Sometimes the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes is a future champion, sometimes he is not. And of all men, Jim Bolger should know. Here yesterday the Irishman saddled his fourth winner of Britain's premier juvenile contest in six years. And he will be hoping against hope that Parish Hall follows the hoofprints of New Approach, who went on to win the Derby, rather than Teofilo, who never ran again, or Intense Focus, who did, but unsuccessfully.
Bolger, based in Co Carlow, already has the Epsom assignment inked in for Parish Hall, whose starting price of 20-1 yesterday rather belied the authority of his half-length defeat of the 15-8 favourite, Power.
"I'm not certain that he'll come back here for the Guineas," the trainer said, "but he should be a Derby horse. He won't run again until next season, so we'll have all winter to enjoy thinking about him. And that, as the cliché goes, is what this game is all about."
Parish Hall, like his three predecessors from Glebe House, was bred by Bolger, runs in the trainer's family colours and was ridden by his son-in-law Kevin Manning. Appropriately, the colt is a first-crop son of Teofilo, who was rated the outstanding juvenile of 2006 but was prevented by injury from fulfilling his potential.
"It would be a matter of satisfaction if this one could do what we hoped his sire might have done," said Bolger. "If all goes well he'll be carrying his banner next year. He's a very sound horse with a middle-distance pedigree, one who is progressing.
"This time last year he was still out in the paddock, so he's done a lot in 12 months. The only time he disappointed us this year was on soft ground, and that's the key to him. He must have it good or faster."
That Parish Hall, whose sire is a son of stallion sensation Galileo and whose dam is from the family of Ascot Gold Cup winner Enzeli, looks sure to appreciate the Derby distance was confirmed by Manning. "He quickened well at half-way and lengthened all the way to the line," he said. "But seven furlongs is now the minimum for him. He'll step up when he goes further and we won't see the best of him until next year."
With barely a length covering the first five home yesterday – Power finished strongly to snatch second from Most Improved, with Bronterre and Trumpet Major close up – bookmakers were less convinced; they judge Parish Hall a 20-1 chance for the Derby.
New Approach apart, the colt has a tough act to follow, for last year's Dewhurst Stakes winner was none other than the mighty unbeaten Frankel. And it is not only that one's exploits this season that could justify the marketing tag of Future Champions Day that is now applied to the card which yesterday presented, for the first time, two of the domestic calendar's three Group One races for juvenile colts.
The Middle Park Stakes has a patchy record in unearthing future talent, but there is no doubting the worth of last year's winner Dream Ahead, now one of Europe's top sprinters.
For the Aidan O'Brien-trained Crusade, who took yesterday's edition of the six-furlong contest by three-quarters of a length in another bunch finish, there are more immediate challenges than next season. The US-bred colt will try to emulate his maternal grandsire Johannesburg by following up in next month's Breeders Cup Juvenile on dirt in Kentucky.
Crusade, dropped back in trip after his third place here last month, was another shock for punters at 28-1. "He has scope and balance and fast ground would be in his favour," said rider Seamie Heffernan, "and I'd say that going back up to a mile round two bends on dirt would be no disadvantage at all. And I'd say, too, that perhaps last time was a shade disappointing for us, rather than today being such a huge surprise."
Power's second place in the Dewhurst notwithstanding, it was a good day for Ballydoyle's youngest generation. In the Rockfel Stakes, the blue-blooded filly Wading (by Montjeu out of a half-sister to Galileo and Sea The Stars) presented her credentials for next year's Classics with a clear-cut two-length success. Both she and Power were ridden by Ryan Moore.
Future champions will be revealed only by time; past champions are a matter of record and one of them, Frankie Dettori, filled one of the few blanks on his CV by steering a 25-1 shot to a remarkable all-the-way victory in the day's feature handicap, the Cesarewitch. Given the rest of the day's eponymous theme, his mount's name had a certain ring. Never Can Tell.Reuse content