Expert Eye new Guineas favourite after devastating success
Expert Eye rocketed to the head of the 2,000 Guineas betting after blasting to victory at Goodwood, following up on his debut success in exhilarating fashion and coming home four and a half lengths clear of his rivals led by Zaman.
While bookmakers were quick to judge him the most exciting juvenile colt of the season – installing him at anywhere between a 4-1 and 6-1 favourite for the Qipco-sponsored Classic – his trainer Sir Michael Stoute was, outwardly at least, refusing to get too carried away.
"How good were the ones behind him, though?" he mused.
Yet even this most experienced and phlegmatic of trainers, well used to the fact horses frequently make fools of men, could not hide his admiration entirely.
Stoute continued: "I'm excited, he's brimful of promise, put it that way.
"It's much too early to tell if he's a Guineas horse, but he ticks a lot of the boxes as he's a well-balanced, well-made horse with a good mind and he's got a lot of pace.
"I don't know exactly where he goes now but it'll be ambitious. I'd like to go the next step before talking about Classics. He's very mature and strong, and will certainly get a mile."
Teddy Grimthorpe, representing Expert Eye's owner Khalid Abdullah, was more forthcoming on future targets, suggesting the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster could be on the cards before finishing the season at Newmarket in the autumn.
A winner on debut at Newbury in June, Expert Eye cruised through his second racecourse outing before taking the lead two furlongs out under minimal urging from Andrea Atzeni.
From there he produced the wow-factor, unleashing a jolt of acceleration that saw him pull rapidly clear of the pursuing field before stretching the lead all the way to the line.
'I don’t think I’ve ever sat on a two-year-old as good as this'
Atzeni said: “He was good, I really liked him. He settled nicely and we went slow into the race and we just took off. I got there way too soon.
“I think he’s pretty good. I don’t think I’ve ever sat on a two-year-old as good as this.”
Second-placed Zaman produced a good front-running performance in first-time blinkers, but even his trainer Charlie Appleby couldn't help cast a covetous glance in the direction of Expert Eye.
"I thought we would be running for a place but that was a good second," he said. "The winner is impressive – in a different league."
Richard Birch's expert eye on Expert Eye . . .
It would be churlish to try to find fault with Expert Eye’s performance. After all, he did everything right, and fully deserves his position as ante-post favourite for the 2,000 Guineas ahead of Gustav Klimt.
The most striking feature of the performance was his high cruising speed which enabled him to remain hard on the bridle for a furlong longer than all of his opponents.
And when Andrea Atzeni shook him up the response was immediate. He lengthened his stride in the manner of not only a Group 1 colt, but a potential superstar.
The ease with which he put four and a half lengths between himself and Zaman in the final furlong was hugely impressive and, if we see a better two-year-old performance over the next few weeks, we’ll be very fortunate indeed.