Brilliant juveniles Churchill (3c Galileo-Meow, by Storm Cat) and Lady Aurelia (3f Scat Daddy-D´Wildcat Speed, by Forest Wildcat) have officially been confirmed as Europe’s champion two-year-old colt and filly of 2016.
Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith Churchill, whose sire Galileo won an 8th European championship in 2016, held all before him last season with four Group wins culminating in victories in the G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Aidan O’Brien’s stablemate is a red-hot favourite for both this year’s G1 2,000 Guineas and G1 Derby and Irish Turf Club Handicapper Mark Bird predicts a fruitful season ahead for the Galileo colt.
“Churchill’s final rating of 122 sits just marginally below this century’s par rating for a European Champion two-year-old of 123. However, the progressive nature of his form allied to his obvious physical scope and impressive pedigree give rise to hope that his early career may be just the launch pad to greater success as a three-year-old,” said Bird.
“As his namesake once stated, ‘the price of greatness is responsibility’, so we hope and expect that Churchill will live up to his reputation in 2017.”
Meanwhile, the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia – a daughter of the much-missed Scat Daddy – has been recognised as one of the outstanding two-year-old fillies of the modern era.
On a mark of 121, Lady Aurelia missed out only narrowly on being rated Europe’s first female two-year-old champion since Ravinella shared top honours with Warning back in 1987. Nevertheless, she is rated the best two-year-old filly in more than a decade, having produced one of the most memorable performances since Arazi when smashing both the opposition and the clock in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. That 121-rated performance is trumped only by Queen’s Logic’s 2001 success in the Cheveley Park (122) in the fillies’ division in the last 24 years.
The joint-second top-rated juvenile filly was G1 Fillies’ Mile heroine Rhododendron (3f Galileo-Halfway To Heaven, by Pivotal), a daughter of Galileo.
Coolmore sires were well represented in the top 20 juveniles with Choisir’s son The Last Lion (3c Choisir-Mala Mala, by Brief Truce), winner of the G1 Middle Park Stakes, on 116.
G1 Racing Post Trophy hero Rivet (3c Fastnet Rock-Starship, by Galileo), a son of Fastnet Rock, is rated 115 while a member of Power’s outstanding first crop, Peace Envoy (3c Power-Hoh My Darling, by Dansili) is ranked 113.
British Horseracing Authority 2yo handicapper Graeme Smith nominated a number of dark horses to look out for, particularly George Strawbridge’s maiden winner Tartini (3c Giant´s Causeway-Vignette, by Diesis) and first-crop Excelebration colt Barney Roy (3c Excelebration-Alina, by Galileo).
“One of the more interesting could be John Gosden’s Tartini, who won his only start to date at Nottingham in late October. A seemingly unconsidered 25/1 shot behind a short-priced stablemate, he looked to need the experience for most of the race and it was surprising just how much ground he made up as he got the message. The first three drew some six lengths clear of a couple who’ve won subsequently, and this half-brother to the Great Voltigeur winners Lucarno and Thought Worthy could be one for the Derby trials.
“Other once-raced horses to watch out for include Owen Burrows’ filly Talaayeb, Gosden’s Cracksman and Richard Hannon’s Excelebration colt, Barney Roy.”