The weekend’s racing just gone was a couple of notches down in excitement from the week’s previous action at York et al. While again there was too much racing on to truly take it all in - sadly a common occurrence in ‘Great’ British racing - such unassuming race days without the hype can be nice, especially if we build up horses and races and they fail to materialise. The opposite transpired on Saturday however, where a trio of juveniles, in three different jurisdictions, stepped out from the ordinary.
Below, I’ve taken a closer look closer at Too Darn Hot (Britain), Ten Sovereigns (Ireland) and Persian King (France). They impressed in that order.
TOO DARN GOOD IN THE SOLARIO STAKES
In winning the Group 3 Solario Stakes by an impressive four lengths from a Chesham Stakes winner, TOO DARN HOT stamped himself as one of the season’s most exciting juveniles and a leading 2019 Classic hopeful. The son of Dubawi is now unbeaten in both starts – the pair coming at Sandown – and looks yet another top-class prospect for his incredible dam and former Group 1 winner, Dar Re Mi.
The distaff side of this family is littered with ability. Too Darn Hot’s granddam Darara herself was a top-class race horse and has bred numerous quality animals. As well as Dar Re Mi, Dubai Sheema Classic and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner Rewilding is among them. This class has clearly been passed on to Too Darn Hot and now his form shows he has scope to be top-class, nearly every box is ticked on the way to potentially becoming one of the game’s leading lights.
As well as a formidable bloodline, which is a strong variable to have on your side when trying to win Group 1 races, the team chosen to nurture his talent don’t come much better than John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. Gosden’s Clarehaven outfit were just half-a-length from winning a Group 1 with Too Darn Hot’s hot full-sister So Mi Dar in 2016 while this season, another full-sister Lah Ti Dar remains unbeaten in three runs for Gosden and now sits to the fore in the betting for the 2018 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Too Darn Hot’s easy beating of Chesham winner Arthur Kitt looks reliable form to my eye, and the clock and closing sectionals appear to further strengthen the case. On just his second start, I have the Lord Lloyd-Webber-owned colt running to 111, a big number to achieve in such a short space of time.
Furthermore, the colt showed adaptability in dropping down to seven furlongs, having won his maiden over eight. He’s also shown another dynamic in having no issues with a good-run race, having won his maiden off a lacklustre gallop.
There is almost certainly more to come in the short and medium term. Frankie Dettori feels his mount is still “very raw, green and the penny still hasn’t dropped” while I’d be of the opinion a step back up to eight furlongs will bring about further progress this year. Given all of the above, you’d have to say he is the most exciting juvenile we’ve seen this season so far.
You’d imagine just one more run will be had in 2018, and it surely comes in a Group 1. The National Stakes at The Curragh on September 16th will likely come too soon meaning the potential options look to be the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (1m) at ParisLongchamp on October 7th, the Dewhurst Stakes (7f) at Newmarket on October 13th or the October Trophy at Doncaster on October 27th.
With a step-up to a mile again likely to help, the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere would look the best option to my mind. The Dewhurst test could prove to be sharp enough, although connections may want to trial him on the track with a potential view to running in next year’s 2000 Guineas.
Too Darn Hot does have a habit of edging to his right – he’s still entitled to be green - so the demands of the Lagardere may suit best. Wherever connections decide to go, I look forward to tracking his progress.
TEN OUT OF TEN AGAIN FOR SOVEREIGNS
TEN SOVEREIGNS would follow up his scintillating maiden success just six days later in winning Saturday’s Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at The Curragh. Once more the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt broke sharply from the stalls, travelling at ease in the hands of Donnacha O'Brien before lengthening away readily from the field to win by an easy 3¾ lengths.
Pre-race, I dared question the Master of Ballydoyle in asking the son of first-season sire No Nay Never to return to the track so quickly, having put up a huge performance on debut. Despite winning so emphatically first-time out visually, when producing a quick time, horses rarely have easy races in such circumstances, but such is his class and constitution, my worries never remotely looked like transpiring.
Although carrying his head a little high, quite possibly still through greenness, this two-year-old looks a thoroughly straight-forward character. He jumps quickly, is tractable and picks up when asked – we can’t ask for much more.
Ten Sovereigns was purchased at last year’s Tattersalls October yearling sale by Gordon-Watson Bloodstock for 200,000 Guineas on behalf of the Coolmore team, a sizable fee given the stallion’s first-season sire status, but all associated clearly liked what they saw and supported their own. Where Coolmore are concerned, this horse has an interesting pedigree.
His grandsire is the much-missed Scat Daddy whose stallion career was sadly cut down in his prime as an 11yo. No Nay Never, who stands at Coolmore’s Tipperary base, covered 145 and 170 mares in his first two seasons, respectively and his bloodline offers an outcross which Coolmore actively seek.
On the distaff side, Ten Sovereigns is out of a mare by Exceed And Excel called Seeking Solace. She is noteworthy because of who breed and raced her, Darley and Godolphin. She was trained in France by Andre Fabre in 2009/10, winning one race on heavy ground over 10f.
Indeed, this whole family on the distaff side is Sheikh Mohammed through and through, but she was sold in a Tattersalls July sale in 2011 for 65,000 to The Irish Bloodstock Agency. Given this is just her fourth foal, she’s likely to be worth a fair bit more now, while Godolphin maybe think she’s one that got away.
Seeking Solace herself is from a speedy family which suggests there must be a sizable question on Ten Sovereigns staying a mile and being a potential Classic horse next year. His pedigree is all speed so more longer-term, the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot looks a better fit than the 2000 Guineas. To be fair to Ten Sovereigns, he gallops like seven furlongs would be within reach, but a mile may stretch him.
More immediately, he may run at Newmarket in the Middle Park Stakes on September 29th.
PERSIAN MAY WELL BE GROUP 1 KING IN TIME
At Chantilly on Saturday, Andre Fabre produced a son of Kingman by the name of PERSIAN KING to break his maiden in emphatic fashion. Sent off 2/5f on his second career run, he made no mistake under a front-running Pierre-Charles Boudot ride to win by 6 lengths.
What really impressed was his ability to quicken and how strong he ran through the line. There is little substance to the form at the moment, but you couldn’t but be taken by the performance.
The juvenile is out of a mare called Pretty Please who is a half-sister Marco Botti’s Group 1 winner Planteur. There is plenty of class further down the pedigree and given there is a fair bit of substance physically to Persian King, he’s certainly a horse I think we’ll hear more of down the line.
Indeed, British fans may get to see him in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on September 29th. The Ballymore Thoroughbred Ltd-owned colt isn’t entered, but the Wildenstein family connected horse could be supplemented.