Horse Racing: 3 things learned from the Curragh, Ascot and Newmarket this weekend

Tony McFadden of Timeform outlines three points of interest from the weekend’s action.

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Two-year-old division lacking a star

There was an exciting finish to the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday, with the first four home covered by less than two lengths. Ebro River dug deep to prevail, putting up the best performance by a two-year-old this season based on Timeform’s figures, but the close finish rather highlighted that there is no standout juvenile within the division.

That was Ebro River’s seventh start of the campaign and while he is top of the tree at the moment, it would be a surprise were something not to improve past him.

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Royal Scimitar is a well-handicapped sprinter

Royal Scimitar was a big eye-catcher for the second race in succession and looks a sprinter to follow. He was tried over a mile earlier in the season but was shaping like a non-stayer, which persuaded connections to have a crack at an ultra-competitive six-furlong handicap at Newmarket’s July meeting.

Royal Scimitar looked unlucky on that occasion, comfortably beating those in his group but narrowly denied by those on the far side, and he again shaped with promise at Ascot. Royal Scimitar blew the start but, racing alone along the stands rail, he held every chance entering the final furlong. He was beaten just a neck and a short-head in third and is threatening to come good soon.

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Newmarket newcomers’ maiden a race to note

The newcomers’ maiden staged at Newmarket on Friday evening was contested by plenty of well-bred horses from good yards and should throw up plenty of winners. It was won by Hafit, a 2.1 million guineas purchase as a yearling, and he is an exciting colt who already has Group-race assignments on his agenda. He was made to work by the runner-up, Razzle Dazzle, who ran to a good level for a debutant and should have little trouble getting off the mark.

Further down the field, it’s worth being positive about sixth-placed Millennial Moon, who looked the likely winner a couple of furlongs from home but was unable to sustain the effort. Millennial Moon ought to come on for that experience and take a big step forward next time.

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