As we head into the late summer months, the British flat season is beginning to wind down before officially drawing to a close on 1st October. We do still have a number of highlights in store, including Champions Day at Ascot and the final Classic of the season as Doncaster plays host to the historic St Leger Stakes. But already, the minds of many flat fans are turning to what may lie ahead in 2024.
At the end of any season, the juvenile performers invariably generate the most buzz as they head off for a winter break before returning to tackle their Classic campaign. There have been many stellar performances in the juvenile division to spark endless optimism amongst trainers and owners and whet the appetites of racing fans, and here we pick out five talented colts who appear to have realistic claims of delivering on their vast potential.
City Of Troy
- Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
- Sire – Justify
Such is the talent at his disposal that we could easily have filled this list with runners hailing from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle operation. In the interest of balance, we have selected only two, the first of which is this strapping son of the US Triple Crown winner, Justify.
In the absence of Galileo, the Coolmore operation has been pressed into branching out with their stallions, and it is no surprise that one of the most brilliant runners from the yard of Bob Baffert has caught their eye. The big question when calling upon US stallions is how well their progeny will be able to perform on turf – with the majority of US racing taking place on dirt.
In truth, Ballydoyle has achieved mixed with the Justify experiment so far, but they may have struck gold with this son of the 2014 Fillies’ Mile winner, Together Forever. O’Brien’s juveniles who win first time up are always worth noting, and this one backed up his debut success at the Curragh with a sensational display in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket. On the back of that effort, he is your new favourite for both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby.
- Trainer – Aidan O’Brien
- Sire – Frankel
Speaking of Aidan O’Brien runners who are forward enough to win on their first racecourse appearance, Diego Velazquez has raced just once to date, but could scarcely have made a more favourable impression than when routing the opposition in a decent maiden at the Curragh.
That success was no doubt a relief to connections, who shelled out the small matter of 2.4m Guineas to purchase the colt at the 2022 Tattersalls October sale. Sired by the greatest of all time and out of the Listed-winning dam Sweepstake, who has already given us Group class winners Broome and Point Lonsdale, hopes will be high that this one can at least match the exploits of his half-siblings. Currently entered in the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes, it will be intriguing to see if he can repeat this level of performance when stepped up in class on his next outing.
- Trainer – Adrian Murray
- Sire – Wootton Bassett
The third Irish-trained runner on our list hails from the unheralded Adrian Murray operation, but he may have the talent to enable his trainer to scale the heights. By Wootton Bassett and out of Frida La Blonde, Bucanero Fuerte is a full brother to the Group 1 winning sprinter Wooded and has already joined his sibling in tasting success at the highest level. An impressive winner on debut, he then had the misfortune to bump into another Aidan O’Brien star, River Tiber, but bounced back with a tenacious success in the Group 2 Railway Stakes.
Murray suggested his colt would improve on that effort, and he duly did when scorching clear in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. The National Stakes is apparently next on the agenda, setting up a potentially fascinating clash with Diego Velazquez. On pedigree, a mile may be the limit in terms of trip but he wasn’t stopping in that Phoenix Stakes romp and seven furlongs certainly looks within reach.
By The Book
- Trainer – Charlie Appleby
- Sire – Frankel
Charlie Appleby’s string of two-year-olds is generally the envy of his rival British trainers. Whilst he hasn’t dominated to the same extent as in recent seasons, the Newmarket-based handler still appears to have several smart recruits in the mix. When sifting through Appleby’s 16 juvenile winners from the current season, the one who looks potentially the most interesting is By The Book.
Snapped up for 400,000 Guineas at the Tattersalls October Sale, this son of the mighty Frankel must have been showing something at home as he was heavily supported ahead of his debut at Haydock. Despite looking green throughout – carrying his head notably awkwardly – he still had way too much in the tank for a field of promising rivals. A grinder rather than possessing an electric turn of foot, he looks the type to thrive at up to 1m2f, and it will be interesting to see where he shows up next, with the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket seeming a likely target.
- Trainer – Richard Hannon
- Sire – Blue Point
Four-time Group 1 winner Blue Point has made a promising start to life at stud, with a trio of 100+ rated performers amongst his first crop. Topping the pile, according to the official handicapper, is this son of the New Approach filly, Rosaline. Going in the famous Yellow and Black silks of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, this lovely looking chestnut is a perfect two from two to date, and really caught the eye when in a different league to his rivals in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot.
Considering that was only his second career start, the manner in which he travelled and quickened saw his name pencilled into many a notebook. Boasting a nice mix of pure speed and stamina in his pedigree, he would look to have plenty of options going forward and holds a clutch of Group 1 entries heading into the tail end of the season.