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Darley Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1)
Four wins for Aidan O’Brien and five for Jim Bolger in the last eleven years tell the story of a Group 1 contest dominated by the Irish in recent times. Only Frankel and Belardo have done the business for the ‘home team’ in a race that has been feast or famine for favourite backers. Seven winners from the last eleven have been favourites (five odds on) but 33/1, 20/1, 20/1 and 10/1 winners in the other four years show that it doesn’t always go to plan for punters. Our expert preview for the 2017 Dewhurst Stakes is below.
Given Jim Bolger’s record in recent years with the likes of Teofilo, New Approach and Dawn Approach, the obvious starting point is with his Verbal Dexterity. He went in many notebooks as a horse to follow when ripping apart a maiden on debut by nine and a half lengths. That was over seven furlongs, the step down to six against him when he was beaten a length by Beckford in the Railway Stakes. He turned that form around in style when back up to seven furlongs last time, slamming Beckford by three and a half lengths. The soft ground there probably favoured him more than that rival, but it was still an exceptional performance and makes him a big player.
One who probably wouldn’t want the ground to get too soft is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Expert Eye. His win in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood came before the rainfall that plagued the meeting, travelling like a potential star before quickly putting the race to bed when asked. The third has won a Listed contest since while the fourth was beaten a nose at Group 3 level so the form in behind is looking solid. Such was the domination of the performance, it would be no surprise to anyone if he took the step up to Group 1 level in his stride and the majority from Freemason Lodge continue to improve bundles as they mature..
Options for Gustav Klimt are a little up in the air following his withdrawal from the National Stakes with a stone bruise. “He’s got plenty of speed but you’d hope he’d get a mile. But he’s not short of pace” was Aidan O’Brien’s opinion of him after his victory in the Superlative Stakes, so it would be no surprise if he turned up this autumn anywhere from six furlongs up to a mile. The Superlative Stakes was over this trip of seven furlongs, so there are no problems for him with either the nature of Newmarket nor the trip. He would have a little to prove if it came up very soft but his level of form stacks up well for a yard with a smart record in the contest.
Rajasinghe won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, shaping as if this step up to seven furlongs would be helpful to him when subsequently third in the July Stakes. He is looking to be a mile horse in 2018 so trying this trip this autumn would surely be the move for connections to see where they stand at this level. He was impressive in the Coventry, despite the winning margin only being a head. He showed a great attitude to dig deep when challenged and although it probably wasn’t a classic renewal of the contest, he was still a smart winner with plenty more to come from him.
The twice raced Glorious Journey carries the same colours as the 1994 winner Pennekamp. He was given an excellent front running ride by James Doyle when landing the Group 3 Prix La Rochette at Saint-Cloud last time out. That followed up his debut success when he justified short odds on the July course. His dam was the winner of the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot as well as being a Group 2 runner-up as a juvenile so he has the breeding to progress to this sort of level and could be a dark horse here. He cost 2.6 million at the sales so has a long way to go to justify such a huge price tag, but he has made a smart start to his career.
Favourite for the 2018 Derby is The Pentagon, another who could represent Ballydoyle. Twice a winner over this trip on decent ground, he looks the type to improve as he goes up in trip next season. He took a little while to get organised when winning the Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown, just lugging in towards the rail as Ryan Moore tried to wind him up. Once he got into stride, he picked up well, impressively going away at the line. Whether he would have the precocity to take on speedier bred types at Group 1 level at this trip this season is open for debate, but whatever he does in the remainder of 2017 should only be the starter to the main course of next season as a three-year-old.