The Flat season hit top gear over the weekend with the running of the first of the season’s Classics. The race programme is also now containing more races for two-year olds.
The battle to be the leading first season sire is beginning to take shape and connections with a smart two-year old will be starting to dream of Royal Ascot, which is six weeks away.
There are some things in racing that year-on-year never change; Coolmore with a host of Classic chances, a Sir Mark Prescott horse winning three on the bounce and Jonathan Portman winning races with exceptionally inexpensive fillies.
The most famous of these purchases was Mrs Danvers, a 1,000gns buy who won all of her five starts as a two-year old in 2016, including the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket. She gave her connections a great adventure and in the process won them almost £200,000 in prize money. In Sienna Bonnie, a 4,000gns buy, Portman might just have another filly in the Mrs Danvers mould.
This daughter of Kodi Bear was mentioned in my first column as a winner in waiting after a taking debut when second at Windsor.
Her win at Bath on Monday, on her second start, certainly showed she had improved plenty, as she bounded clear to win by eight and a half lengths from the well-backed Richard Hannon debutant, Severn Stoke.
Excitingly, it still looks like there is more improvement to come from Sienna Bonnie as she was a bit green when she got to the front and also looked to lose her balance for a few strides after changing legs when quickening into top gear.
With Mrs Danvers, connections avoided Royal Ascot and instead targeted the Weatherbys Super Sprint. It might well be that Sienna Bonnie follows this same path and because she was such a cheap purchase she will have only 8st 1lb to shoulder at Newbury.
Wherever she goes, I’ll be cheering for her.
Two other cheaply purchased fillies, in the Portman yard that might be worth adding to your Racing TV tracker are:
SILVERDALE (Hellvyln x Silvala Dance) Cost just 1,200gns, and has the same sire as Mrs Danvers. Silvala Dance only had a peak rating of 64 but was a three-time winner over six furlongs.
ARDITA (Ardad x Royal Circles)
Was a 1,500gns purchase. I’ve mentioned in previous weeks what a good start to his stud career that Ardad has made. Royal Circles was unraced, with her only progeny to make it to the track being Pharaoh - a winner as a two-year old over five furlongs.
Boughey told Nick Luck more about Forca Brasil after his Newmarket debut
Cotai Glory was high up on the list of many good judges as a candidate for leading first season sire. He is himself a son of the prolific Australian speedster, Exceed And Excel, who is becoming an increasingly influential sire of sires.
Cotai Glory was a fast and precocious performer, winning the Molecomb as a two-year old before being Group One placed as an older horse.
Most importantly, though, is the stud farm he can call home, namely Tally-Ho Stud in Mullingar, Co Westmeath. It is synonymous with sourcing and developing stallions that are a notable source of early speed, with their two headline acts currently being Kodiac and Mehmas.
Cotai Glory had 126 registered foals in 2019 and he is already leading the way in both number of individual runners, 14, and number of winners, four.
While it stands to reason that more runners can lead to more winners, it is also hugely advantageous to his chances of becoming leading first season sire that his stock appear to be taking their training well and are coming to hand early.
Of the winners he’s already had, Forca Brasil and Dig Too look well capable of winning in a higher grade. The connections of Forca Brasil have made no secret of their Royal Ascot ambitions.
Cotai Glory has two notable entrants over the coming days.
Devious Angel, entered in the Icm Stellar Sports Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes at Chester on Wednesday (1.45pm), was a wide-margin winner of a five-furlong novice race on the all-weather at Southwell. It’s hard to know the full merit of the performance but she was impressive and the third horse, Edison Kevani, has a nice pedigree and had already been placed on his debut.
It’s no secret that his trainer, Tom Dascombe, targets the Chester meeting and there may be further clues in the owner’s name – Roudee Racing. I would expect her to go very close from stall two.
Porsche Cavalier, entered at Cork on Friday, was fourth on his debut at Tipperary behind Elliptic, a well-regarded filly of Donnacha O’Brien’s. Quick Suzy, who was second, gave the form a good boost when she won by five lengths on her next start.
Porsche Cavalier faded late on and, with race fitness and experience, I imagine he will be hard to beat.
CASHEW (Bated Breath x Taste The Salt)
It’s testament to the ability of trainer George Boughey that Cashew is ready to race so early in his two-year old season, placing sixth on debut before finishing a much improved, albeit one-paced third at Goodwood on Sunday (watch above).
His sire, Bated Breath, was high class over six furlongs but didn’t see a racecourse as a two-year-old while his dam, a daughter of Irish Derby runner up Born To Sea, was a ten-furlong performer who also didn’t make her racecourse debut until she was three.
Bated Breath gets very few performers at a distance of less than six furlongs and this, combined with the stout nature of his dam’s pedigree, suggests that Cashew will have no problem shelling his maiden tag when stepped up to six furlongs with further improvement highly likely when he goes over seven and even eight furlongs.
ALREADY GONE (Zoffany x Whatelseaboutyou)
This Stan Moore-trained colt made his debut in what looked a decent contest at Goodwood last week.
The 66-1 chance was slow away from the stalls and was being hard driven by John Egan after just a furlong – looking for all the world that he would be tailed off.
With a furlong and a half to go he looked to start to understand his job and made thorough yet unspectacular progress to finish a staying-on fifth. He would be interesting stepped up to six furlongs on a track with less emphasis on speed.
However, it might be that his shrewd trainer keeps him at the minimum trip until he’s eligible for handicaps.
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