Ballydoyle/Minding. Rhododendron/Hydrangea. Magical/Happily. Those have been the recent one-two results of the Aidan O’Brien Benefit Debutante Stakes, and the yard have three entries in this year’s renewal. Knowing my luck I’m guaranteed to choose the wrong one, but all three are lightly-raced fillies with more potential than a load of fresh-faced 16-year-olds on GCSE results day.
Peach Tree is a sister to the Munster Oaks winner Flattering, so may not be seen to best effect until stepping up further in trip, meaning Zagitova may be of greater interest here. She’s a half-sister to Garswood, who showed plenty of pace when running to a useful level over a mile last time, and also of Galway winner Hermosa, who’s a half-sister to the aforementioned Hydrangea.
That must make for a complicated Christmas.
Still, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the prize head away from Ballydoyle for once. Skitter Scatter won the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown last time, with PP (Pat Prendergast) doing PP (Paddy Power) a favour as he saddled the 10/1 shot to beat more fancied rivals.
Viadera was much improved from her debut when chasing home Marie’s Diamond in the Anglesey Stakes, while Lady Kaya turned an interesting fillies event over course and distance into a procession last time. She won by 10 lengths that day, and her owners have turned down big-money offers since, so deserve a good run here.
Only Jim Bolger has wrestled the Futurity Stakes away from Aidan O’Brien in the last five years (not literally, though he’d surely be 1/3 in a two-horse-race), and he will try again with Guaranteed, a winner at this course and distance whose maiden form is working out quite well. He faces three bigger boys from Ballydoyle, in the form of Christmas, Mohawk and Anthony Van Dyck.
Though he’s won his last two, this step up in grade could come too early for the first of this trio, while Mohawk had a close shave when only getting up late to collar a tying leader at Cork last time, having been sent off the 7/4-on favourite. The one to beat is Anthony Van Dyck, the impressive Tyros Stakes winner who doesn’t need much brushing up before he’ll be winning Group 1s. Klute, who beat Guaranteed on debut, is the other to consider.
The third and final Group race on the card is the Royal Whip Stakes at 15:40. Broadway didn’t put on much of a show at Galway last time, and is easily taken on with fellow three-year-old Verbal Dexterity who was fourth in the Racing Post Trophy when last seen. Older horses Success Days and Deauville are considered the biggest dangers, though both have to bounce back from heavy defeats when last seen. Ming was mercilessly impeded in the Secretariat Stakes in America last time, but is progressing well and doesn’t look to be a flash in the pan, so he’s also worth considering.