Charlie Appleby claimed his first win in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket when Coroebus beat stable companion Native Trail by three parts of a length. James Doyle was on the board the son of Dubawi for the first time in public and he produced his mount with a perfectly time run entering the dip before quickening away on the rising ground. Pushed out to win with something in hand, he is a three year old with a tremendous turn of foot and has been trained brilliantly by Appleby. A winner on the July course and Rowley Mile last season, he is unlucky not to be unbeaten having hit the front much too soon in the Royal Lodge Stakes over C&D last Autumn. His connections elected to give him a racecourse gallop during the Craven meeting rather than a prep run and he was spot on for the day which mattered. In all likelihood, the winner will head straight to Royal Ascot for the St James's Palace Stakes, while the runner-up will attempt to go one better in the Irish version at the Curragh in a few weeks time. Coroebus may stay further in time but there is no need to step him up in trip with such a lethal change of gear.
Group 1 winning juvenile Luxembourg never looked like troubling the Godolphin pair having stumbled and being tapped for speed. However, Aidan O'Brien's colt finished strongly and is crying out for a step up in trip and looks Epsom Derby material. Roger Varian was understandably delighted with the performance of Eydon in fourth. The Feilden Stakes winner stayed on well at the death and is another who will thrive over further. There is every chance the Olden Times colt will head overseas to Chantilly for the Prix du Jockey (5th June).
It was a terrific afternoon for followers of the Top 40 Prospects in Ahead On The Flat. Aside from Coroebus' Classic victory, Blackrod (13/2) confirmed he is a progressive young sprinter with a fine display in the heritage handicap over six furlongs at HQ. Michael Dods' four year old was never far away and there was an air of inevitability that he would outstay the front running Justanotherbottle when meeting the rising ground. The son of Mayson stayed on powerfully to win by a length and a half off a mark of 95. The Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot in June will presumably be on his agenda before tackling Pattern company at some stage later in the campaign. I spoke to his trainer at Redcar on Thursday and the Darlington handler was optimistic he would run well.
The third runner in the Top 40, namely Twilight Calls, may have only finished fifth in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes but I thought he ran a cracker. Henry Candy's four year old won a handicap over C&D earlier in the month and this represented a major step up in class. David Probert's mount didn't look out of place here though travelling strongly. Old rival Whenthedealisdone didn't do him any favours forcing him to make his challenge wider than the rest of the field towards the stands' side, while the action was happening away from him on the far side. Running on at the death, he was beaten less than a length and a half and would have been closer with a smoother run. On this evidence, he is capable of winning at Pattern level. One could imagine him running well in something like the Temple Stakes at Haydock (21st May) - a flat five furlongs on fast ground will bring out the best in him.
In the same event, Existent (25/1), who is highlighted in the Appendix in AOTF belied his huge odds by filling the runners-up berth. The former John Gosden trained four year old had been well held in the Abernant Stakes over six furlongs last time but was back to his best here over this shorter trip. Stuart Williams has a smart sprinter on his hands and the Kingman gelding looks tailormade for the Listed Scurry Stakes at Sandown (11th June).
The curtain came down on the National Hunt season in Ireland with the final day of the Punchestown Festival. Vauban provided the highlight with a silky smooth performance in the Grade 1 four year old hurdle. The ex-French gelding was winning at the highest level for the third time since February and he looks every inch a Champion Hurdle contender in the making. Paul Townend sat on the tail of the front running Fil Dor for the majority of the race and quickly swept passed Gordon Elliott's gelding to win decisively by four lengths, a margin which flattered the runner-up. He is a class act. His victory provided the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead with its 53rd winner of the 2021/2022 campaign. I will be working out the final statistics of OJA in the next few days and will publish them on the Diary.
If you haven't ordered a copy of Ahead On The Flat or the Updates, please head to the Publications section of the site. The Top 40 Prospects has produced 14 winners from 22 runners.
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