Saturday was D-day for Too Darn Hot, pitched into his first Group 1 against rivals already proven at the top level, and he rose to the challenge with the outstanding juvenile performance of recent years, writes Graeme Smith.
TOO DARN HOT had been hugely impressive in three unbeaten starts prior to the Darley Dewhurst Stakes but this was a test on a different scale taking on the Phoenix winner Advertise and the National Stakes runner-up Anthony Van Dyck. Nevertheless, Too Darn Hot’s speed proved every bit as potent as it had in lesser company once he found top gear approaching the last 1f, dispatching those two Group 1 performers with a breathtaking burst and winning by nearly three lengths with Dettori doing little more than salute the crowd through the last 60 yards.
There are several strands to pull together when assessing a race, and even though a speed figure of 112 for the Dewhurst doesn’t scream top-class performance, that’s as much about how the race was run. Historical standards point to this being an above-average Dewhurst performance and pre-race form-lines, all of them underpinned historically, paint an even more positive picture.
Too Darn Hot emerges with a rating of 125, and that’s the best juvenile performance in Europe since Frankel and Dream Ahead signed off from their first season as joint-champions at 126 in 2010.
Working back through the result has runner-up Advertise improving to 118. In truth, the form of his Phoenix success had been limited to 112 by the fact The Irish Rover’s third-place finish remained a standout from eight career starts. However, the subsequent form of both So Perfect and Indigo Balance (finished either side of The Irish Rover) pointed more towards 115 for Advertise there and this extra furlong brought even more out of him.
There was always a doubt whether Anthony Van Dyck would be suited by faster ground kept to 7f as he’d very much looked ready for 1m in the National Stakes, and even under a positive ride it’s hard to believe he produced the same sort of performance. Nevertheless, that 2 lb rise I gave to the National Stakes a fortnight ago after Mohawk had won the Royal Lodge has now been reversed, with both Mohawk and Sydney Opera House having let the form of the latter race down this week. As such, Quorto returns to 121.
There was a strong juvenile undercard to the Dewhurst and the imposing French colt, PERSIAN KING, produced a smart performance himself in fending off Magna Grecia in the Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes.
As the first four home are trained abroad I’m not in a position to allot ratings but the time pointed towards this being a strong renewal at around 114. Given the last 3f returned a slightly negative finishing speed on my hand time it could be that Persian King deserves extra credit for holding the more patiently-ridden runner-up. In fact, the way he tanked through a well-run race suggests there’s loads to look forward to with him.
I should also mention that Magna Grecia had very little pre-race experience, being limited to only one appearance against fellow newcomers a fortnight earlier, so there’s plenty of upside to him too.
The Godolphin Flying Start Zetland Stakes has taken on a new lease of life since moved forward from its traditional November slot; Kew Gardens and Dee Ex Bee filled the first two places last year and Permian and Wings of Eagles were in the frame behind Coronet in 2016. I’m not sure this year’s race is quite on that level – I have it around 104 but that is another decision for my Irish counterpart – but I was fairly impressed by NORWAY’s winning performance. In a race that wasn’t run at an end-to-end gallop (speed figure of 72) he did well to come from last 2f out. Norway’s dam has already produced Ruler of The World and Duke of Marmalade and he could well make into a smart colt himself.
Friday saw something of a turn up in the Bet 365 Fillies’ Mile as IRIDESSA found more than the market leaders emerging from the Dip. While there was a fairly strong wind half against the runners on Saturday, it was really strong in that direction on Friday and her being covered up more than the placed horses certainly won’t have done her any harm. Even without that possible complication the Fillies’ Mile isn’t an easy race to get a handle on at this stage and I’d be looking towards the 114 that historical standards point to.
Pretty Pollyanna’s season has fizzled out somewhat in the last fortnight or so. It was fairly clear to me she was beaten by a couple of stronger stayers in a soundly-run race on this first try beyond 6f. That’s now two lesser efforts since the Morny, however, and I’ve reduced her rating to 116. There could be further movement by the time of the European Classification.
The Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharpbrought a number of fillies with potential rather than proven pattern-race form together. Not all of them shone in difficult conditions but MOT JUSTE continued her run-by-run progress as she reversed Goodwood running with Sunday Star and Glance. Context was provided by the penalised Princess Margaret winner Angel’s Hideaway, who stayed on into second after finding trouble. A line through her 6f form tied in well with historical data and they pointed to a figure of 103 for the winner.