Estidhkaar a vintage bet in Champagne Stakes

Estidhkaar looks a worthy favourite to further enhance his classic claims with success in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster today (2.05).

The Richard Hannon trained colt finished a promising second on debut and showed the benefit of that experience when running out the comfortable winner of an 11-runner maiden at Newbury.

Estidhkaar was then upped significantly in grade and sent off the 15/8 favourite for the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, and his supporters never had an anxious moment.

The son of Dark Angel, who is a half-brother to the stables’s leading 2013 juvenile Toormore, raced keenly at the head of affairs before forging clear inside the final furlong to slam Akabantay by 4 1/2 lengths.

It was a breathtaking peformance which earned Estidhkaar a 20/1 quote with Coral for next year’s 2,000 Guineas, and the form has been franked in no uncertain manner by the runner-up going on to land the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown.

Although Estdihkaar has to shoulder a 3lb penalty for that Group success, he is officially rated 7lb and upwards clear of his rivals and with the prospect of further improvement to come is going to be very difficult to beat.

The main danger on paper is the Roger Varian trained Belardo who has won two of his three starts.

After making an impressive winning debut at Yarmouth, the son of Lope De Vega was far from disgraced when a 3 1/2 length fourth of 12 to Ivawood in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket.

Belardo then took advantage of a drop in grade to get back to winning ways last time out in a Listed contest at Newbury when beating Hawkesbury by 3 3/4 lengths and clearly has an engine.

However, what Belardo beat at Newbury suggests more is needed to land this contest and he also doesn’t look to have as much scope for improvement as the ultra-progressive Estidhkaar.