The first two Classics of next year may still be nine months away, but The Moët & Chandon July Festival provided a good indication as to which three-year-olds could be leading contenders come May 2018.
The next Qipco 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas is already harbouring a familiar feel, with a short-priced Aidan O’Brien-trained horse installed as favourite for both races.
It comes after Gustav Klimt negotiated his way out of trouble to clinch the Superlative Stakes on Saturday, following on from stable-mate Clemmie, who 24 hours earlier broke the juvenile track record in the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes.
For Clemmie — a winner at The Curragh only 12 days earlier — Friday’s victory on the July Course is likely to be looked back upon as the moment she stepped out of her full brother and this year’s 2,000 Guineas champion Churchill’s shadow.
Indeed, only another O’Brien filly — Royal Ascot’s Chesham Stakes winner September — leads her in the 1,000 Guineas betting market.
Owner Michael Tabor said: “You would have to be impressed, she is obviously improving all the time.
“Six furlongs and more will suit her so we would hope that she would get to the top.
“She is a full sister to Churchill and you can’t ask for better than that. She’s a filly to look forward to, simple as that.
“She has won as if she wanted seven furlongs so hopefully she will be a Guineas horse for next year.”
If Clemmie’s triumph on the July Course had been captured in relatively empathic fashion, the same cannot be said for Gustav Klimt.
Piloted by Ryan Moore, the son of Galileo was forced to switch to the inside of the course for a clear run.
He eventually reeled in the leader — the Charlie Hills-trained Nebo — with just a head separating first and second on the line.
And now, Gustav Klimt is widely available as the early 7/1 favourite for 2018’s first Classic on the Rowley Mile.
But before that, O’Brien revealed he could enter the two-year-old for Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes in October.
“We always thought he would be a National Stakes or Dewhurst type of horse, or we could go for the Futurity Stakes at The Curragh,” he said.
“He’s plenty of speed so I’m not sure how far he’ll get with that kind of pace. You would hope that he’ll get a mile anyway.”
There was further success for Ballydoyle’s O’Brien and Moore in Friday’s Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes courtesy of Roly Poly.
The daughter of War Front saw off some brief opposition from Charlie Appleby’s returning Wuheida to win the mile-long contest by one-and-a-quarter lengths.
However, the meeting’s showpiece race — the Group 1 Darley July Cup on Saturday — proved to be beyond the prolific O’Brien/Moore partnership, as favourite Caravaggio could only finish fourth.
Instead, it was a 68th birthday to remember for Sheikh Mohammed — known as ‘The Boss’ by his people — who saw Harry Angel romp home in Godolphin’s blue silks.
The Clive Cox-trained three-year-old was second to Caravaggio last time out at Royal Ascot, but on this occasion he was not to be denied, winning by a length-and-a-quarter from Limato.
“There isn’t a lot of time between Ascot and here so a lot of it is instinctive but the instinctive impression was very good, right from the moment he came off the track at Ascot to be honest,” said Cox.
“I’m delighted that, on Sheikh Mohammed’s birthday, he’s kept him with us.
“This was one of the nicest July Cups I’ve seen in my lifetime and I’m very proud to win it.”
Wuheida may have missed out for Appleby, but it was still a successful three days for the Moulton Paddocks Stables trainer.
After wins for Hawkbill, Spring Cosmos and Being There — the latter of whom got the better of John Gosden’s Doswell in the Weatherbys EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes — Appleby saw Poetic Charm emerge victorious on debut.
Under William Buick, the daughter of Dubawi defeated market leader Sizzling by a length in the Rossdales EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies’ Stakes and now looks set for Group 1 action over in Ireland later this year.
“I was saying earlier in the week that I’ve been a bit light on the fillies so far but they have really started to come to hand in the last 10 days or so and it looks like they have turned a corner,” said Appleby.
“We’ll see how she comes out of this but on that evidence her Moyglare entry looks a realistic target.
“It’s not very easy to place these fillies so we might just have to throw her in at the deep end.”
There was also a notable success for Newmarket’s George Peckham, with French horse Inshiraah winning the Spa At Bedford Lodge Hotel EBF Stallions Fillies’ ahead of Gosden’s pre-race favourite Gymnaste.
n For July Festival fashion winners and Town Plate pictures, see pages 18 and 55