6:35 Haydock (27th May) - Result

An EBF maiden over 6f on good to firm ground.


Ballesteros made an encouraging debut at Haydock. That course and distance experience is likely to see this chestnut colt by Tomba go well on this second start. A speedy juvenile, he travelled well on debut, leaving the eventual winner and second flat footed until the final furlong. Meehan's two year olds often improve for the run although he was pretty fit and ready on debut. It is a fair argument that Ballersteros and the fourth placed Banksy may have gone a stride too fast that day, perhaps being caught out by the changing ground conditions.The second - Brocklebank - has since won at York and will be competing at a higher level. The clear form pick, he has good win and place claims. The only negative is that Meehan has poor strike rate with his juveniles at the course but this individual shouldn't be halted by those figures.


A few expensive debutantes catch the eye.


Mezmaar is owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum and cost 120,000gns. The stable won this race last year with the talented Rerouted (although that wasn't on debut). Hills' stable has been in good form and they have a nice string of two year olds. In fact they have a very good strike rate at the course with their juveniles (38% over the last five years from a large sample). The negative is that Hills fancied runners don't feature the best win rate on debut suggesting that their youngsters often improve with experience. 


Sir Robert Ogden is an owner whose two year old should be noted. The majority have ability and Fort Bastion cost 95,000gns as a foal. Hannon has been in good form but not capturing the dizzying heights of last season with his juvenile string. Their debutantes can be rather hit and miss - not the easiest to draw strong conclusions - but have the potential to win just about any race with a quality horse. I can see Fort Bastion running a fair race and one of the more likelier types.


Richard Fahey is a truly fantastic trainer of two year olds and his win and place rate with fancied debutantes is second to none. He clearly knows how to prime a horse to go well and very few show inexperience. Not the most expensive at  £32,000, this son of Cockney Rebel should be respected. Dr Marwan Koukash has been in sparkling form of late and Badea is one for the short list with fair win and place claims.

An outsider worth noting is Stepper Point. William Muir is a canny trainer and his juveniles can be transformed on their second start. This 45,000gns purchase is a good-looking colt by Kyllachy and although beaten a long way at Newbury showed excellent speed until tiring in the final furlong. He was entered to run at Goodwood - which is a positive sign - but withdrawn later on the day. With a month or so to mature there is a fair chance this bay colt will be fit and ready. At speculative odds he may be worth a few quid each way.


Conclusion: Ballestreros is the horse to beat with race experience on side. A strong traveller,  fit and ready, he is held in high regard by the stable and could go on from here. The debutantes will need to be quite classy to win this at the first time of asking. Babea has fair win and place claims but it may be a negative if weak in the betting. MezMaar and Fort Bastion should be respected but probably best watched, especially the former. Stepper Point could go well at a price.


HCE: ''A good race. The money for Hills clearly spoke well. A good-looking colt, he travelled well and finished powerfully to the line. It is always a good sign when their juveniles manage to win on debut because most do not. I can see this youngster going well at Royal Ascot. Fort Bastion was held up but ran on with purpose and not overly pressed. Ballesteros sets the form standard. He isn't the biggest and to be fair had no luck in running. Stuck behind a wall of horses, he was finally taken to the rail but the leaders had flown. There is little doubt the winner had this in the bag so no hard luck stories. Plenty of winners will come from this race.''

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