As the end of the flat season approaches, we can take comfort in the fact there are whole host of 2yos with bags of ability waiting to burst onto the Classics scene next season. As one door closes with the retirement of superstars Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior, plenty more will soon open. Here are four potential superstars that should light up the turf in 2019 and keep us warm during the upcoming winter months.
John Gosden has an array of 2yos that look sure to improve with age and a step up in trip, and that applies to no horse more than Calyx. He went into everyone’s notebook when absolutely bolting up in a maiden at Newmarket back in June, with the clock confirming the visual impression he left on everyone in attendance at HQ that day. Gosden is not a man to rush the progression of any horse, so eyebrows were raised when ten days later he lined up in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. The superstar filly Enable wasn’t pitched into Group company until her fourth career start as a 3yo so it was testament to just how much the two-time champion trainer thinks of Calyx that he was sent off 2/1 favourite for a strong renewal of the pinnacle 2yo race of the year.
With a large chunk of the race developing on the far side, Frankie Dettori kicked for home at the 2f pole, and the son of Kingman obliged. He strode clear of the pack on the stands side of the track, and by the time Ryan Moore managed to find daylight on market rival Sergei Prokofiev, Calyx had flown. The winner was one length clear of Advertise, who advertised the form by winning the G1 Phoenix Stakes at Curragh during August. Bookmakers immediately installed Calyx as 7/1 favourite for next season’s 2000 Guineas; both Gosden and Dettori agreeing that he will only get better the further he goes.
With the world seemingly at his feet, Calyx then suffered a bone injury towards the end of July which would rule him out for the rest of the season. Speaking to the Racing Post, Gosden said: “Calyx has had a setback in training which will rule him out from running for the rest of this season. He is expected to make a full recovery and we will look forward to his three-year-old year.
“I’m inclined to think it’s something he picked up in the race [at Royal Ascot]. It needs dealing with but I think he’ll be absolutely fine, probably in three months’ time.”
All plans had to be shelved for the Prix Morny, the Middle Park and the Dewhurst, but the main point was that it was not career-threatening and Calyx should make a full recovery. He is still prominent in the Guineas betting market and if he retains his potential, he is a colt that should be tasting success at the highest level in the future.
Hailing from the same family as Lah Ti Dar and So Mi Dar meant there was always going to be huge expectation when Too Darn Hot took to a racecourse for the first time. Owner Lord Lloyd-Webber has a great record from the crop of Dar Re Mi and Too Darn Hot looks no different. After bolting up in his Sandown maiden, he returned to the track at the beginning of September to claim the G3 Solario Stakes and confirm the potential.
On a day when his sister Lah Ti Dar contested the St Leger, Too Darn Hot did his job on the undercard, sweeping to the front in effortless fashion and win the G2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, a race which has been won by the likes of Poet’s Voice and Toronado in recent times. John Gosden now has two incredibly strong candidates for the Classics next season, with Too Darn Hot’s pedigree suggesting the 1m 4f trip at Epsom will be perfect. He certainly has a lot to live up to in order to keep the glittering family record in tact.
2018 was the season where Godolphin returned to the upper echelons of the racing world in terms of big-name winners. Trainer Charlie Appelby gave Sheikh Mohamed his first Derby winner since Lammtarra in 1995, and claimed G1 victories in the UK, Dubai and Australia. The royal blue is shining bright once more and in Quorto, they have another serious Classic candidate on their hands for next season.
The son of Dubawi took his Newmarket maiden in striking fashion, drawing clear of a decent John Gosden yardstick in Handmaiden. His next appearance was in Group company on the July Course in the Superlative Stakes. Although not a vintage renewal, he again did his reputation no harm in putting his rivals to the sword.
A trip to Ireland and a showdown with O’Brien hope Anthony Van Dyck was his next port of call. Billed as a straight shootout, it turned into just that, the pair kicking clear from the 3f pole. Anthony Van Dyck, an incredibly game opponent who will no doubt plunder G1s across Ireland next season, was a worthy adversary but Quorto was equal to the challenge and was on top of the line.
Appelby stated after the race that Quorto would either take in the Dewhurst at Newmarket on 13 October or be put away until 2019. Yesterday, the latter option was decided upon and now he has a winter’s growth in front of him before he aims to emulate Masar’s campaign this year which culminated in Classic glory. The ruler of Dubai must sense the domination of Coolmore is beginning to relent and a blue wave may sweep through racing once again.
2018 was a bit of a mixed bag for Sergei Prokofiev. Aidan O’Brien’s son of Scat Daddy has shown blistering speed at times, but a headstrong mentality also let him down towards the end of the campaign.
After a low-key debut at Curragh, where he finished behind the promising Skitter Scatter, he then gained two decisive victories at Naas and Navan, the latter being a promising listed race.
All roads led to Royal Ascot and a showdown with the very promising Calyx. Within his group, Sergei Prokofiev appeared to hit traffic on a couple of occasions and when Ryan Moore found the room he needed, Calyx had stretched out in front and was unable to wear him down, a fast-finishing third behind Advertise. There was a lot to like about the run and, like most O’Brien 2yos, every run is crucial and the general consensus was he would be back to winning ways wherever he turned up next.
However, his comeback in the Phoenix Stakes turned into a disaster. Far too keen in the early stages of the races, Moore had to work hard to get him into any sort of a rhythm, by which point he had exerted too much energy and was a sitting duck. He finished last of 5, over 6 lengths behind winner Advertise and his two stablemates. It was a run that simply needs a line running through it.
The worry is that O’Brien sprinters do not always train on (Air Force Blue and Caravaggio two notable examples). However, the early season showed there Sergei Prokofiev is a very quick horse and could still develop into a very smart sprinter. He may head Down Under next season for a tilt at The Everest at Randwick, but for now, he has to take it one step at a time, and re-assert himself as Ballydoyle’s number one sprinter next season.