Mickael Barzalona was quick to hail Earthlight as the best two-year-old he has ever sat on after he maintained his unbeaten record with victory in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.
Billed as the leading juvenile race of the campaign, it was not without drama at the start – with Siskin withdrawn – but ultimately produced a winner that could quite easily go on to even greater things.
With a number of unblemished reputations on the line, it was to be the Andre Fabre-trained son of Shamardal who would keep his intact when defeating Golden Horde – whom he had back in third in last month’s Prix Morny – by a neck.
The Derby-winning rider said of the 11-4 favourite: “I think he is the best two-year-old I’ve sat on, as he has won two Group Ones now.
“He is a proper two-year-old, now we need to see how he goes next season.
“We knew he was a very good horse, but today we expected him to prove he was a top-class horse and he has.”
Though there was plenty of depth to the race with Group-race winning form being boasted by five of the nine declared runners, Barzalona expected Earthlight to be the horse to beat.
He said: “I knew my horse and Siskin were top-class horses, but the rest had to prove they were good today. My horse is very adaptable and he can go in any place or position and, like he showed today, he handles everything.
“He has improved a lot mentally, as he wasn’t nervous before the race at all and I think he took it in the right way so it is very exciting, for sure.”
With Earthlight showing he has the pace to score at the highest level over six furlongs, Barzalona believes he can combine that speed with stamina when upped to a mile next season, which could see him back on the Rowley Mile in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
He added: “He has got some speed, as we have asked him to do six. He will have a nice break now, but hopefully he will stay further next year.
“We will see about a mile first of all.”
Visits to the Rowley Mile may now be few and far between for Barzalona, who returned to France following a spell based in the town with Charlie Appleby. But riding winners at the place he once called home is not lost on him.
He said: “It is always great to be back here, as I’ve a lot of friends here.
“I shared dinner with some of them yesterday, so it was great to see all of them before coming up here today.
“It is very important to be at good meetings like this and to win a good race for Godolphin.”