'He looks the one to beat' - Appleby hopes Noble Truth can claim juvenile prize
Saturday: 2.00 Newbury
Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes (Group 3) | 7f | 2yo | ITV4/RTV
Late-season 7f two-year-old contests tend to attract relatively weak fields and the roll of honour indicates that the Horris Hill is rarely won by a future Group 1 scorer. The one exception is Mohaather, who took this race in 2018 before landing the Sussex Stakes two years later.
This year's running could be another anomaly, though, with a selection of lightly raced, promising juveniles from leading stables lining up against the experienced Noble Truth, who is undoubtedly the horse to beat for this season's star trainer, Charlie Appleby.
Noble Truth enters the Horris Hill with better credentials than any other horse in the last ten years. The son of Kingman bumped into subsequent July Stakes and Gimcrack winner Lusail on debut in one of the hottest maidens run this year, before destroying the highly regarded Ehraz at Newmarket on his second start.
That victory propelled Noble Truth to somewhere near the top of Appleby's exceptional team of juveniles and, although he disappointed in the Acomb, a victory in the Flying Scotsman and runner-up effort on testing ground in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagardere proved he is one of the leading lights in this division.
On an official mark of 111, Noble Truth is the highest-rated two-year-old to run in this race in recent years. Appleby will also have a solid grasp on the formlines of a couple of his chief market rivals – Dubai Poet, who finished third behind Coroebus in the Autumn Stakes, and Cresta, who bumped into Modern Games on both his starts.
The latter is of some interest at the prices, though, as he was visually impressive on debut and may be better suited to testing conditions as he's by soft-ground sire New Bay.
Tacarib Bay, who returns after a break since his Haydock debut victory, Ffos Las scorer Red Vineyard and the promising Light Infantry provide a three-pronged attack of unbeaten rivals for Noble Truth to fend off.
Light Infantry is perhaps the most likely to handle this jump up to Group level. He looked all at sea in the early stages of his Yarmouth debut but put that race to bed with an 11.72sec closing furlong, which was over a second quicker than any of his rivals.
Race analysis by Tom Collins
Truth out to continue stellar year for Godolphin
Fresh from being crowned champion owner in Britain for a 14th time, Godolphin will attempt to add more prize-money to their £5 million-plus haul in 2021 by landing the £50,000 Horris Hill Stakes with likely warm favourite Noble Truth.
It's been a fantastic year for the Dubai operation, with big-race triumphs including Adayar (Derby and King George) and Hurricane Lane (St Leger).
A super crop of two-year-olds also promises much for next year, with unbeaten Dewhurst winner Native Trail hot favourite for the 2,000 Guineas ahead of stablemate Coroebus.
Noble Truth may or may not be in that sort of class, but he has shown progressive form in five starts this term, most recently when a three-quarters of a length runner-up to Angel Bleu in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp.
Significantly, that performance was achieved on similarly testing ground to what he will encounter at Newbury.
The Horris Hill is renowned for being staged on bottomless ground, and Noble Truth's trainer Charlie Appleby, who has yet to land the Group 3, believes his runner will handle the conditions well.
"We were obviously delighted with Noble Truth's performance in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, when he showed that he could cope with heavy ground," Appleby said.
"He looks the one to beat if he can bring that level of form to the table again."
What they say
Martyn Meade, trainer of Cresta
I was very pleased with his last run at Newmarket. I think he needs soft ground and conditions at Newbury should be ideal for him. He's going there in good form. Being drawn on the wing in stall nine isn't ideal, but he's a horse on the up.
Roger Varian, trainer of Dubai Poet
He's come out of his run at Newmarket in good shape and we are hopeful he may cope with the ground better than most. He's a course-and-distance winner, so hopefully he can run a nice race.
David Simcock, trainer of Light Infantry
I've always liked him, and he won well at Yarmouth on his debut. He has trained well since, and seems quite talented. It's obviously a massive step up in grade, and we're taking the ground on trust – there is encouragement from the pedigree, but he's a good-actioned horse and I do feel he's better on good ground. I'm not sure what he beat at Yarmouth, but the form has worked out perfectly adequately.
Harry Eustace, trainer of Regimental Gent
He's got plenty to find on ratings, but we thought we'd roll the dice – it's paid off for us in the past. He's in the sales, so it's a good opportunity to find out what his real level of ability is beforehand. Heavy ground can be a great leveller – you just don't know.
Reporting by Richard Birch
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