One of the better juvenile races of the entire season and won by horses of the calibre of Air Force Blue last season, as well as Teofilo, New Approach, Parish Hall and a certain Frankel back in 2010. If there is a horse of that sort of calibre in 2016, then the betting suggests his name is Churchill (8/11) and if he is as good as they say in the Aidan O’Brien yard then he will win this on his way to the 2017 2000 Guineas. Sent off the 2/1 favourite at The Curragh on his debut back in May he was only third to Van Der Decken and Magnification, beaten two and a half lengths at the line, but it seems fair to say he has improved since with four wins in a row. Odds on in all of them, he started with the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot which he took by half a length closely followed by the Group Three Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown. Next up he took in the Group Two Futurity Stakes at The Curragh and finally the Group One National Stakes at the same venue when he frankly destroyed Mehmas by a comfortable four and a quarter lengths. He is good without a doubt but is isn’t the new Frankel yet, and we will see if he can destroy this better opposition to take his place at the top of the two-year-old tree.
In a Group One race it won’t surprise anyone to suggest he does have plenty of rivals, but it does appear that Blue Point (7/1) may not be quite as good as Godolphin once thought. His form soon tells us that he is a very classy colt with wins at York in the Group Two Gimcrack Stakes and more recently a second to shock winner The Last Lion here at Newmarket in the Group One Middle Park Stakes. That run was only two weeks ago so we were surprised to see he was even entered, but on the other hand we have felt for a while he has been crying out for the seventh furlong and we really hope he takes his place in this field so we can finally test just how good he really is.
Andrew Balding continues in good form with a close to 20% (one in five) strike rate, and he seems happy enough to let the currently unbeaten South Seas (7/1) take his chance and he has to be in with a decent chance. An eight length maiden win over six furlongs at Windsor was followed by a Novice win at Haydock before he was stepped up in class at Sandown where he ran away with the Group Three Solario Stakes by a pretty comfortable two and a quarter lengths. He didn’t hit the front until the furlong pole that day and was soon clear so he certainly has gears, though he will need to improve again to take a hand in this much better contest.
Moving on and Lester Piggott won this race no less than ten times as a jockey, and although he isn’t back in the saddle today he does part owned Rivet (10/1) who is trained by his son in law William Haggas. After a debut second at Ascot he really hasn’t looked back with wins at York and Doncaster, the latter in the Group Two Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month. He worked last weekend and his trainer seemed more than happy with his wellbeing, pointing out how much better he will be on better ground and reminding us that all of Churchill’s form is on going with plenty of give in it.
To end with for now and its back to our old friend Frankel who has a good chance of adding to his already sky high reputation here if Seven Heavens (8/1) can win this afternoon. Trained by John Gosden he has a 100% win record after two starts but hard to judge after a maiden and a two horse race last time out. He does look to have plenty to prove on what we have seen to date, but is yet to do anything wrong and is certainly an interesting contender even if the bookmakers are loathe to take any chances with his price.