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St Mark’s Basilica ran out a decisive winner of last year’s Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket to end the season as Timeform’s highest-rated two-year-old in Europe. Fast forward the clock nearly nine months and he is now firmly established as the leader of his generation after recording his fourth Group 1 win in succession in Saturday’s Coral-Eclipse.
St Mark’s Basilica had completed a classic double in France on his first two starts this season, but his performance at Sandown represented another significant step up the ladder. After all, it wasn’t just the three-year-olds he was beating this time but also a couple of top-notch older horses in the shape of Addeybb and Mishriff. Both were ultimately swept aside in comprehensive fashion, with St Mark’s Basilica forging clear late on to win by three and a half lengths.
That display earned St Mark’s Basilica a Timeform rating of 129p, which puts him just ahead of the 2000 Guineas/St James’s Palace Stakes winner Poetic Flare (128) in our three-year-old rankings. He looks sure to go on improving and will be a serious contender in races such as the Juddmonte International and possibly even the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Marquand enters title race with fabulous four-timer
There is nothing to separate Oisin Murphy and William Buick in the race to be crowned this season’s Champion Flat Jockey in Britain, with both men currently locked together on 50 winners apiece.
Buick raced into a clear when riding a treble at Lingfield on Monday 28 June, but he hasn’t ridden since then as he serves the 11-day ban he received for breaking the whip rules when guiding Reshoun to victory at Royal Ascot.
Murphy has certainly made the most of Buick’s absence in the last week, riding six winners to draw level as he tries to retain he crown he won in both 2019 and 2020. Buick, who is still seeking his first jockeys’ championship, will be keen to pick up where he left off when his ban ends later this week, but it’s fair to say that this is far from a two-horse race.
In fact, Tom Marquand arguably has even more momentum on his side having ridden 12 winners in the last 14 days, including a brilliant four-timer at Sandown on Saturday to take his tally for the season to 46 winners – only four behind Murphy and Buick.
Marquand certainly won’t lack for ammunition. For context, he has already had 283 rides this season, which is comfortably more than both Murphy (250) and Buick (237). This support, including from the powerful William Haggas yard, will continue to stand him in good stead and tees us up nicely for what promises to be a thrilling three-way battle during the summer months.
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Fearby looks to have a bright future
Ed Bethell has already saddled 10 winners in the first year of his training career after taking over from his father James at Thorngill Stables in Middleham. You need to go back to 2006 for the last time the yard sent out a winner of a group race, but that could also be about to change judged on the manner of Fearby’s victory in the listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown on Friday.
Fearby beat a subsequent winner when getting off the mark in a maiden at Wetherby last month, and he showed much improved form to take the step up in grade in his stride at Sandown. Admittedly, there is a chance Fearby may have been flattered by the way the race developed, but he was still well on top at the finish, powering clear in the final furlong to land the spoils by five lengths.
The timefigure provides plenty of substance to the form and this was one of the best performances produced by any two-year-old in Britain and Ireland so far this season. Fearby may yet have more to offer, too, and he has the potential to be a real flagbearer for his stable, with all the big two-year-old races at up to six furlongs likely to be on his agenda.
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