Traditionally a tough maiden at Newmarket on Sunday and one that
used to be on the 2,000 Guineas day. A mixed record among the recent winners
with only Sonny Red winning above conditions level as a 2yo. That doesn't
tell the whole story though because the placed horses have included some
better ones. In 2005 the horse running third on debut was George Washington
behind two just useful newcomers. In 2002 the newcomer in second on debut
was Checkit who won at Group 2 level in Germany as a juvenile and is still
running in Dubai. In 2001 the Hannon horse in second was Sonny Red's father
in Redback (Listed race winner and Italian Group 3 success at 2yo). He
struggled to win at 5f and when he did manage it became his sire's (Mark
Of Esteem) only 2yo 5f winner to date.
This year's smallish field looks to hold some good prospects for the season.
The conditions race at the course in April has been covered in detail in
the previews and the 9th from that race - Icesolator - added a win yesterday
after three defeats for runners from the race previously. Ouqba
looked the first string of his trainer's three runners in that Newmarket
race in an event where he has started various Group winners out in recent
years. He ran a race of real promise in making good progress on more than
one occasion as he got blocked in. He seemed to show some ability to quicken
and Mr Hills choice to bring him here is probably a good sign (he did run
the ordinary Laith for the same owner in it in 2005 though). But, a good
prospect who is going to set a stiff standard here and ought to be better
than a 'Brenin Taran' in Paddock Review.
The maidens at Windsor this year have been solid quality and Hannon's Heliodor
was given a hold up ride behind the solid filly Miss Chamanda. Six lengths
off the leader at halfway he finished strongly up the stands' rail as the
rest of the field hung away from it late on. Jockey Richard Hughes tends
to ride the stable's better types close to the pace on their debuts to
get them involved (Rebecca De Winter was another example earlier this week)
but seemed confident in this one.
The 'Racing Post' ran a 'Stable Tour' piece with Hannon this week and in
2yo terms it was a disappointment. Here's a trainer who will run 100+ juveniles
this year and has a good idea about the ability of a lot of them already.
Only 14 got a mention so you would presume they include a lot of the better
ones but most of those that have run weren't covered. Heliodor was an exception
and got a strong positive from the trainer with the view that they would
hope he would be up to running well in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
As with Barry Hills the fact that the trainer runs him here following in
the line of Redback, Tizzy May & Sonny Red suggests he is high up in
their team of horses.
Paul Cole doesn't run horses on debut at Newmarket's Rowley Mile course
much and it has decreased in recent seasons. The total since 2002 is 17
of which 4 won and 7 finished 2nd (i.e. 11 of the 17 made the first two).
His last six debuts have brought three wins (including the good types Luck
Money & Governor Eliot in 2007) and three seconds. His better horses
are usually primed to compete well FTO. Which means that Desire To Excel
wouldn't just be here for a day out. At 150,000gns he was expensive for
a son of Desert Style and comes from a well related female line. Add in
the same major owner as Cole won on a debut race for with Strategic Prince
(another 150,000gns purchase) and you wouldn't be surprised is he cam with
a strongish 'word' for him.
Add in a 100,000gns son of One Cool Cat (Cool Art) for new
trainer Simon Callaghan and a $165,000 purchase by Dixieland Band for Amanda
Perrett. Callaghan's father only used to win debut races with his Group
class horses and the son may be the same - this will be a chance to learn
whether he has changed anything. Perrett, as detailed in yesterday's preview,
starts out 2-3 of her best 2yos as her first to run and this one will be
the second out following Rio Royale's solid enough effort in a 3-runner
Finjaan is presumably the Hamdan Al Maktoum second string to Ouqba
and has a less strong pedigree. His trainer - Marcus Tregoning - used to
be a regular in producing debut winners but has changed his approach and
they are now rare (down from a remarkable 25% in 2003 to 0% last year to
highlight the point). The early runners last year for the trainer were
all usable 2yos with four of the five who started out in May winning during
the season and the other only ran once. They included his best 2yo - Il
Warrd - who finished 6th in big field FTO along with just ordinary maiden
In summary, a strong race in profile and the two with previous runs
both appeal as the types to improve greatly from debut to set a strong
standard and a difficult choice between them. Preference would be for Ouqba
before the Paddock Review. Of the newcomers only a 'Luck Money' style kick-off
from Cole's Desire To Excel would seem likely to approach the required
level unless Cool Art is another Excellent Art which isn't that likely
given how rare that sort of ability is.
The Salisbury fillies' conditions event should come down to a race
between the three previous winners. Blushing Maid looked limited
on her debut and the newcomers seem lesser types 'trying it on' in a weaker
conditions race rather than better types on profile unless August Days
is any good.
Richard Hannon wins the race regularly and normally runs close to his best
early filly and one that will go on to run in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.
He usually brings the class to the race to trump the more typical early
winning runarounds for whom this is their best level. His last four winners
have all been declared for the Queen Mary although Vermilliann was withdrawn
on the day. Gilded won a weak version of the Ascot race while Cake was
5th and Presto Vento 6th in big fields.
He's had two debut winners with fillies this year so the choice was presumably
between Doughnut & April Pride to run here. The vibes weren't that
they thought April Pride that useful after her Bath win and the form looks
a bit limp now following the later performances of Kingswinford, Lagan
Handout & Dazzling Dust who weren't that far behind her. She's ridden
by a 5lb apprentice as well which is untypical for the yard. The better
types have usually ended up short priced favourites on known ability and
it will be interesting to see whether the market is less 'sure' that April
Pride is a good one.
She has a couple of solid opponents of the 'early' type to take her on
and if she isn't a better type it will be a close choice between the three.
Calypso Girl improved notably from debut to win well STO and her
trainer has had more winning fillies than Hannon to date. He's likely to
run the speedy She's A Shaw Thing in the Lily Agnes at Chester on Wednesday
and Miss Chamanda is possibly the best of them in the longer term. Mr Evans
has a good record of getting second wins for this type of filly and if
the Hannon girl is just ordinary she appeals as the best alternative.
Bill Turner has won the race twice in the last 10 years and regularly has
a runner with the best of his early fillies. Sallys Dilemma won the
first race of the season before looking a little uncomfortable on wet going
at Nottingham next time. She was also put under more pace pressure by She's
A Shaw Thing than she had been on debut.
In summary, the usual call in this race is to go with the better
Hannon filly when she's there and nothing much goes wrong with that choice.
April Pride has some holes in her cloak and may not be the full 'Presto
Vento' type. The 'Market' may actually be some help because she'll be favourite
at 6/4 or under if she's good rather than just the 'best they have available'.
David Evans has already shown what he can do in souping up these fillies
in early season and Calypso Girl looks the soundest alternative,