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All Photos: Credit Florian Christoph
Cracking renewal of the Gladness Stakes with some strong entries from the UK. This is really good to see and one can only applaud the Curragh to be able to attract such a classy field.
That says you could easily make a case for plenty of runners n this field – like Sovereign Debt for example, who was unlucky on the All-Weather recently not win and should go well. Versatile Brendan Brackan is usually solid on this level and runs his race. Sruthan is a multiple Group 3 winner over course and distance and his record as a fresh horse gives him a big chance. Lightly raced That Is The Spirit is a 7f Listed winner and may improve as a four year old.
The one individual that really catches my eye, though, is clearly Aiden O’Brien’s Due Diligence. He’s had only six races on the clock so far and developed into an up and coming sprint star last season. A close second behind Slade Power in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes is clearly the outstanding piece of form here. Question marks are obviously race fitness and the trip.
The stable form is on the upward recently. After a slow start, Aiden O’Brien’s horses start to run a lot better, which was most notably confirmed by a bit winner at the Craven meeting earlier the week. Surely there are be bigger targets ahead for Due Diligence this year, so one would assume that the Gladness Stakes are more like a stepping stone. But it would be a surprise to see him not race fit. It looks that race has been chosen as a starting point with clear intentions.
Yes, it is a prep, but it also should prove Due Diligence’s stamina. For that he has to be fit. I believe connections are eyeing the Lockinge Stakes as his big target, as he has an entry and quote for that race. That brings me to the other big question mark: the trip. He was beaten at this only try over 7f last season on seasonal reappearance as well as when still trained over in the US in a Graded race over 8.5f – but on pedigree he should actually be fine, in fact probably improve!
He is also a year older now, hopefully more matured. That should help as well. The ground won’t be an issue. He has won in similar conditions last season. On balance I feel 7/2 is an outstanding price and I’m rather be on it than against it in this race, despite it’s competitive nature. Anything close to last seasons form will see him winning this race.
3.50 Curragh: Gladness Stakes (Group 3)
Due Diligence @ 7/2 Coral – 5pts win
The start of the flat season is looming…… the ‘real’ start I mean! Yes, the Doncaster Lincoln is the traditional kick-off, but let’s be honest, the focus is still very much on the jumps – thanks to the all overshadowing Grand National. However you’ll see, time is flying. A blink of an eye later and horses are already thundering down the Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Guineas weekend!
That is reason enough for me to write down my personal “Flat Horses To Follow List”! I have worked myself through a large list of horses in recent weeks – to be more specific: I’ve been actually assessing the more or less promising two year old colts and geldings of the 2014 season. Based on that, I’ve come up with a 12 To Follow list…..
I know, everyone is coming up with ten to follow these days – that’s why I have twelve horses on my list! … Well, no. To be honest, I just couldn’t endure the pain to cut down the list to ten.
Archangel Raphael – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien
This lightly races son of Montjeu was unlucky not to win on debut but made amends at the Galway Festival. He looked pretty green on both starts and was outpaced halfway through but was particularly impressive on his second outing when he had many negative factors to overcome but won in the manner of a talented individual. There’s bit lack of stamina on his dam side, but 1m 2f should be possible for him. Much further looks unlikely.
Christophermarlowe – 2 Starts, John Gosden
Big, powerful, galloping sort with plenty of scope. Was still very much learning the game in both career starts, but looks to have some raw ability that could propel him into a top class performer. He handled Epsom well enough when winning a Conditions race on his second outing. Looks sure to get 1m 2f, could potentially get the Derby trip as well.
Chemical Charge – 2 Starts, Ralf Beckett
Made a belated debut in October. Was visually impressive and followed up with minor win on the All-Weather weeks later. Showed a nice turn of foot on Lingfield’s polytrack. He has a lovely middle-distance pedigree which should ensure he gets better with age and distance.
Consort – 1 Start, Sir Michael Stoute
Impressive runaway winner of a hot Newmarket maiden last autumn. Produced strong turn of foot from the front but should be suited by stiffer test. Step up in trip should suit. He’s very likely to enjoy a mile and may even develop with time into a top class runner over a bit further. Out off the Guineas though as trainer said he need a bit more time.
Endless Drama – 1 Start, Ger Lyons
Astonishing debut run late in the season when producing serious change of gear. Very well bred out of a Listed winning mare. Looks to have loads of speed and not sure if he would get a mile, but he has potential to do loads of damage over sprint trips if he fails to show enough stamina for further.
Fannaan – 2 Starts, John Gosden
Utterly impressive in two career outings. Beat 104 rated individual under hands and heels in soft conditions at Newmarket over 7f on second start. Bred to be top class miler who should be even more suited by quick underfoot conditions. Exciting prospect.
Full Mast – 3 Starts, Head-Maarek
Already a multiple Group winner in France over seven furlongs in his short career, including the Group 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere (actual winner Gleneagles demoted). Lovely bred and sure to improve with age and distance. Exciting middle-distance prospect.
Golden Horn – 1 Start, John Gosden
Was slowly away and trailing on debut but produced great run to win in the end. Beat smart runner-up (was 2nd on debut behind subsequent Racingpost Trophy runner-up). He is a half-brother to a 10f Listed winner and is bound to excel over middle-distance trips this season once stepping up in trip.
Giovanni Canaletto – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien
A full-brother to Ruler Of The World, he is obviously very well bred. He has been quite green in his two career starts but finished strongly on debut behind a potentially smart winner. He produced a blistering turn of foot on his 2nd start, despite an awkward head carriage. He will improve with experience and distance.
Mohaayed – 2 Starts, Kevin Prendergast
Very green on both starts. Completely unaware of what his job is supposed to be on debut. Very impressive winner on second start, beating smart Ballydoyle horse in third. Was looking- and wandering around in closing stages but showed some class. Future seems to be over middle-distance on pedigree.
Highland Reel – 2 Starts, Aiden O’Brien
Very Green and raw and first two starts. Yet run out impressive 12l winner stepping up to one mile on second outing. Third of that race beat exciting prospect JFK subsequently. He went on to win Group 2 over seven furlongs at Goodwood on his last start in 2014. In a rather slowly run race he produced a blistering turn of foot. He should relish a stiffer test over further on pedigree. To my eyes he looks the real deal if he trains on. Serious Guineas prospect.
Zawraq – 1 Start, Dermot Weld
Gutsy debut winner against potentially smart Sir Isaac Newton. Showed great attitude to fight back when under pressure. Trainer is very upbeat and rates him as best 3yo in the yard. More to come once stepping up in trip. He should get up to 1m 2f but looks to have enough speed for a crack at the Guineas as well.
It would have been easy to put a list together with all the super sexy Aiden O’Brien prospects. And boy, he has aplenty on his hands! Equally John Gosden, who seems to have some very strong individuals at his disposal. Now, three horses each have made it into my list nonetheless. But I tried to provide a bit of variety and left out the obvious ones like John F Kennedy or Sir Isaac Newton & Gleneagles.
I suppose, if you nail me down to the ONE horse to follow for 2015 – It would be undoubtedly Highland Reel. I was so impressed with his maiden win, where he was more interested in anything else around him, than the actual job he had to do, yet he pulled clear by 12 lengths…. easily….. effortless.
This speaks volumes. He is a hugely talented individual. Mind you, the third of the mentioned maiden race won subsequently a maiden where he beat none less than John F Kennedy. Okay, it’s fair to say JFK needed the run and was green and of course will be better over further. Yet, it is still telling that such an exciting Ballydoyle prospect was a good deal beaten by a horse that was simply demolished by Highland Reel weeks before. Keep the winning margin always in mind: 12l+!
The son of Galileo stepped up in class almost as effortless weeks later at Glorious Goodwood. He dropped down to seven furlongs, right into a race where the pace wasn’t really on, he pulled hard early on, yet when asked for everything, he produced a blistering turn of foot and the race was over.
Highland Reel is the real deal! Yes, there are extremely positive vibes about Gleneagles, who is a short favourite for the 2.000 Guineas. But no doubt, the value lies with his stable mate. Aiden O’Brien confirmed already that HR will go down the Guineas route. And that make sense. From there he may can step up in trip. Coral Eclipse as the most likeliest next target?
But step by step. He’s 12/1 for the Guineas at the moment, and if he starts on the day indeed, he’ll have a much better chance to win. So I backed him ante-post and nominate him as my selection for the race. Highland Reel will win the Guineas.