Future Champions weekend, as we suspected it would, brought major changes to the European two-year-old hierarchy. Coolmore’s City Of Troy made it back to the top of the Timeform log after a hugely impressive win in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes. He had been temporarily deposed after his stable companion Henry Longfellow had successfully deputised for him in the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh. His earlier success in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket had already everyone thinking about how to categorise his sire, the undefeated US Triple Crown winner Justify. Are his runners much better suited to the turf courses of Europe or the dirt circuits of America? And how will that impact on American demand for nominations – advertised at $200,000 – next spring?
Then Justify provided an answer himself when his juvenile daughter, the Bill Mott-trained Just FYI, became a leading fancy for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by registering a wide-margin victory in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes. Earlier this summer, he’d also sired Arabian Lion to win the Grade 1 Woody Stephens over seven furlongs posting a Beyer of 109, which equates to a Timeform mark of 125. So, he is clearly a sire for all surfaces, much in the same way War Front was for Coolmore. As things stand, Justify can count both the Timeform top-rated juvenile colt and filly among his second-crop offspring. Moreover, both City Of Troy (125p) and the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Opera Singer (114p) share that same final-furlong power running that sets them apart from their opponents. And whereas neither’s Timeform rating is anything extraordinary – 11 top-rated colts this century have a better rating and none of the top-rated fillies have a lower rating than Opera Singer – it is the future promise of the pair that has got everyone excited.
Perhaps the biggest change to the complexion of Timeform top ten two-year-olds comes courtesy of Dubawi, whose sons Ancient Wisdom and Arabian Crown were impressive recent winners of the Group 3 Autumn Stakes and Zetland Stakes respectively. Both were found at the Arqana yearling sale last August, Ancient Wisdom costing €2 million and Arabian Crown €600,000. With a rating of 118 Ancient Wisdom showed the better form of the pair, running out a three-and-three-quarter-length winner, whereas Arabian Crown defeated a less exposed field by five-and-a-half lengths in the 10-furlong Zetland.
Of course, this means that Dubawi has three colts among the top ten European two-year-olds, headed of course by the Coolmore homebred Henry Longfellow. It shows that the top-class Darley sire is not slowing down, and he is still well capable of siring Group winners at the same high rate as he always has.
For the record, Dubawi now has sired 159 Group winners from his northern hemisphere crops at a top-class rate of 11.2% from runners, second only to Frankel’s current score of 12% among active stallions. And his tally of 2023 juvenile Group winners is up to five, equalling his previous best 2019 crop, which featured Coroebus and Darley’s new recruit for 2024, Modern Games. Incidentally, Ancient Wisdom is his sire’s fourth winner of the Autumn Stakes, following Ghaiyyath, One Ruler and Coroebus.
Too Darn Hot also has two representative among the top 20 juveniles
It must be very pleasing for connections that Dubawi’s son Too Darn Hot also has two representative among the top 20 juveniles. His 112-rated Dewhurst Stakes runner-up Alyanaabi looks progressive while his Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Fallen Angel (110p) could quite possibly have given Opera Singer all sorts of trouble in the Marcel Boussac, had she not been retired for the season. Then there’s his Group 2 May Hill and Group 3 Prestige Stakes winner Darnation, whose Timeform mark of 105 places her just outside the top 20. All in all, a very pleasing start for Too Darn Hot with more to come next season no doubt.
Another Dubawi son who possibly ought to have had a runner among this elite group is Night Of Thunder. His current group of youngsters are the first to represent him since breeders had full understanding of his capabilities, but there are plenty of very promising types among his 28 winners, including Listed scorer Al Musmak (107) and the Group 2 Debutante Stakes winner Vespertilio (106p). Given that next spring we will be seeing the first three-year-olds from Too Darn Hot and from Night Of Thunder’s best ever bred crop, plus the first two-year-olds from the best ever crop of Dubawi’s other excellent stallion New Bay, Dubawi’s reputation as a sire of sires ought to flourish.
The Coolmore pair Wootton Bassett and Justify are the only other sires represented by as many as three juveniles rated 109 or higher in Europe, the Wootton Bassett-sred Bucanero Fuerte, Unquestionable and River Tiber being very much summer two-year-olds when compared to Justify’s three which also include Europe’s second highest-rated filly in Ramatuelle – a filly with the form to land the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes had she contested it.
20 of Wootton Bassett’s 38 stakes winners have won black-type races at two
What is fascinating about Wootton Bassett’s stud career is his obvious bias toward two-year-olds, something we do not given him credit for perhaps because he came up with a truly top-class mile-and-a-quarter horse in Almanzor in his first crop. As many as 20 of his 38 stakes winners have won black-type races at two, so it will be interesting to see if his Coolmore crops change that relationship. Given that he’s sired three excellent youngsters from his last Haras d’Etreham crop, the mind boggles as to what he might achieve from his next three crops each of which contain at least double the number of well-bred horses than he’s ever had before. Moreover, there are plenty out of mares by that stallion-making broodmare sire Galileo, who is already responsible for the dam of Wootton Basset’s Group 1 National Stakes hero Al Riffa.
Finally, a word of praise for Darley’s other first-season sire Blue Point, whose two representatives might just make us alter our opinion of his future prospects, given that he not only has a speed ball in the 114-rated Big Evs, but a top-class miler in the making in the shape of Rosallion. The latter colt was very impressive when coming back from defeat in the Champagne to land the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere with a fine turn of foot.