Declan Rix

After Too Darn Hot's sensational Dewhurst Stakes victory, Declan Rix feels we've seen this season's Champion Juvenile. Declan also has encouraging words for jockey Pat Cosgrave who has turned a potentially poor season into a good one.

  • Sunday 14 October
  • Blog
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TOO DARN HOT EDGES AHEAD OF QUORTO AFTER DEWHURST ROMP

Too Darn Hot’s 2¾ lengths victory in the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday has seen John Gosden’s inmate catapult himself to the top of the 2018 juvenile standings as the 2018 Flat campaign draws to a close.

In winning for his owner Lord Lloyd-Webber, the son of Dubawi amazingly gave his experienced trainer/jockey combination their first ever success in the race, and how fitting it was they did it together. Gosden and Frankie Dettori have had much success as a team over the last number of seasons and in this improving and potentially top-class Classic contender it’s a renaissance train that shows little signs of stopping at present.

There was no stopping Too Darn Hot either who looked brilliant as he scampered away from Group 1 winner Advertise who himself had a further 1¾ lengths back to the Aidan O’Brien-trained Anthony Van Dyck. The form looks solid, reliable and exciting where the future of the winner is concerned, but while some will likely upgrade the juvenile’s effort given the sizable final winning distance with Frankie Dettori easing down, I think it would be wiser to go in the opposite direction.

On Saturday on the Rowley Mile horses appeared to race into a headwind for plenty of the card. Of the first three horses home in the Dewhurst, Too Darn Hot was the only runner to get cover, and just as well as he looked keen enough early. The second, Advertise, was drawn widest of all which saw him exposed to the elements throughout and he was up in trip for the first time in his career. Where Anthony Van Dyck is concerned, I had pre-race worries about his official rating (119) being too high and his ability to prove fully effective over a sharp seven furlongs on quick ground. Both worries appeared to be borne out.

Those are factors that wouldn’t allow me to go overboard on the winner’s performance in terms of ratings, but whatever way you cut it, Too Darn Hot is another horse that will keep the Clarehaven Stables duo of Gosden and Dettori warm through the winter months. In being warm there will also be a bead of pressure perspire running down brows given the unbeaten-in-four performer now sits at the head of the market for next year’s first Classic of the season, the 2000 Guineas.

Too Darn Hot
Too Darn Hot's Dewhurst win was so easy, Frankie Dettori could afford to celebrate early

The regally-bred colt is currently a best-priced 7/4 chance for that Newmarket Group 1. As always with prices this short for a race to be run next season, plenty will say that is on the skinny side and a potential bet is not worthy of a long-term investment. For those who put forward that motion, I would have to agree, especially when you consider how luckless some of the immediate family have been with setbacks and injuries on the lead up to Classics. 

In 2016 Too Darn Hot’s full-sister So Mi Dar missed the Oaks at Epsom through lameness while just this season, another full-sister, Lah Ti Dar also missed the Oaks at Epsom following a setback. At the time of the news breaking, the pair were second favourite and favourite, respectively.  A more tangible and common sense worry at this stage however, would be the presence of Group 1 Irish National Stakes winner Quorto, another top-class prospect by Dubawi.

For all I feel Too Darn Hot did enough in Saturday’s Dewhurst to just eclipse what could be his main sparring partner next season, and possibly beat him to this year’s Champion Juvenile title, the current 2000 Guineas prices separating the pair are far too big.  It’s 7/4 (Too Darn Hot) plays 8/1 (Quorto) and at those prices I know who I’d rather be on. It's Quorto, just to be clear. 

Betting aside, in this pair we have two genuine top-class prospects to look forward to next year. Much of the early season hype will likely revolve around them clashing in the 2000 Guineas and that is to be expected, but let’s hope after Newmarket, there aren’t cries for the Dubawi duo to run in the Derby. At this stage, given how they race, you’d have to say 10f would be their maximum.

COSGRAVE DESERVES CREDIT FOR BATTLING

Holding down rides and jobs with owners and trainers can be a tough going for jockeys in what is a notorious dog-eat-dog, short-term business, and there can be few more frustrated figures at seeing the likes of Sea Of Class have a stellar season than Pat Cosgrave.

In 2016 and 2017 Cosgrave was essentially stable jockey for William Haggas, but this season hasn’t ridden for the trainer who has won four Group 1s, one of which was a Classic with Sea Of Class. One Master and Urban Fox are others to score at the top level for Haggas, but a horse like Sea Of Class could’ve elevated Cosgrave’s career significantly only for his departure from the yard, of circumstances I’ve not been privy to.

Despite operating at a solid 19% strike-rate last year and an excellent 27% in 2016 when with Haggas, Cosgrave was essentially replaced by Godolphin’s semi-attached rider James Doyle. Without wishing to cause offence, Doyle would likely be the chosen rider of owners, trainers and fans if tasked with picking one of the pair, but that’s not to say Cosgrave is a poor jockey, just that James Doyle is a world-class one.

In a funny turn of events over the weekend, Cosgrave would go on to land the £348,410-to-the-winner Australian Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes aboard Benbatl on Saturday, fending off the James Doyle-ridden runner-up by a short-head, for a Godolphin trainer in Saeed bin Suroor, a man who refuses to put up Doyle despite him being retained by the same employer. A tough mouthful but you hopefully get my drift.

Coming into the season, Cosgrave hadn’t ridden a Group 1 winner in seven years, but in the last eight weeks or so, he has ridden three, two aboard Best Solution, and all for Saeed bin Suroor. As they would say in Cosgrave’s native Ireland, bualadh bos, as Cosgrave has turned a potentially poor season into a good one.

Declan Rix
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