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Four things we learned last week

Vicente had Cogry's measure all the way up the Ayr straight and has most of the ingredients to be a major Grand National player
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Vicente can be a National star

Before we rush to say that Sir Trevor Hemmings had his gratification delayed by two weeks when Vicente won the Scottish Grand National for a second time, let us not rule out the possibility the full recompense might be the best part of a year away.

Vicente was a more convincing winner of the Scottish National than the final margin of a neck would imply. He went through the race as though big-field handicaps were made for him and looked a sure thing to be involved in the finish from a long way out.

He was not given as much time to unfurl as runner-up Cogry and also got in tight at the last, but the 'battle' that ensued did not involve Cogry as much as has been suggested.

It is his jumping, sketchy at more than just the last at Ayr, that proved Vicente's undoing in the Grand National and it will be the question mark next April, too. However, forewarned is now forearmed and, with Aintree virtually certain to be the plan again, there would be few higher on the 2018 Grand National shortlist at the moment.

Churchill will have to fight

To say that we are in a similar position to 12 months ago where the 2,000 Guineas is concerned would only be half-right at best.

It is true in so far as the market is dominated by a superb two-year-old from Ballydoyle. However, Churchill was not quite as good at two as Air Force Blue (which, as the latter demonstrated, need not be a negative for his prospects at three) and the statements made elsewhere this spring have been stronger.

Last year, a soft-ground Craven was won by Stormy Antarctic and the Greenham a three-runner affair at Chelmsford won by Tasleet. The winners of those major trials this week look of a much higher calibre.

On Thursday, Eminent took the step from could-be-anything Newmarket maiden winner to the realms of definitely-something by winning the Craven with a performance that had race-readers and clock-watchers in agreement.

Barney Roy's win in Saturday's Greenham Stakes was, if anything, a raise on top of Eminent's big call. He and fellow Godolphin runner Dream Castle came a long way clear of the field and the winner in particular was still stretching out at the line. The race had been fairly well-run, too.

In the Guineas poker hand, Churchill had best have something very close to the pocket aces he was showing off last autumn.

Barney Roy fends off Dream Castle in the Greenham Stakes

Dream Castle might be the next Muhaarar

If we are drawing parallels with recent history, it might be better to look at the 2015 Greenham, when two colts in the same ownership came clear of the field.

The winner that day was Muhaarar, who tried and failed in the French Guineas but found his calling as a sprinter and went unbeaten through the rest of the season. 

It was difficult to get away from that idea when watching Dream Castle in the Greenham. He travelled much better than Barney Roy and, while he couldn't hold that one off, he stayed far enough ahead of the rest to suggest he has upper-Group-race quality.

Dream Castle is by Frankel, who will be represented by Eminent in the Guineas and is unlikely to sire many sprinters. That said, many Frankels so far have looked and acted like their dams and their sire has brought quality more than anything else.

Dream Castle's dam, Sand Vixen, was quick – she won the Flying Childers. Maybe it is too soon to be making assessments of a colt who made his debut only this month, but 8-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at this stage makes more appeal than twice the price for what, as we have already surmised, is a strong 2,000 Guineas.

Fillies' Classic might not be so open

It would have been great to hear some fighting talk from John Gosden after Dabyah's win in the Fred Darling at Newbury following success for stablemate Daban in the Nell Gwyn during the week. 

Sadly, but understandably with the two fillies being in the same ownership, Gosden was more diplomat than Don King. Initial indications are that Dabyah, proven in France, will go back for the Pouliches, while Daban will be sent to make her Newmarket nous count in the Guineas.

It is a blow to the 1,000 Guineas and another obstacle out of the way for Rhododendron. In the Fillies' Mile over the Guineas course and distance, she beat Hydrangea (subsequent Group 3 winner) and smashed Urban Fox (second to Dabyah) in third.

Second favourite at Newmarket on Sunday week is Fair Eva, who has been beaten on her last two starts, and then whichever Gosden filly eventually lines up. 

While the 2,000 Guineas is beefing up all the time, the 1,000 Guineas is slimming down. On her standout piece of form, it could be argued that Rhododendron is under-appreciated in the market the same way that Churchill's superiority among the colts is being overplayed.

The 'battle' that ensued did not involve Cogry as much as has been suggested
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