I have been attending the Yarmouth three-day September meeting for longer than I care to remember, not to mention other visits here and there to the Norfolk track. The course is one that has attracted a fair amount of criticism over the years, notably with regard to prize money levels but there is no denying that the September meeting, now more grandly – and meaninglessly – retitled the Eastern Festival is very much the high point of the season with decent purses on offer.
This is also a track that has witnessed many top-class animals oblige over the years. I saw that magnificent globe-trotting mare, Ouija Board, break her maiden at Yarmouth, whilst John Gosden’s crack miler, Raven’s Pass made a winning debut here. But most of all I will never forget the debut appearance of a superb-looking beast that walked into the parade ring and already looked like a properly-developed three-year-old. He won in a canter, could have won by 25l and his name was Dubai Millennium.
Nothing of the calibre of the above is likely to have been on show last week but here are the ones that caught the eye for the future. Best eyecatcher each day in capitals.
Al Thakhira and Expect were one-two in the maiden and both should improve again. The latter should certainly find a maiden for the Noseda team as he looked to be beaten by a more streetwise sort. Ghaawy showed a determined attitude to repel the late thrust of Newmarket Warrior for Sir Michael Stoute in the nursery and looks the type to progress with time and distance. He should be a useful middle-distance sort for the yard next season. However, the star of the show was undoubtedly BATTALION. The 3-y-o Haggas colt controlled a competitive enough 1m4f handicap throughout and looks a really progressive sort for a top-notch yard. Fascinated to see where he turns up next. Wherever it may be, he’s one to have on your side.
The track was abuzz with talk of the Stoute debutant in the opening maiden – a good-looking son of New Approach called MUNAASER. He took time to get himself organised but stayed on to good effect to fill the minor placing and must be supported wherever the Stoute team opt to go next with him. He should make up into a very useful three-year-old. The winner was Oxsana (Haggas again) who reappeared over the weekend to run a fine second in a competitive sales race so the form has already assumed a very healthy sheen. Also keep on an eye on the fourth – John Gosden’s Throne Room. He looked more in need of the run than many of his rivals and is sure to come on a bundle for the experience. The big race of the week, Yarmouth’s only Listed race, went to Miss You Too at 20-1 for the Simcock team but this is a race that seems to throw up a strange result every year and the only one to take from the race is Ribbons – strongly backed but found herself with far too much to do. The form can be forgotten and she remains of considerable interest. Kelvingrove probably didn’t beat much in the staying handicap but was far superior to his rivals and it wouldn’t surprise to see him return in search of a course hat-trick.
Wednaan did the business for the de Kock team on his debut but the form is hard to assess at this stage and it was the other maiden that took the eye for the future. MOUNT LOGAN and Istikshaf both improved considerably for their respective promising debuts and are in good hands to develop into three-year-olds of interest over middle distances next term. Luca Cumani’s winner was always holding the upper hand and is yet another son of New Approach who looks destined for much better things. Shalwa made a valiant attempt to defy topweight in the fillies’ 1m4f handicap, battling on well when headed. She’s just a solid galloper but one would think that there’s a soft maiden waiting for her towards the end of the campaign should Marco Botti opt to take that route. Don’t be put off by her form figures. There’s nothing wrong with her attitude – she just lacks real pace.