Declan Rix

The eyecatching Group 2 Beresford Stakes victory of High Definition is the focus of Declan Rix's column this week.

  • Monday 28 September
  • Blog
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Feeling High about Definition after Beresford great escape

Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition jumped to the front of the 2021 Derby market (9/1) after his victory in the Group 2 Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday.

The son of Galileo put up a visually striking performance to overcome what looked like a huge mountain to climb early in the straight, eventually winning by ¾ of a length from the Kevin Prendergast-trained Monaasib; with Joseph O’Brien’s Snapraeterea a further 3 lengths back in third.

The fact the front two pulled so far clear of a solid 95-rated animal (my own rating) is encouraging, but the margin of High Definition’s victory doesn’t do justice to how much of a better horse on the day he was; at least in my own mind, and the bare performance is worth upgrading by a few pounds.

Off what looked just a fair gallop, Seamie Heffernan positioned his mount to the rear of the field and was actually last for a large portion of the race. Compared to his debut run, High Definition looked a much better horse in many regards; he jumped sharper, was into stride quicker and certainly travelled better.

Despite all this, the Ballydoyle colt still looks quite a raw individual – both mentally and physically - and his best days are no doubt ahead of him. With this likely to be the case and a man of Aidan O’Brien’s ilk guiding his career, with High Definition (108p) running to such a good level on only his second career start, he rates as an exciting colt with 2021 in mind.

A fine big specimen who still looks a touch leggy, the sky really could be the limit for this horse, if he makes the physical progress his frame suggests is possible. While mentally he was better on Saturday early, it was in the second half of the race that High Definition still looks like he can improve.

While after the race O’Brien suggested his inmate could start off in next year’s 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, High Definition looks a proper middle-distance prospect to my eye. Given he is by Galileo, it will come as no surprise to see no chinks in the stamina department, but whether he will be fundamentally quick enough to compete or win a Guineas, I have my doubts on the current evidence.

When the penny drops mentally, the Coolmore-owned bay may well sharpen up, but a Derby Trial looks a good way to go with next year in mind.

With the O’Brien colt winning on Saturday, he gave his trainer a tenth win in a row in the Beresford Stakes; a remarkable achievement for a remarkable man. High Definition joined the likes of Capri (2016), Saxon Warrior (2017), Japan (2018) and indeed, his own brother Innisfree who won last year’s running before going on to finish second to Kameko in the 2019 Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Newcastle.

While Innisfree hasn’t run this season, the recent roll of honour in the Beresford from Ballydoyle is incredibly eye-catching; and while it won’t add pounds to what High Definition has achieved or make him run any faster, I can’t help but make a mental note of the above names; two of whom went on to win Classics.

The Classic Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore partners will no doubt now like to win with High Definition is next year’s Derby at Epsom. It’s hard to argue against his current market position in that race at the moment, for all you’d maybe have some early question marks about the suitably of the track at Epsom given his size, but that is a worry about most horses, to be fair. 

It will be interesting to see where his stablemate Wordsworth goes next. Wordsworth was sent off a 5/2 favourite ahead of his stablemate on debut, but was just overhauled close home that day at the Curragh, August 22nd. Given High Definition had an SP of 7/1, I think it’s fair to say on their homework Wordswoth was showing up slightly better. A brother to Kew Gardens, I await his next run with interest.

Declan Rix
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