Bahamian Bounty to reap reward

Sue Montgomery sides with the Prix Morny winner in today's Middle Park Stakes
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The Independent Online
That the Middle Park Stakes, to be contested this afternoon at Newmarket for the 121st time, has declined in status as a guide to future Classic performance is a fact of modern life. The six-furlongs race was instigated by the forward-thinking breeder William Blenkiron, master of Middle Park Stud in Kent, who gave the then-huge sum of pounds 1,000 towards the first three runnings and thus became one of the Turf's earliest sponsors, and became the most important two-year-old test of the year, with its winner generally made winter favourite for the Derby.

The development, however, of other valuable end-of-season targets for juvenile colts has meant that such high ideals have, like Blenkiron's nursery - which now lies underneath the south-east London suburb of Eltham - disappeared.

The last Middle Park Stakes winner to go on to Epsom glory was Bahram in 1933. And in post-war years only six 2,000 Guineas winners have emerged from the roll of honour, with decreasing frequency: Nearula (1952), Our Babu (1954), Right Tack (1968), Brigadier Gerard (1970), Known Fact (1979) and Rodrigo De Triano (1991).

Rodrigo, the best of his age and sex in England, was deprived of a place at the top of the International Classifications by the US exploits of Arazi, leaving Diesis, 14 years ago, as the last Middle Park winner to top the two-year-old colts' classifications.

It would be pleasant to record that such a historic contest, if no longer the prime target for the best potential milers, would at least produce the high-class sprinters of the future, but names of the calibre of Abernant and Skymaster have been lacking in recent decades.

However, hope springs eternal, and today's renewal may yet turn the tide. It presents an interesting and competitive clash between some horses who seem natural speedsters and others who will be trying to advance their Guineas claims, with a few unexposed types who could be anything thrown in for interest.

The only previous Group One winner in the field of 12 is Bahamian Bounty, whose purchase by Maktoum Al Maktoum from Lucayan Stud was confirmed yesterday. Although some of the gloss was taken from his Prix Morny win at Deauville in August by the defeat of the runner-up Zamindar by Revoque next time, it was redeemed by the third-placed Pas de Reponse's Cheveley Park Stakes victory on Tuesday. Even though, being by Cadeaux Genereux from a family of fast horses, he is unlikely to be anything but a sprinter, he may prove a good one, and Bahamian Bounty (3.40) and Frankie Dettori get the vote.

He, the excellent and consistent Easycall and Muchea look the pick of the pure sprinters. In Command, a Sadler's Wells half-brother to last year's winner Royal Applause and flying filly Lyric Fantasy, is dropping back to six furlongs but would be his sire's first Group One winner at the trip.

Indian Rocket, who earned his place in today's line-up with a rather comfortable win in last month's Mill Reef Stakes, must be respected. The unknown quantities are Hurricane State, stablemate of Revoque and five- length winner of a Goodwood maiden last month, and, particularly, Bahamian Bounty's stablemate Jhazi, a son of Arazi who trounced the opposition on his debut in a Beverley maiden 15 days ago and, given his trainer David Loder's record with juveniles, should be watched in the market.

Three involved in a blanket finish at Doncaster three weeks ago cross swords again in the Rous Stakes, and this time Dettori's mount, the filly Blue Iris (3.05) can make it her turn. And although there is the risk of such things becoming boring, Dettori can make it three on the lightly- raced El Penitente (4.15).

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