After waiting and debating all winter, the first colts’ Classic of 2015 gets underway over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Saturday, with a false rail and new stalls position aimed at preventing the field from splitting, to produce a fair outcome for all runners.
Having won on debut last year, Mick Channon’s Bossy Guest found things much tougher and struggled in the Coventry Stakes behind The Wow Signal and in the Superlative Stakes when comprehensively outpointed by Estidhkaar. Later in July the son of Medicean landed a Newmarket conditions race by a neck from the very useful Portamento before running ½ a length second to Izzthatright in the Ripon Two Year Old Trophy. Bossy Guest was then placed in two valuable sales contests at Newmarket in the autumn. He made the perfect comeback at Newmarket’s Craven meeting, winning a valuable Tattersalls Sales Sprint by 1 ¼ lengths from Ballymore Castle with an impressive late run.
Cappella Sansevero was a smart juvenile last year but takes a big step up in trip for his first run of 2015. The Ger Lyons trained son of Showcasing was an early starter, winning on debut last April and following-up with a narrow verdict from Dick Whittington who would later win a Group 1. Cappella Sansevero then added a Listed race in late May when beating Sors by 3 ¼ lengths at the Curragh and ran a belter in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot to finish 1 ¾ lengths second to The Wow Signal. He disappointed behind Kool Kompany in the Group 2 Railways Stakes and was only fifth before finishing just ½ a length behind Dick Whittington when third in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. Further victory followed in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh in late August, when he defeated Rapid Applause by ¾ of a length. Cappella Sansevero’s last run of a busy campaign came in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket and he ran 1 ¾ lengths fourth of 6 to Charming Thought in a race that is working out very well at the moment.
Celestial Path made the perfect start to his racing career with back to back victories at York and Haydock Park. The Sir Mark Prescott trained son of Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand impressed on the second occasion when beating Medrano by 4 lengths in a Listed contest in September. He then headed to the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and finished 3 ¼ lengths third of 8 to Elm Park.
Code Red is taking a huge step up in class but after two unpromising starts as a juvenile, he really got his act together and looks progressive. The William Muir trained son of Bahamian Bounty put those two moderate runs at Ffos Las well behind him when slamming Amazour by 4 ½ lengths in a Nottingham maiden in early October. He followed-up later that month in Listed class, defeating Portamento by ¾ of a length at Doncaster. He stepped up to 7 furlongs for the first time in the Greenham Stakes two weeks ago but was beaten 10 ½ lengths when sixth of 9 to Muhaarar.
Dutch Connection ran well twice in maidens before getting off the mark at Glorious Goodwood. The Charlie Hills trained colt then stepped up to Group 3 class for the Acomb Stakes at York and got the better of subsequent Mill Reef Stakes winner Toocoolforschool by a head. The son of Dutch Art was then sent to the Curragh for a hot renewal of the Group 1 National Stakes and ran well to finish 2 ½ lengths third of 5 to Gleneagles.
Elm Park developed into one of the leading juveniles of last year in England. After finishing third at Sandown Park on debut in late July, Andrew Balding’s son of Phoenix Reach landed a Newbury maiden by 3 lengths before beating Groor by 3 lengths in a Salisbury Listed contest. Elm Park then got the better of Nafaqa by a length in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket in September and a month later won the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy with a dominant display, defeating Aloft by 2 ¾ lengths at Doncaster. As a warning, Balding has suggested that fast ground will see Elm Park withdrawn.
Estidhkaar was another of the top juvenile colts last season and after running a promising second on debut, landed a Newbury maiden in June. A month later he was a hugely impressive 4 ½ lengths winner from Aktabantay in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. His reputation was further enhanced at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting in September, when he beat War Envoy by 1 ¼ lengths in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes. On the back of that run, Estidhkaar was favourite for the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, but finished 5 lengths fourth to Belardo. He made a very pleasing return in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury two weeks ago, finishing ¼ of a length second to Muhaarar.
Karl Burke’s Glenalmond is an interesting runner who won a small Ayr maiden by ½ a length from My Dream Boat. The son of Iffraaj was then stepped hugely up in class to contest the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York in August, running a superb race to finish just a length behind Muhaarar in fourth place. For one so inexperienced, he shaped really well that day but was disappointing at Doncaster in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes when 6 ¼ lengths last of 6 to Estidhkaar. He returned in the European Free Handicap at Newmarket a couple of weeks ago and finished 4 lengths fourth to Home Of The Brave.
Gleneagles has been prominent in the betting for this race since last summer and was perhaps unofficially the leading juvenile in Europe last year. The Aidan O’Brien trained son of Galileo was fourth on debut but finished first past the post on his 5 other starts, including a 1 ½ lengths defeat of Toscanini in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh in September. He then travelled to Longchamp and took on the best colts in France in the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere and put up perhaps his most impressive performance, showing a strong turn of foot to finish ½ a length in front of the previously unbeaten Full Mast and visually well on top. However, in the closing stages Gleneagles seemed to shy from the whip and caused interference which the French Stewards deemed worthy of his disqualification. Assuming there are no quirks, he handles the Dip and has trained on, he looks to have a leading chance.
Hail The Hero failed to get off the mark in three tries in Ireland last season although he did finish ¼ of a length second to subsequent Group 1 winner Vert De Grece at Leopardstown in August on the second of his runs. He has since moved to the stable of David O’Meara for whom he made a winning debut in March when beating Mockingbird Hill by 3 lengths at Doncaster. He then headed to Newmarket for the Craven Stakes a couple of week ago and was 5 ¾ lengths sixth of 7 to Kool Kompany.
Hugo Palmer enjoyed a magnificent 2014 with his juvenile team and runs the progressive Home Of The Brave here. The son of Starspangledbanner ran well to finish 1 ½ lengths second to St Brelades Bay in a Windsor maiden in late June, and then made a good impression when landing a Newmarket maiden by 4 lengths from Atletico a month later. He then stepped up in class for the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton Park and was not disgraced in finishing 3 lengths third of 10 to the smart Burnt Sugar. Home Of The Brave put in a sparkling return in the European Free Handicap at Newmarket in April, beating Tupi by 1 ¾ lengths in the style of a progressive colt.
Intilaaq is an intriguing supplementary entry here and this son of Dynaformer has reportedly thrived since making a huge impression on his first start of the year. The Roger Varian colt shaped with promise when 2 ¼ lengths third of 11 to Mutasayyid at Ascot last September. He reappeared at Newbury two weeks ago in a maiden and romped to an 8 lengths victory over Keble and has worked so well at home since that connections have stumped up a large fee to earn him a run.
Ivawood was another of the outstanding colts from 2014 but was disappointing on his seasonal return. Having won on debut, the Richard Hannon trained son of Zebedee was most impressive in defeating Jungle Cat by 2 ¾ lengths in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket. At the end of July he further enhanced his reputation when slamming Louie De Palma by 4 ½ lengths in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. Ivawood was hot favourite for the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in October but perhaps the ground took its toll as he went down to a nose defeat at the hands of Charming Thought. He stepped up to 7 furlongs for the first time in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury but failed to get competitive in the closing stages, running 4 ¾ lengths third to Muhaarar and Estidhkaar. Richard Hannon maintains his faith in Ivawood and says he is a heavy horse who will strip fitter in the Guineas and of course Night Of Thunder was beaten in last year’s Greenham before winning at Newmarket.
Kool Kompany banished any suggestions that he was just a precocious juvenile, when impressively landing the Craven Stakes here a couple of weeks ago. The Richard Hannon trained son of Jeremy colt won his first 3 starts and was already an Irish Listed winner before flopping in the Coventry Stakes last June. However redemption was just around the corner as Kool Kompany won the Group 2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh, beating Ahlan Emarati by 2 lengths later that month. Next up came a typically gutsy front-running effort to beat Strath Burn by ½ a length in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte in July and the following month he was just ½ a length behind Dick Whittington in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes back at the Curragh. In late August he headed to York’s Ebor Festival for a valuable sales race but ran an uncharacteristically poor race when 3 ¾ lengths sixth of 19 to Mubtaghaa. He was perhaps over the top when 2 ¾ lengths fifth of 6 to Charming Thought in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes here last October. His performance in the Craven Stakes underlined that he comfortably stayed 7 furlongs as he beat Nafaqa by 1 ¼ lengths although jockey Richard Hughes suggested afterwards that a mile might stretch him to his limits and that he might be better suited by Longchamp and the French Guineas.
Moheet is another contender from the Richard Hannon team and this son of High Chaparral made a very taking debut at Salisbury last October when slamming Gild Master by 7 lengths. He returned in the Craven Stakes and ran a promising race to finish 3 ¼ lengths third to stable mate Kool Kompany.
Ol’ Man River is an impeccably bred son of Montjeu out of 1,000 Guineas winner Finsceal Beo. The Aidan O’Brien trained colt comes to Newmarket with an unblemished record from two starts last year, winning a Curragh maiden by ¾ of a length from Aared in August and impressing when landing the Group 2 Beresford Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths from Clonard Street in late September. Much will depend on his maturity and fitness as he makes his seasonal return.
Freddie Head won the Prix Dejebel with Charm Spirit last year and that colt went on to run a fine fifth in the Guineas before embarking on a Gruop 1 winning campaign. Fast forward 12 months and Head returns to Newmarket with a Prix Djebel winner in the shape of Ride Like The Wind. The son of Lope de Vega won on debut at Maisons-Laffitte in July but struggled afterwards and was 2 ¼ lengths fourth to Ervedya at Deauville and 8 ¾ lengths sixth of 9 in the Prix Morny. He was then dropped in grade to finish 2 lengths second to Inordinate at Longchamp in September. Ride Like The Wind returned at Deauville in March in a minor conditions race and finished a length second of 9 to Muqaawel. That brought him on and he landed the Prix Djebel by a head from Make Believe.
Eve Johnson Houghton runs Room Key, a son of Mount Nelson who made a winning debut at Salisbury, when beating Little Palaver by ¾ of a length in June. Room Key returned to that venue and was beaten just a neck by Step To The Shears at the end of that month. He then ran a big race to finish 3 lengths third to the smart Highland Reel in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood but was 4 lengths fifth behind Estidhkaar on his final start of 2014 in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.
After running third on debut to the smart Ride Like The Wind, the Andre Fabre trained Territories landed a Chantilly contest by 1 ½ lengths from Souvenir Delondres in late July. He then stepped up in grade and was a promising 1 ¼ lengths third to the smart Full Mast in the Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Longchamp in September. A month later he got closer still as he ran a huge race to finish ½ a length second (promoted after the disqualification of Gleneagles) to Full Mast in the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere. He returned to action at Longchamp last month with an authoritative display to win the Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau by 2 lengths from Karar and has now been supplemented for the Guineas.