Juvenile Watch: two unraced youngsters among those to keep eye on

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Wed 3 Aug 2022
 Little Big Bear is thriving (
Little Big Bear is thriving (

If the main protagonists are all declared, then the Group One Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh on Saturday promises to be the best juvenile race of the season so far.

The Richard Hannon/Amo Racing camp look very likely to make the journey over with Persian Force, where they will hope to settle a score with Bradsell who finished ahead of him in the Coventry at Royal Ascot.

Meanwhile Aidan O’Brien can chose between such as Blackbeard, Little Big Bear or the filly Meditate. Personally, I hope he elects to run Little Big Bear, winner of the Windsor Stakes at Ascot.

The form of that race has worked out well but, then again, so has the Coventry. It promises to be a fascinating contest and I’ll be siding with Little Big Bear should he get the call up from O’Brien.

Late bloomers

Early speed is becoming an ever-desirable trait in the bloodstock industry. It would appear that the same impatience that encourages us to binge on box sets also makes it hard to wait for a winner.

Nevertheless, not making your debut until the backend of the season does not mean a lack of ability. For example, this year’s 2000 Guineas winner, Coroebus didn’t make his debut until mid-August.

I’ve taken the opportunity to ask trainers for an as yet unraced two-year old they’re excited about. This week, Ed Bethell gives us two who are showing the right signs at home.

Trainer Edward Bethell The Oaks Farm Stables Fillies' Stakes (The Michael Seely Memorial Fillies' Stakes) (Listed Race) York 13.5.2022 ©Mark Cranham- (

Yorkshire (Harry Angel x Totsiyah)

We bought him for £100,000 from the Newmarket Guineas breeze-up sale and our syndicate, Clarendon Thoroughbred Racing, now owns him. He’s really pleased us at home and holds entries at Haydock on both Friday and Sunday. We hope he can follow in the footsteps of Fearby who did so well for the syndicate last year.

James McHenry (Starspangledbanner x Savvy)

Another breeze-up purchase, this time at £120,000 from the Tattersalls Craven Sale. He’s been given time to settle in to his routine and learn his job. His dam was only moderate but she’s a half-sister to Gutaifan, who was a Group winning two-year old before retiring to stud after just one season. He doesn’t hold any entries yet but we’re excited to get him started soon.

Star Of The Week

Unsurprisingly, given its location, the novice races at Newmarket frequently yields a few above-average types. I’m sure that Commissioning, who won at the track on Saturday, falls into that category.

John and Thady Gosden’s daughter of Kingman, who was hooded for her debut, broke slowly and was forced to race on a wing with little cover. She looked to be a little awkward in the early stages and a few were travelling better than her as they approached the final two furlongs, but once asked for her effort by Frankie Dettori she quickened up in impressive style and ran out an emphatic winner.

Frankie Dettori tells us more about Commissioning

In his post-race interview, Dettori commented that she took a long time to pull up, and suggested she will certainly stay a mile. Her pedigree indicates that it’s a near certainty that she’ll stay that far: her dam, Sovereign Parade, won over ten furlongs and is a stoutly bred Galileo sister to Irish Derby and St Leger winner, Capri, so stamina is not in short supply.

The Gosden yard do a fine job with their middle-distance fillies and it would be no surprise at all to see Commissioning contesting Group races in the future.

Commissioning was the latest addition to a smart crop of two-year olds for Kingman, the quadruple Group One winner. In recent weeks, he had had debut winners Nostrum and Highbank, plus Noble Style, who took his record to two wins from two starts when stepped up to 6f at Newmarket. He looks smart and, while the winning margin wasn’t huge, it’s entirely possible that he was short of peak fitness on his return from a short break.

The management team at Banstead Manor Stud, where Kingman stands at a career high fee of £150,000 will be hoping that at least one of the aforementioned juveniles can go to the top.

Winner In Waiting

Fox Island (Richard Hannon)

This daughter of Territories is from a family Richard Hannon knows well. He’s trained two of her siblings, while his father, Richard Hannon Sr, trained her dam, Round The Cape.

Fox Island made a promising racecourse debut, over 6f at Leicester. She travelled nicely into the race but lacked the explosive gear change of a few rivals, as she stayed on into an eye-catching fourth.

The Hannon-trained juveniles are taking a big step forward from their first runs this season, and she is unlikely to be an exception as she looked green when under pressure and changed legs three times inside the final furlong. With this experience behind her, she can win a similar contest over six or seven furlongs.

Nursery Time

Ange De L’Amour (Robyn Brisland)

She been given an opening mark of 70. On the bare form of her debut run, when fifth at Windsor, that seems a mark she’s capable of exploiting.

The Windsor contest has worked out well, with the four who finished in front of her; Michaela’s Boy, Kaasib, Democracy Dilemma and Sunningdale earning ratings of 78, 81, 83 and 79. She was only beaten three lengths and would have been closer but for getting notably tired in the final furlong.

She was disappointing back at Windsor on her next start but that came just seven days later, which offers a feasible excuse.

After a break of 100 days, she ran a good race at Nottingham last week, finishing well into third place after a slow start. Five furlongs looks to be her trip and I’d be disappointed if she can’t win at least one nursery off this lenient opening mark.

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