An exciting race. A few talking horses with plenty to say. I keep schmoozing about our top website Group Horse, which details the best two-year-olds in training. Well, if you had been keeping track of the the entries - building a picture of ability - you would be very interested in a few of these potential stars of the future.
A EBF Maiden Stakes over 6f on good to firm going. This looks a hot race. Why? Well, for starters we have a couple of stat' horses running who will set a fair level for these talented debutantes to strive.
Andrew Balding has been in pretty average form with his juvenile string this season, giving the impression they have a problem or two, but even saying that I would take note of their youngsters second start. Dark Shot was relatively fancied in a good maiden at Ascot. The win prize money was over £12,000 which is more than some Listed races. This son of Acclamation ran well beaten four-lengths after showing pace. Balding doesn't have the best strike rate here but this is a touch misleading. In general, his horses run well and often hit the frame. In addition, John Smith [owner] likes this course. The betting is key and with such competition this home bred will need to have something going for it to be priced 9/1 & less SP. If this bay colt is in that betting guide, I'd expect him to be placed if not win. If weak in the betting, take a watching brief.
One of the major debutantes is Taneen, trained by Roger Varian. This American son of Speightstown is held in high regard at Kremlin House Stables. Owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum, he cost $350,000 at the Keeneland September Sales 2014. A string of flashy Group entries details this February foal has ability. The dogs have been barking a couple must have escaped by the betting - priced fractional odds-on. Varian has a decent string of two-year-olds to measure this colt and if he starts at shorts odds it will take a mighty effort to beat him.
To throw a little more fuel on the fire Henry Candy makes a return to this course with Vibrant Chords who was headed in the final stride and in many ways a winner without a penalty. That may not have been the strongest of races but this handler is tough to beat with two-year-olds on their second start. If priced 13/2 & less SP has sound win and place claims.
An outsider who could well be a threat is Zhui Feng. Amanda Perrett doesn't have many two-year-olds and by all accounts a poor strike rate with debutantes. That probably has much to do with the 16/1 available with bookmakers (may touch huge odds on exchanges). This son of Invincible Spirit has ability. He cost a whopping 340,000GNS when purchased by Peter & Ross Doyle, now racing in the familiar colours of John Connolly. It is worth noting that Perrett has started a few of her top juveniles here. Could be a surprise package and go well at big odds.
Conclusion: A competitive race - without doubt. The two form horses: Dark Shot & Vibrant Chords have good win and place claims but crucially need to be in their best betting guides to threaten. If not, best watched. The betting will be very informative to the two above as it will the whole field. Taneen is held in high regard and from experience I know these horses, when strong in the market, take some beating. The downside is that any debutante can be ring rusty and it is a matter of opinion whether you want to take such short odds.Taneen is the horse to beat and you may be a brave soul to punt others against him. Zhui Feng is interesting at speculative odds. Perrett doesn't inspire as a trainer of debutantes but they can win. Horses of ability can defy the most crushing statistics. There is enough evidence to suggest this colt is held in some regard and most likely be winning this season. If touching big prices I'd have a bet but rather than going in each way have a point on Taneen and Zhui Feng. I can imagine connections of a good few here thinking this is a tougher race than they expected. I would take the favourite and outsider to go well in this competitive heat