Epsom Derby Next for Churchill Colt
Classic three year-olds stepped out at York on Thursday with the Group II Dante Stakes (1m2 ½f) going to quality colt The Foxes (3c Churchill x Tanaghum, by Darshaan).
Trained by Andrew Balding, The Foxes won the Group II Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket last year and returned with a second in the Group III Craven Stakes last month.
He showed his class when sticking on solidly to win his first try at a longer trip by a neck over late closer White Birch.
“I was more relieved than impressed. The Foxes meandered across the course a little bit but he was the best horse in the race,” said Andrew Balding.
“We're thrilled, it's just what we wanted to see, to win the race and hopefully go on to better things. We always had a doubt whether he would stay a mile and a half, but I think on today's evidence an extra couple of furlongs won't go amiss.”
The Foxes is likely to head next to the Group I Epsom Derby next month.
“We've gone close in the Derby a few times, but I think he'd be the best chance we've had going there as both [runners-up] Hoo Ya Mal and Khalifa Sat were big prices,” Balding added.
Bought for 440,000 guineas at Tattersalls October Book Yearling Sale by Sackville Donald, The Foxes has won three of six starts and is a full brother to staying stakes-winner Perotan.
Bred by Barronstown Stud, he is the sixth stakes-winner among 11 winners from blue hen Tanaghum, whose other stakes-winning offspring are Group I winner Matterhorn, Group II winner Bangkok, Group III winner Tactic and stakes-winner Yaazy.
The Foxes is one of 10 stakes-winners for Churchill, who stands Australia at a fee of $22,000. He has two runners in the Group II BRC Roses on Saturday in Super Chilled and Madame Odette.