I feel obliged to apologise in advance of you reading this piece, as the first couple of paragraphs comprise me having a bit of a moan about Saturday's Newmarket card. Anyone who wants some thorough, intuitive and frankly first-rate analysis of both the Dewhurst and the Middle Park please feel free to either read someone else's preview or skip on a few hundred words and sample the arguments that I have cobbled together for Dawn Approach winning the former and Moohaajim the latter.
The inaugural Future Champions Day was run last year and, in theory, I suppose it was a fairly good premise; the brains behind the concept probably exited the meeting room pleased with their days work. A closer inspection of the card got me thinking though, and I have arrived at the conclusion that it is a misguided conglomeration of events that makes no sense.
"Future Champions Day". For a day with that billing you want to see the next Frankel's and Sea The Stars' strutting their stuff, not Edinburgh Knight and Red Jazz fighting it out for the Group 2 Challenge Stakes. The Rockfel and the Autumn Stakes are both fair enough, at least some of the contenders harbour hopes of classic glory next season, but what is the Cesarewitch doing on the card? Did it get lost? The Darley Stakes has committed the biggest sin however, as any race in which Sos Brillante is entered deserves no place on a day billed as being chock full of Future Champions.
Admittedly the latter point is no direct fault of the race or its administrators and would kick off a whole new debate with regards to basement ratings. My blood has rapidly reached boiling point however, and a further rant would tip me well and truly over the edge, so it is time to regain our composure and discuss the Dewhurst and the Middle Park, beginning with the former.
Quite simply, Dawn Approach will win this. He is 8 lb clear of his nearest rival and that is without considering that the Aidan O'Brien-trained Cristoforo Colombo, Parliament Square and George Vancouver aren't certain to compete, as they all hold entries in the Middle Park, and Dundonnell could head to the RP Trophy. Should none of that quartet take up their engagement, Dawn Approach would be 9 lb clear of Havana Gold and, as the unbeaten Jim Bolger-trained juvenile is most likely to go on improving himself, it would be folly to take him on.
The one that could improve to play a part is Ashdan, trained by John Gosden, who made a winning debut in a decent maiden on the July course at Newmarket, beating Mutazamen by two-and-a-quarter lengths before building upon that effort to land a minor event at Doncaster. The immediate impression was that Ashdan had not been as impressive as was expected in extending his unbeaten run, but the lack of pace is unlikely to have played to his strengths and he conceded first run to the runner-up, actually doing rather well to win cosily by a length and a half.
Ashdan is certainly an interesting colt, for this race and next year, but the suspicion is that he will just come up short and Dawn Approach can make it six wins from six starts.
Middle Park time, and it can be argued that this event is almost twice as competitive as the Dewhurst with a brace of two-year-olds hoping to seal victory.
The undefeated Reckless Abandon will tickle the fancy of many, his win in the Norfolk Stakes, the Prix Robert Papin and the Prix Morny certainly the best form on offer. On his second and third starts, Reckless Abandon demonstrated a tendency to hang to his left, violently at Royal Ascot, and jockey Gerald Mosse was keen to get the rail on his left flank on his latest start, as he recorded a pillar-to-post victory.
The Prix Morny is well worth a watch if you have yet to see it, and if you watched it live then go back and watch it again as Middle Park adversary Moohaajim was not enjoying the clearest of runs as he kept on to finish fifth. The Marco Botti-trained juvenile had previously landed an Ascot maiden, and it speaks volumes of the esteem in which he is held that he was fast-tracked to a Group 1.
He was far from discredited, dropped out and racing against the rail before being forced to switch widest of all to make his challenge, receiving a hefty bump for his troubles but sticking on all the same. He promised to progress again, and he did not disappoint as he proved to be a notch above his rivals in the Mill Reef at Newbury, doing well as he showed a smart turn of foot to overcome trouble in-running and deserving of extra credit over the length and three-quarter winning margin.
He is sure to make more of a race of it with Reckless Abandon here and, with just 2 lb splitting them on Timeform weight-adjusted ratings, Moohaajim is worth supporting against the likely favourite.
It is difficult to envisage many of the others making any real impact, with Taayel the only one obviously open to improvement. He was dispatched with ease by Moohaajim at Newbury however, and will find it incredibly difficult to reverse the form.
Dawn Approach and Moohaajim, the two names you need to centre your attention on. Ante-post they are available at [1.8] and [4.5] respectively, and it is certainly worth indulging in a bit of Multiples action come Saturday morning with Betfair's new Fixed Odds product. In fact, why not stick in the Charlie Hills-trained Just The Judge, who will run in the Rockfel Stakes, as well; go all out and make it a treble, and you may be able to enjoy a triple of your favoured drop with the winnings.