Declan Rix

Declan Rix feels the early signs among this season's juvenile crop are positive and nominates the five two-year-olds that have impressed him most.

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Championing our equine stars while staying level-headed is a fine balance in horse racing. Sometimes I look to America and Australia and I wish our industry and fans would get behind the game’s stars, our athletes, the horses. On the other hand, predominantly on the Flat, we sometimes see silly words uttered about potential stallions in the hope of hooking breeders in.

This can be frustrating to watch and read, especially when the numbers don’t add up, but I must say, I’m particularly willing to get behind some of the early season juveniles we’ve seen this campaign, who are not necessarily going under the radar, but warrant the title of ‘the future’.

I’ll be the first to admit, getting excited about next year’s Classic crop when they are barely half-way through their juvenile campaign has significant scope to make me look silly. We are talking about young horses that could easily go backwards as much as forwards, and it’s highly likely many potential Classic winners haven’t even run yet. There is also potential for them not to train on, but still, there are positives the following names will take high rank next season in their respective divisions.

This topic of conversation was sparked by Saturday’s Group 3 Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes winner, Angel’s Hideaway. While in her own right she deserves a mention for her classy and smooth 2¾ lengths success, it was hard for me not to immediately look at her collateral form and relive her huge seven lengths hammering behind PRETTY POLLYANNA in the Group 2 Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes.

Now, that final distance likely flatters Michael Bell’s daughter of Oasis Dream – the scrimmaging in behind no doubt exaggerated that - but the time – and now the form - of the Newmarket success suggests we are dealing with a potential top-class juvenile filly.

By Oasis Dream and out of a Shamardal mare who is from the further family of the high-class User Friendly, there is optimism she can continue to improve and be just as good as a three-year-old. My only hope is connections don’t force her up in trip too early, as her form over six furlongs is among the best in Britain and Ireland for a juvenile. I await her next run with excitement.  

Pretty Pollyanna winning Duchess Of Cambridge
Pretty Pollyanna was a deeply impressive winner of the Duchess Of Cambridge

I would echo similar comments about brilliant Coventry Stakes winner CALYX, who looks destined for the very top based on his Royal Ascot success. My immediate worry with this son of freshman sire Kingman – himself a horse who was blessed with raw brilliance – is connections trying to turn him into a miler.

Everything about John Gosden’s inmate screams speed; from his pedigree, the sectionals he’s able to clock to the way he gallops. He’s a high-class sprinter in the making with the world at his feet. Bred by one of racing’s leading organisations in Juddmonte Farms, I hope he’ll continue to improve and operate to the highest level as a three-year-old after taking the 2018 juvenile scene by storm.

There are warning signs in his pedigree however, that we could see the best of him as a juvenile, and it would be naïve not to flag these. Calyx is out of Helleborine, a daughter of Observatory who won a Group 3 at two. She didn’t go on to win as a three-year-old. She is also a full-sister to African Rose who won the Group 1 Sprint Cup as a three-year-old.

Now a broodmare herself, African Rose has produced two quality juveniles in the last three seasons, Fair Eva and Herculean. Both were juvenile winners who were touted for the top at two, but it’s fair to say the pair didn’t go on as hoped, for whatever reasons.

This is all just something to bear in mind for Calyx’s future, but at the moment he looks destined for Group 1 glory.

Positive mentions must also go the way of Coventry Stakes runner-up and third, ADVERTISE and SERGEI PROKOFIEV, respectively. The former has since taken another step forward in winning the Group 2 July Stakes in ready fashion. He looks a progressive horse for owners Phoenix Thoroughbreds and trainer Martyn Meade and has shown a new trip of 7f to be well within his stamina compass down the line.

Aidan O’Brien’s Sergei Prokofiev has yet to run since his Coventry third, but given his connections, pedigree and sales price, the $1,100,000 purchase by Scat Daddy still rates as an exciting horse to follow, for all he had much more experience going into the Coventry than Calyx and Advertise.

Much of the talk and language used in this piece has been centred around not only now, but these horses in their ‘Classic’ season, their three-year-old campaigns, 2019. ‘The Classics’ – the Guineas (8f), the Derbys (12f), the Oaks (12f) and the Legers (14f) – are run over distances that will not show the likes of Pretty Pollyanna and Calyx off at their best, but these are the trips that QUORTO may well thrive over in the coming months and year, meaning he is the real Classic contender among the aforementioned.

Charlie Appleby’s son of Dubawi is now unbeaten in two runs, his latest success coming in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes on the July Course where he won by an impressive 3¾ lengths from Aidan O’Brien’s Cape Of Good Hope. The distance of victory in no way flatters Quorto who, under William Buick, had this race wrapped up a long way from home.

Out of Volume, who was third in an Oaks at Epsom and The Curragh, from a staying family, if there is a Classic winner among the five horses mentioned, then it looks this Godolphin-owned colt. Given his action, rattling quick ground would be a concern, but he looks set for a big autumn campaign which could see success in a Dewhurst Stakes or Racing Post Trophy down the line. 

Declan Rix
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