We are four months into the 2017 flat season and we have had ample opportunity to assess how good the three-year-old crop is this year. The Guineas meeting provided us with two quick horses from Aidan O’Brien’s yard in Ireland, while at Epsom, the Oaks and Derby produced two fantastic stories, as it always does.
Here is a look at the three-year-olds who have stood out the most and have the best opportunity at overcoming the older generation when they meet later in the season.
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Aidan O’Brien’s filly went into 1000 Guineas at Newmarket this season as the second string from his yard, but the daughter of Galileo proved too good for her rivals over the 1m trip and it soon became clear she was the leading miler from Ballydoyle and Ireland.
Winter proved her Newmarket success was no fluke when she added the Irish 1000 Guineas to her name in an even more comprehensive victory at the Curragh just weeks later, where the margin of victory was over four lengths. The busy grey filly then ran at Royal Ascot in the Coronation Stakes, where she notched up her third Group One win in two months. Winter’s next test will be against the older horses, while she could end the year taking on the colts in the 1m division.
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Churchill won the opening Classic of the season for O’Brien when he justified support throughout the winter for the colt. In a strong front-running performance at Newmarket, his rivals never got close to the Irish horse in what was an impressive outing on his first start of the year.
Like his stablemate Winter, Churchill also added the Irish version of the Guineas to his record later in the month. He was, however, beaten at Royal Ascot in the St James’s Palace Stakes where connections have put that run down to an off day. Churchill is set to appear at Glorious Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes, where he is 11/4 in the horse racing betting to bounce back and win his third Group One of the season.
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Richard Hannon’s colt, Barney Roy, had to settle for second place behind Churchill in the 2000 Guineas, but he did not have to wait long to gain revenge as he proved how good he was at this trip when he won the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Connections clearly think their horse is very durable as he was stepped up in trip for the Group One Eclipse at Sandown in an open-age contest. The three-year-old was denied by the smallest of margins as he lost to Ulysses in a photo-finish at the Esher-track following an exciting 1m2f contest.
We should see the Godolphin-owned colt drop back down to a mile at Glorious Goodwood, where he will renew his fascinating rivalry with Churchill. Glorious Goodwood is the next major meeting on the flat calendar, but we are also only weeks away from the Ebor meeting at York, while British Champions Day at Ascot should also give us one last chance to discuss how good the three-year-old crop have been this season.