The first two-year-old race of the turf season. It's a shame the Brocklesby Stakes isn't the first juvenile race of the 2016 Flat season, which it used to be in the good old days.
Thirteen two-year-olds take part over this 5f on soft ground: nine colts, one gelding and three fillies.
A number of very talented horses have won this race including Hearts Of Heart [pictured], for the late Pat Eddery, winning at Group 1, Mind Games, trained by Jack Berry, who was a class horse who won at Group 2 but never quite the ability to win at the highest grade. Two exceptional horses.
Here is a list of the winners since 1988.
The 2016 Brocklesby Stakes field is made up of debutantes - a mix of trainers including Wesley Ward from the United States of America. It is worth noting that a number of winners will come from this race.
The soft ground and draw bias could make this a tricky race to assess.
Absolutely Awesome, Heavenly Cry, Mont Cinq, Paisley Abbey & Jollydee are best watched.
Billy Boots is bred,owned & trained by Mick Channon. The betting is key for this son of Winker Watson. If pried 8/1 and less has fair each-way claims but the betting suggest this horse is best watched.
Tallinski is a chestnut son of Mayson, who cost £50,000 at the yearling sales. Brian Ellison doesn't have many two-year-old debut winners although General Alexander ran a creditable third in this contest last year and a fair juvenile for the same connections Mrs J A Martin. Ellison's Brocklesby entrants have often gone very well on their second start. On balance a horse I would watch but quite a costly February foal who will progress with racing. A high draw may or may not be good news. With soft ground it is possible low numbers are favoured and earlier races are the best judge to any bias.
Tom Dascombe is a talented trainer who can ready a two-year-old debutante. Both of his juveniles this season have shown ample pace and looked good in their coats, which gives confidence. They are certainly running better than last season which took an age to get going and with limited success bar one or two horses. Full Intention is a son of Showcasing out of a winning mare. This bay colt is a full sister to Quiet Reflection who won at Group 2 level as a juvenile last season and this colt cost £54,000 at the yearling sales, racing in the familiar silks of John Dance. Dascombe should have a fair line to this horse as his two runners this campaign were far from disgraced. The betting is the best guide. If priced 7/1 & less has fair each-way claims. At present this youngster is weak in the betting but if backed to the best betting guide it would bring build confidence. A middling draw may give options and that could be a valuable asset.
Richard Fahey is a superb trainer of two-year-olds and has done well in this race over the years. His first juvenile of the season was somewhat disappointing and Springwood, a son of Zebedee isn't fancied in the betting at the time of writing. This chestnut colt, racing in the colours of Fahey's syndicate, cost £26,000 at the yearling sales. The stable can win with horses of any price on debut but it would be a slight negative if totally unfancied in the betting.
Another horse who seems forgotten in the betting is Keith Dalgleish's Simmy's Temple. This bay filly, a daughter of Royal Applause cost £12,000 at the yearling sales and races under the ownership of Middleham Park Racing. The mare was a multiple winner but at a very low grade. Best watched.
Bill Turner needs little introduction when it comes the the Brocklesby Stakes because it is a race he tries very hard to win. I have said year after year that he sends his best two-year-old to contest this race and Crucial Moment, a son of Pivotal, should be respected. This bay colt was purchased at the yearling sales for £40,000 by owner Eric Brook who has a fine record in this event, especially teaming up with Turner. A relatively high draw is difficult to assess at this stage although the horse is bred to enjoy some cut in the ground. Turner has done done remarkably well in this race and this two-year-old will be a measure of his string. He has had a couple of juveniles race this season showing limited appeal. A fair each-way bet at respectable odds.
Finally we come to the big guns and talking horses.
Mark Johnston has put Richard Hannon and all early-season two-year-old trainer in the shade with a trio of wins this term from his first three juveniles. All won impressively and a couple give the feel of Royal Ascot prospect even at this early stage of the year. The Last Lion is guaranteed to be priced at relatively short odds simply because Johnston has the Midas touch. This February foal is a son of Choisir out of a winning and Group 1 placed mare. He was purchased by the trainer at the yearling sales for 82,000eur. A horse to be respected although not owned by Sheikh Mohammed. A low draw (3) could be good news if their is a bias to the far rail.
It is great to see the Brocklesby in the news and the major reason for this is due to entry of Wesley Ward's filly Create A Dream, who has flown to the UK as part of a select team of juveniles, trained at Manton, making an early start in preparation for Royal Ascot. This daughter of Oasis Dream is out of a twice-winning French mare who went close to victory at Group 1 class four times, losing by a neck to Zanyatta. Connections have been bullish about this April foal, who isn't quite two. St Elias Stables Ltd own this juvenile who wears blinkers first time (not usual for American race horses). A high draw may be a plus or negative. The reputation, interest and past success of Ward with Royal Ascot winners means this horse will start a very short odds. I'm delighted to see this horse running in the Brocklesby and sure this filly has ability.
Conclusion: The Brocklesby is a race I have always enjoyed and it is often a race which details many future winners. Soft ground and potential draw bias makes it a tricky race to asses. Create A Dream, The Last Lion & Crucial Moment make most appeal. Wesley Ward's filly could be a class act but I would always be a touch reserved on debutantes at short prices. The performance of Mark Johnston's juveniles this season (also last year) mean The Last Lion will be a shorter price than not. I would take a watching brief. Crucial Moment would be a tentative bet at each-way odds because Turner targets this race with his best two-year-old. The betting is the best judge for the rest. If Full Intention is substantially backed to 7/1 & less it would figure, too.
NR - Create A Dream, Billy Boots, Full Intention