War Command: one of the two-year-old stars at Newmarket on SaturdayPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Future champions ready to shine at Newmarket
NO ONE could accuse last year's inaugural Dubai Future Champions Day of not living up to its name after no fewer than three British and Irish Classic winners emerged from the dust.
Dawn Approach, winner of the Dewhurst, subsequently ran away with the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Just The Judge went on from Rockfel Stakes victory to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas. And Trading Leather won the Irish Derby after triumphing in the Autumn Stakes.
Bidding to emulate those success stories on Saturday are some of the biggest names of the 2013 juvenile season.
In the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes, the fixture's richest prize with a £350,000 fund, Aidan O'Brien's War Command bids to build on victories in the Coventry at Royal Ascot and the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh. Equally, though, he must banish memories of his disappointing Phoenix Stakes third in August.
“We’re happy with War Command. He had a little break after the Futurity but we’ve been pleased with his recent work and he’s going there in good form," said O'Brien.
Opposing the Ballydoyle colt is Godolphin's highest-rated juvenile, Outstrip, winner of the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster's St Leger meeting last month, and the Richard Hannon-trained Anjaal, who makes his first appearance since winning the July Stakes back in the height of summer.
The Vision.ae Middle Park, the other Group 1 race on the card, has proved something of a graveyard in recent times - six of the last seven winners have never won a race again.
It is a major prize, however, and has attracted a star-studded field led by O'Brien's Great White Eagle. He is two-from-two and no bigger than 12-1 for next year's Qipco 2,000 Guineas.
He faces the David Wachman-trained Sudirman, who has already defeated one highly-regarded Ballydoyle youngster when winning the Phoenix against War Command. Also in action is Kevin Ryan's Hot Streak, a hugely impressive winner of the Cornwallis Stakes at Ascot last Saturday.
In the supporting races, the starring role goes to Vision.ae Rockfel Stakes favourite Lightning Thunder, whose only defeat came to Miss France at Newmarket last month. Another horse to have finished behind Miss France, Indonesienne, franked that form winning the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day.
The filly's trainer Olly Stevens said: “Lightning Thunder was unbeaten going into the Oh So Sharp Stakes, where I think she was beaten by an exceptional filly in Miss France."