Toormore has today been unveiled as Richard Hannon’s first ever champion two-year-old in his last ever season as a trainer, as the European two-year-old Classification for 2013 is published.
Awarded a rating of 122, Toormore was unbeaten in three races including the Group 1 National Stakes at The Curragh which he won by two and three quarter lengths from the previous Group 1 winner Surdirman.
Matthew Tester, BHA Senior Handicapper responsible for two-year-olds, said:
“Toormore improved markedly with every race and there is no reason to think that he has peaked. The champions of the last six years went on to win seven classics and 26 Group 1s. We are shaping up for a really exciting three-year-old season.
“122 is not an exceptional figure for a champion. Dawn Approach the previous year was 124 and in recent times we have seen 126-rated champions like Frankel, New Approach and Dream Ahead, but 122 is a very satisfactory figure for such a relatively unexposed horse.”
The highest ever rating in the European two-year-old Classifications is 130 given to Arazi in 1991 and Celtic Swing three years later.
The first three horses in the Classification – Toormore, Kingston Hill and No Nay Never – each ran three times, each of them is unbeaten and each won a Group 1 on their final start. War Command, given the same 119 rating as No Nay Never, also won a Group 1 on his final start having earlier pulled six lengths clear to win the Coventry Stakes, as well as winning the Group 2 Futurity.
Kingston Hill’s figure comes from his decisive four and a half lengths win in the Racing Post Trophy having already won the Autumn Stakes.
No Nay Never’s rating was awarded for his win in the Prix Morny. The second and third (Vorda and Rizeena) were already Group winners and each of them went on to win a Group 1 race next time out, showing this to be a strong renewal.
However, many of the most promising horses did not run in what are normally seen as the big autumn championship races.
Toormore’s last race was in the middle of September and both No Nay Never and the highly regarded Kingman (unbeaten winner of the Solario Stakes) did not run after August.
Matthew Tester elaborated:
“For a variety of reasons, the season ended early for some of the most promising horses. I would have loved to see them fighting out the Dewhurst or the Middle Park. They are all very lightly raced and it is unlikely that they have shown us all that they can do.
“Kingman was particularly impressive at Sandown Park, always travelling well and only coming off the bit for long enough to quicken past his rivals. He would have been a leading player in the Dewhurst and I hope that he fulfils the considerable promise that he showed that day. I see that he is favourite for the 2,000 Guineas which is a reflection of that promise. His rating of 111 is purely our assessment of what he has achieved so far.
“I was disappointed that Australia did not run again after his six lengths win in Ireland. It was so difficult to rate that race due to lack of really firm evidence. This was the horse that caused the most heated debate at the December meeting of European Handicappers where the Classifications were agreed. Aidan O’Brien says that he believes Australia to be the best he has ever trained. I always want the hype to be true because we are all hoping for another superstar, but for me the jury is definitely still out.”
The 2013 Classifications are also notable for the inclusion of Noozhoh Canarias on a mark of 116. Matthew Tester commented:
“I cannot remember us ever having a Spanish-trained horse this high in the 2yo Classifications.”
The champion filly of Europe was the Charlie Hills-trained Chriselliam on 117. She won Group 1 races on both of her last two starts, at Newmarket and then at Santa Anita. Matthew Tester summarised:
“I am still wondering how she managed to get beaten three times before that. I was so surprised by her win in the Fillies Mile that I did not give her enough credit at the time. Her impressive victory in the Breeders Cup set the seal on an excellent autumn.”
“Charlie had an amazing year in his second full season as a trainer. If Chriselliam produces the goods as a three-year-old then she could definitely add to his Classic tally following the 2013 Irish Guineas win by Just The Judge.”
The most recent top-rated two-year-old filly which went on to win a Classic was the 2009 champion Special Duty who was promoted to first in both the 1,000 Guineas and the French 1,000 Guineas after Stewards’ enquiries. No European filly has been rated higher than Chriselliam since Rainbow View was awarded 118 in the Classification for 2008.
Chriselliam is rated three pounds ahead of Vorda, winner of the Cheveley Park. The 1,000 Guineas favourite is Miss France who is rated 112 for her victory in the Oh So Sharp Stakes. Matthew Tester said:
“Miss France travelled really well throughout the race and the front two pulled clear of the rest. It was tough trying to get a handle on the value of the form. The runner up, Lightning Thunder, was a big disappointment next time but she was clearly not right that day. I do like Miss France but I am still not sure how good she really is.”
There are 51 horses listed in the European two-year-old Classification, up from a low of 42 last year and a little above the five-year average of 49.