Table-topper a warm order in Classic lists
The European two-year-old classification for 2016 was published on Tuesday, David Baxter provides the lowdown on the top five.
A defeat on debut at the Curragh would be the last time Churchill was beaten in his first season, as the colt rattled off five straight wins. Two of those were at the highest level, the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes and the Dewhurst, and his stamina for a mile is assured. That has left him as the red-hot 6-4 favourite for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, and he also heads the market for the Investec Derby.
2 Lady Aurelia
Supercharged Wesley Ward-trained juveniles are not an uncommon sight at Royal Ascot, but Lady Aurelia's seven-length destruction of the Queen Mary field will live long in the memory. She was not as convincing when winning the Prix Morny, and did not appear to get home when third in the Cheveley Park. The King's Stand at Royal Ascot could be the scene for another demonstration of her blistering speed.
3 National Defense
Criquette Head-Maarek knows how to look after a top-class horse, and she could have a natural successor to her dual Arc heroine Treve. National Defense only ran three times, saving his best for Arc day when running away with the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. A Guineas trial in France is the plan before potentially coming over for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
4 Thunder Snow
After winning on debut at Leicester, Thunder Snow was pitched into Group company for the rest of the season. He performed consistently without winning, until signing off with a five-length victory in the Criterium International. That win boosted the form of the Dewhurst, as Thunder Snow had finished two lengths behind Churchill in fourth, and they could meet again in the 2,000 Guineas.
5 Lancaster Bomber
A second entry in the top five for Aidan O'Brien, Lancaster Bomber had seen the back end of stablemate Churchill on most of his outings, and got closest when a 66-1 runner-up in the Dewhurst. Another second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf confirmed his Dewhurst effort was no fluke, and he can be backed at big prices for next season's Classics.