Is High Definition a legitimate English Triple Crown Contender?

High Definition wins at the Curragh

The Flat Triple Crown is one of the most illusive accolades in horse racing. Since 1900, just seven horses have achieved that feat. The last was Nijinsky back in 1970 and it’s rare for a horse to even attempt the feat.

High Definition has thrust himself into the conversation late in the season, winning both his starts to date. The current antepost favourite for the Derby, Aidan O’Brien’s charge has the potential to reappear in 2021 in the 2000 Guineas.

Could O’Brien have another potential Triple Crown attempt on his hands in the colours of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor & Mrs John Magnier?


What is the English Triple Crown?

It doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as the American equivalent, but it’s arguably much harder to attain. The English Triple Crown consists of the three Classics of the season, the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the St Leger.

The difficulty comes in the variety of distances. The 2000 Guineas is raced over the mile distance, with horses needing to step up four furlongs in distance to attain leg two. It’s another two furlongs to achieve greatness, with the St Leger being raced over the extended 1m 6f.

The last horse to come close was O’Brien’s Camelot in 2012, who won both the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby. He tanked into the St Leger, but fell short after bumping into 25/1 shot Encke.

Why is High Definition so special?

Simply put, he just looks extremely good. He’s won both his starts with a very powerful finishing effort over the mile from seemingly impossible finishing positions.

He looked beaten for all money in the Beresford Stakes on his second start, but he charged home and gobbled up the ground in the final furlong. You’ll struggle to see a more unlikely victory in 2020 on the flat, given the class of his opponents.

His breeding tells you all you need to know. He’s a son of Galileo and is brother to both Group 3 Innisfree and Royal Aide. Innisfree gave his best running at around seven furlongs, while Royal Aide won over three miles at Sligo last month.

His pedigree suggests that the mile is the shortest distance he’ll want, with both his victories backing up that sentiment.

Could he really do it?

His biggest hurdle will be the first leg, the 2000 Guineas. He’s got up very late over the mile distance for both his successes and he’d need a strongly run contest to be shown to best effect. He should get that, but his opponents are unlikely to be stopping in the closing stages.

If he does overcome that obstacle, he looks prime for the Epsom Derby. He’ll get the Derby distance very easily on what we know thus far and the St Leger shouldn’t be out of range either.

The size of the task is shown by the fact that Nijinsky, all the way back in 1970, was the last horse to be successful. That being said, High Definition could be something special.


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