Without wishing to state the obvious, we really can’t think of two better days to showcase future champions of our sport than the Dubai Future Champions Festival.
There might be an end of term feeling to Flat racing at this time of year but this meeting on the Rowley Mile produces top quality contests, horses and drama in equal measure.
We asked Graham Clark to pick out five things we learned on the day …
UNBEATEN INSPIRAL COULD BE THE REAL DEAL
The key to the Dubai Future Champions Festival is finding the next generation of potential superstars and in Inspiral we might just have found Flat racing’s next big thing.
It’s too early, of course, to start making meaningful comparisons or hyping up a horse with only four runs under her belt. But this John and Thady Gosden-trained filly has now won all four of those races and the way in which she eased to victory in the Group One bet365 Fillies’ Mile here should have had even the hardest to please sitting up and taking notice.
Bookmakers were not hanging around and within 60 seconds of her crossing the line had installed her as the 3-1 favourite for next year’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas over the same course and distance.
Ominously for her potential rivals in that race, Gosden believes she will only get stronger and better next year. He said of the Cheveley Park Stud-owned two year old: “She was pretty professional today so I think that is fair comment that she has come on for racing.
“She travelled well into the race and handled the dip. I’m very happy with her and she took it well. She is a big girl but she is getting stronger all the time… I think she will get a mile and a quarter no problem in time, but a mile and a half? I don’t know.
“She is one to put away for next year. It is great for the owner/breeders with Pat Thompson here. It is very fulfilling for owner/breeders to have fillies of this quality.”
The victory was also a record-extending seventh success in the race for jockey Frankie Dettori, who first won the contest an astonishing 31 years ago.
AL SUHAIL TAKES CHANGE OF PLAN IN HIS STRIDE
Charlie Appleby adopted an 11th hour change of tactics to come up with a new Plan A for Al Suhail and was instantly rewarded with an emphatic front-running success in the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes.
The talented but frustrating Dubawi colt secured the biggest victory of his career when responding well to a switch to being ridden positively, giving the Classic winning trainer and jockey William Buick a first win in the Group Two.
Dictating matters from the outset the 3-1 favourite gradually wound matters up from the sharp end before kicking on with two furlongs left, opening up what would turn out to be an unassailable advantage.
Al Suhail, who broke the seven furlong track record at Haydock Park last month, galloped on relentlessly before crossing the line three and a half lengths clear of runner-up With Thanks.
Appleby said: “We have seen what ability he has got throughout his career. Will gave him a great ride and it was a tactic that I came up with over the last 24 hours.
“In the past we have seen him travel and it is only a case of pressing the button and he falters. Will said, ‘there are question marks if he wants to go past them’ so I said, ‘let’s see if they want to go past him’.”
SISKANY BRINGS THE HUNDRED UP FOR APPLEBY
It wasn’t long before Charlie Appleby was back in the winner’s enclosure and celebrating a landmark victory as Siskany carried top weight to glory in the bet365 Old Rowley Cup to give the Newmarket trainer a 100th career victory on the Rowley Mile.
Making his first start since undergoing a gelding operation in August the son of Dubawi powered to his third success of the year in the mile and a half contest to put defeats at Royal Ascot and the Qatar Goodwood Festival behind him.
Pressing on past Candleford coming out of the dip the well supported 3-1 favourite stayed on in tenacious fashion to defeat Farhan, who he was conceding more than a stone to, by two and a quarter lengths.
As well as helping Appleby reach a century of winners at the track the victory also completed doubles on the day for the Newmarket trainer and rider William Buick.
Appleby said: “That’s great to get 100 winners. This fellow has been very consistent all year but we purposely put him away after Goodwood as A) he had been campaigned earlier enough in the spring so we thought he deserved a rest and B) this race fitted very well to his profile.
“He has had his break and come back here fit and well. He is a horse we felt was a nice progressive handicapper in the making and the sort of horse that might reach Listed/Group Three calibre and no more than that.
“He will go to Dubai for sure. You could go back to 10 furlongs or a mile with him as he has plenty of boot.”
JET PUTS ON THE AFTERBURNERS TO BREAK GROUP RACE DUCK
Michael O’Callaghan admitted Twilight Jet is “probably the best horse I’ve ever trained” after his richly deserved first Group race success in the Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes.
Having been out of luck on his previous seven starts at pattern race level, the son of Twilight Son finally added to his sole success at Tipperary back in June when making the most of both a drop in class and trip in the five furlong Group Three.
Moving to the front of the field just outside the final furlong the 2-1 favourite, who finished fifth in the Group One Middle Park Stakes at the track 13 days ago, was not for stopping on this occasion and defeated Illustrating by two lengths.
O’Callaghan said: “He probably is the best horse I’ve ever trained. We’ve had some very good ones but he has taken so much racing and is getting better and better and keeps improving. I don’t think we have got to the bottom of him yet.
“It is lovely to win a race like the Cornwallis. He has danced every dance this year and that is his 10th start. He is just an amazing horse as he is getting better with every run and you can see that by his ratings.
“I’d imagine, knowing that horse, I could probably run him in two weeks but he has done enough for the year and we will put him away.”
NEXT YEAR’S GUINEAS THE TARGET FOR FAST ATTACK
Fast Attack showed a commendable attitude to earn opening show quotes for next year’s QIPCO 1000 Guineas when making virtually all to return to winning ways in the Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes.
Since making an impressive debut at Kempton Park in August the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Kodiac filly had failed to follow that victory up in a Group Two at Deauville and last time out in a conditions contest at Newbury.
Bounced straight into the lead in the Group Three prize by James Doyle the 9-1 chance stayed there until she was momentarily headed late on by eventual runner-up Allayaali.
Not to be denied, Fast Attack rallied back on the climb to the line before going on to score be a length to earn quotes of 33-1 for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas with Paddy Power and William Hill.
Ed Crisford said: “I was really pleased with that and she did it lovely. James gave her a really lovely positive ride.
“It was the plan to sit handy as she jumps quick and we didn’t want to take her back and disappoint her. She was really enjoying it out there in front.
“I think she is a really honest filly and she did it well. I like the way she battled and she hit the line strongly.
“Better ground today and a good positive ride made the difference. She has probably done enough for the year and we will aim her at one of the Guineas trials.
“I think you have to think about the 1000 Guineas if you win an Oh So Sharp and see which way you go. She will definitely get the mile next year.”