The Brian Yeardley Continental Two Year Old Trophy Conditions Stakes over 5f on good going. A select field of just seven juveniles: six colts, one gelding, all raced, winners bar one colt who finished runner-up on debut. The winner of this race may well be targeted for Royal Ascot a significant Flat race meeting in our UK racing calendar.
By all accounts this looks a difficult race to get a handle on with a number of promising winners hoping to step up in grade. It is worth looking on betfair racing exchange because there may well be value as the market settles. It will be interesting to see if one or two of these can show a touch of class. Connections will have high hopes for their talented juveniles.
Kevin Ryan has a powerful string of two-year-olds and it's often an encouraging sign when one of the stable's youngster prevails on debut. Firgrove Bridge is a chestnut son of Dandy Man, who showed a professional attitude at Pontefract, leading towards the final furlong to hold on by half a length at odds of 9/1. Ryan has been noted as saying this April foal would improve for that victory. The second has since been beaten by a potentially classy juvenile trained by John Quinn called Harry's Dancer.
Another winning debutante who won over course and distance on heavy ground is Northgate Lad. This a good-looking son of Dark Angel is out of a limited mare who was in training with Eric Alston. This grey was quite well backed for Brian Ellison's stable, who rarely send out juvenile winners on their racecourse bow. This well-balance gelding seemed to enjoy the testing ground as seen by this race result. Certainly, it was no mean feat to deny the experience Mattmu who had lost by a similarly narrow margin at Doncaster first start. Ellison said their horse had been going well on the gallops when tested against older stablemates and the win come as no surprise to connections.
Sea Wolf is the other unbeaten horse in the field, which held a narrow advantage over Mattmu at Doncaster. Michael Dods has a number of fair juveniles in his stable and this son of Amadeus Wolf was very much a talking horse before his debut and fancied in the betting. Northgate Lad and Sea Wolf look quite closely matched on that form line.
The most experience horse in this field is Jersey Bull, trained by Mick Channon. This Irish bred son of Clodovil is a nice stamp of a horse and progressive. He wasn't pressed on debut and showed a willing attitude when runner-up on his second and third start at Bath over the minimum distance. He won on his fourth start at Ripon, when making the most of his experience over 6f. Jersey Bull set the pace and bagged the rail, gaining an easy lead, and just held the late rally of the favourite who suffered trouble in running. This drop in distance will not be an inconvenience although he is likely to find this a much stiffer task and others make more appeal.
David Barron is a canny trainer and should always be respected. He has a couple of fair two-year-olds and Midterm Break went well when second on debut, then showed ability winning at Southwell next time out. This February foal is not the biggest but a live wire who battles to the line.
It is interesting from a large string of two-year-olds that Richard Fahey has chosen Vimy Ridge to represent the stable. This son of American Post was well beaten on debut, from a wide draw, but backed to win his Musselburgh maiden next start. It is difficult to assess that performance although encouraging the way he finished.
Mark Johnston has made an encouraging start to the two year old season and Denzille Lane was a hefty yearling purchase at 110,000gns. This January foal is a good, strong juvenile and a physical specimen. He was relatively fancied on debut and raced professionally, looking to hold every chance, until outgunned by the more experienced Billyoaks. That horse run well on debut and although this second is difficult to assess he is a horse which could progress for that initial start.
Conclusion: A tricky race to assess in ways with the majority of the field showing promise without looking spectacular in victory. The winning debutantes should be respected while Denzille Lane looks a strong juvenile who is likely to improve a good deal for that initial start. Northgate Lad would be a tentative each way selection, especially if the ground becomes more testing. A fascinating race.