It may be early days for this new Flat turf season but that doesn't mean we haven't seen a potential star of the future. With the likes of Mark Johnston with an increased string of almost 130 two year olds it isn't beyond the realms the standards this early season are higher than normal. We have already seen a touch of class with a few smart debut winners from Kingsley House Stables: Buratino, Rah Rah, Ravenhoe. Here are a few dark horses on our radar.
The first race of the Flat turf season has - in its time - proven a great starting point for top class two year olds. The Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster has historically seen some great talents including Mind Games, Hearts Of Fire who both raced at Group 1, the latter horse, trained by Pat Eddery, proving victorious. Who could forget Provideo, trained by Bill O'Gorman and ridden by Tony Ives. This colt started his career winning the Brocklesby Stakes by four lengths - then achieved an outstanding feat. In 1984 he set a record for a British-trained two-year-old winning sixteen of his twenty-four races. Although rated some twenty pounds below the top juveniles he was named British Horse of the Year.
This year's Brocklesby is unlikely to reveal such talents but three horses are worth following.
Mark Johnston's Ravenhoe just edged victory for the first juvenile runner from Kingsley House Stables. This chestnut son of Bahamian Bounty cost £16,000 at the yearling sales when purchased by the trainer for established owner David Abell. The mare was a prolific sprinter with Kevin Ryan, who won on debut at Doncaster. There is nothing in the breeding of this horse to put you off. This colt is likely to progress with racing.
Brocklesby second - losing in a photo finish - First Bombardment is trained by David O'Meara in the silks of Northern Hart Racing & Partner. This son of Pastoral Pursuits is out of a twice-winning mare costing £18,000 at the yearling sales. This colt has a lot of natural pace and was seen next start competing at Musselburgh in the Scottish Brocklesby, a race which could highlight future winners. He had the opposition a touch flat footed but tired in the final furlong. On faster ground, this youngster will take some stopping and worth checking out on the betting markets.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see General Alexander - who finished third - winning next start. This grey colt is a son of Zebedee out of a winning Irish mare. Quite an early February foal, he was purchased by the trainer at the yearling sales for £30,000. Mrs J A Martin is a good patron of Spring Cottage Stables (Northgate Lad won on debut as a two-year-old at Beverley). This youngster had no luck: a slow start, slightly hampered, then switched a couple of times before running on with promise with no more than a hands-and-heels ride. Must have a winning chance second start if not more.
The winner of Scottish Brocklesby is reputed to be a smart horse with mention of Royal Ascot and the Coventry Stakes (Group 2). Tribesman is trained by David Brown and owned by John Fretwell - a combination which has proven a potent force with two year olds. This partnership have made an art of finding talented two-year-olds and often sell them for a king's ransom. This chestnut son of Equiano - out of a poor race mare - cost 12,000gns as a foal, later purchased at the yearling sales by Fretwell for £35,000. He won comfortably on debut and could well see this talent competing in the Coventry.
It is often difficult to assess the value of a debut performance especially when against opposition who are making their racecourse bow. However, Gin In The Inn really caught my eye at Leicester. This Irish bred son of Alfred Noble is out of a winning mare who didn't race until three. This bay was purchased by the trainer at the yearling sales for 35,000. This horse is a lovely specimen with size, strength and scope to improve with racing. There were a few fancied horses in that 5f sprint but Fahey's talent literally won in a canter. I'd be very surprised if he isn't going places and another two year old with high hopes of Royal Ascot.