BORDER LEGEND (2ND, Nottingham Oct 3)
With the bounce factor and his big weight dual concerns, Roger Charlton’s theee-year-old, owned by The Queen, had plenty to prove in this good, competitive handicap. But after travelling smoothly and quickening to the front, he would have won if his stamina had held out close home. Considering it was only the fifth run of his career, he is sure to pick up more prizes, either later this month or early next season, particularly with juice in the ground, which he seems to prefer. Charlton has always thought plenty of him.
BIOGRAPHER (WON, Ascot Oct 5)
A terrific performance by David Lanigan’s consistent and likeable three-year-old stayer, who has done nothing but improve all season. After finishing second in a hot Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor Festival, this step-up to Listed company represented his stiffest test yet, especially on quite testing ground. But he passed it with flying colours, quickening up well from the rear, despite hanging and idling. Lanigan insists he’s still learning and still hasn’t filled his frame, so he could develop into a worthy Cup horse next year.
CIRRUS DES AIGLES (WON, Longchamp Oct 6)
The mighty, unbeaten Frankel is in for his toughest assignment yet when he bids farewell at Ascot on October 20 -- if this awesome peformance can be replicated on Qipco British Champions Day. The French-trained six-year-old had to overcome a 132-day absence and a 6lb penalty but demolished a Group One field when powering clear from early in the home straight. OK, it wasn’t the strongest of Prix Dollars but it was still the most impressive display of a sparkling programme of racing over Arc weekend, putting the gelding in fine fettle for a bid to repeat last season’s Champion Stakes success.
EAGLES PEAK (WON, Goodwood Sept 26)
It has become sickeningly fashionable to knock Sir Michael Stoute over the last couple of seasons. So it was pleasing to see the Newmarket trainer’s legendary skills rise to the fore with the victory of this four-year-old son of Galileo after a mammoth 406-day absence. He was the least experienced horse in a fine, competitive handicap, yet won a shade cosily under a kind, considerate ride by Richard Hughes that suggests there is more to come from the colt. Expect him to progress into Pattern company before the season is out.
JADESNUMBERONE (2ND, Newmarket Oct 6)
A most encouraging debut, against colts, by Michael Bell’s daughter of 2007 Derby winner Authorised, who has been described as a “classy, good-moving filly” by her Newmarket trainer. She was sent off an unconsidered 50/1 shot in the market but after shadowing the favourite, she picked up well in the final furlong, despite looking green, to finish second only to one of Godolphin’s best two-year-olds and to leave the rest behind. Her dam is a half-sister to Royal Ascot-winning sprinter Cape Of Good Hope in a pedigree that suggests she could improve on better ground next season.
KHUBALA (2ND, Ascot Oct 5)
There is plenty of room on sprinting’s top table in this country -- as we found out in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day when all the UK contenders were blitzed by the only French-trained horse in the field, Wizz Kid. So it’s always worth seeking out up-and-coming speedsters, and Ed Dunlop’s lightly-raced three-year-old son of Acclamation fits the bill. A progressive and consistent campaign continued with this strong-finishing effort in a cracking handicap. Although he loves to get his toe in, he was one of few horses to come from behind on the testing ground throughout the two days of the meeting. He has the tools, including a telling turn of foot, to develop into a Group horse next season.
LAHAAG (WON, Nottingham Oct 3)
Since impressing on his belated debut at Newmarket in May, John Gosden’s Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned three-year-old had been seen only once. So to defy a four-month absence and top weight was a highly commendable effort in this competitive 1m handicap. As on debut, he needed plenty of stoking up to hit top gear. But once seeing daylight, he picked up to run on strongly and appeals very much as the type to go on improving when tackling middle-distances next season. Closely related to the yard’s 1,000 Guineas winner 12 years ago, Lahan, he’s clearly not easy to train but equally clearly, he’s smart.
MARSHGATE LANE (6TH, Newmarket Sept 29)
Considering he was strongly fancied, this was, on the face of it, a disappointing perfornance by Godolphin’s lightly-raced three-year-old. But the formbook tells only half the story because you couldn’t help but be impressed by the way he swept past virtually the entire field about 3f out, having been held up last after missing the kick from the stalls. He looked sure to go on and win, only for his extertions to take their toll up the hill in the final furlong as the leader stretched further clear. Jockey Mickael Barzalona was not unduly hard on him at the death, probably costing him second place. But on each of his four runs now this season, he has looked a colt of considerable potential and if he learns from his experiences, he will be one to go to war with in 2013.
OUT DO (6TH, Salisbury Oct 3)
Luca Cumani doesn’t train many sprinters but he has an interesting one in this lightly-raced three-year-old. This was his first appearance since way back on May 5 and only the fifth of his career, but although unplaced, he showed more than enough to suggest he can win good races as time moves on. Held up in rear from his wide draw, he travelled very smoothly and was still on the bridle 2f out. Unfortunately, he was also behind a wall of horses and by the time he picked up, it was too late to have an impact, although jockey Kieren Fallon will have learned a lot. As a half-brother to horses by Grand Lodge, Barathea and Pivotal, he might not want the ground too quick.
PEARL REWARD (WON, Pontefract Sept 27)
Almost certainly a weak maiden but still a jaw-dropping performance by Stuart Williams’s juvenile colt. He’d shown nothing when a 40/1 shot on his debut in May but was gambled into 11/4 favourite before bolting up here on a much softer surface. Once set alight entering the home straight, he rapidly sprinted a long way clear without too much help from Harry Bentley in the saddle. The handicapper will obviously show little mercy if he steps into nurseries. but on this evidence, he might be a bit better than that. He’s a US-bred son of outstanding 1m-10f dirt horse Medaglia d’Oro.
REGAL SILK (2ND, Newmarket Sept 28)
She might not be much to look at but Jeremy Noseda’s Cheveley Park Stud-owned daughter of Pivotal very much caught the eye on the track for this debut in a hot maiden against the colts. A light-framed sort, she travelled well throughout and although the impressive winner powered away, she threw down a telling, persistent challenge and showed a most willing attitude when running on strongly in the closing stages. She boasts a fine pedigree and it will be a surprise if she doesn’t win good races as she progresses through next season.
SEEK AGAIN (WON, Newmarket Sept 28)
We’ve reached the stage of the Flat season where two-year-old maidens, invariably at Headquarters, require close attention. This was one of the deepest so far and won in most taking fashion by John Gosden’s powerful colt, owned by Khalid Abdulla. A well-bred son of Breeders’ Cup winner Speightstown, he attracted significant pre-race support and did not let his followers down, tracking the strong pace before quickening when shaken up and forging home impressively. Gosden intends to get another run into him this backend before a tilt at something juicier next spring.
SO BELOVED (WON, Salisbury Oct 3)
After the victory of this Khalid Abdulla-owned juvenile, trainer Roger Charlton rather cheekily suggested that he would next contest a handicap off a mark of 85 early in the 2013 season. Once the form settles down, it wouldn’t surprise me to find him in a Classic trial instead. Both the Godolphin runner-up (Tawhid) and particularly the heavily-backed Luca Cumani-trained third (Greatwood) are well regarded, yet Charlton’s son of Dansili floored them with a final-furlong surge, despite a 47-day break since his debut and despite collateral form that gave him little chance. Further improvement is almost gruaranteed from a colt described by his handler as “a lovely, big, rangy type”.
SHABABEEK (4TH, Salisbury Oct 3)
Veteran trainer John Dunlop will soon be retiring. But he’ll wish he was still around when this stoutly-bred, Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned son of Shirocco comes into his own next season or the one after. A half-brother to the stable’s Group Three-winning stayer Tactic, he spent most of his two-year-old debut stone last and not travelling particularly well. But once encouraged to get closer, he found a rhythm and ended up storming home. OK, some of those in front might have stopped on the soft ground but it was still a more-than-satisfactory opening performance by a colt related to Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Mehthaaf.
TELESCOPE (WON, Newmarket Sept 27)
The form of the Ascot maiden on September 8, won by Snow King, is emerging as some of the best on offer in the juvenile department this season. Sir Michael Stoute’s Highclere-owned son of Galileo finished second in the race on what was his debut -- and readily went one better here to have connections dreaming of a tilt at next year’s Epsom Derby. I was surprised to read in some quarters that his victory was only workmanlike. To my eyes, it was smooth and silky, with jockey Richard Hughes having to do little more than nudge him home. At 220,000 guineas, he is the most expensive horse the owners have ever bought.
HORSES TO FOLLOW IS SUPPLIED BY SCOOP RACING (RICHARD SILVERWOOD).