Juvenile Watch: Newmarket review plus horses to follow

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Wed 28 Sep 2022

Ross Millar reflects on all the top two-year-old races at the Cambridgeshire meeting and nominates more youngsters to keep an eye on.

 Blackbeard pulls clear in the Middle Park (Photo: Mark Cranham /
Blackbeard pulls clear in the Middle Park (Photo: Mark Cranham /


The Rowley Mile certainly served up some exciting racing and some high-class performances.

The Tattersalls Stakes on Thursday saw Nostrum take another step forward as he won with consummate ease. He raced in the manner of an experienced colt, despite having had only one start, and quickened clear nicely, impressing me with how straight he stayed despite being up the middle of the track.

To challenge for Group One honours he will have to step forward again but Sir Michael Stoute is peerless at training young horses to progress.

In his interview with Nick Luck, which you can watch below, Stoute hinted that he’d like to get one more run into his son of Kingman with the Dewhurst the only viable option.

Twenty-four hour later, former Star of the Week Commissioning delivered on the promise of her debut as she stepped up to land the Group Two Rockfel Stakes.

It’s a performance that impressed many and I’m not questioning her ability. However, she didn’t look to be entirely straightforward as when under maximum pressure she carried her head a touch high and swished her tail, plus also ran away to her left.

Of course, these are only minor concerns and could easily be explained by her lack of experience but they’re worth noting and leave me slightly cooler on her than many.

I was delighted to see Mawj run a solid race in the Cheveley Park on Saturday, getting close to the far more fancied Meditate. The progressive Lezoo upstaged both, staying on more powerfully to win by an ever-increasing margin.

The winner is clearly on a steep upward trajectory and is now a winner of four of her five starts but while she stayed on stoutly on Saturday it’s hard to envisage her staying much further as her pedigree is based around sprint distances.

Rab Havlin told Nick Luck more about Commissioning after her success, including her temperament

Meditate could well be capable of better as she might have been below her best, having run in a gruelling Moyglare Stakes just a fortnight earlier. She shouldn’t be dismissed but again stamina limitations have seemingly been revealed.

My ante-post Guineas ticket for Mawj is a bigger dream than at any point but in Modern Games and Modern News she does at least have two siblings who stayed a mile and I liked how she stuck to her task. However, she does look to be short of the class I initially hoped for.

Blackbeard was a superb winner of the Middle Park. Again, he demonstrated a questionable attitude before being loaded but the second the gates opened he raced in exemplary fashion as is becoming customary.

Rossa Ryan was determined to use the speed of Persian Force and alongside the outsider, Never Just A Dream, he set a strong pace. However, Blackbeard supporters never really had a moment of worry. He travelled well within himself and, when asked for more by Ryan Moore, he closed the gap quickly before comfortably putting distance between himself and his rivals.

He stayed the trip well, opening up the possibility of seven furlongs in the future but I’d be keen to see him stay at six furlongs where his strong travelling style is a potent weapon. This was his eighth run of the season and with the Breeders’ Cup mentioned as a possibility I do wonder whether Aidan O’Brien and connections see him more as an out and out two-year old.

Aidan O'Brien updated Gary O'Brien about Meditate and Balckbeard 24 hours after they ran. He said the latter had come out of the race with "a big smile on his face"

His victory came at an opportune time for Glenvale Stud, who on Tuesday saw their full sister to him sell for €2.6m at the Goffs Orby sale. She will reportedly be trained in Britain next year.

Persian Force has had a great season but looks exposed at this level and had no answer to Blackbeard in the final furlong for a second time. Given his speed, it would be no surprise to see him tried over the minimum trip next season.

Well-backed favourite Marshman pulled away his chances in the early stages, giving Clifford Lee a torrid time. He didn’t look to handle the track and Karl Burke subsequently reported he pulled a muscle. The Gimcrack runner-up is obviously better than he showed and remains one to be positive about for next season.

The Antarctic chased home Blackbeard but is clearly not a speedster in the mould of Battaash, his brother. He’s developing with every run and stayed on stylishly into second place. Though his pedigree doesn’t suggest it, I think he may yet go to another level over another furlong.



Watch a full replay of the Rockfel

Rockfel Stakes

Rich (Richard Hannon)

He was exceptionally weak in the market going off 16-1 having been as short as 9-1 in the morning. She travelled nicely but didn’t find much at the business end of the race. A daughter of Cracksman, she’ll be a fine three-year old and should go into your Racing TV tracker. She should stay at least ten-furlongs.

Cheveley Park

Trillium (Richard Hannon)

She was far too keen in the early stages and simply gave herself no chance of staying the six-furlong trip. If kept to six furlongs maybe a hood will help her relax. She is undoubtedly a smart filly over 5f and may yet do better over six.

Treasure Trove (Paddy Twomey)

A tardy start put her on the back foot and gave the supplemented runner a mountain to climb. She travelled well and stayed on pleasingly but was never able to get to the leaders. Her dam stayed seven furlongs and I see no reason why she will not. She could yet improve into a legitimate contender for Group One honours over a mile next year.


Almaty Star (Roger Varian)

Made an eye-catching debut at Haydock on Friday over six furlongs. He raced in a professional manner through the early stages before finding himself in a pocket as the race developed. Once a gap opened he took a few strides to get organised before staying on.

His dam, Sante, stayed nine-furlongs so he should get further in time. But on this evidence he looks to have more than enough ability to win over six furlongs.

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