Horses To Follow » Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree probably didn’t get due recognition for winning the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, perhaps because he wasn’t well touted coming into the race, perhaps because he appeared to be the second best of Aidan O’Brien’s two runners, but there was a lot to like about his performance. Held up out the back in the early stages by Colm O’Donoghue, he made nice progress on the outside down the home straight, showed a good turn of foot to take it up at the furlong pole and kept on really well to win by a length and a half. He did veer to his right once he hit the front, but this was only his third ever run and you can easily put it down to inexperience. Also, it didn’t impede his forward progress, and he was value for at least the winning margin and probably more.

The Royal Lodge is perhaps not the pointer to the following season’s Classics that it should be, but this was still a noteworthy performance. The second and third, Waseet and Vale Of York, both hailed from top yards, both came into the race in top form and both were considered worthy of a £20,000 supplementary entry fee. Also, the time of the race was good, 0.08secs/furlong faster than standard, faster than the Fillies’ Mile and the older fillies’ listed race run over the same course and distance on the day, and less than a second slower than the time that it took Rip Van Winkle to complete the same distance in the QE2. They did cover more distance than they needed to in the QE2, with Aqlaam taking the field wide down the back straight, but Rip Van Winkle is arguably the second best horse in Europe, and they didn’t hang around in the QE2, so for a juvenile race to get so close to him in terms if time suggests that it was a top notch juvenile race.

Joshua Tree is by Montjeu out of a Grade 3 winner over nine furlongs in the States, so there is every chance that he will get further than this mile next year. He is not even entered in the 2000 Guineas, which suggests that he wasn’t showing that much speed at home, but he could make up into a real live Derby contender. In the short term, he could be under-rated in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on 24th October if he takes his chance in it.

26th September 2009