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Aidan O’Brien juveniles

Indications thus far this season suggest that the Aidan O’Brien juveniles’ Class of 2023 is a highly talented class.  Here are five potential stars to look forward to for the rest of the season and beyond.

Henry Longfellow (Dubawi – Minding)

Henry Longfellow was of automatic interest when he made his racecourse debut at The Curragh on Irish Oaks day, not just because he was making his debut in the maiden that was the springboard for Sea The Stars and Teofilo and New Approach and Australia, but also because it was the first appearance of Minding’s second foal.

He looked good too in winning, in coming away from Mythology, who won his maiden at Galway next time, before finishing second in a Group 3 race at Deauville.

Henry Longfellow himself stepped up on that performance next time, when he went and won the Group 2 Futurity Stakes at The Curragh.  He was impressive that day too.  He moved to the front on the run to the two-furlong marker and, when Ryan Moore gave him a squeeze, he came away from his rivals nicely, keeping on well all the way to the line to maintain a two-length advantage over the highly-regarded Islandsinthestream, winner of his maiden on his only previous run.

All things being equal, Aidan O’Brien says that Henry Longfellow could go for the Dewhurst next, a race for which he is as short as 5/4 with Sky Bet, with whom he is 6/1 for the Guineas and 12/1 for the Derby.

City Of Troy (Justify – Together Forever)

With Henry Longfellow probably on the Dewhurst path, it looks like City Of Troy will be Aidan O’Brien’s primary contender for the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at The Curragh at the Irish Champions’ Festival, and he would be a worthy favourite in a race that the champion trainer has won 11 times to date.

By Justify out of the Fillies’ Mile winner Together Forever, City Of Troy looked good in winning his maiden on his racecourse debut on Irish Derby weekend.  He was strong all the way to the line and through the line that day, Ryan Moore just about getting him pulled up before he ran out of real estate.

The Justify colt showed the benefit of that performance too when he went to Newmarket last time and pulverised his rivals in the Group 2 Superlative Stakes.  He oozed class through that race, and he was strong when he met the rising ground, again running through the line like a horse who had plenty of energy left.  He clocked consistent sectionals through the middle part of the race, and he came right away from his rivals through the closing stages, going 0.75secs faster than his fastest rival through the final furlong.  It was a performance of speed and class and pace and power, and it marked him out as potentially the best juvenile of 2023.

Diego Velazquez (Frankel – Sweepstake)

Diego Velazquez didn’t make his racecourse debut until three weeks ago, in a seven-furlong maiden at The Curragh on Phoenix Stakes day, but the wait was worthwhile.

Prominent from early, up on the outside of the leader Ringside Timing, he was niggled along just inside the three-furlong marker, but he kept on picking up, he got continually stronger as the race developed.  He was two lengths clear of his rivals as they passed the furlong pole, and he had extended that advantage to four and three-quarter lengths by the time he reached the winning line.

By Frankel out of Sweepstake, a listed race winner over five furlongs, which makes him a three-parts brother to Broome and Point Lonsdale, Diego Velazquez took the first step that day towards repaying the 2.4 million guineas that he cost as a yearling.  A flashy-looking colt, with four white socks and a white blaze, he showed a really willing attitude on his debut despite also showing signs of greenness.  He should improve for stepping up in distance, and he could improve significantly for the experience of his racecourse debut on his next run, which could be in the Group 2 Golden Fleece Stakes at Leopardstown at the Irish Champions’ Festival.

Ylang Ylang (Frankel – Shambolic)

Ylang Ylang brought a big reputation with her when she made her racecourse debut at The Curragh on the Friday evening of Irish Derby weekend, and she didn’t disappoint, making just about all the running and coming home almost three lengths clear of a field from which four subsequent winners have already emerged.

One of those subsequent winners was Ylang Ylang herself, who stepped up in grade next time for the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown, and duly made all the running again.  She never looked in danger there either, she travelled nicely into the home straight and she picked up well in front when Ryan Moore asked her to.  Vespertilio finished off her race well down the outside but, in truth, it never really looked like she was going to catch the impressive winner.

The usual next step for the winner of the Group 3 Silver Flash in July is the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at The Curragh in August, followed, all going well, by the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes back at The Curragh in September.  They are good stepping-stones through which the top-class juvenile fillies can navigate their way through the Irish flat racing calendar.  Ylang Ylang skipped the Debutante though, Aidan O’Brien said that he just thought that it was the best thing for her, but the form of the Silver Flash was still enhanced there by the runner-up Vespertilio, who ran out an impressive winner of the Debutante.  A re-match with Willie McCreery’s filly in the Moyglare would be fascinating.

Cherry Blossom (No Nay Never – Canada Water)

An impressive winner of her maiden at The Curragh three weeks ago on her second start, Cherry Blossom was beaten in the Lowther Stakes at York last week, but there was a lot to like about the performance that she put up in finishing second to a smart filly in Relief Rally.

It was significant that Aidan O’Brien started the No Nay Never filly off in a listed race at Naas in July, and that she was made favourite for that listed race, on her racecourse debut.  But that was on soft ground, and she stumbled on leaving the stalls.  She appeared to be much happier on the better ground that she encountered at The Curragh next time, when she came home five lengths clear of Chandigah, who was in turn clear of the rest, and who wasn’t beaten far in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at The Curragh last Saturday.

Cherry Blossom’s run in the Lowther Stakes was a step forward from that and, out of a full-sister to Arc winner Rail Link, she should continue to progress through the remainder of the term and into next season.

© Sporting Life, 5th September 2023