Juvenile Watch: Take on Luxembourg if the ground stays soft

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Wed 20 Oct 2021

Ross Millar previews Saturday's Vertem Futurity Trophy plus reveals a couple of horses he expects to be in the winners' enclosure soon.

This weekend can be seen as the last hurrah on the domestic front for this year’s juveniles, as the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster offers them their last chance for Group honours.

Recent victors include Saxon Warrior, Magna Grecia and Kameko, and connections of this year’s winner will head into the winter with legitimate dreams of classic success in 2022.

Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, who won this in 2011, heads the market and looks very likely to be sent over from Ireland by his trainer, Aidan O’Brien.

He was mentioned in this column back in August after an impressive debut win where his long, effortless stride impressed me. On that occasion, he brushed aside Tuwaiq, who himself was already a winner, when conceding 2lb to him.

He produced an eye-catching performance on his second start when running away with the Beresford Stakes where, having cruised into contention, he sprinted clear, although his head carriage once in front was far from ideal suggesting immaturity, or a quirk.

Luxembourg is a best-priced 8-1 for next year's Derby (Pic: Focusonracing)
Luxembourg is a best-priced 8-1 for next year's Derby (Pic: Focusonracing)

He has only run on good ground, so ground softer than that is an unknown. However, it is notable that his dam was a winner on soft and Camelot won the Irish Derby on heavy ground.

Royal Patronage was the rather unheralded winner of the Royal Lodge on his latest start. He has progressed with every run and brings a solid level of form into this, so will be a tough nut to crack.

Unless we get lots of rain, Doncaster won’t offer quite the same stamina test as Newmarket did, and this is detrimental to his chances, though I fully expect him to run another solid race.

Connections of Angel Bleu will be praying for rain, given that this colt by Dark Angel has taken his form to another level when faced with soft and heavy ground on his past two starts, latterly in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagarde where he was a cosy winner, though admittedly the race was arguably substandard for a Group One.

He will certainly stay this trip and, in fact, is likely to improve for it plus is tough and battle-hardened.

Bayside Boy was third in the Dewhurst and would possibly have finished closer if getting a smooth passage in the closing stages.

He should not have a problem staying this trip at Doncaster but, while his form is solid, he wouldn’t look a likely winner.

The same sentiments can be applied to Imperial Fighter who is a solid yardstick but has two lengths to find on Royal Patronage from their meeting in the Acomb Stakes at York.

In conclusion, if the ground stays soft or worse, I could see this turning into a real war of attrition. If that is the case, I would fancy ANGEL BLEU to outfight Luxembourg, especially if the awkward head carriage he displayed on his last start were to resurface.

On ground any quicker than soft, I will be keeping my money in my pocket and will be an interested observer. Let’s hope Bayside Boy and Imperial Fighter are declared as they will give some collateral form against Coroebus and Native Trail.



Trainer: Richard Fahey.

This son of Holy Roman Emperor has a stamina-laden pedigree courtesy of his dam, Galileos Daughter, who was herself a winner over eleven furlongs.

All the siblings of Fourth Time Lucky have shown their best form at trips in excess of a mile and the fact that Fourth Time Lucky had enough speed to finish third on his debut over six furlongs at Redcar bodes well for his future.

He was a little ponderous leaving the stalls and took a while to get into his stride, but he showed a pleasing attitude and good stamina to close up into third in the final half-furlong.

I’d expect him to have little trouble shedding his maiden tag when upped in trip to seven furlongs.


Trainer: Richard Fahey.

Just like Fourth Time Lucky, this son of Muhaarar is out of a Galileo mare, Hikari, who won a 12f maiden for Dermot Weld plus has already produced two Listed-level performers in Lady G (12 furlongs) and Raise You (8 furlongs on heavy ground).

Liberated Light’s debut over six furlongs at Redcar hinted at much more to come. He broke well and raced in a professional manner, but came under plenty of pressure at the halfway point.

It was only in the last half furlong that his stamina kicked in and he closed rapidly on the front pair. In another three strides, he’d have been the winner.

He will have no trouble winning in a similar grade when upped in trip and should continue to improve further still when given a real stamina test.

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