Declan Rix

The emerging strength-in-depth of Richard Hannon's juvenile team is the main topic of conversation in Declan Rix's blog this week.

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Hannon juveniles starting to fire

The last week was noticeably good for Richard Hannon juveniles; this coming on the back of Group 2 glory with Ventura Tormenta in the Prix Robert Papin and Happy Romance in the Weatherbys Super Sprint Stakes the previous weekend, along with impressive maiden Newbury winner, Fly Miss Helen.

While Ventura Tormenta and Summer Romance are more sprinting types, this week, we saw a number of performances from horses who are likely to appreciate running over further next season, and have potential Classic aspirations. Of course, we are a long way off from next year’s Guineas, and these horses will need to improve significantly, but these are all juveniles of note as the campaign progresses.

The most high-profile success came at Ascot on Saturday when the likable Chindit won the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes (Formerly The Winkfield Stakes) under Pat Dobbs. This was the third time in 10 years ‘Team Hannon’ have won the race, following on from the 2012 victory of Toronado and the 2013 success of Washaa; the former going on to be a top-class miler.

This son of Wootton Bassett was clearly at home on the fast Ascot ground; travelling with a real touch of class before picking up nicely between horses and going on to win readily by 1¾ lengths. While a good winner at Doncaster, the Michael Pescod-owned colt didn’t learn much on debut, but got a good education here under a lovely Dobbs ride.

I had him running to 95p on Saturday, and that’s not a bad level for a horse having just his second start. I think he can go higher, especially when looking at his pedigree. His second dam, Always Remembered (by Galileo), is a half-sister to Derby winner Motivator and from a high-class, middle-distance family.

The 65,000 Guineas paid at last year’s Tattersalls Boob 2 Yearling Sale now looks money well spent and another good purchase by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock.

A pair of smart debut winners in Etonian (87P) at Sandown (7f) and Mohawk King (87P) at Ascot (6f) also caught the eye last week. I was really taken by the former’s success, where he went through his race with a real touch of class before picking up strongly to win by 3¼ lengths, again under Pat Dobbs.

Dobbs seemed to have every angle covered late, despite his mount taking a hold off what were slack fractions. A big horse, this son of Olympic Glory was a €14,000 foal who was bought back by his vendor for 10,000 Guineas as a yearling. His owner Julie Wood looks to have a nice horse on her hands.

Connections’ post-race comments suggested Etonian was showing plenty early in the year and was thought to be a Royal Ascot horse, but mentally and physically, wasn’t ready for that test. Although he had an SP of 28/1 here, he was as high as 40s so there appeared to be some quiet confidence behind him.

Given his size, that extra time looks to have done him no harm.

Down in trip, Mohawk King was another nice winner at Ascot on Saturday, again under Dobbs. Dobbs rode the straight track beautifully on King George day, getting his mounts loads of cover and a good lead in the key early periods of the races. He also educated his mounts coming through horses and this son of Siyouni will have learned plenty for this debut win.

An incredibly fluent mover, Mohawk King is another who seemed to enjoy the summer ground; going through his race nicely before picking up well and hitting the line strong. His stallion, Siyouni, while not in the mould of a Galileo or Dubawi is a top-class sire and of all the aforementioned horses, this 250,000 Guineas Breeze Up purchase ticks all the boxes of a potential top-class performer, in terms of sales price, pedigree and now, race-track performance.

I was encouraged by Richard Hannon’s post-race comments, too, Hannon describing Mohawk King as a “gentleman” with a fantastic temperament. This will hopefully allow Isa Salman Al Khalifa’s horse to fulfil his potential, of which there appears to be plenty.

The most eyecatching Hannon juvenile over the week however, went to a horse who will likely mean more to the yard than most going forward, Snow Lantern (89P). Out of Sky Lantern, the team’s 1000 Guineas (2012) and multiple Group 1 winner, and by Frankel, she made a beautiful debut in what I thought was a strong Fillies' Novice Stakes.

Slow out of the gate and slow into stride under Pat Dobbs, she gave the field a nice head start off what were not strong early fractions. The pace did build to three out however, helping from her initial uncompromising position and the grey filly picked up nicely, despite having to switch off the rail.

She came home well and while readily held by 1¼ lengths by the Roger Varian-trained winner, Zabeel Queen, you know she will likely improve more for the run than the winner and clearly didn’t have the same nice run through.

This is a race worth watching a number of times, as I suspect there were plenty of nice fillies in. Who knows, next year’s 1000 Guineas winner may well have run here.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for all these Hannon horses. The trainer has got a good handle on plenty of juvenile form lines now, so the placing of his 2yo horses in pattern races will intrigue going forward.

His juvenile debut winners and horses who show up well tend to improve significantly for their first starts, as do the others, so I shall watch this space with interest.

In-form Menuisier duo catch the eye with Sandown successes

At the time of writing, David Menuisier is operating at a 44% strike rate, in part thanks to a treble at Sandown last Thursday night. Two of those horses, Shouldering and Gypsy Whisper are worth adding to your ATR Tracker.

Shouldering put up an incredible performance to win a 7f Novice Stakes after encountering serious traffic problems in the straight under Ryan Moore. How she quite managed to beat the runner-up Starshiba so well given her passage through was quite incredible, especially with the second home having such a clean run through down the outside.

A half-sister to the stable’s History Writer, this filly by Epaulette looks on a steep upward curve at the moment and should have no issues at least picking up some valuable Blacktype this season. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does, but I have her running to 91p here and granted some decent ground next time out, she will be of interest.

So too will Gypsy Whisper who impressed in winning a 7f handicap in first-time cheek-pieces under William Buick. For the Class 5 grade, this may well be a handicap to follow. A daughter of Helmet, 7f and fast ground clearly suit as she proved different class to her handicap rivals under the conditions.

Declan Rix
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