With the last Classic being run last Saturday it is worth looking back at the 5 classics.
The 5 English Classics were won by Dawn Approach (2000 Guineas), Sky Lantern (1000 Guineas), Ruler of The World (The Derby), Talent (The Oaks) and Leading Light (St Leger).
2000 Guineas: Dawn Approach confirmed himself as the early season 3 year old to follow with a very impressive win here galloping away from the field inside the final furlong to win by 5 lengths with Glory Awaits, Van Der Neer, Toronado and Cristoforo Colombo filling the next 4 places. Considering this was one of the classics only Dawn Approach and Toronado have really gone on from this race and stayed competitive in Group 1 races.
Dawn Approach has since won the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished a close 2nd to Toronadoin the Qipco Sussex Stakes when Dawn Approach appeared to go on too early. His two disappointing runs came in the Derby which we will come to and at Deauville when well beaten behind Moonlight Cloud.
Toronado probably disappointed in the Guineas finishing only 4th but got much closer to Dawn Approach at Royal Ascot before beating him at Glorious Goodwood. Toronado recently disappointed in the Juddmonte International Stakes on his first step up to 1m2f finishing last of 6 and a drop back to the mile looks likely where he could well meet Dawn Approach again. There probably isn’t much between Dawn Approach and Toronado over 1mile.
Surely Stud careers await both of these talented horses but hopefully at the end of next season not this season.
1000 Guineas: This race proved to be a thriller with only ½ length separating the front 2. Sky Lantern just came out on top of Just The Judge although once again only a few from this race have really stood heldownin Group 1 races in the rest of this season.
Sky Lantern went on to win the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in really impressive fashion and firmly cemented herself as the leading 3 year old Filly in the UK. A controversial 2nd in the Falmouth against her elder rival Elusive Kate was then followed by a disappointing 5th at Glorious Goodwood however this is now the 2nd time she has been beaten at Goodwood and may well struggle with the camber which is evident for most of the final straight. Over 1m at most other tracks and she should be very hard to beat.
Just The Judge backed up her 2nd to Sky Lantern in the 1000 Guineas by winning the Irish 1000 Guineas franking the form of Sky Lantern and getting a Group 1 win to her name. A 3rd in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot followed probably confirming that Sky Lantern is the better Filly. Just the Judge also failed to run up to scratch at Glorious Goodwood and a return to the Curragh probably awaits.
Both Just The Judge and especially Sky Lantern look very talented over 1 mile and both will make fantastic brood mares but hopefully one or both will continue racing next season.
The Derby: The whole story going into this race was whether Dawn Approach could emulate his father and win the Guineas and the Derby but again the stamina of the family was brought into question and this time it proved too significant. A clever tactic from Aiden O’Brien in which he asked for Battle of Marengo to make the pace very slow clearly worked against Dawn Approach who pulled fiercely for most of the race before dropping away very tamely and completely exhausted. This turned the race into a bit of a sprint and Ruler of The World ridden by Ryan Moore showed the best turn of foot to win. Dawn Approach’s 2nd at Goodwood later this season when kicking on early probably showed that he barely stays 1 mile so in hindsight was never going to stay over 1m4f.
Libertarian appeared to be unlucky as lacked the initial turn of foot before running on in a really eye-catching manner to finish 2nd but has failed to replicate this performance since and his proximity to the winner may well have come about due to the way the race was run.
3rd place Galileo Rock went on to finish 2nd in the Irish Derby behind Trading Leather and then 3rd in the St Leger behind Leading Light. This is top quality form and surely a Group 1 race awaits either later this season or next season.
The Oaks: The English Oaks was run in a similar fashion to the Derby with it appearing to turn into a bit of a sprint which is illustrated by this being the slowest English Oaks in the last 10 years and Talent proved on this day to have the best turn of foot. Talent disappointed in the Irish Oaks when finishing last of 7 when the race was run at a relatively quick pace (marginally slower than Moonstone and Snow Fairy’s victories) but bounced back when finishing a good 2nd in the St Leger. The return to form could well have been due to the St Leger also appearing to be turned into a sprint after a relatively slow pace for most of the race. This is backed up by the numbers as this was the slowest time in the last 10 years (other than the St Leger which was run on heavy going.
Secret Gesture finished 2nd in the Oaks before then finishing 2nd in the German Oaks over 1m2f. A return to 1m4f at York in the Yorkshire Oaks resulted in a decent 3rd behind The Fugue who in turn went on to win the Irish Champion Stakes so really franked this form. A Group 1 race should be there for Secret Gesture to win if she stays in training especially if the ground has some cut in it.
The Lark finished 3rd and she probably looked the unlucky Filly in the race as she didn’t get a fast pace which she likes nor get a clear run and had to settle for third. She disappointed on her next start in France where once again the race wasn’t run to suit and the tight track wasn’t to her liking as she is a big galloping type. On her next start in the Park Hill Stakes she was very impressive and this time she had both a fast pace and cut in the ground which really suited. She won by a length and a quarter and was still on the bridle crossing the line and surely a Group 1 awaits over this distance or possible even further.
An open looking St Leger turned into a bit of a sprint as mentioned earlier and with Leading Light who had been in 2nd for most of the race took the race up with 3 furlongs to run and then kept plugging away to hold all challengers at bay. The Oaks winner Talent finished 2nd, Derby 3rd Galileo Rock finished 3rd, Derby 2nd Libertarian was 4th which makes the race look very strong and Leading Light could well be a superstar.
Leading Light had previously won the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot and he looks to have plenty of stamina and a tilt at next seasons Gold Cup could well be on the cards where we think he would go very close. The Melbourne Cup this year could also be a possibility if connections decide that a trip to Australia won’t stress this still relatively inexperienced horse out.
The form for the 3 year old is still difficult to work out as when the top class horses have stepped up into racing against their elders they have also been stepping up in distance like when Toronado ran in the Juddmonte International. Was it that he wasn’t good enough or was the distance too far? We probably rate Dawn Approach the best 3 year old and over 7 furlongs to 1 mile he looks very tough to beat if he isn’t sent to the front too soon. There are surely Group 1 race wins awaiting the likes of Galileo Rock, Libertarian and Secret Gesture.
Horses to look out for next year:
A few horses that already look like being major players next season in their respective races include Toormore who has been very impressive in his 3 starts to date. Related to Dick Turpin and Trumpet Major he has the pedigree to be a 2000 Guineas horse and is reportedly better than his siblings which up to now looks to be true.
Leading Light has been impressive this season and looks a real out and out stayer and could well be the main challenger to Estimate in next year’s Gold Cup. Should he stay the distance and win then it wouldn’t surprise us if he won that race a few years consecutively and became the next Yeats.
Tiger Cliff who has won and run well in some of the big handicaps is reportedly going to Alan King to go hurdling and if he can jump safely then he should go on to some of the big races over hurdles and his flat speed should stand him in good stead.