|Thursday 2nd October 2014|
Plenty of Class Acts Entered for Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes
The Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes is invariably a high quality affair and this season’s renewal promises to be no exception, with some smart colts expected to bid for one of the most prestigious juvenile races of the season staged on the undulating Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
The ante-post horse racing odds for the race suggests there is no outstanding favourite with Ivawood, Gleneagles, Estidkhaar, and John F Kennedy closely matched at the head of the list, all hoping to follow in the famous hoof prints of recent subsequent classic winners Rock of Gibraltar, Sir Percy, Teofilo, New Approach, Dawn Approach, and a certain Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt called Frankel, who established his superstar credentials when blasting the opposition apart in the 2010 renewal.
The pricey 220,000 guineas son of Zebedee already had something of a reputation when making his racecourse bow at Sandown in June being sent off the odds-on 8/11 favourite in the betting. He obliged in style under Richard Hughes then four weeks later stepped up significantly in class when landing the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, beating the talented Mark Johnston-trained Jungle Cat by almost three lengths.
Remaining at six furlongs, Hannon’s rising star’s latest effort was in the Group 2 Qatar Bloodstock Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, where the bookies were taking no chances, offering 2/5 on the Carmichael Jennings-owned colt to score again and complete another victory. He did just that and was probably more impressive than at HQ in handing out a four-and-a-half length drubbing to Clive Cox’s progressive Louie de Palma. His Goodwood success catapulted Ivawood to the head of the ante-post market for next year’s 2000 Guineas - a position he still holds being available at odds of around 6/1 in the horse racing betting.
At Newmarket in October Ivawood will have to tackle seven furlongs for the first time in his career, but he has shown no signs of stopping over six and looks the one they all have to beat.
Amongst those most likely to make a race of it with Ivawood are the Aidan O’Brien-trained colts, Gleneagles and John F Kennedy. Gleneagles - a full-brother to the Irish 1000 Guineas winner Marvellous - has gradually been stepped up in class race-by-race by his outstanding trainer and completed a four-timer when landing the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in September, running well to land the odds and beat Toscanini by a length-and-a-half.
A robust, good looking son of Galileo, Gleneagles had previously won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes over the same seven furlongs at the Curragh and will certainly test any flaws in Ivawood. That comment also applies to his stable companion John F Kennedy, the horse with the big name who is a full-brother (by Galileo) to the smart Tapestry, winner of the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks on the Knavesmire in August.
John F Kennedy has yet to prove himself at the highest level but did nothing wrong when landing his second success at Leopardstown in September, easily accounting for Dermot Weld’s Tombelaine in the one mile Group 3 John Deere Juvenile Turf Stakes. Although he is amongst the market leaders for the Dewhurst Stakes, John F Kennedy gives the impression he is more about stamina than speed and looks a potentially serious contender for next year’s Derby. Whether he is quick enough at this stage of his career to mix it with Ivawood, Gleneagles, and the rest of the pack remains to be seen. He also holds an engagement in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy where the one mile and the galloping track could well suit him better than the Newmarket contest.
Of course, Ivawood isn’t the only smart juvenile in the Richard Hannon yard. Estidkhaar has also shown himself to be a very useful performer and the Hamdan al-Makhtoum-owned son of Dark Angel, a half-brother to last season’s top two-year-old Toormore, looks to have inherited more than his fair share of ability as well. He looked a potential top-notcher when slamming subsequent Group 3 Solario Stakes winner Akhtabantay by four-and-a-half lengths in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting, then followed up last time out, keeping on strongly inside the final furlong to beat War Envoy in good style in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes over seven furlongs at the Doncaster St Leger fixture. The stiff uphill finish on the Rowley Mile should play to Estibkhaar’s stamina strengths.
In what promises to be a cracking race for this year’s Dewhurst Stakes, Royal Ascot hero The Wow Signal, unbeaten in three career starts, looks the best of the northern-trained runners. John Quinn’s Starspangledbanner colt gave his handler his first ever Group 1 winner when following his win in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting in June, with a triumph at the highest level when coming with a flying late burst under Frankie Dettori to beat Hootenanny by half-a-length in the Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville in August. The horse coped particularly well with the soft ground at the French coastal track.
If there’s cut in the ground at Newmarket there are good reasons for believing that The Wow Signal might go very close to adding another big prize to his collection, but if underfoot conditions are on the quick side he might just be found wanting for a turn of foot against the likely opposition.
In the days leading up to the big event on October 17, the betting markets will surely offer plenty of clues as to where the smart money is going, in a race where a number of highly progressive colts will be looking to book themselves a ticket to the classic in 2015.