Horses to follow

Winter Dreams

European 2yos trained outside Ireland are placed under the microscope

Words: Rory Delargy • Photos: Healy Racing / Caroline Norris / Peter Mooney


ch c Frankel – Suelita (Dutch Art)

A Frankel half-brother to Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes winner Alkumait, the handsome colt made 550,000gns at the Tattersalls December Foal Sale in 2020 as a rare sales purchase for Juddmonte Farms. Despite the whopping price tag (offset by his sire’s stud fee, of course), he looks a shrewd purchase. Though beaten on debut, he progressed throughout the season, winning a 7f novice at Newbury in July, the Group 3 Acomb Stakes in August by half a length from Indestructible, the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster by 3½ lengths from the same rival (with Silver Knott last of three) in September and the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at on his final start, holding on gamely to defeat Royal Scotsman by a head.

Chaldean made most at Doncaster and Newmarket, although Andrew Balding thinks he will be better getting cover in a bigger field. He showed the speed he’s bred for when quickening away from his rivals off a false pace at Doncaster, but Chaldean doesn’t move like a sprinter, and while his trainer feels a mile may prove his limit, there are reasons to believe he will take after his sire rather than his sprinting dam. He is a long-striding colt, and it would not surprise me to see him stay 1¼m as well as he does a mile, and he was quite a late foal, so should keep progressing for a while yet.

Andrew Balding


b c Zoffany – Shortmile Lady (Arcano)

Showed himself well above average when winning a 6f Haydock novice by six lengths on his second start and looked even better when upped to Group 2 company in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury on his final start, winning by 3½ lengths from Rousing Encore. Sakheer merely had to be shaken up briefly to assert and Roger Varian believes he he will stay seven furlongs or a mile with another winter behind him. He shapes more like a sprinter though, for all half-sister Lemista (by Raven’s Pass) did win the Group 2 Kilboy Estates Stakes over 1m1f. He’s likely to run in a 2000 Guineas trial first time up in 2023, but it would be no surprise to see him in the Commonwealth Cup, with a stiff six furlongs at Ascot looking ideal at this stage. 

Roger Varian


b f Churchill – Queen Blossom (Jeremy)

Beaten twice in six juvenile starts, but one of those came on debut when in need of the experience and the other was when second to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Victoria Road in a red-hot Listed contest. Blue Rose Cen showed marked improvement in the autumn, but whether that was down to softer ground, the increased emphasis on stamina, or both, remains to be seen. She first came to prominence when landing the Group 3 Prix D’Aumale in September, beating Heavenly Breath by a length and a half, and progressed again to run out an authoritative winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac at the Arc meeting in October, quickening off a strong pace to lead a furlong out before pulling right away from some useful fillies, headed by Jim Bolger’s Gan Teorainn, who was beaten five lengths at the line. The finish was dominated by those held up, but Blue Rose Cen broke well and led briefly early before allowing a couple to pass her on the outside. She was still close to the pace and gained no advantage from her track position other than a clear run from the home turn. Her ability to quicken on demand and then to increase her lead was visually impressive and she deserves to be seen as a leading Classic candidate. Blue Rose Cen is likely to prove best beyond a mile, with her dam a graded winner over 1½m in the US, and the way she maintained a strong gallop at ParisLongchamp suggests the Prix de Diane would be her perfect target in the short term.

Christopher Head


b c Tasleet – Russian Punch (Archipenko)

The Coventry Stakes winner sustained a season-ending injury in the Phoenix Stakes and whether he’s able to come back as good as he was, is a significant worry. His racetrack performances marked him down as an excellent prospect, however, and he was 11/8 favourite to win the Phoenix ahead of putative champion juvenile Little Big Bear. A bad stumble at the start didn’t help his cause, and although he rallied to dispute the lead a couple of furlongs out, he looked uncomfortable, and an injury was diagnosed soon after the race.

The son of Tasleet won by a wide margin on his debut, and quickened decisively to defeat Persian Force, Royal Scotsman and Blackbeard at Ascot. The trio who chased him home have added considerable gloss to the Coventry form, with Persian Force winning the Group 2 July Stakes and narrowly beaten by Blackbeard in the Group 1 Prix Morny. Royal Scotsman took the Group 2 Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and was just beaten by Chaldean in the Dewhurst on his final start, and it’s clear that Bradsell’s form has depth as well as visual appeal.

Archie Watson


b c Exceed And Excel – Veil of Silence (Elusive Quality)

British stables were very well represented in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, with July Stakes winner Persian Force, Queen Mary winner Dramatised and Prix de l’Abbaye heroine The Platinum Queen well fancied. They were all beaten by Mischief Magic, who showed much improved form to sweep through from last to first in a thrilling spectacle. A full-brother to the same connections’ Windsor Castle winner Sound And Silence, his best effort before Keeneland had been a win in the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes. A good fourth behind Blackbeard in the Middle Park seemed to confirm the level of that form while suggesting he was short of the best of his cohort, but he changed that impression when overcoming a poor start to land his biggest win in spectacular style, running down the gallant Dramatised barely 50 yards from home.

It's worth noting that the precocious Sound And Silence didn’t really train on and that may be the case for Mischief Magic, but he’s an obvious sort for the Commonwealth Cup, with 6f at Ascot sure to suit him well. He will probably be seen to best effect on fast turf or artificial surfaces.

Charlie Appleby




b f Kingman – Sovereign Parade (Galileo)

Commissioning is favourite for the 1000 Guineas on the back of impressive wins in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. She was not as visually impressive in landing the Fillies’ Mile as she had been in the Rockfel but runner-up Novakai was much improved for forcing tactics at a mile, and Commissioning did well to reel her in. If there is a slight concern, it’s that she’s needed a hood to keep a lid on her and showed a tendency to wander/idle for both of her wins. In contrast to that, she knuckled down well when straightened up in the Fillies’ Mile and her minor quirks are easily taken for residual greenness. Being out of a full-sister to St Leger and Irish Derby winner Capri, Commissioning ought to relish the Oaks trip as a three-year-old, but she is quite a forward-going filly who doesn’t shape as if in need of much more than a mile at present and appeals more for the opening fillies’ Classic as a result.

John & Thady Gosden


b c Kingman – Mirror Lake (Dubai Destination)

Nostrum’s dam Mirror Lake gained all four of her wins at around 1¼m, and despite racing only at 7f to date, is sure to stay a mile and possibly further in time. Sir Michael Stoute’s newcomers tend to need experience, and he appeared the Juddmonte second-string on debut at Sandown, starting at 13/2 behind Arrest in the same silks. Despite looking short of full fitness and displaying signs of greenness in the race, he showed a smart turn of foot to lead two furlongs out and put three lengths between himself and his closest pursuer at the line.

He took the step up to Group 3 company in his stride when beating Chesham winner Holloway Boy by 1¼ lengths in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket in September, although he again ran green. He failed to progress when fading late into third in the Dewhurst Stakes behind Chaldean, but the chances are that this big colt wasn’t quite mature enough, mentally or physically, for such a challenge early in his career. Half-siblings Titus and Imaging both progressed well, with the latter winning the Gladness Stakes as a four-year-old, and given his size and scope, it will be surprising if Nostrum himself doesn’t prove up to Group 1 standard in time, and he could yet develop into a 2000 Guineas contender if coming to hand early.

Sir Michael Stoute


3 b c Frankel – Nisriyna (Intikhab)

A Frankel half-brother to smart winners Spring Loaded (5f/6f) and Dinozzo (1m/1m1f), Arrest built on that promising debut when getting the better of a duel with Desert Order over 1m on the Esher slopes, and the runner-up has franked that by winning both starts since. Proved he could cope with testing ground when running out a facile winner of a novice event at Ffos Las on his next start and ended the season when beaten only on the nod by Dubai Mile in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 1¼m on heavy ground in October. The pair had a tooth-and-nail battle up the straight that day, pulling six lengths clear of Beresford Stakes runner-up Adelaide River, and while it’s easy to trot out the old line about not trusting heavy-ground form in terms of winning distances, Arrest is clearly an interesting Derby prospect.

John & Thady Gosden


3 b c Kingman – Thistle Bird (Selkirk)

Although no match for Auguste Rodin in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, Epictetus looked like a colt who would benefit from another winter under his belt, and is bred to keep progressing, with his dam Thistle Bird making her breakthrough at Group 1 level as a six-year-old. He belied market weakness to beat a dozen others, including subsequent Group 3 winner Flying Honours. Inexperience arguably cost him victory in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes against Silver Knott, with the latter edging him out by a neck. Whether heavy ground was an inconvenience to him in the Vertem Futurity is hard to say; he appeared to run to a similar level as at Newmarket, given he beat the reliable yardstick Holloway Boy by 1¾ lengths on both occasions, but the latter hung across the course at Doncaster, and John Gosden was in no doubt that the ground found him out on the day. Still immature, he could progress markedly, and is one to keep on side.

John & Thady Gosden


3 b f No Nay Never – Ruby Tuesday (Galileo)

Midnight Mile is out of a maiden who is closely related to top-notch fillies Yesterday and Quarter Moon. The latter, also owned by Róisín Henry, won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes and was runner-up in three Classics. Midnight Mile has a long way to go to match the achievements of her illustrious relatives, but she overcome inexperience and adversity to score in the Oh So Sharp and progressed again when just missing out for a place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf behind Meditate. Drawn wide, Midnight Mile again showed her relative inexperience with a slow start, and she had a mountain to climb at the top of the short straight, spotting the winner a good four lengths by the time she got a clear run, but finished best of all to force a photo for third.

Midnight Mile wasn’t the finished article as a juvenile and it would be disappointing if she couldn’t mature into an even better model at three. As a daughter of No Nay Never, she may have stamina limitations, but both she and Meditate seemed to relish a mile at Keeneland, and I’d not want to be too quick to make assumptions about her sire’s influence for speed.

Richard Fahey

*Ratings reproduced by kind permission of Timeform