win came on heavy ground I had reservations about her ability to perform to the same level over 6f on quicker ground and proposed that stamina not speed was her forte. She duly made a mockery of that theory by winning the 6f Duchess Of Cambridge on good to firm ground.
However, with the passing of time I’m starting to believe that maybe I wasn’t talking such nonsense.
Her final two starts, both over 6f, haven’t produced a win but both were solid efforts, and crucially in both races the powerful finishing style in the final furlong suggests to me that going up in trip would elicit more improvement, I’d love to see her in the 1000 Guineas and I’m sure she’d outrun her current odds. Unibet offer 25-1.
Vertiginous (Brian Meehan)
This daughter of Oasis Dream put up a magnificent performance when bolting up in the listed Harry Rosebery Stakes at Ayr on her final start. It looked a strong contest yet nothing could live with her.
She’s a fascinating contender for the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar next week, for which she is a 25-1 chance.
Whatever happens at Del Mar, I expect her to take high rank over 5f next year. And if she strengthens up over the winter, she may well cope with an additional furlong which would bring her firmly into the reckoning for the Commonwealth Cup.
TENEBRISM LIT UP NEWMARKET
Aidan O’Brien is rarely wrong when he believes he has a high-class performer.
That he was prepared to run Tenebrism in the Group One Cheveley Park, on just her second career start after a six-month break, spoke volumes.
Flotus set a strong pace and she briefly looked to have slipped the field. Tenebrism was slow to get into her stride and looked to have plenty to do approaching the two-furlong pole but then the penny dropped and she showed an explosive burst of speed to win going away.
Visually, it was supremely impressive. Yet it’s a virtual certainty that she is capable of even better, given her slow start and the fact she still looked inexperienced in the middle part of the race.
William Hill offer a tempting 8-1 for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas.
Forca Brasil (George Boughey)
Was an eye-catching winner at Newmarket on his debut, where he had Caturra and Ebro River behind. He hasn’t been seen since but it’s heartening to see he holds an entry at Wolverhampton on Monday night. He could yet prove himself to be top class.
Love De Vega (Mark Johnson)
Finished second behind Forca Brasil on debut and then became the first ‘winner in waiting’ of the season when scoring at Newmarket upped to 6f.
That win came in June and he hasn’t run since. A son of Lope De Vega, he has plenty more to give when upped to 7f or more and is capable of a mark far in excess of his current BHA rating of 83.
Gorgeous Star (David Loughnane)
Was fourth on her debut at Ascot in a maiden won by Get Ahead (another to keep onside) that has worked out to be well above average.
The third placed Eve Lodge has since won a Group Three, and sixth-placed Wild Beauty went on to win a Group One.
Gorgeous Star disappointed when only fifth on her next start and subsequently left Roger Varian for David Loughnane. She is yet to reappear but holds Classic entries and is clearly held in high regard.
Anniversary Belle (Pam Sly)
This daughter of No Nay Never has been given a mark of 67, which looks workable.
Her first two starts saw her placed on each occasion and were performances full of promise.
Her third start saw her perform below that standard but it did come after only an eight-day break, which is a feasible excuse.
Plenty of the horses that finished behind her on her first start now hold ratings in excess of 67 so I’d be optimistic her astute trainer will find a winnable handicap in the not too distant future.
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