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Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Expert Eye will need to overcome sire bias to excel in 2,000 Guineas

Exciting colt's sire Acclamation better known for sprinters

Expert Eye: his sire Acclamation has had one runner in the 2,000 Guineas, who finished tailed off
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Before you press 'confirm' on that ante-post bet on Expert Eye for next year's 2,000 Guineas, consider this: from ten crops of three-year-olds, the impressive Vintage Stakes winner's sire Acclamation has had only one runner in the race and that was Talwar, who finished dead last behind Camelot in 2012.

That is not to say that Acclamation is unable to transmit the qualities needed to excel in the Classic; past results should not be treated as tea leaves from which we try to forecast future events. Each horse has to be considered on its individual merits and the sire, of course, accounts for only one half of a pedigree.

The fact remains, though, that while Acclamation has been extraordinarily successful in his own field, as a source of precocious performers and sprinters, he has made little impact as a Classic sire.

Out of the 20 Pattern winners he has supplied, only two came over further than seven furlongs – Johnny Barnes in the Prix Quincey over a mile on very soft ground at Deauville and Lidari in a Flemington Group 2 on good.

All of his three Group 1 scorers – Dark Angel, Equiano and Marsha – have been sprinters and four of his five offspring to earn a Racing Post Rating higher than 115 – Equiano and Marsha again, plus Harbour Watch and Hitchens – recorded their lofty figures over five or six furlongs. 

That Acclamation should be a conduit for speed is hardly surprising when his own racing career and pedigree is taken into account. He was trained by Gerald Cottrell to win the St Leger Yearling Stakes sales race at two and finish third in the Diadem Stakes at three, although it was at four when he really flourished, finding only Choisir too good in the King's Stand Stakes, running third to Oasis Dream in the Nunthorpe and gaining a deserved Pattern victory by going two places better at his second attempt in the Diadem Stakes.

Moreover, Acclamation is by Middle Park Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup hero Royal Applause, who also made his name at stud with a steady stream of early runners and fast horses, out of Queen Mary Stakes winner Princess Athena, a daughter of the high-class sprinter Ahonoora.

There are crumbs of comfort for Acclamation's chances of getting a Guineas winner. Daughter Daban finished third in the fillies' heat at Newmarket in May – although it was decided immediately after the race to drop her back from a mile to seven furlongs in future – and maternal grandson Massaat, a son of Teofilo, finished second to Galileo Gold in the colts' contest last year.

You can't fault the sire for the toughness of his stock, either. He may get bags of juvenile winners but, generally speaking, they are no fly-by-nights and his 27 runners with RPRs of 110 or higher have made an average of 20 starts each.

Overall, though, Acclamation's record taken in isolation would not make you knock the bookies over for the 5-1 they are offering for Expert Eye to win the 2,000 Guineas next May. The key question, then, is how much reassurance does the colt's female family offer as to the strength of his Classic claims?

His dam Exemplify, a daughter of top-class miler and versatile sire Dansili, won on her debut over a mile for Criquette Head-Maarek but failed to build on that, beating only five rivals home on her next three starts combined – although the manner of her regression compared with that promising start to her career and progressive relations suggests she might have had her share of problems.

Exemplify is a half-sister to Special Duty, who graduated from figuring among the fastest of her generation at two – winner of the Prix Robert Papin and Cheveley Park Stakes – to being awarded both the 1,000 Guineas and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches at three. The siblings are out of Quest To Peak, a Distant View sister to Sightseek, a prolific Grade 1 winner in the US over seven to nine furlongs, and a half-sister to Tates Creek, a dual top-flight scorer over nine and ten furlongs.

So Expert Eye might need to have inherited enough of the miling ability and Classic talent from the distaff side of his pedigree to reinforce the pure speed that Acclamation imparts. His dominant display in the Vintage Stakes – in which he certainly did not appear to be stopping after seven furlongs – suggested he has.

The fact that owner-breeder Juddmonte elected to put the colt in the care of Sir Michael Stoute, known for his runners who improve with age and appreciate a trip, rather than here today, gone tomorrow two-year-olds, speaks volumes about their expectations.

So, too, does the trainer's high praise for his charge as a “well balanced, well made horse with a good mind and a lot of pace” and his ambitious plans for him.

It tempts you to believe that Expert Eye will be the one who breaks new ground for Acclamation in the 2,000 Guineas. It would, nevertheless, be surprising if a candidate for the first Classic next year with more ironclad pedigree claims, if not the same standard of form, does not emerge this season.


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Acclamation's record taken in isolation would not make you knock the bookies over for the 5-1 they're offering for Expert Eye to win the 2,000 Guineas
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