James Knight’s Weekly Wrap for the Coral Champions Club
Greenham – can the Kingman bandwagon keep rolling?
The Greenham Stakes isn’t always the most informative in terms of the forthcoming classic season, but it would be a major surprise if we didn’t have a top class performer or two emerge from this year’s renewal.
Heading the cast is the much-vaunted Kingman. John Gosden’s colt, who carries the famous Khalid Abdullah silks, earned comparisons with the same owner’s Frankel after a highly impressive six length win on his debut at Newmarket last June.
He followed up with an easy enough victory in the Group 3 Solario Stakes on his next start, although given the level of expectation, the performance was perhaps just slightly underwhelming – the horse showing signs of greenness in the closing stages and his action not pleasing everyone.
The horse missed the remainder of the season with a chipped knee, but Gosden has reportedly been delighted with his recent work. The question now is whether he can continue on an upward curve tomorrow and like Frankel, land the Greenham Stakes on his way to bigger and better things.
The biggest threat on the book is Richard Hannon’s Night Of Thunder. He put up an exceptional display on his debut, winning a Goodwood maiden by 6 lengths and achieving a Racing Post Rating of 100, which is a rare feat indeed (Kingman ran to 96 first time up and Frankel ‘just’ 95).
He built on that with a very easy win on soft ground in a 6f Listed race at Doncaster in October. If there is a doubt about him for the top races this season, it could be his ability to handle fast ground, but that shouldn’t hinder him tomorrow, where conditions are expected to be on the easy side. In short, he looks a huge danger to Kingman.
Another danger comes in the shape of Lat Hawill. Marco Botti’s colt wasn’t seen officially on a racecourse until October, when he absolutely bolted up by 8 lengths in a Newcastle maiden. However, he had already demonstrated significant ability on the track, as he had posted the second fastest breeze at the Newmarket Craven Breeze Up sales last April – his promise persuading David Redvers to part with 230,000 guineas for him. That already has the look of a shrewd purchase – just how shrewd, we will find out tomorrow.
Paul Cole’s Berkshire is another worthy of consideration. This son of Mount Nelson made an excellent impression when landing the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, but seemed to need every yard of Newmarket’s stiff Rowley Mile to get on top in the Royal Lodge Stakes. The return to seven furlongs against top notch opposition has to be the concern here.
Lack of speed won’t be a concern for the admirable Astaire, who won both the Gimcrack and the Middle Park Stakes last season. The issue for him is that others may have progressed at a faster rate – the three year old season often tends to be a tough one for crack juvenile sprinters.
Godolphin did have the exciting Be Ready entered in this, but they are now set to rely on Golden Town. Rated just 93, he has it all to do on ratings, but is no forlorn hope – there was a lot to like about the way he won his York maiden and the form of the horses behind him that day has worked out well.
Verdict: Night Of Thunder to burst the Kingman bubble
1. Night Of Thunder 2. Lat Hawill 3. Kingman
The fillies classic trial, the Duby Duty Free Stakes (2.25 Newbury) may not quite match the Greenham in terms of quality, but it still looks strong trial and DUTCH COURAGE could be the filly to land the prize. She was last seen winning a handicap at Newmarket off a mark of 87 despite meeting significant interference and the style of the effort suggested she could be booked for Group success this term. To do so will require that she trains on as a three year old of course but her half sister, Maid A Million, improved by over twenty pounds as a three year old, so the omens are strong.
WEEKEND NEXT BEST
MECCA’S ANGEL (5.10 Thirsk) had an excellent first season and she can continue her progression with a win tomorrow. Michael Dod’s filly didn’t run a bad race last term, but her very best efforts came when the emphasis was on speed and tomorrow’s test over Thirsk’s sharp 5f should suit her down to the ground. There are other pace influences in this contest, but Mecca’s Angel should have a class edge over her rivals and she looks the sort who will be competing in a higher grade later in the season.