Time for school: four juveniles to watch as nurseries near
As the Flat season progresses the latest batch of two-year-olds can start to compete in handicaps against each other. The first nursery races of the season begin on Saturday, and juvenile judge David Baxter offers a runner to note for each race, along with another duo who could prove better than their current marks.
Woodcote and Brian Yeardley runner-up Oh Purple Reign sets a good standard, but has to concede weight all round, and gives 10lb to Xcelente, who he finished seven and a half lengths behind when fourth at Beverley. But the Mark Johnston-trained colt can turn the tables from a mark of 85, especially if not getting upset pre-race, which he did last time out. He should appreciate the step up to six furlongs, and jockey Jack Mitchell has won two of his three rides on juveniles for the yard over the last five seasons.
This filly may be rookie trainer Phillip Makin's only juvenile winner so far, but plenty of the two-year-olds he has run have shaped promisingly. Havana Dawn triumphed in a bunched finish at Thirsk last time, but I think it is a race that should provide winners at the right level. An opening mark of 70 does not look too prohibitive, although the forecast quick ground at Haydock is a slight concern.
Five notable nursery scholars
Goodwood, August 2017
The 2018 1,000 Guineas winner scored at Goodwood on her handicap debut before following up at the same venue in the Prestige Stakes. Since her Guineas success, she has won the Queen Charlotte Fillies' Stakes at Chelmsford.
Chelmsford, November 2017
After moving north to join forces with Mark Johnston, Baghdad landed a nursery at Chelmsford off a mark of just 74. He has gone on to win four of his six runs since, including twice at Royal Ascot, and has entries for the Princess of Wales's Stakes and the Irish St Leger.
Doncaster, September 2018
The son of Poet's Voice scored in a nursery at Doncaster under James Doyle before landing the Tattersalls Stakes two weeks later and this year finishing second to Fox Champion in the German 2,000 Guineas.
Newmarket, August 2017
Victory in a nursery for Charlie Appleby's gelding sparked a hat-trick of successes, the other two coming at Meydan with one a ten-and-a-half length romp in the UAE 2,000 Guineas. The four-year-old has since run solely in Dubai.
Chelmsford, September 2017
Having won twice as a juvenile, the son of Dark Angel landed the Hackwood Stakes last year before missing out by a head to Keystroke in the Abernant Stakes last April.
Two more to note
Official rating 71
Trained by Charlie McBride, Blausee has a profile which strongly suggests she will find a race now she has a mark. She has improved from run to run, finishing second on her last two outings. She was beaten less than a length last time at Doncaster by Little Bird and that might prove to be decent form. Blausee's opening mark should not be beyond her.
Official rating 79
It may be connections decide to go for a novice to get this filly off the mark, but she could find something if going down the nursery route. She was considered good enough for Royal Ascot last time, finishing down the field in the Queen Mary, and is well-regarded by trainer Richard Hannon. She will win races, and may prove much better than her initial mark.
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