Katie Midwinter runs through her selection of the top two-year-old performances from last week’s meetings.  



Juvenile Focus:


In what was a busy week of racing across the continents, I focus on the performances of British and Irish-based juveniles who caught the eye in Europe. 


Performance of the week: 


Blackbeard – A P O’Brien (Deauville – 1:33pm, 21/08/22)


The performance of the week from the juveniles was Blackbeard’s successful effort in the Prix Morny at Deauville on Sunday. He finished half-a-length ahead of Coventry Stakes runner-up and Group Two winner Persian Force who finished second, with stablemate The Antarctic, a Group Three winner at the track, in third, Manhattan Jungle in fourth and Norfolk Stakes winner The Ridler in fifth. It was a small but select field of young horses, with Persian Force sent off favourite in the market, narrowly ahead of the eventual winner.


Blackbeard didn’t instil confidence in backers prior to the race, behaving peculiarly at the start as Ryan Moore showed great horsemanship aboard the colt. He had sweated up then dug at the ground before jumping up, prior to entering the stalls. Moore remained calm and the pair went on to win well. The jockey and trainer partnership recorded a century of Group One successes together with Blackbeard’s victory, a tremendous feat for the in-form duo.


He had already recorded four wins in his career prior to his success at Deauville, including a Group Two in the Prix Robert Papin at Chantilly. In the Coventry Stakes he finished fourth, before finding Shartash too good at the Curragh. He has now recorded back-to-back wins in Group contests and the future looks bright for the eccentric colt.


Blackbeard is an imposing type, powerful and big in stature. By No Nay Never, he is the first foal of Muirin, a winner over 7f by Born To Sea. He holds a number of entries in the coming months and may return to France for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, run at Longchamp in October.



Five to Follow:


Queen Me – Kevin Ryan (York – 1:50pm, 18/08/22)


In the opening race of the card on Thursday at York’s Ebor Festival, a talented field of fillies went to post ahead of the Lowther Stakes. Swingalong won, at odds of 25/1, and is certainly one of many to take from the race.


However, the eyecatcher was Queen Me, who finished strongly from the middle of the field and just failed. She settled into the race well, but appeared to flatten out in the closing stages, as many came off the bridle and were driven by their jockeys. Queen Me didn’t react instantly to Tom Eaves’ efforts in the saddle, but as others tired she stayed on strongly, closing the leader all the way to the line.

It was an eyecatching performance in defeat, on only her second start. If she is able to show progression in future and improve with experience, there is certainly a big win to come from her as she has already shown raw talent and speed.


She has an exceptional pedigree, being by Dubawi out of Frankel mare Queen Kindly, who won this contest as a juvenile in 2016, emulating her dam and granddam.


Queen Me narrowly missed out in her attempt at York, but will surely be successful in other quality races in future.



Glenfinnan – Andrew Balding (York – 4:45pm, 19/08/22)


The Harry Angel colt impressed at York, running on strongly to finish a half-a-length second to Charlie Appleby’s odds-on favourite, Desert Order. Glenfinnan slotted in behind the leaders from the outset, gaining cover and travelling comfortably. He was slightly short of room two furlongs out, before finding a gap, he then stayed on strongly outrunning his odds of 33/1.


Prior to the off, the colt had caught the eye in the paddock, as he walked calmly, was well turned-out and powerful in appearance. He appeared professional in his attitude, unfazed by the occasion, and showed great heart to put in such a good performance in a big field on only his second start.


It’s also worth mentioning the third-placed horse in the race, Hi Royal, who faced more difficulty in-running but still managed to come from the rear of the field to finish impressively.


Both colts could be competitive in future contests and may be worth noting as ones to follow.



Silver Knott – Charlie Appleby (Sandown – 2:40pm, 20/08/22)


In similar fashion to Aidan O’Brien, Charlie Appleby holds a typically strong hand with his two-year-olds, with many exciting prospects capable of challenging for the Classics next season.


Silver Knott stayed on to finish fourth on his debut at Newbury having been slightly hampered in the closing stages. The form of the race has really worked out well so far, with the winner, Chaldean, taking the Group Three Acomb Stakes at York last week, and the second and third-placed horses both recording wins since.


The Lope De Vega colt recorded back-to-back wins with success at Sandown, and did so in fine fashion, travelling smoothly from the rear of the field when others were fading.


He is out of God Given, a Group One winner at 1m2f who also recorded top-class successes over 1m4f and an extended 1m6f. His dam’s sire, Nathaniel, has produced a number of useful stayers, including the Lonsdale Stakes winner Quickthorn. He most famously sired the eleven-time Group One winner, Enable, who excelled over 1m4f when winning two renewals of the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.


Silver Knott could well improve for a step up in trip, as his pedigree suggests, and he does hold an entry in next month’s Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket, over a mile. He also holds an entry in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes over 7f, to be run next month at the Curragh.



Aesop’s Fables – A P O’Brien (The Curragh – 3:10pm, 20/08/22)


The No Nay Never colt won the Group Two Futurity Stakes comfortably in the end, beating stablemate Hans Andersen. He appeared outpaced when passing the two-furlong marker, as the eventual runner-up battled with the favourite, Proud And Regal. The latter stayed on well to finish three-lengths ahead of the chasing pack, but couldn’t match the Ballydoyle pair for speed. Ryan Moore got to work early aboard Aesop’s Fables, who took a little while to get going, coming from off the pace to quicken effectively and gain a Group Two success. The colt will have learnt plenty from his first two starts and has shown good speed.


His sire has produced an exceptional crop of two-year-olds this season and is established now as one of Europe’s most in-demand stallions. Alcohol Free, his most successful progeny to date, trained on well from two to three and has recorded a Group One success in each season of her career so far.


It will be fascinating to see how well this current crop, many of whom are based with Aidan O’Brien, train on next season, as they are incredibly talented, strong and imposing juveniles.



Olivia Maralda – M D O’Callaghan (The Curragh – 3:45pm, 20/08/22)


This two-year-old filly finished second in the Group Two Debutante Stakes, behind unbeaten filly Meditate. She put in a gallant effort to challenge the eventual winner, tracking her throughout the race and travelling strongly when last off the bridle in the closing stages. Meditate appears in a class of her own currently, recording four wins from four including the Group Three Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and this race, her first Group Two success.


Olivia Maralda is by Kodiac, a stallion that has been siring plenty of useful two-year-olds this season. In the Queen Mary Stakes over 5f she stayed on well considering she was off the bridle early on, but she lacked the speed required over the trip to challenge for the win. She finished a respectable seventh, behind a number of fillies who have appeared to be suited to the shorter distances. The winner, Dramatised, by Showcasing, has stamina on her dam’s side but didn’t see out the extra furlong in the 6f Lowther Stakes. Love Reigns, who finished fourth at Royal Ascot, has plenty of speed too, by U S Navy Flag who was a Group One winner over 6f and 7f. She has been performing well over the extended 5f across the pond.


Michael O’Callaghan’s filly has shaped well over further, and was visually impressive in her maiden win at Newbury when stepping up in trip. She demolished the field by seven lengths, and once again performed well at the Curragh on reappearance.


She holds a number of entries over various distances in the coming months, including an entry in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes over 7f and the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October. It will be interesting to see if connections decide to run her over this trip again, before stepping up to a mile.