The undefeated City Of Troy has been crowned the Champion Juvenile of 2023 following a scintillating three-race two-year-old career.
A brilliant winner of the Group 1 Native Trail Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October, City Of Troy has been billed by many as the most exciting three-year-old since the great Frankel, who ended his debut campaign rated 126.
Following a debut win at the Curragh in July, City Of Troy confirmed his promise with a six-and-a-half length victory in the bet365 Superlative Stakes at Newmarket’s July Festival prior to his season-concluding Dewhurst success.
With a rating of 125, the colt becomes the 13th European Champion Juvenile trained by Aidan O’Brien and is also the first son of the US Triple Crown hero Justify to achieve the honour.
Reflecting on City Of Troy’s achievements, IHRB handicapper Mark Bird said: “City Of Troy proved himself the cream of the two-year-old crop in Europe this year with three impressive performances between July and October.
“His rating of 125 places him alongside high-class horses such as Zafonic and Fasliyev at the same stage of their careers and behind only four-time Group 1-winning juvenile Johannesburg (126) among his own stable’s illustrious roll call of European Champion Two-Year-Olds.”
City Of Troy finished clear of his rivals in the final classification, with AMO Racing’s Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes winner Bucanero Fuerte second best on 120. City Of Troy’s stablemate Henry Longfellow, who defeated Bucanero Fuerte to land the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh in September, achieved a mark of 119 to take joint-third placed honours.
Sharing that spot with Henry Longfellow is the highest-rated British-trained juvenile of 2023, the Simon & Ed Crisford-trained Vandeek.
A son of Havana Grey, Vandeek was undefeated in four starts in his debut campaign, culminating with a win in the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile in September.
Graeme Smith, BHA Handicapping Team Leader (2yos; 3yo+ 5f-7f), said of Vandeek: “Vandeek posted the best two performances by a British-trained juvenile in 2023.
“His narrow defeat of the excellent French filly Ramatuelle came in one of the strongest renewals of the Sumbe Prix Morny (118) in recent years and he was marginally better again when winning the Juddmonte Middle Park with authority on his final start (119).”
Looking ahead to 2024
As is tradition when revealing the European 2YO Classification, the handicappers once again attempted to identify some horses they believe could progress to make their mark as three-year-olds in the forthcoming season.
Night Raider (Dark Angel – Dorraar) Karl Burke
Steve Parkin and Karl Burke have a lot to look forward to this year with proven pattern performers Fallen Angel, Flight Plan and Dorothy Lawrence in their arsenal, but they’ll also be excited about the lesser-known Night Raider if his Southwell success in December is any guide. It was by no means a strong race but the time was respectable given how inefficiently it was run, and the most striking thing was how quickly he drew nine lengths clear in a sprint finish without turning a hair.
By Dark Angel, Night Raider is a half-brother to the Palace House winner Far Above and out of a 7f winner. That coupled with the speed he showed suggests he’s not guaranteed to stay the Guineas mile, but whatever his trip proves to be he looks exciting.
Devoted Queen (Kingman – Fintry) Charlie Appleby
2023 was a quiet year at the top level for Charlie Appleby’s two-year-olds with only one inclusion in the classification, but it’s hard to imagine there isn’t a host of talent bubbling under and Devoted Queen looked a potential pattern winner when scoring at Newmarket in October on her only start to date.
A half-sister to the Vertem Trophy runner-up One Ruler out of a Sun Chariot third, Devoted Queen was the paddock pick physically and needed only hand riding to draw away. The field was well strung out considering the modest gallop they’d gone, and she looked to have enough left in her at the line to suggest she can make her mark in significantly better company this spring.
Kaleidoscope (Kingman – Lightening Pearl) John and Thady Gosden
Another impressive winner of a falsely run race, Kaleidoscope looks another exciting dark horse for 2024. She was always well placed close to the pace when justifying favouritism at Lingfield in early December by three lengths from her 78-rated stablemate Sea Ice, but her closing sectionals were fast and there was no sign of her stopping at the line.
Kaleidoscope is by Kingman out of a Cheveley Park winner, and she could be the type to test her credentials in something like the Nell Gwyn in the opening weeks of the season before hopefully going on to better things.
Porters Place (Make Believe – Shreyas) Paddy Twomey
While One Look, Azada and Content are all fillies with considerable upside potential for 2024, I would put forward Porters Place, who showed an impressive turn of foot when landing the odds on her only start to date in a 7f Curragh maiden in October, as my filly to follow. She settled nicely on debut before quickening smartly for a four length success in a 16-runner field. One of ten individual two-year-old winners this season for the emerging Paddy Twomey stable, she is a filly out of Shreyas, a Group 3-winning half-sister to Group 1 winners Youmzain and Creachadoir, and has the potential to rate highly in 2024.
Illinois (Galileo – Danedrop) Aidan O’Brien
Aidan O’Brien continued to dominate the two-year-old scene in Ireland in 2023 and among the stable’s 40 individual two-year-old winners during the year were four from the penultimate crop of super-sire Galileo. This quartet included Illinois, who narrowly missed out on inclusion in the European Two-Year-Old Classification following a fine effort when a close third in the Group 1 Criterium De Saint Cloud just 15 days after landing a Curragh maiden impressively on his debut. Bred on the renowned Galileo-Danehill cross, he is a half-brother to Arc winner Danedream and has the potential to rate very highly among the best middle-distance horses in 2024.
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