Too Darn Hot so darn good he's the new Derby and Guineas favourite
Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber must be accustomed to approaching Classics time at Epsom with a sense of doom. Fortune has not favoured them in the Oaks, but a slice of what once appeared to be bad luck has left them in possession of a potential superstar and the new clear favourite for the Investec Derby.
In Too Darn Hot, who scorched the Sandown turf to capture the Group 3 test won last year by subsequent Derby hero Masar, musicals maestro Andrew Lloyd Webber has unearthed a leading man who may one day do as much for him as Michael Crawford ever did.
So striking was the John Gosden-trained son of Dubawi in his 188Bet Solario Stakes demolition job he now heads the Derby market at odds ranging between 5-1 and 8-1.
The same range of prices are offered about him winning the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, for which his main market rivals are sidelined stable companion Calyx and Ballydoyle's Ten Sovereigns, who scored at the Curragh just ten minutes before the Sandown feature.
Yet had Too Darn Hot not met with a minor setback as a yearling he would have gone under the hammer last autumn. Instead, he remains in the predominantly pink silks of his breeders, whose winning dam Dar Re Mi foaled Lah Ti Dar and So Mi Dar, both of whom were strongly fancied to win the Oaks only to be ruled out on the cusp of a race in which The Fugue was an unlucky loser for the same team in 2012.
"It's very exciting," said Simon Marsh, representing the owners, who were attending the 60th wedding anniversary party of Madeline Lloyd-Webbers' parents.
"We always sell our colts but we kept this horse due to the fact he had a small veterinary issue as a yearling that meant we couldn't take him to the sales. We therefore decided to race him. It's extremely good luck.
"You would obviously hope he'll get a mile and a half but there's no reason to think he wouldn't be a Guineas horse. I think he's pretty good."
Frankie Dettori thinks the same.
Mindful Too Darn Hot had just one previous run to his name, when winning over a mile at Sandown on debut, he positioned him wide before pressing buttons midway up the home straight. When his neat mount realised what was being asked he responded in style, surging forward to trounce Chesham Stakes winner Arthur Kitt by four lengths with a similarly wide margin back to proven Group performer Confiding in third.
"He's pretty special," said Dettori, who had ridden Lah Ti Dar to a thumping success at York last week.
"I wanted to make him a racehorse, so at the furlong and a half point, I said 'Come on, let's go, let's not play now, let's put this race to bed'. He just shuffled a bit for 20 yards and then, wow, he got into top gear, he changed his lead and off he went.
"I kept him going right up to the line because I suspect a Group 1 will be the next step. I gave him as much experience as I could. He's put a very good field to bed in impressive fashion."
Arthur Kitt's trainer Tom Dascombe certainly felt the winner had been impressive – so much so he would be keen to avoid him in the future.
"The winner is obviously brilliant," said Dascombe. "We've been beaten but our horse kept galloping to the line and beat the rest by four lengths. We’ll have to try to not run into the winner again."
That will mean avoiding whichever autumn Group 1 assignment Too Darn Hot is given. Key to deciding a target will be Gosden, whose most recent Solario winners coming into this year's contest, Raven's Pass and Kingman, both went on to achieve great things. On this occasion the season's dominant trainer – absent on sales duty in Germany – was represented by son Thady, who hopes he and we may have seen a great horse on this sunny Sandown afternoon.
"It's more of a relief than anything else, to be honest," he said. "He has always been held in pretty high regard but you wouldn't expect a horse to do something like that."
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