Four things we learned from the Future Champions festival
Churchill: a short price for the 2,000 Guineas after his Dewhurst win
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Four things we learned from Newmarket
By Lewis Porteous 1:15PM 9 OCT 2016
AFTER two days of high-class and informative racing on the Rowley Mile, we highlight four key things to take away from Newmarket's Future Champions festival.
No substitute for proven form in Group races
Not only did the Fillies' Mile provide more proof that Rhododendron is a very serious contender for next year's fillies' Classics, it also proved that there is no substitute for proven Group-level form at the highest level.
Hype rather than Group-race substance meant maiden winners Sobetsu and Spatial headed the Fillies' Mile market on the morning of the race, despite the pair boasting only a pair of maiden wins to their names.
An avalanche of money for Rhododendron, already a Group 2 winner and Group 1 placed, ensured she stated joint favourite with Sobetsu by the off and she confirmed her form with an easy success.
Stablemate Hydrangea, runner up in the Group 1 Moyglare Stakes on her previous run, finished second with 40-1 shot Urban Fox, already with a third in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes to her name, running right up to form in third.
Sobetsu and Spatial finished fifth and sixth and, although their best days are probably yet to come, they came up a long way short of three fillies already proven at Group level.
Rhododendron beats off stablemate Hydrangea in the Fillies' Mile
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Oh So Sharp Stakes form has Classic worth
Before Friday, two of the previous three winners of the Oh So Sharp Stakes had gone on to Classic success and there is good reason to think this year's race offers some worthwhile Classic clues for 2017.
Miss France beat Lightning Thunder in the race back in 2013 and the pair came back to Newmarket the following year to fill the first two spots in the 1,000 Guineas. Two years ago Local Time landed the race for Godolphin and although she subsequently came up short in the Guineas, she did land the UAE Oaks at Meydan in 2015.
Poet's Vanity was the victor on Friday and her physical presence suggests she should progress with age. A ten-length scorer previously at Salisbury, there seemed no fluke about her latest success and she looks a credible Guineas contender at this stage.
Andre Fabre, the trainer of Miss France, saddled Double Lady to finish an eyecatching fourth having been held up off a modest pace. She left the impression she was far better than she was able to display and it might be unwise to put a line through her Guineas claims just yet.
Poet’s Vanity: has the size and scope to progress at three
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
O'Brien holds the Classic aces, again
Aidan O'Brien again dominated the Group 1 races at Newmarket, with Churchill and Lancaster Bomber matching Rhododendron and Hydrangea in the Fillies' Mile to finish first and second in the Dewhurst Stakes on Friday.
As a big strapping son of Galileo, it seems most unlikely that Churchill will flop at three like last year's winner Air Force Blue did. His pedigree and physicality suggest he will be even better in his Classic year and rarely has Ryan Moore been more willing to express his high-regard post-race.
Equally, Rhododendron is also by Galileo, with whose progeny O'Brien excels, and the 6-1 on offer about her for the 1,000 Guineas looks very fair, especially considering Churchill is no bigger than 2-1 for the 2,000.
O'Brien also has the outstanding Caravaggio to welcome back in 2017 and both barrels of the Ballydoyle Guineas gun are fully loaded for the winter.
Aidan O'Brien: holds a strong position for next year's Classics
PICTURE: Getty Images
Only way is up for the Future Champions festival
Since the creation of Qipco British Champions Day in 2011 the Future Champions Day/festival has struggled at times to sit comfortably alongside Ascot's end-of-season finale.
Running the meeting the day before Ascot was a short-lived experiment in 2014 but now a two-day Newmarket-only fixture, the concept of a Future Champions festival a week before Champions Day seems a lot better fit for all concerned.
It was the Jean Luc Lagardere on Arc day switching from a 7f race to a mile which was the missing piece in the jigsaw for Newmarket, and that change has allowed the Dewhurst to be brought forward a week and the Future Champions festival's current position in the calendar looks like it is here to stay.
After a successful two days the foundations have been set for the future and the vision of the track's supremo Amy Starkey to make the meeting every bit as successful and celebrated as the Guineas festival in May bodes well for its future.
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