Future Champions Day 2014: Estidhkaar and Ivawood poised to take soft route towards stardom

Pair will race at Newmarket in the Dewhurst Stakes and Middle Park Stakes respectively

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The Independent Online

Future Champions Day. There could hardly be a bolder title for a race meeting, but with four of the last nine winners of the main event, the Dewhurst Stakes, having gone on to win either the 2,000 Guineas or the Derby, it is not just hype.

On Friday afternoon we should find out whether Estidhkaar has what it takes to follow the likes of Frankel to the top when he defends his huge reputation in the Dewhurst, while Ivawood, also trained by Richard Hannon, faces the same challenge in the Middle Park Stakes.

Ivawood (2.55, Newmarket) is actually the current ante-post favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas following three impressive wins that had Richard Hughes purring about the “wow factor”.

The champion jockey retains the utmost enthusiasm for the colt and said: “You never feel they are going fast enough for him, which is a very good sign for any horse.”

Hannon said after his July Stakes victory at Newmarket that Ivawood was the best two-year-old we had seen this year and he was not about to change his mind following an equally stunning display in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood.

But the trainer is in no rush to test the son of Zebedee over further than six furlongs and certainly not in the Dewhurst, a race that fits perfectly into Estidhkaar’s schedule.

Ivawood probably has less on his plate than Estidhkaar (4.0, Newmarket), whose six opponents all have the potential to make a proper race of it. That includes Secret Brief, whose sire Shamardal won this race on similarly testing ground 10 years ago before going on to win two French Classics.

Paul Hanagan, though, was thrilled with Estidhkaar when he rode him for a work-out last Sunday and is not concerned about the ground at Newmarket. “He’s straightforward, a lengthener and a galloper with a very good attitude,” Hanagan said.

Conspicuous by its absence is a Jim Bolger representative. The veteran Irish trainer has won five of the last eight Dewhursts, notably the 2007 version with subsequent Derby winner New Approach and two years ago with his son Dawn Approach, who later landed the 2,000 Guineas.

Instead Bolger targets the Fillies’ Mile with Lucida (3.25, Newmarket), another by Shamardal, so unlikely to be inconvenienced by squelchy conditions.

Bolger compared Lucida favourably to his dual Classic winner Finsceal Beo following an authoritative win at Newmarket last month, so Hannon’s Marsh Hawk will probably need to be something special to beat her.

There might be a future champion sprinter lurking somewhere in the Cornwallis Stakes, although the main contenders do seem much of a muchness now that the exciting Limato has been pulled out.

Squats (2.25, Newmarket), with Ryan Moore back in the saddle after a near miss from a poor draw against several of these rivals at Ayr last month, may come out on top this time, although he is one of many juveniles on show who are yet to prove their worth on soft ground.