The Scottish Brocklesby over 5f on good to soft going. Just six runners: fives colts and one filly for a respectable first prize of almost £10,000. This race was won last year by Mukhmal, trainer by Mark Johnston, a dual winner and highly tried colt unplaced in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 2), Molecolm Stakes (Group 3) & Flying Childers (Group 2). His best performance came at Sandown's Dragon Stakes (Listed) when second of four.
Johnston has started the juvenile Flat turf season in imperious form with his first three two-year-olds winning (Ravenhoe, Rah Rah & Burantino). Kingsley House Stable have an interesting recruit here with Sixth Sense, ridden by Joe Fanning. This chestnut colt, a son of Shamardal bred by Darley, in the ownership of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, is out of an unraced mare. It is interesting to note this April foal was originally entered to run in the Brocklesby Stakes (Doncaster), a contest won by the stable's Ravenhoe. This factor is all the more intriguing regarding David O'Meara's entrant First Bombardment, which finished runner-up behind the said Johnston victor. Sixth Sense is likely to be fancied in the betting, which is as much to do with Jonhston's flying start to the two-year-old season. As many bloggers have noted, you have to question whether this means the stable juveniles are likely to be poor value.
O'Meara's First Bombardment is owned by Northern Hart Racing & Partner. This son of Pastoral Pursuits is out of a twice-winning mare costing £18,000. This bay colt (not two until the end of the month) was quite fancied in the betting when contesting the Broclesby Stakes at Doncaster. He ran a sterling race when finishing second to Ravenhoe, looking the winner in the closing stages (touched big odds-on in-running) only to be denied in the last strides. First Bombardment was quite keen in the early part of the race, travelling well and a straightforward juvenile. Experience often brings a marked advantage over debutantes. In truth this horse sets the standard. However, it is worth noting that the form of the Brocklesby is yet untested. It could well be the case this horse will eclipse the opposition but it doesn't pay to imagine a juvenile's standard of ability until you can appreciate where it sits in the pecking order and at the very least has proven to have enough ability to win an average maiden. The Brocklesby featured less runners this year and only four juveniles showed ability. First Bombardment will be fit,savvy and primed to run a big race and the 7lb apprentice is no doubt on board to make this a winning day. Nevertheless, it pays to be cautious, especially at Stakes class because you can never quite tell the standard of opposition.
What are we to make of the other debutantes?
Brian Ellison fielded a horse in the Brocklesby (General Alexander) which showed promise and must give connection a fair line with their debutante, Mr Morse. This brown/roan colt is sired by Hellvelyn out of a multiple-winning sprint mare. This May foal was purchased as a yearling by Phil Martin for £34,000. The stable usually struggle to win with their debutantes although a betting move would bring more confidence.
David Brown and John Fretwell have made a great partnership when it comes to finding talented two-year-olds. Tribesman is a son of Equiano out of a poor race mare. This chestnut foal cost 12,000gns, later purchased at the yearling sales by Fretwell for £35,000. This stable's juveniles often go well with their debutantes and if priced 13/2 & less hold good win and place claims.
One of the outsiders is Zephyr Breeze trained by Noel Wilson. This son of Piccolo was purchased by the trainer at the yearling sales for 22,000GNS. The stable have few debut winners and although being Stakes entered is a decent sign I would advise a watching brief.
The only filly in the field hails from Bellwood Cottage Stables who made an impact last season with The Wow Signal (pictured) who at Group 1 and fancied to go well in the 2000 Guineas. Smart Mover is an Irish-bred daughter of Fast Company, purchased at the yearling sales for 35,000EUR by Richard Knight Bloodstock/Sean Quinn. Fillies are often smaller horses and fitter than the colts although can be outclass by bigger, stronger colts. The betting is the best guide to this juvenile. If priced 13/2 & less this horse has fair win and place claims.
Conclusion: Early two-year-old races can often be tricky affairs and stakes races can bring even more dilemma because they are often targeted by trainers who fancy they have a decent thoroughbred. Form at this time of year is a big positive and First Bombardment, being a narrow loser, ticks a lot of boxes. David O'Meara will be disappointed if this colt doesn't win. He may well win but it is difficult to make assessment of his first effort. Certainly the final furlong of the Brocklesby was pretty slow. On the positive side, this horse looks straightforward and sets the standard. It's always interesting to read the latest stable news via trainer websites & blogs. It is intriguing to see Mark Johnston field Sixth Sense who was considered for the Brocklesby but stablemate Ravenhoe won, representing Kingsley House. Johnston had three two-year-old runners that day - all winning and looking fair sorts. He made the headlines with his impressive trio and the stable have a bumper string of talent. Connections must have a line with First Bombardment and it could be telling if Sixth Sense starts favourite. The downside is that the bookmakers are likely to give little value. Tribesman and Smart Mover hail from stables that have a fair win and place strike rate when priced 13/2 & less. Mr Morse & Zephyr Breeze are best watched. A difficult race to assess with the favorites likely to be little value while all horses still have something to prove. A watching brief.